Unbeaten Baaeed is the prohibitive odds-on favorite in Wednesday’s Sussex (G1) at Glorious Goodwood, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The world’s top-ranked horse looms even larger after his most anticipated opponent, Godolphin sophomore Coroebus, was ruled out by a setback.
A perfect 8-for-8 while competing exclusively at a mile, Baaeed added the June 14 Queen Anne (G1) to his resume at Royal Ascot last out. The William Haggas trainee is also proven around Goodwood, having romped in the Thoroughbred (G3) at last summer’s festival.
If there’s a tactical question in the Sussex, it’s that Baaeed is drawn on the inside in post 2. This turning track can produce traffic trouble that’s the stuff of jockey nightmares. The same post was no hindrance in the Thoroughbred though.
If there’s a theoretical question, it’s that Baaeed has hinted that he’s ready for a step up in trip. The Sussex is expected to be his launching pad to the Juddmonte International (G1) going about 1 5/16 miles at York.
Indeed, connections wouldn’t have forecast Baaeed as a mile supremo when he began his career. The Shadwell homebred is a full brother to Hukum, the recent Coronation Cup (G1) star who’s won over as far as 1 3/4 miles in the 2021 John Smith’s Silver Cup (G3).
But his Sussex rivals must hope that a maturing Baaeed wants further than a mile on Wednesday, or that regular rider Jim Crowley can’t extricate him. Otherwise, they’d need a career-best to hand him a first loss.
Order of Australia, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile shocker, was a solid second to Baaeed in last year’s Prix du Moulin (G1). Reportedly retired with an injury sustained while preparing for a Breeders’ Cup title defense, the Aidan O’Brien runner instead ended up staying in training. The well-related son of Australia resumed with a useful third to Baaeed in the Queen Anne, in what looked a fitness-builder. He duly moved forward next time to dominate the Minstrel (G2) for the second straight year. Order of Australia is entitled to do better than his fifth in the 2021 Sussex, when the soft going was against him. Ryan Moore is back aboard the pace factor.
Defending Sussex queen Alcohol Free isn’t ground-dependent, as evidenced by her 14-1 upset of the July Cup (G1) in her latest on good-to-firm. A Group 1 winner at two, three, and now four, the Andrew Balding filly warrants respect. Yet she’s not the most consistent performer, and the fact she cut back to sprinting this summer has to be kept in mind as she stretches out to a mile again. Alcohol Free won’t benefit from the same generous weight concession as a year ago either.
Godolphin isn’t empty-handed, with fellow classic winner Modern Games in to pinch-hit for Coroebus. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero returned victorious in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) (G1) to go 2-for-2 at a mile. The Charlie Appleby pupil found his ensuing starts too long or too short. Third to the impressive Vadeni from a poor post 13 in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1), Modern Games shortened up to the about seven-furlong Prix Jean Prat (G1) and wound up a close fifth. Returning to a mile in quicker conditions should bring out the best in him, but he is trying elders for the first time.
The only other three-year-old in the line-up, the Ralph Beckett-trained Angel Bleu, would prefer a bit of rain. The Dark Angel colt kicked off a three-race winning streak here in last summer’s Vintage (G2), followed by the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) and Criterium International (G1). Although a subpar ninth to Coroebus in the St James’s Palace (G1) last out, Angel Bleu could show more in his second start off the brief break.
Summer Mile (G2) victor Chindit was previously third to Baaeed in the Lockinge (G1) and fourth in the Queen Anne. Japanese shipper Bathrat Leon was last seen stunning the Godolphin Mile (G2) on World Cup night for Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer Yoshito Yahagi.
While the Sussex is the only Breeders’ Cup Challenge event during Glorious Goodwood, the five-day spectacle is a treat for racing fans. Tuesday’s card features the legendary Stradivarius going for a fifth Goodwood Cup (G1), with Gold Cup (G1) winner Kyprios and defending champ Trueshan among those in his way. The supporting attractions on opening day are the Lennox (G2), led by potential Breeders’ Cup Mile candidate Sacred, and the Vintage for juveniles.
Thursday’s highlight, the Nassau (G1), promises to have Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) implications, and Friday’s King George (G2) may play a similar role for the Turf Sprint (G1). Saturday’s Group prize is the Lillie Langtry (G2) for distaff stayers, but the Stewards’ Cup, a six-furlong heritage handicap, will draw much of the wagering attention.
Handicapping, analysis, and selections are available throughout Glorious Goodwood at TwinSpires.com.