Irish Stakes Recap: Alice Springs, Almanzor Earn Breeders’ Cup Berths
Irish Stakes Recap: Alice Springs, Almanzor Earn Breeders’ Cup Berths by Reinier Macatangay– Ireland hosted five different Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events over the past weekend, and at least one of the names will sound familiar to those who followed the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland last year.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Alice Springs, who finished runner-up to Catch a Glimpse in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Fillies (GI), scored a scintillating win on Saturday in the one-mile €350,000 Matron Stakes (GI) (replay) at Leopardstown.
Watching her effort is a treat for those who love off-the-pace wins.
Alice Springs began the race in last and stayed there approaching the far turn. After the turn and into the straightaway, Alice Springs still ran in last, although Ryan Moore started to angle her outside. Once she was clear, Moore gave a few reminders with the stick and Alice Springs responded like a rocket to post the victory.
O’Brien seemed to confirm Alice Springs for the Breeders’ Cup, as seen on Racing Better:
“She’s made for the Breeders’ Cup on fast ground. We’ll look at the Breeders’ Cup Mile or something like that.”
Although Alice Springs won a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GI), O’Brien may feel the one-mile distance suits her better. It will be fun to see which championship race they decide on.
On the same card, the 3-year-old colt Almanzor captured the €1,250,000 Irish Champion Stakes (GI) (replay) for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget to win an entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI). The pace looked slightly quick from a visual standpoint, although it is difficult to tell because European races do not show fractions and no pace figures are available.
Still, just look at how the race unfolded. Almanzor lingered at the very back, while eventual runner-up and reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Found settled around there too.
Highland Reel, winner of the Hong Kong Vase (GI) over Flintshire last December, had a seemingly beautiful trip saving ground on the inside and switched outside for the stretch, which works as a winning formula on turf.
Unfortunately, as soon as he took the lead in the 1 1/4-mile race, the field swallowed him quickly.
Found, trained by O’Brien, made a quick move towards the front, but Almanzor always had Found’s measure and picked up the win under Christophe Soumillon.
O’Brien’s after-race comments do not reference the Breeders’ Cup:
“The plan always with Found was to go for the Arc after this and I imagine that will probably be the way with her.”
But, O’Brien loves to ship here, so it is probable he will send Found again to defend her Breeders’ Cup crown after taking on the best European horses in France.
Also on the card, the 2-year-old gelding Landfall picked up a win in the Champions Juvenile Stakes (GIII) (replay), earning him a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI).
The following day, the €350,000 Moyglare Stud Stakes (GI) was run at Curragh Racecourse, and Aidan O’Brien’s son Joseph won with 25-1 shot Intricately. The two O’Briens held five out of the seven entries.
From the same website, the younger O’Brien made a few comments on Intricately’s future plans:
“She’s in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, and we’ll see how she comes out of this. She doesn’t have to run again this season.”
Regardless of whether young O’Brien skips the Breeders’ Cup, the elder one is likely to take one or two of his defeated fillies and send them to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile FIllies Turf.
The Flying Five Stakes (GII), the Curragh’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI) qualifier, was won by Ardhoomey.
Europeans hold a solid record at Santa Anita Park, so expect to see many classy overseas turf horses on Nov. 4 and 5 in Arcadia, Calif., where they will be greeted by warm weather and excited fans.