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Jigsaw Falling Into Place

As we move inexorably closer to Breeders’ Cup time (pre-entries are to be announced in a little more than a week), things are fairly quiet – last weekend’s (stateside) races were most notable for a major exit, rather than as Breeders’ Cup preps.

But it was a satisfying exit; Champs Elysees capped his career in style, by going out on a win in the Canadian International. He beat a thoroughly professional field that included Jukebox Jury and Quijano, and he is now off to join his brothers, Dansili and Cacique, at Banstead Manor Stud. It will be interesting to see how they price him, given the economy and the fact that Juddmonte is rather awash in DanehillHasili stallions – Dansili is already a proven sire, with notable offspring including Arc winner Rail Link (also a Juddmonte stallion) and Zambezi Sun, but Champs Elysees has had a more varied racing career, including G1 wins – Dansili never won a G1 race. Fellow G1-winning brother Cacique’s fee is officially private, while Dansili stands for £65,000 – will Champs Elysees sit somewhere in the middle, or come in at a lower rate as the junior partner?

And so to some racing that may have more of an impact on the Breeders’ Cup – the Newmarket Champion Stakes. Twice Over (something of a stablemate to Champs Elysees in the sense that both reside under the very large Juddmonte banner) was the winner and while he has earned a spot in the Turf, he may instead follow the European crowd to the Classic. Something of an underachiever at 3 and earlier this year (despite a race record full of glittering opponents, including Sea the Stars, Vision d’Etat, Tartan Bearer, Henrythenavigator and Raven’s Pass – who finished behind Twice Over in the Craven Stakes), he has recently come into his own. On Saturday, he beat a fine field including favo(u)red Fame & Glory (an unthreatening 7th – he may have been tired from a season of chasing Sea the Stars) and held off strong efforts from Mawatheeq and Sariska. Unfortunately neither will be coming to the Breeders’ Cup – Sariska is getting a break before aiming for next year’s Arc – but it seems likely we’ll see both next year. As for Twice Over, he’s flying slightly under the radar (at least compared to Rip Van Winkle) – you may want to make note of him.

Also hoping to go out on a win like Champs Elysees is Red Rocks, winner of the 2006 Turf – but with a slight difference. If a stallion deal for the 6-year-old is not finalized before the Breeders’ Cup, he’ll head to Fasig-Tipton a few days after the race for the auction block. Someone could pick up a bargain – although if Spanish Moon, Conduit and Dar Re Mi do show up, he’ll have his work cut out for him.

Other horses operating in stealth mode (but who appear on the Breeders’ Cup possibles list – PDF warning) include Stardom Bound – she may not have lived up to her potential in the spring, but she’s been working toward redemption in the Filly & Mare Classic. Whether her strong workouts will translate back into a win in the afternoon remains to be seen – but the prospect of Zenyatta losing to ‘Baby Z’ (or to Music Note or Icon Project) should send her to the ‘classic’ Classic (where her name presently does not appear) – a good finish behind just about anyone in this potential field still says a lot. We should know reasonably soon, in either case.

We’ll look at other possible Breeders’ Cup matchups later, but if Radiohead does come for the Juvenile, will he prove fitter/happier than the local boys?

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