As a life-long night-owl, I’ve always appreciated being more cognizant of breaking news in the middle of the night, whilst normal people slept. Still, prowling around the ‘net early Sunday morning, even I was impressed by the number of breaking stories.
First, and most disappointingly, is news that that Summer Bird is out of the JPN-G1 Japan Cup Dirt after suffering a bone chip—it would be even more disheartening if he were to be retired rather than have the opportunity to run next year. Obviously, even after surgery he might not be the same horse, but I was honestly looking forward to seeing the best of him yet to come. Here’s hoping the Jayaramans resist the breeding shed temptation for now.
The second news is far more pleasant, as the much-beloved 5-year-old mare Vodka finally won the JPN-G1 Japan Cup, after fourth and third place finishes in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Lightly-raced 4-year-old colt Oken Bruce Lee nearly caught her at the wire, only to lose by a nose, while cracking 3-year-old filly Red Desire finished third, ahead of favorite/BC Turf champion Conduit. The video is in Japanese; Vodka is #5 and chestnut Oken Bruce Lee is #10:
Just as here in the U.S., group racing Down Under is about to crank back significantly, with only two G1 events in the next two months—the G1 Kingston Town Classic at Ascot on December 5, followed by the G1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington on January 30.
Steve Brem, whose blog This Racing Game is sorely missed, must be very proud, as his once-$50,000 yearling/now 4-year-old filly Ortensia crushed the G2 Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot this weekend—a worthy achievement, even with top sprinter Lucky Secret scratched. Hey, she even has her own Facebook page!
Ortensia and the game 4-year-old filly Romneya, victress of the G2 Classic Stakes, share Fille Detoile as their fourth dam—as does one-time Kentucky Derby favorite Friesan Fire (actually, Romneya’s dam Mannington and Friesan Fire’s dam Bollinger are half-sisters). Interesting to hear that Friesan Fire, now under the tutelage of Steve Asmussen, will make his first start since the Preakness this coming Thursday in an allowance race at Fair Grounds, against much seasoned older horses. His major goal: G1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream on February 6.
In 2000, Stormy Pick won the Spinaway, becoming the first G1 winner for then-freshman sire Storm Creek. Nearly a decade later, Storm Creek, who now stands at Stoney Bridge in New Zealand for $5,000, got his second G1 winner this week, when promising 3-year-old filly Eileen Dubh won the open-company NZ-G1 Levin Classic for 24-year-old trainer Francis Finnegan. Nice story, and well-bred filly—her dam Vingtaine is a half-sister to the G1-winning mare Culminate whose most impressive race this year was a narrow second-place loss to Typhoon Tracy in the AUS-G1 Coolmore Classic. Breathtaking!
Vingtaine is also a half-sister to the unraced Cappie, whose daughter Captivate won the NZ-G1 Breeders, and a half-sister to Paris Sky whose daughter Solvini won the NZ-G3 Taranaki 2YO Classic in race and track record time.
Thanks to nzracing for posting the race video; Eileen Dubh is in white/green chevrons with white cap mid-pack early, but lifting along from the inside late:
Another impressive filly to watch for Down Under in the coming months: 2-year-old Solar Charged who won on debut at Randwick-Kensington on Saturday. Not only was her five-length win visually-impressive, but also she set a new course record (57.97 seconds for the 1000 meters), and established herself as the likely early favorite for the G1 Golden Slipper.