Almond Eye’s shock defeat was not Lemaire’s finest hour

Indychamp gets the better of Aerolithe in the Yasuda Kinen. Almond Eye's nosebanded head is just appearing on the left. Photo: Japan Racing Association

Unusually, the big Japanese G1 was not the richest race of the week last week, although it took the Epsom Derby to trump Tokyo’s one-mile $2.1m Yasuda Kinen, which still edged France’s premier classic, the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, out of second place. The Japanese race, part of the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Challenge series, was notable for something far more surprising however.

 

TRC OWNER OF THE WEEK

The powerful Japanese ownership club SILK RACING (+4pts, #10 from #12) entered the top ten of world owners, according to the TRC algorithm, after the Yasuda Kinen - but it was not in the manner most people expected. Their superstar racemare, Almond Eye, could finish only third, but Silk still won the race with Indy Champ, a son of former world #1 sire Stay Gold (himself a son of the great Sunday Silence).

As the video below shows, the Yasuda Kinen was probably not the finest hour of rider Christophe Lemaire (-1pt, stays #3). We are reminded here that even the world’s greatest jockeys make mistakes, and Lemaire surely had Almond Eye too far back, given that the trip is short of her best and ground conditions were also very slick. Almond Eye would have bolted up with another half-furlong to travel.

Thanks to Indy Champ, and earlier to G1 Dubai Turf winner Almond Eye herself, Silk Racing find themselves on the leaderboard of the world’s leading owners for 2019 based solely on aggregate wins:

The worldwide might of Godolphin (no change, stays #1) keeps them 22pts ahead of CoolmorePartners (no change, stays #2) in our overall standings. A reminder that this implies we consider them more likely to win head-to-head match-ups in the coming week. (Rankings points changes reflect the so-called ‘statistical shock’ of results during the past week – the better/worse the achievement of each competitor compared with our expectations, the greater the gain/loss of points.)

Indychamp’s neck victory over the 5-year-old mare Aerolithe (who ran below par when down the field in the Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park in January) represented a significant step up on his previous form, and he looks progressive. Should Silk Racing and trainer Hidetaka Otonashi (+6pts, climbs from #67 to #57) decide to take the plunge and aim at the BC Mile in November, they could have a live contender on their hands.

As Nicholas Godfrey pointed out on this site last week, no previous winner of the Yasuda Kinen has gone on to run in the Mile, but 1997 victor Taiki Blizzard was unplaced in the BC Classic on dirt. There has never been a Japanese-trained winner at the Breeders’ Cup, although Japanese-bred Karakontie, who was trained in France, won the Mile in 2014 at Santa Anita.

As part of the benefits from the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside North America to compete in the two-day event at Santa Anita on November 1-2.

Full owner standings here

Click here for a list of all last week’s biggest TRC Global Rankings points gainers

Click here for a list of all the week’s Group and Graded winners

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