September 23, 2023

Earthlight signals bright future in Prix Morny

Deauville scenic photo (c) Frank Sorge/

Godolphin’s Earthlight toppled three Royal Ascot winners to remain unbeaten in Sunday’s Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville. Only the second-ever winner of the juvenile feature for Andre Fabre, the homebred could be on a path to emulate Fabre’s first, Zafonic (1992), who went on to glory in the next spring’s 2000 Guineas (G1).

Thus preliminary indications are that Earthlight is unlikely to take up the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint spot earned in this “Win and You’re In” event. Fabre reportedly mentioned Newmarket’s Dewhurst (G1) as his only other potential target this season.

Yet the Morny is still very much worth a look for Breeders’ Cup implications among the rest. Six furlongs on heavy ground might have stretched the stamina of A’Ali, who already punched his Juvenile Turf Sprint ticket in the five-furlong Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot. Arizona, last seen landing the Coventry (G2) for Aidan O’Brien, was proven over the trip but presumably not best suited by the going.

The Royal Ascot star who did perform in the conditions was Queen Mary (G2) heroine Raffle Prize. Subsequently successful in the Duchess of Cambridge (G2) during Newmarket’s July Festival, the Mark Johnston trainee showed her typical speed to lead the way at Deauville. Arizona and Golden Horde, the Coventry fifth coming off a score in the Richmond (G2) at Glorious Goodwood, tracked her while Earthlight was perched just behind them.

As Raffle Prize continued to roll along, Arizona began to lose position, and Golden Horde plugged on at one pace. Earthlight was the lone rival able to pick up and join the filly. He forced his blaze face in front, but Raffle Prize refused to yield. Like so many of her stablemates past and present, Raffle Prize proved tough to subdue. Earthlight did well to put her away at last by a half-length in 1:12.00 under regular rider Mickael Barzalona.

The top two pulled clear of the pack. Golden Horde checked in a further 2 1/2 lengths astern in third, with another two-length break to Arizona, who headed A’Ali for fourth. Aroha, Royal Dornoch, and Devil rounded out the order of finish.

Aside from becoming Fabre’s first Morny winner in 27 years, Earthlight ended the streak of foreign raiders taking the spoils. The last French-trained winner was Dabirsim (2011), and prior to him, Divine Proportions (2004) defended the Gallic turf.

Now four-for-four, Earthlight premiered at Maisons-Laffitte June 19, prevailing by a neck in a newcomers’ race at about 5 1/2 furlongs, before stepping up to about six at Deauville. The chestnut opened up by 3 1/2 lengths in a July 2 conditions event and romped in his stakes debut in the July 28 Prix de Cabourg (G3). His time that day on good-to-soft, 1:10.30, suggests he’s at least as effective on a better surface.

Earthlight is the newest two-year-old sensation for Darley sire Shamardal, joining fellow Godolphin homebred Pinatubo. Himself unbeaten in four starts for trainer Charlie Appleby, Pinatubo set a juvenile course record in Royal Ascot’s Chesham S. and followed up with an even more dominant performance in the Vintage (G2) at Glorious Goodwood.

Interestingly, their dams are bred along a reverse cross. Earthlight is the first foal from Winters Moon, the close third in the 2014 Fillies’ Mile (G1), who is by New Approach out of the Group 3-winning Darshaan mare Summertime Legacy. Pinatubo’s dam, stakes victress Lava Flow, is by the Darshaan stallion Dalakhani and out of a mare by the Sadler’s Wells stallion Barathea.

Winters Moon, a half-sister to Group 1 scorers Mandaean and Wavering, descends from the same family as Golden Fleece, the brilliant 1982 Derby (G1) hero.