Our cup runneth over

Darley stallions well represented in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup
Medaglia d'Oro

With Medaglia d’Oro leading the way, 10 Darley sires have 17 individual runners in 12 of the 13 races in this year’s Breeders’ Cup taking place this weekend at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Southern California. 

Medaglia d’Oro has six sons or daughters headed to the starting gate with his two-year-old son Bolt d’Oro and his three-year-old daughter Elate expected to be the post time favorites in the Juvenile and the Distaff, respectively. Both come into this year’s Championship Weekend with consecutive G1 victories and each could make a strong case for divisional Eclipse Awards if they continue their winning ways.

His four-year-old son Talismanic, who races in the Godolphin silks, is still seeking his first G1 victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf having won or placed in Group events in France in his last four races this year. Other son Gato Del Oro has yet to win in Graded company but posted an impressive victory at one mile on the Del Mar main track this year so his connections are hoping that the “horses for courses” angle will pay dividends in the Dirt Mile. 

Multiple G1 winner Elate, by Medaglia d'Oro

Two other fillies by Medaglia d’Oro are also looking to affect the outcome in the Juvenile Fillies and the Filly & Mare Sprint. Two-year-old Wonder Gadot is only three-quarters of a length from being undefeated in three starts, with a narrow miss in the G1 Natalma in just her second start being her only misstep. She comes into the Juvenile Fillies off of a six-length win in the G3 Mazarine. Bar Of Gold finished off the board as the favorite in her last race, the G1 Spinster at Keeneland, contested at one and one-eighth miles. The seven-furlong distance of the Filly & Mare Sprint will hopefully be more to her liking. 

Breakout first-crop sire Animal Kingdom also has a strong contender in the Juvenile Turf with his son Untamed Domain, winner of the G2 Summer Stakes on September 17th. He’s one of three Stakes winners from the Derby winner’s first crop to race.

Midshipman’s daughter Princess Warrior makes her third career start in the Juvenile Fillies and is coming off a second-place finish in the G1 Alcibiades on October 6th. Just two years ago, Midshipman’s standout daughter Lady Shipman narrowly missed in her Breeders' Cup appearance when finishing second in the Turf Sprint against males. She finished her career with 17 wins or placings from 22 starts.

Bernardini is represented in the Sprint by the improving three-year-old colt Takaful, winner in his last of the G1 Vosburgh and a strong second two back in the G1 H. Allen Jerkens.  His 107 Beyer Speed Figure in the Vosburgh is the third highest for any three-year-old in 2017.

Bernardini's G1 Vosburgh winner Takaful

The Darley-sired European contingent is also very strong and features three progeny of perennial leading sire Dubawi who stands at Dalham Hall in Newmarket, England.  Mubtaahij became his sire’s first G1 winner on dirt last time out when taking the Awesome Again Stakes on September 30th. He shoots for his second career high-level win in the tough Classic.  Daughter Wuheida, raced by Godolphin, was the winner of the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac last year and hasn't finished worse than fourth in four G1 events in 2017. She will run in the Filly & Mare Turf. Another daughter of Dubawi, Nezwaah, is also entered in the Filly & Mare Turf. Winner of the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland in July, Nezwaah was most recently seen as the beaten favorite in the G1 E. P. Taylor Stakes.

Godolphin’s Ribchester, by Darley European sire Iffraaj, is one of the highest-weighted runners in Europe with four lifetime G1 wins, including three this year. The Godolphin color bearer aims for his fifth in the Mile which will be the last race of his career before retiring to Darley’s Kildangan operation in Ireland.

New Darley stallion Ribchester, by Iffraaj

New Approach, who also stands at Dalham Hall, is well represented with his lone runner, Godolphin's two-year-old colt Masar. A G3 winner of two of four lifetime starts, Masar was last seen finishing fourth in the G1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere on October 1st in France. It appears that the soft going may have influenced his performance that day and he should stand a better shot with firm ground expected in southern California.

The last three runners are all products of Darley shuttle stallions Lonhro and Exceed And Excel whose home base is Australia. Lonhro’s Holding Gold joins Exceed And Excel’s Cotai Glory as starters in the Turf Sprint. Holding Gold won the G2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland earlier this year but has been given a bit of rest since his last start in early September. He has been working well and will benefit from a fast pace up front. Cotai Glory gave a decent indication of his form when running second last time out in the G2 Nearctic at Woodbine. Although winless in 2017, his back catalog reflects two wins in Group company so he should give a good account of himself. 

And last but not least, Exceed And Excel's consistent son James Garfield will join the aforementioned Masar and Untamed Domain in the Juvenile Turf. Never worse than fourth in five career starts, James Garfield made his last start a very productive one when landing the G2 Mill Reef Stakes in England. He just missed in a G3 prior to that so appears to be peaking at the right time.