September 29, 2023

Breeders’ Cup berths up for grabs in Flying Five, Moyglare Stud

Meditate shown winning the Albany at Royal Ascot (Photo by Megan Ridgwell/Ascot Racecourse)

The Breeders’ Cup clues keep coming on day two of Irish Champions Weekend. The Curragh’s banner Sunday program includes a pair of “Win and You’re In” races, the Flying Five (G1) for a spot in the Turf Sprint (G1) and the Moyglare Stud (G1) for the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). The Vincent O’Brien National (G1) and Blandford (G2), although not Breeders’ Cup Challenge events, can yield prospects for the Juvenile Turf (G1) and Filly & Mare Turf (G1), respectively, and the Irish St Leger (G1) is a storied contest in its own right.

Flying Five (G1) – Race 3 (9:25 a.m. ET)

Highfield Princess seeks a third consecutive Group 1 laurel in the Flying Five, hot on the heels of the Aug. 7 Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) at Deauville and the Aug. 19 Nunthorpe (G1) at York. The British shipper already earned a Breeders’ Cup ticket last time out, and trainer John Quinn has mentioned Keeneland as her objective.

The respective top two from last year’s running of this five-furlong dash, Romantic Proposal and A Case of You, are trying to bounce back to form. Romantic Proposal was last seen a non-threatening 10th in Newmarket’s July Cup (G1), but she had won cozily on reappearance in the Apr. 25 Woodlands S. at Naas. A Case of You, a subpar 17th in the Platinum Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot, commands respect as the reigning hero of the Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) and Al Quoz Sprint (G1). Fifth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar, A Case of You would be a top contender at Keeneland.

While Group 2 vixen Mooneista has yet to win this season, she has run consistently well, including a fourth in the King’s Stand (G1) and near-misses in the Greenlands (G2) and Sapphire (G2). Three-year-old filly Ladies Church, who just nipped Mooneista in the course-and-distance Sapphire, renews rivalry at less advantageous weights. Last year’s Middle Park (G1) runner-up Castle Star, a ring-rusty fifth in the Sapphire, could show more in this second start back. Sapphire sixth Brostaigh had scored a career high two back in the Prix du Gros-Chene (G2), and Erosandpsyche was just out-bobbed on the line in the Abergwaun S. for high-percentage Paddy Twomey.

Other notables in the 19-strong field include Dragon Symbol, Raasel, and Flotus – the fifth, eighth, and 10th behind Highfield Princess in the Nunthorpe; Ebro River, the 2021 Phoenix (G1) winner who responded to blinkers in the Queensferry S. at Chester in his latest; and Caturra, last September’s Flying Childers (G2) victor and most recently third in the King George (G2) at Glorious Goodwood.

Moyglare Stud (G1) – Race 4 (10 a.m. ET)

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Meditate puts her perfect record on the line in the Moyglare Stud, where her leading rival is Tarnawa’s half-sister Tahiyra. Meditate has won all four starts, including Royal Ascot’s Albany (G3) and the Debutante (G2) at this track and seven-furlong trip. Stablemate Never Ending Story, Grade 1 queen Athena’s first foal by Dubawi, captured the Silver Flash (G3) before a third in the Prix du Calvados (G2).

Tahiyra, like her Breeders’ Cup-winning half-sister, is an Aga Khan homebred under the tutelage of Dermot Weld. Unlike Tarnawa, Tahiyra was precocious enough to win on debut at Galway impressively.

Tail-swisher extraordinaire Lakota Sioux invades after her score in the Sweet Solera (G3) at Newmarket. Fellow British-based filly Sydneyarms Chelsea, likewise by Sioux Nation, exits a victory at Deauville in the Prix Six Perfections (G3). Both were previously spotted at Royal Ascot, Sydneyarms Chelsea finishing fifth to Meditate and Lakota Sioux placing third versus males in the Chesham.

Debutante third Thornbrook; Shelton and Eternal Silence, the respective second and third from the Flame of Tara (G3) here over a mile; Churchill S. runner-up Papillio; Amazing Show, last seen beating Gan Teorainn in a Down Royal maiden; and La Dolce Vita, who’s found life tougher since her Silver Flash third, complete the field.

Vincent O’Brien National (G1) – Race 5 (10:35 a.m. ET)

Even without Little Big Bear, Ballydoyle has a strong hand with odds-on Aesop’s Fables and Hans Andersen, who served up the exacta in the Futurity (G2) over the same course and seven-furlong distance. The O’Brien sons are also factors – Joseph’s Al Riffa, a promising second on debut to Hans Andersen, duly obliged next time out, and Donnacha’s Proud and Regal landed the Tyros (G3) en route to a third in the Futurity.

The lone British challenger, Marbaan, is riding a three-race winning streak capped by the Vintage (G2) at Glorious Goodwood. Johnny Murtagh’s Shartash, who edged Blackbeard in the Railway (G2) on Irish Derby Day, was a distant third behind Little Big Bear in the Phoenix.

Irish St Leger (G1) – Race 6 (11:10 a.m. ET)

Ballydoyle likewise has the odds-on Irish St Leger favorite in Kyprios, bidding to extend his skein to five. Although he has starred over much further in the Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot and the Goodwood Cup (G1) in his last two, the Moyglare-bred blueblood opened the season with romps at this 1 3/4-mile trip.

Joseph O’Brien challenges with Raise You, winner of the Irish St Leger Trial (G3). The runner-up that day was two-time Irish St Leger heroine Search for a Song, a full sister to Kyprios.

Perhaps the prime female contender is Rosscarbery, a rapidly progressive multiple Group 3 scorer who missed by a neck in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1). Yet it might be unwise to discount the back class of Princess Zoe, despite her unplaced efforts behind Kyprios at Ascot and Goodwood.

British trainer William Haggas dispatches the talented but sparingly-raced Hamish, fresh off a comeback win in the May 5 Ormonde (G3). Camorra was last seen landing the course-and-distance Curragh Cup (G2) June 24.

Blandford (G2) – Race 2 (8:50 a.m. ET)

La Petite Coco, who famously upset Love in this race a year ago, returns with an enhanced resume. The Twomey trainee made a winning reappearance in the June 26 Pretty Polly (G1), also over 1 1/4 miles here, and placed third to Alpinista in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1). Stablemate Rumbles of Thunder likewise cuts back from 1 1/2 miles, having dominated Cork’s Give Thanks (G3) last out – the same race that launched La Petite Coco last year. Insinuendo nearly upset Luxembourg in the Aug. 13 Royal Whip (G3) at this course and distance.

Above the Curve, resuming for the first time since her coup in the May 29 Prix Saint-Alary (G1), tops the sophomore brigade. Sunset Shiraz, a mainstay in the two-year-old ranks, makes her belated comeback. Lyrical Poetry has yet to build on her runner-up effort versus the boys in the Gallinule (G3), but the addition of a hood could help. The respective second and third from the Kilboy Estate (G2), Seisai and One for Bobby, and Aidan O’Brien’s class-climbing maiden winner Only are others to watch.