Race of the Week 2017

Stoute has Beverly D Options

Dank 615 X 400
Photo: Four Footed Fotos
The most intriguing part of this week’s catch-up on the Grade I Beverly D. doings is anticipating what conditioner Sir Michael Stoute is strategizing.  After winning last year with James Wigan’s Dank en route to Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award glory, the trainer and owner expressed an interest in returning to Arlington and Santa Anita once again in 2014.  Some hoof issues have bothered the filly since her uncharacteristic unplaced showing against the world’s best 10-furlong horses in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June, so she is left as a mere ‘possible’ to make said appointments.

Even without last year’s runaway winner, Stoute’s yard has an enviable breadth of talent in the form of middle-distance turf fillies and mares.  Leading the pack is Cheveley Park Stud’s Integral, who recently landed the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on July 11 and the Antoniades Family’s Mango Diva, who annexed the Group II Kilboy Estate Stakes at The Curragh on July 20 – the same race Dank won in 2013 en route to Chicago.

While it is more likely that Integral will point toward events like the Group I Prix Jean Romanet or Group I Prix de l’Opera in France in the next couple months, Mango Diva looks increasingly likely to take Dank’s place if she does not make the trip.  A homebred daughter of Holy Roman Emperor, Mango Diva has only raced nine times, but has landed two Group victories, including the Group III Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes at Gowran Park at the Beverly D.’s 1 3/16-miles distance.  Much like Dank at this time last year, the bay filly has yet to land a victory at the top level, but is definitely on the improve and with Stoute’s patient and calculated handling it only seems a matter of time. 

Just the Judge, who was mentioned in last week’s Road to the Million, has gone from possible to probable, according to the International Racing Bureau.  Owned by Qatar Racing Limited and the Sangster Family, the Charlie Hills trainee is coming into her own at the right time and could appreciate firmer and quicker American racing.  She is joined by another under serious consideration, the attractive Pia Brandt-trained mare L’Amour de Ma Vie.  A daughter of Dansili, she was last seen finishing a very good second in the Group II Duke of Cambridge at Royal Ascot behind Integral for owner Md Bloodstock Limited.  The Duke of Cambridge was used by Dank last year (two races prior) en route to the Beverly D. and by Princess Haya of Jordan’s Joviality in 2012, who finished an excellent third in that year’s Beverly D.

Qatar Racing also has another shot in the Beverly D. in the regally bred Secret Gesture, who is also co-owned by breeder Newsells Park Stud for trainer Ralph Beckett.  The daughter of Galileo has placed three times in Group I races, including a third behind The Fugue in last year’s Yorkshire Oaks and a second in the classic English Oaks.  Interestingly, she is entered this weekend against the boys in the Group II Sky Bet York Stakes at York Racecourse as a prep.

An intriguing charge from Europe is George Strawbridge’s Sparkling Beam, an American-owned Irish-bred filly trained in France by an Englishman.  It does not get more ‘international’ than that.  The daughter of Nayef hails from the yard of Jonathan Pease, who must be considered formidable when he ships a horse Stateside, especially considering he has been snagging graded stakes here with well-placed charges since 1987 – including two Breeders’ Cup victories.  Sparkling Beam has not been a standout performer in Europe, but has been consistent in Group II and III events in France.

Stateside, the Grade I Diana Stakes was the final domestic prep for the Beverly D.  The $500,000 event attracted no less than five Grade I winners and finished with six as Caroline Forgason’s Michael Matz-trained Somali Lemonade showed marked improvement from her last two races to win by a driving neck under Luis Saez.  Now considered a possible for a trip to Chicago, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid joins Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s runner-up Stephanie’s Kitten, Andrew Stone’s Strathnaver, Phipps Stable’s Abaco, Juddmonte Farm’s Emollient and Martin Schwartz’s Alterite from the Diana field as Beverly D. ‘maybes.’  Alterite, a disappointing eighth after contesting the pace, has had the Beverly D. penciled in since before the Diana for her three-time Beverly D.-winning owner, but her attendance may be in jeopardy after such a lackluster showing.


The Grade I Secretariat Stakes could go either way this year in terms of field size and class.  There are many interested and twice as many wavering on committing at this point.  One thing is clear: it looks like Adelaide is on his way from Ireland and Our Channel may be returning as well from England after his solid performance in the Grade III American Derby.  The X-factors on this side may be which horse(s) Todd Pletcher decides to send – as he has the talented duo of multiple stakes winner Gala Award and American Derby winner Divine Oath at his disposal – and whether or not Phipps Stable sends Mr. Speaker after his excellent victory over Adelaide in the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational. 


One thing was for sure after the Grade III Stars and Stripes – Team Block’s Suntracer only had a chance to run for about 150 yards.  Trainer Chris Block expressed this soon after, saying that his charge was ready to go again a few days later.  Second in last year’s Listed $400,000 American St. Leger, the son of Kitten’s Joy will have to wait three more weeks to once again take on Dandino and whatever possible Europeans make the trek, not to mention Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Stars and Stripes winner The Pizza Man.

Defending champion Dandino, according to owner Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, is aiming toward running, despite a poor performance at Newmarket last out in the Group II Princess of Wales’s.  The son of Dansili prefers firm ground and will be hoping for such if he makes the trip for trainer Marco Botti.  The rest of the field seems up for grabs and – like the Secretariat – it should become much clearer by next week.  Botti, who has two other possibles in his barn, has yet to completely tip his hand on his Festival entries, but such should be disclosed soon.

Three-time Grade I winning globetrotter Joshua Tree is under serious consideration once again this year, but this time seems more apt to running.  The 7-year-old Ed Dunlop trainee enjoys North American racing – as evidenced by his three Canadian International victories – and also does well when treated with Lasix.  The son of Montjeu was last out seen finishing seventh – not far behind Dandino – in the Group II Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.



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