10/29/2010 1:14PM

Europe's second tier of juveniles good enough to make Breeders' Cup impact


NEW YORK – Led by Frankel, this year’s crop of European 2-year-olds looks like the strongest and deepest in many a year. Their impact should be felt in the Breeders’ Cup juvenile races, even though none of the best European 2-year-olds will be at Churchill Downs next week.

The undefeated 10-length winner of the one-mile, Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes, Frankel beat Dream Ahead, the nine-length winner of the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes by seven lengths, when winning the seven-furlong, Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. A second line of European progression begins with Zoffany, the winner of the six-furlong, Group 1 Phoenix Stakes who was subsequently beaten into third by Pathfork in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes in which Casamento was second by a head. Casamento followed that effort with a victory in the one-mile, Group 1 Racing Post Trophy. Finally, there is Wootton Basset, who remained undefeated after five starts with a 2 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

The Racing Post gave Frankel a rating of 127 for his victory in the Dewhurst. That is the third highest ever awarded to a 2-year-old, behind only Arazi’s 134 in 1991 and Celtic Swing’s 133 in 1994. Casamento earned a 121 for his Racing Post Trophy, while Wootton Basset got a 120 for his Lagardere.

Here’s how this impacts the Breeders’ Cup.

Master of Hounds has been installed as most everyone’s favorite for the Juvenile Turf off his much improved third behind Casamento in the Racing Post Trophy when they had Group 3 Anglesey Stakes winner Dunboyne Express back in fifth. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Master of Hounds is a half-brother to Eishin Apollon, who was second, beaten a half-length, last December in Japan’s premier juvenile race, the one-mile Futurity Stakes.

Frankel’s Royal Lodge romp came at the expense of runner-up Klammer, who followed that effort with a nose victory over Juvenile Turf hopeful Dux Scholar in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes. Dux Scholar is trained by Michael Stoute for Juddmonte, so there is intent behind his trip to Kentucky.

A third Juvenile Turf candidate, Utley, hails from the George Strawbridge branch of John Gosden’s yard. Pitched into the Jean-Luc Lagardere after a Yarmouth maiden score, Utley, a Smart Strike half-brother to Grade 3 winners Just As Well and Winter View, acquitted himself with a fifth-place finish behind Wootton Basset.

The Brian Meehan-trained Mantoba’s 2 1/4-length tally in Newmarket’s Houghton Conditions Stakes should not be discounted, as the Houghton is frequently used as a springboard to group races. In 2005, for example, the runner-up was Red Rocks, the future winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf. In 2008, third-place Mastery would later win the classic St. Leger Stakes.

Two races in England should be studied closely for clues to European form in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The first is the Fillies Mile at Ascot in which White Moonstone beat Together by a neck. The second is the Tattersalls Millions Fillies Trophy in which Masaya beat Tale Untold and Together by a nose and a neck.

Together is an Aidan O’Brien-trained Galileo half-sister to last year’s one-mile, Group 1 Criterium International winner Jan Vermeer. Half-siblings to major juvenile winners have every reason to be successful in major juvenile races themselves, and that is certainly the case with Together. Trained by Richard Hannon, Tale Untold looks like late running value in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Quiet Oasis is an Oasis Dream half-sister to juvenile Group 3 Prix La Rochette winner Young Pretender, while Flood Plain is a listed-placed daughter of the mare Delta, who won 2 of 3 career starts at Chantilly by a combined eight lengths before injury forced her retirement. Both are improving, although they are not yet in the same league as Together or Tale Untold.

The two Europeans in the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies are examples of Bernardini’s early prowess in the breeding shed. Both Theyskens’ Theory and Biondetti will be making their first starts on dirt, so there is some doubt about their chance.

Named for owner Andrew Rosen’s male fashion label, Theyskens’ Theory is a half-sister to 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy, so there is real hope that she can handle dirt. Note, however, that handling dirt for turf horses is usually more a problem of withstanding kickback than getting hold of the track. The winner of the seven-furlong, Group 3 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, Theyskens’ Theory failed to last for second in the Fillies Mile, being caught late by runner-up Together. Although Theyskens’ Theory is 20-1 on the DRF morning line, she is just 6-1 with British bookies Coral.

Godolphin has been red hot of late in Europe and that bodes well for the Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Biondetti in the Juvenile. Like Theyskens Theory, Frizette winner A Z Warrior, and Hopeful runner-up Stay Thirsty, Biondetti is by Bernardini and is following very much in the footsteps of last year’s Juvenile winner Vale of York, who was also trained by Zarooni, and had previously finished second in San Siro’s Group 1 Gran Criterium, a race Biondetti won on Oct. 9.

Biondetti is a half-brother to Delta Princess, a two-time Grade 3 winner on dirt at Churchill Downs, and to Indy Five Hundred, the winner of Belmont’s Grade 1 Garden City Handicap on turf. He displayed versatility winning an allowance on the Kempton Polytrack. Dirt is the only surface on which he has not run, but his pedigree suggests he should handle it.