As we all know, Sheikh Mohammed is involved in just about every aspect of Thoroughbred racing. It’s evident everywhere….from the farms that he owns both here in the U.S. and abroad; to high-class horses that sport the Godolphin royal blue silks; to the building and operating of what has to be considered one of the most innovative, modern racetracks in the world. The man even has developed his own iPhone ‘app’ which will keep people updated on various aspects of the Dubai government, etc. (on a side note—maybe I should really enter the modern age and get myself an iPhone…) I guess, in layman’s terms, one could say that Sheikh Mohammed is a ‘fan’ of the sport.
There have been many recent stakes winners in England and Ireland that are products of either Godolphin racing or of the Darley breeding program. The first (and most obvious) one that I’d like to mention is the talented 3-year-old filly, Blue Bunting.
This past Sunday, Blue Bunting captured her second classic of the season when she got up in the last stride to nail Banimpire on the wire in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I). The victory improved the daughter of Dynaformer’s record to four wins from six starts, with one second-place finish.
Blue Bunting began her season with a victory in the QIPCO One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I), which also happened to be her group I debut. One of the 17 other fillies she defeated that day was Misty For Me, who already has notched four wins at the highest level.
The only time Blue Bunting has finished out of the money was when she finished an unlucky fourth in the Investec Oaks (Eng-I) in early June. She most certainly would’ve have finished third in that race had jockey Frankie Dettori, who though he had third place locked up, not dropped his hands and stopped riding in the final yards. They ended up being just pipped for third by the late-closing Izzi Top; Dettori was handed a ten-day suspension by the stewards his blunder.
The Godolphin team has indicated that Blue Bunting may run next in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I) in mid-August, where she may face the likes of Midday and Snow Fairy, among others. Let’s hope we get to see her this November at Churchill Downs.
Recent Darley 2yo Winners
The Darley influence also extends to a couple of recent 2-year-old stakes winners in England as well. Gamilati, a nice-looking daughter of Bernardini, broke her maiden impressively in the Cherry Hinton Stakes (Eng-II) at Newmarket July 8. Second in both of her starts prior to the Cherry Hinton (and defeated just a head each time), Gamilati sat just off the pace early on, before moving to the lead within the final furlong to win going away.
Gamilati is out of the stakes-winning mare, Illustrious Miss, a daughter of Kingmambo who was third in the 2004 Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I). Other notables in her family include stakes winners Political Ambition and Nani Rose. A move into group I company appears to be next on the agenda for this very talented lass, possibly against colts.
The day after Gamilati earned her first stakes win, Red Duke followed suit by capturing the Superlative Stakes (Eng-II) over the same Newmarket course. Although he was not bred by Darley, nor is he owned by Godolphin, Red Duke is by the first-crop sire, Hard Spun, who stands at Darley Kentucky.
The victory in the Superlative, which was Red Duke’s stakes debut, improved the chestnut colt’s record to two wins from three starts. Red Duke is out of the Gone West mare, Saudia, who herself is a daughter of the multiple group I winner, Bint Pasha. Long range plans for Red Duke include the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs this November.
Not to be overlooked are a couple of very promising 2-year-olds from the Aidan O’Brien yard. First up is the undefeated daughter of Galileo, Maybe. On July 14, Maybe won the seven-furlong Silver Flash Stakes (Ire-III), while carrying 127 pounds. Prior to that, the bay filly won the listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, defeating colts in the process.
Maybe is out of the Danehill mare, Sumora, who is a three-quarter sister to 2011 Investec Oaks (Eng-I) winner, Dancing Rain (by Danehill Dancer). In turn, their dam, Rain Flower (by Indian Ridge) is a half-sister to champion and 1992 Ever Ready Derby (Eng-I) winner, Dr. Devious.
On the same day that Maybe won the Silver Flash, Camelot turned heads with an impressive debut, winning an eight-furlong maiden by a widening two lengths. By Montjeu out of Tarfah, by Kingmambo, it would not be surprising to see this colt make the quick leap into group I company.
Most of us are greatly looking forward to the matchup between Frankel and Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) at Glorious Goodwood next week. It had been pretty much thought that both colts would eventually make their way to the Breeders’ Cup this fall, but it now appears that that won’t be the case. The connections of Frankel have tentatively indicated that their colt may wrap up his season on Champions Day October 15, in either the Champion Stakes (ten furlongs) or Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (eight furlongs). Both are group I races.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that the Juddmonte connections have a change of heart.