07/28/2017 6:16PM

France: Qemah eyes Prix Rothschild repeat


Qemah will try to win the Group 1 Prix Rothschild on Sunday at Deauville Racecourse in France for the second year in a row.

Qemah, getting a seven-pound weight allowance from her elders as a 3-year-old a year ago, sprinted home a 1 1/4-length winner over fellow 3-year-old Volta last July in the Rothschild, a straight-course mile that will be run over ground forecast to be “good” on Sunday. This year, Qemah’s full 129-pound impost includes jockey Cristian Demuro as the 4-year-old filly, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget for Al Shaqab Racing, tries for her first Group 1 of 2017.

Qemah, two starts into her campaign, appears to be in form comparable to what she brought into the 2016 Rothschild. She started her season in a Group 3 at Lingfield and finished second, still rusty after a winter break, but beat 13 rivals, including Rothschild contender Usherette, in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes on June 21 at Royal Ascot. Qemah was a very good 2-year-old, and excellent 3-year-old, and probably still has the best part of her 4-year-old season in front of her. In fact, a strong showing Sunday could even put her on course for a late-season start in a race like the Breeders’ Cup Mile, as Qemah is Breeders Cup-eligible.

Trainer John Gosden has the best filly he trains, the 3-year-old Enable, tackling males this weekend in the Group 1 King George in England, but he also has a solid Rothschild contender in Persuasive. Four-year-old Persuasive made two of her first three starts on all-weather tracks in England, but she turned out to be more than a synthetic-surfaces specialist. She beat 20 rivals in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot, won the Group 3 Fillies Stakes at Sandown last August by three lengths, and ended her 2016 campaign with a fine second to high-class Alice Springs in the Group 1 Matron Stakes. The Rothschild will be Persuasive’s first start in more than 10 months, however, and she might prefer more cut in the ground than she’s likely to find Sunday.

Five-year-old Usherette is a six-time winner from 11 starts for Godolphin, but she was beaten a length by Qemah in the Duke of Cambridge and is not quite that filly’s equal on a level playing field. The 3-year-old of some note here is Roly Poly, who on July 14 captured the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket over older rivals. She gets seven pounds from her elders Sunday, but meets a considerably stronger bunch than she beat two weekends ago in England.

◗ Potemkin, seventh last out in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park, is a main player Sunday at Munich in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis Bayerisches von Zuchtrennen. The 1 1/4-mile race drew 11 entrants, including the Godolphin 4-year-old Prize Money, but Potemkin defeated the likes of Heshem and Robin of Navan last year, and for whatever reason failed to show his best in New York.