With the older American turf routers lacking any strong performers, the Europeans once again deserve attention in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. One 3-year-old who may attract the most attention if he ships over is the four-time Group 1 winner Auguste Rodin, who is trained by the familiar Aidan O'Brien.
Although Auguste Rodin has won multiple times at the highest level, he also shows a few poor finishes in his past performances as well. Here is an overview of his campaign and thoughts on his Breeders’ Cup chances.
To explain his off-the-board finishes first, Auguste Rodin does not handle soft turf courses. When the turf course runs somewhere in the good range, then he fires.
When Auguste Rodin made his season debut in the Group 1 2000 Guineas Stakes in May, he finished a disappointing 12th in a 14-horse field. But he ran over a soft course in that race and encountered traffic problems.
Auguste Rodin then rebounded in the Epsom Derby (G1) with a win after running down King Of Steel in the stretch run in a visually impressive move.
The two of them were clear of the rest of the field.
According to Racing Post, the race was run over good to firm turf, which explained Auguste Rodin’s improved form compared with his 2000 Guineas effort. He just seemed to grab the surface better when making his move.
Auguste Rodin kept the momentum alive in the Irish Derby (G1) at The Curragh in July. This time Auguste Rodin outbattled Adelaide River in another solid performance to pick up his second Group 1 of the season.
But Auguste Rodin came back with another clunker in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot with a last-place finish after Ryan Moore protected him in the latter portions of the race. For this race, Racing Post used the good-to-soft label for the course conditions, which explains the second bad race this year for Auguste Rodin.
Auguste Rodin rebounded once more by capturing the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown last weekend. Auguste Rodin did not take this race in the same impressive manner as in his two wins earlier in the season, but he did win over good turf again.
In fact, the star 3-year-old needed to work hard to outfinish Luxembourg on the rail, while the closing filly Nashwa almost caught him. Nashwa’s name should feel familiar to American handicappers, as she closed for fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last year.
Handicappers could forgive the small margin and consider a win a win, especially since the Irish Champion gave him another Group 1 win.
Clearly, Auguste Rodin's success over firmer ground is the one connecting factor for his three Group 1 wins for this year.
What are Auguste Rodin’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup Turf? If no other Europeans ship for the race, then his chances will look pretty good against the American turf routers. Auguste Rodin will love the surface.
If the connections ship Auguste Rodin and he faces other notable names from Europe though, then handicappers need to consider those invaders too and not single Auguste Rodin based on his star power. Bettors must think about the records and who is close to Auguste Rodin in ability.
After all, Luxembourg gave Auguste Rodin quite a stiff challenge in the Irish Champion Stakes, and Nashwa almost caught him. She only needed a few more steps. As noted above, Nashwa was not even the best female in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last year. If Auguste Rodin had trouble holding off those two runners at Leopardstown, then he likely is not a lock in the Breeders' Cup versus other good Europeans.
Odds and value aside, then yes, Auguste Rodin can capture the Breeders’ Cup Turf as long as the long flight does not bother him. His main challenges will come from Europe, but the firm turf at Santa Anita works in his favor as he never fails to fire on good to firm grass.
Even if he doesn't win, the Turf could use a big overseas name such as Auguste Rodin to liven up the race. In less than two months, hopefully the connections take a shot with the travel as long as the horse feels well and up to the long flight.