05/11/2017 2:20PM

Senga brings best credentials into French 1000 Guineas


Senga is the favorite Saturday at Deauville in the Group 1 French 1000 Guineas, but the 18-horse field of 3-year-old fillies set to contest a straight-course mile appears to be a mass of still-unformed talent yet to take firm shape.

Senga, a Flaxman Holdings homebred, at least is proven at the Group level, and if she continues improving, she stands a solid chance for trainer Pascal Bary and jockey Stephane Pasquier.

Senga sports a thoroughly American pedigree: by Blame and out of the A.P. Indy mare Beta Leo. She started three times last year at age 2 and ended her campaign with a good fourth of 11 in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac, another race over one mile, and one in which she encountered some trouble before finishing with good energy.

Senga beat five foes in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte to start her 3-year-old campaign while demonstrating that she had wintered well enough to be a force in the third classic race of the European season.

Via Ravenna has been well supported in ante-post wagering on the 1000 Guineas, but while she has started her career with two wins, there is more projecting going on with this filly than with Senga.

Trained by Andre Fabre, Via Ravenna only debuted in March, winning a maiden race by a neck, and while she stepped up the second time out to win the Group 3 Prix Imprudence by one length over Thais – another 1000 Guineas runner – she will need to improve again to get on the same level as the favorite.

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Sea of Grace, who ships from England for trainer William Haggas, fits decently in the race. A Group 3 winner at 2, she started her 3-year-old campaign by finishing fifth in the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket, a race whose winner, Daban, returned with a fine third last weekend in the English 1000 Guineas.

Aidan O’Brien runs two in the race, and while Roly Poly is better known to American fans through a ninth-place finish last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, it might be O’Brien’s other runner, Rain Goddess, who has a better chance Saturday. Rain Goddess showed little in her first start of the year but was a better fourth last out in the Dubai Duty Free at Newbury.

The German shipper Delectation has started her career with three wins and rolled a Group 3 field at Cologne last out in her first try over one mile.

◗ At Chester Racecourse in England on Thursday, O’Brien continued his strong start to the 2017 season with a one-two-three finish in the Group 3 Chester Vase, a race O’Brien now has won eight times.

Venice Beach won by 1 1/4 lengths over Wings of Eagles and The Anvil, and though the winner was easily best, his somewhat lumbering stride did not immediately suggest a horse who might be effective at the Group 1 level.

◗ Arrogate maintained his spot atop the World Thoroughbred Rankings in the latest update of the international ratings classification released Thursday. Arrogate is rated 134, while Winx holds the second spot at 132. The new name in the rankings is Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, whose Derby win was pegged at 122, tying for the sixth-best rating in 2017.