April 23, 2024

Royal Lodge offers points on European Road to Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup berth

European Road to the Kentucky Derby

The Royal Lodge (G2) at Newmarket on Saturday serves up a proper test of stakes form versus talented class climbers, with more on the line than prestige. The winner of the one-mile prize will clinch a free berth to the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs, and start the European Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard on top with 10 points.

Antepost favorite Beatboxer is in the class climber category for John Gosden, whose bumper crop of two-year-olds has already featured Too Darn Hot, Calyx, and Kessaar. Princess Haya’s $650,000 Keeneland September buy defeated three future winners in his Sandown unveiling, then took another step forward in a Haydock novice. Under the top weight of 134 pounds, Beatboxer went wire to wire for Frankie Dettori by a commanding 3 3/4 lengths. The Scat Daddy colt was set to try stakes company in the September 8 Ascendant S. over the same track and mile trip, but heavy ground prompted his withdrawal.

Beatboxer now attempts to give Gosden his third Royal Lodge win in the last four years, if he can dismiss a solid cast with some nifty form. His trainer is well aware of the task.

“He’s still very much a big boy,” Gosden told Racing UK. “He’s still a horse in the making. He’s a long way from the finished product.”

A similar comment applies to the other Scat Daddy colt, Kadar, the least experienced member of the field with just a single start on his resume. Trained by Karl Burke for Phoenix Thoroughbred, the €700,000 Arqana juvenile overturned Gosden’s odds-on Waldstern, a Derby (G1) entry who was coming off a winning debut, in a Haydock novice. Kadar picks up James Doyle for this stiff trial. With his dam, Kaloura, being a multiple stakes-winning and Group 2-placed Sinndar half-sister to champion Kalanisi, Kadar has every right to be better next year.

The remaining principals represent established stakes form. Chesham winner Arthur Kitt was subsequently runner-up to the smashing Too Darn Hot in the Solario (G3), making him an enticing value play here at 8-1.

Two of Aidan O’Brien’s triumvirate were last seen chasing Godolphin’s Quorto. Cape of Good Hope, Highland Reel’s full brother, was second to Quorto in the Superlative (G2), while Mohawk was a well-beaten fourth behind the same rival in the Vincent O’Brien National (G1). Although Mohawk was previously third to stablemate Anthony Van Dyck in the Futurity (G2) as well, both of his stakes tries came over seven furlongs on rain-affected tracks, and the step up to a mile on better ground could put him in a better light. Sydney Opera House, on the other hand, has more questions to answer after being brushed aside by Madhmoon twice, most recently when fifth in the KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2). The O’Brien trio also hold entries in Sunday’s Beresford (G2) at Naas, with final declarations to come Friday.

Kuwait Currency, from the Richard Hannon academy, appears ready for his first Group tilt after landing the Stonehenge at Salisbury. The Kitten’s Joy colt (bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey) left Fox Tal well back in fourth, Chesham runner-up Nate the Great in fifth, and Arctic Sound, winner of Thursday’s Tattersalls S. (G3), in last.

Victory Command compiled a three-race winning spree for Mark Johnston, capped by Ascot’s Pat Eddery S. with Nate the Great in third. Only fourth to Too Darn Hot and Arthur Kitt in the Solario, however, the most experienced runner in the race must find a way to progress or look exposed. That’s how Paul Cole’s Duke of Hazzard was looking, as the third to Arthur Kitt in the Chesham. But upped in trip to a mile for the Criterium du Fonds Europeen de l’Elevage in his latest, he missed by just a head.

The Royal Lodge is the 8:50 a.m. (EDT) opener on a terrific card spotlighting the juveniles. Next up is the Cheveley Park (G1) for two-year-old fillies, and Pretty Pollyanna is the red-hot favorite to add to her laurels in the Prix Morny (G1) (over Signora Cabello) and Duchess of Cambridge (G2) (over Angel’s Hideaway). O’Brien has a posse comprising Lowther (G2) heroine Fairyland, Phoenix (G1) runner-up So Perfect, and multiple Group 2-placed Gossamer Wings, while fellow Irish shipper Lady Kaya exits a second in the Moyglare Stud (G1), Queen of Bermuda wheels back from a new career high in the Firth of Clyde (G3), and Lowther near-misser The Mackem Bullet makes her first start in Katsumi Yoshida’s colors.

O’Brien’s Ten Sovereigns is trading at odds-on ahead of the Middle Park (G1), where he bids to make it a perfect three-for-three. From the first crop of No Nay Never, the exciting juvenile romped by seven in his Curragh debut and hacked up next time in the Round Tower (G3). His rivals include the top two from the Gimcrack (G2), Emaraaty Ana and Legends of War; Sheikh Hamdan’s Jash, winner of his two by 13 1/2 lengths combined for Simon Crisford; Railway (G2) and Richmond (G2) runner-up Marie’s Diamond; and stablemate Sergei Prokofiev, who must have had an excuse for his uncharacteristic last in the Phoenix, since he adds a tongue tie here.