10/05/2011 12:07PM

Breeders' Cup: Goldikova coming into the Mile on a rare losing streak

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Justin N. Lane
Goldikova has lost two straight races heading into the Breeders' Cup Mile.

For the first time since early summer 2008, mighty Goldikova has lost two races in a row, and while the mare is far from washed-up, her defeat in the Prix de la Foret on Sunday in Paris lends hope to her potential rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Mile next month at Churchill Downs.

Goldikova hadn’t been defeated in two straight races since losing 2008 battles against champion filly Zarkava. Goldikova finished second or third in her first three starts that season, then went 20 races without losing in back-to-back appearances. Sunday, she got a favorable trip in the Foret, but after turning back a stretch bid from Worthadd, Goldikova could not hold off Dream Ahead, a 3-year-old colt who simply appeared bigger and stronger than 6-year-old Goldikova. That defeat followed a one-length loss to 3-year-old filly Immortal Verse in the Jacque le Marois in August, and four starts ago, Goldikova was taken down by Canford Cliffs in the Queen Anne Stakes, giving her a record of 5-2-3-0 in 2011.

Speculation that Goldikova has lost a step seems fair, but her three consecutive wins in the BC Mile – the only time she gets to race around two tight turns – have been among her best performances, and a return to the tight course at Churchill could serve Goldikova well. Moreover, no horse that beat her this year is likely to line up for the 2011 Mile. Canford Cliffs has been retired, Dream Ahead has raced for the last time, and Immortal Verse starts Oct. 15 at Ascot in England, making Breeders’ Cup participation unlikely. The Ascot race, the Queen Elizabeth II, also is expected to draw another potential Euro-shipper for the Mile, Excelebration. All of which means Goldikova might meet only watered-down overseas competition and an American contingent that she has comfortably handled in the past when she attempts to win the Mile for the fourth year in a row.