Race of the Week 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Across the Pond

In-form Gosden looking for clean sweep at Arlington‏

Utterly dominant in European Group races, John Gosden looks to return to Arlington with his first Illinois raider since Debussy's victory in the Arlington Million in 2010. True to his word, Gosden has entered a horse in support of each one of Arlington's premier stakes races on Saturday and with the belief that he really could go home with a clean sweep.

The flagbearer of this quarter of raiders is Gosden's Arlington Million runner, Colombian, who thrived in the early part of the European racing season before losing his way somewhat into the middle part of the season. A lover of soft turf, Colombian readily accounted for the 2009 Breeders Cup Classic third-place, Twice Over, when a runaway three-length victor of the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in April, but unflattering performances in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, over course and distance, and the Prince of Wales' Stakes at Royal Ascot have followed. Unlikely to encounter the soft turf conditions that see him fully able to express his ability, Colombian comes into this race, like Debussy, as an outsider of the field in European eyes. You have to go back a long way in Colombian's past performances to find winning form over anything better than soft turf, a maiden victory at Chester's May meeting of 2011, yet John Gosden would not be sending Colombian in favour of Questioning if he didn't believe this son of Azamour had a chance. Like Aidan O'Brien's Treasure Beach, Colombian has many questions to answer if he were to be victorious on Saturday but he is most certainly in the hands of a trainer who is arguably in the form of his life. 

At the initial entry stage, the prospect of John Gosden releasing Aiken on the lucious Arlington Park turf was one that many a European racefan were relishing. Aiken had impressed for the majority of the season racking up a six-timer since June 2011, including a comfortable Group 2 success at Chantilly over Dunaden, but as the final entry stage drew nearer it was clear that Zuider Zee was the preferred raider for Gosden in the Arlington St Leger. Like Debussy, all four of Gosden's raiders, including Zuider Zee, are owned by Princess Haya of Jordan - the junior wife of ruler of Dubai and Godolphin supremo, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. A five year old son of Sakhee, Zuider Zee comes into the Arlington Million meeting arguably as Gosden's best chance of a winner. An easy six length winner of the November Handicap at Doncaster, Zuider Zee has seen his handicap rocket since that victory and has attempted to ply his trade in Group race contests this season. A three-length third-place finish at Sandown in the Group 2 Henry II Stakes was incredibly encouraging for Gosden's progressive long-distance horse and whilst he was comfortably defeated into fourth-place at Royal Ascot in the Queen Alexandra Stakes, that race looks to have stretched his distance capabilities to the limit. A return back to the One Mile and Eleven-Sixteenths distance that the American St Leger provides could see Zuider Zee thrive on his first start outside of Europe. 

Joviality enters the Beverly D off the back of a last-placed finish in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket's July Festival, however, Gosden reported after the race to Horse Racing Nation that Joviality hated the ground that day and that a line could most certainly be put through that piece of form on her past performances. Instead, her victory in the Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot, on ground very similar to that expected at Arlington on Saturday, is one to take note of. Struggling for victory since the Musidora Stakes in May 2011, Joviality and William Buick took the Windsor Forest Stakes by the scruff of the neck with a quarter of the race to go and narrowly held off the late thrusting charge of Sir Henry Cecil's Chachamaidee in the shadows of the post. Chachamaidee has returned to the track to readily account for some very talented colts in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, a timely boost for Joviality's form, and the return to her preferred ground conditions should see Joviality thrive in America in one of the weakest Beverly D Stakes for many a year.

Finally, Dark Stranger is somewhat of an unknown in both Europe and America. A four-time raced son of Stormy Atlantic, Dark Stranger has not been seen outside of handicap company since breaking his maiden in March on the polytrack. Partnered just once in public by William Buick, Dark Stranger was comfortably held in fourth-place in a hot Sandown handicap in June which has seen the winner, second, third and fifth all exit the race towards a subsequent victory. It is exceptionally hard to compare that line of form to that of the other American-based rivals and European raiders and whilst Dark Stranger is arguably still a progressive type in a yard laden with untapped three year old potential, it may pay to side with the home raiders in favour of this one. 

Tomorrow.....Marco Botti, Luca Cumani and the European raid you might've wrote off too soon 


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Older Comments about In-form Gosden looking for clean sweep at Arlington‏...

Looks like Dark Stranger did not make the trip, Dan.

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