Our virtual trip around the international world of horse racing continues over the July 4-5 weekend with a bevy of important races in England and France. Four postponed classics are on the agenda, including the coveted Oaks and Derby in England, but the highlight of the weekend is undoubtedly the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, in which superstar Enable will return to action.
Here’s how the action is set to unfold:
Saturday, July 4
Epsom, England, Race 4: Investec Oaks (G1, 10:40 a.m. EDT)
The historic 1 1/2-mile classic from which all other Oaks descend, the Investec Oaks has attracted a small but elite field of eight 3-year-old fillies, with two standing out as heavy favorites. Love, conditioned by seven-time Oaks-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, won the prestigious Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) as a juvenile and enters the Oaks off a powerful 4 1/4-length romp in the 1,000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket, the first leg of the British Fillies’ Triple Crown. The daughter of Galileo will be a popular betting choice with Ryan Moore in the saddle.
But Love could face a stiff challenge from Frankly Darling, a daughter of undefeated British sensation Frankel. Racing for the high-profile team of trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori, who won the 2019 Oaks with Anapurna, Frankly Darling was clearly best in the 1 1/2-mile Ribblesdale Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot last month. Whereas Love has never run beyond a mile, Frankly Darling is already proven over the Oaks distance, setting up an intriguing showdown between these two young stars.
Epsom, England, Race 6: Investec Derby (G1, 11:55 a.m. EDT)
Just as the Investec Oaks is the ancestor of all others Oaks around the world, the Investec Derby is the original Derby that all others attempt to emulate. But whereas this year’s Oaks is shaping up to be a two-horse race, the Derby appears wide-open on paper without any clear standouts among the 16 entries.
English King has emerged as the tentative favorite for Frankie Dettori and trainer Ed Walker after rolling to a comfortable victory in the 1 7/16-mile Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield. But Kameko, a son of Kitten’s Joy who battled to victory in the 2,000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket, can put up a fight if he sees out the challenging 1 1/2-mile distance.
Also attracting support is Mogul, who will look to keep improving for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore after finishing fourth in the 2,000 Guineas and also the King Edward VII Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. O’Brien has tossed five others into the fray as well, including Russian Emperor, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Hampton Court (G3) at Royal Ascot. It’s safe to say the Derby is one of the most competitive races being held anywhere in the world this weekend.
Sunday, July 5
Chantilly, France, Race 4: Prix du Jockey Club (G1, 9:10 a.m. EDT)
A total of 17 sophomores are set to face the starter in the 1 5/16-mile Prix du Jockey Club, commonly known as the French Derby. Acclaimed French trainer Andre Fabre conditions favored Victor Ludorum, whose hopes for a sweep of the French Triple Crown are alive following a comfortable score in the 1-mile Poule d’Essai des Poulains (G1, French 2,000 Guineas) on June 1. But Victor Ludorum’s Fabre-trained stablemate Ocean Atlantique could be a formidable opponent after cruising to a five-length romp in the 1 1/4-mile Prix de Suresnes, his second blowout triumph from four starts.
American racing fans will be keen to study the performance of Aidan O’Brien’s Fort Myers, a Triple Crown nominee who finished seventh in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The son of War Front is a longshot in the betting after finishing ninth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (G1), so stay tuned—if he falters in his second try against top company in Europe, a surface switch (and an attempt to qualify to the Kentucky Derby) might be in the offing.
Chantilly, France, Race 5: Prix de Diane (G1, 9:55 a.m. EDT)
Bookmakers are viewing the 1 5/16-mile Prix de Diane (French Oaks) as a three-horse battle. Alpine Star is the slight favorite after defeating Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) champion Sharing by 4 1/4 lengths in the Coronation Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot, earning a massive 121 Racing Post Rating.
But Raabihah is undefeated and unchallenged in two starts, including an easy four-length score in the 1 3/8-mile Prix de la Seine at Longchamp, and Aidan O’Brien’s Peaceful was a decisive winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas (G1). Considering Prix de Diane participants frequently wind up competing in the U.S., this race bears watching from a Breeders’ Cup perspective.
Sandown, England, Race 5: Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1, 10:35 a.m. EDT)
Easily the most anticipated race of the weekend is the 1 1/4-mile Coral-Eclipse, in which two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner and 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) champion Enable will make her much-anticipated 6-year-old debut. Racing for Juddmonte Farm, John Gosden, and Frankie Dettori, Enable has won 10 Group 1 races during her decorated career and claimed the 2019 Coral-Eclipse by a neck over the talented Magical. Bettors will widely expect Enable to begin her season on a winning note this Sunday.
But no 6-year-old has won the Coral-Eclipse since 1886, when Bendigo claimed the inaugural running, and there hasn’t been a back-to-back winner since Halling in 1995-96. Enable will have to defy history to claim another victory in the Coral-Eclipse, and she’ll also have to handle a deep field of challengers led by the powerful Coronation Cup (G1) winner Ghaiyyath, Aidan O’Brien’s 2019 Juddmonte International (G1) champion Japan, and the globetrotting Group 1-winning mares Deirdre and Magic Wand. One thing is certain—as talented as Enable might be, no one is willing to hand her victory on a silver platter.
Enjoy the racing!