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Across the Pond

Irish Eyes Smiled on Ballydoyle Once Again

I wonder if it ever gets old for Aidan O’Brien. Winning the Irish Derby, I mean.

On Sunday, O’Brien’s Treasure Beach won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) by three-quarters of a length over stablemate Seville. Another O’Brien runner, Memphis Tennessee, finished third.

This was the sixth year in a row that the Coolmore/Ballydoyle team (made up of Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith in some variation) won the Irish classic, and their ninth win overall. On four occasions now they have swept the top three placings.

The only thing we Americans can compare this to would be the amazing feat by trainer Woody Stephens of winning five Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in a row (from 1982-1986), or possibly D. Wayne Lukas’ streak of capturing six Triple Crown races in a row (starting with Tabasco Cat’s 1994 Preakness, through Grindstone’s 1996 Derby).

Perhaps a better comparison would be to that of Calumet Farm in the 1940’s & 1950’s. No farm (or individual owner) on this side of the Atlantic has come close to emulating what Calumet did back in their heyday. I suppose one could argue that the Coolmore/Ballydoyle conglomerate is mostly a case of being a ‘big fish in a small pond’. After all, Ireland is a much smaller country than the U.S. They certainly do have the advantage of strength in numbers.

Most of us are aware of the large volume of mares that are bred to their stallions each year. While I’m not a believer of that philosophy, (and I’m not going to get into that discussion here—it’s a topic for another day) it doesn’t mean that I’m not a fan of many or most of their runners.

It always boggles my mind a bit that O’Brien can send out four or five runners in a major stakes race. (I can’t imagine the size of the Ballydoyle training center…where do they put all these horses?) This year’s Irish Derby was no exception; O’Brien sent out four of the eight runners. It must get a bit boring for the Irish racing fans, don’t you think? “Oh, look, Aidan O’Brien’s colt won the Derby….AGAIN”). Yawn.

Regardless, it is an amazing accomplishment. Treasure Beach deserved a big win, after losing the Investec Derby by a nose on the wire a few weeks back. The son of Galileo now boasts a record of four wins in eight starts, and has never finished out of the money. I certainly would love to have him in my barn.

However, I must admit that my heart was with Carlton House; I so badly wanted the Queen to win a classic! It looks as though 12 furlongs might be a bit too far for the son of Street Cry, and trainer Sir Michael Stoute stated as much after the race. Not to worry, since there are plenty of group I races at 10 furlongs in Europe. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the long-range plans for this colt include the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Yes, you read that correctly. I think the Classic would fit Carlton House perfectly. (to those wondering, no, I haven’t taken out my trainer’s license yet!)

The other big race run at the Curragh over the weekend was the Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-I) for fillies and mares. In yet another win for the ‘home team’, Misty For Me ran away with the Pretty Polly, winning by six lengths over Midday. Take nothing away from ‘Misty’….she’s a classy filly with four group I wins on her resume so far. However, Midday certainly was up against it, since the racecourse had been inundated with rain, making the going very soft. The 5-year-old mare tried her best, but really seemed to be spinning her wheels for the most part.

The Coral-Eclipse will be contested this Saturday, July 2. While the field is not yet finalized, four of the eight horses listed as possible starters are trained by Aidan O'Brien. Does that surprise anyone?


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Older Comments about Irish Eyes Smiled on Ballydoyle Once Again...

Do you know the story behind Memphis Tennessee's name? That's my hometown, and there has got to be a reason this colt carries that very specific place as his name!
I think Treasure Beach is a much better horse than the "so-called experts" gave him credit for being. If Mikhail Barzelona mistimes his ride at Epsom on Pour Moi by even a second, we're looking at a dual Derby winner in Treasure Beach. And if history has taught us anything, it's that only special 3yr.old colt's win both the Epsom and Irish Derbies. I.E., Shergar and Galileo both spring to mind immediately as having won both, along with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
@BrianZipse, Canford Cliffs has already been pulled out of the Coral-Eclipse field. Snow Fairy is still a possibility? But it's ground dependent for her? Dunlop's first choice for Snow Fairy is the Coral-Eclipse. But if she doesn't go to Sandown, she'll be going to Haydock for the Lancashire Oaks. Workforce and So You Think are both still in the Coral-Eclipse field. Along with Confront, Cape Blanco, Jan Vermeer, Alexander Pope, and Sri Putra.
That is a great field.
Any more news on the status for Canford Cliffs for the Coral-Eclipse ... add his name to So You Think, Workforce, and Snow Fairy, and it looks like one of the races of the year!

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