December 2, 2023

Glass Slippers, Shale earn Breeders’ Cup berths at the Curragh

Glass Slippers
Glass Slippers wins the Flying Five Stakes (Photo courtesy Inpho)

After Magical starred on the first day of Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown, the distaff magic extended to Sunday’s conclusion at the Curragh. Fillies took two of the open-company Group 1s on a program replete with Breeders’ Cup clues.

Flying Five – BC WAYI

Bearstone Stud’s homebred Glass Slippers spearheaded an all-female sweep of Sunday’s Flying Five Stakes (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). But first on the agenda for the Kevin Ryan filly is a title defense in the Oct. 4 Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) at ParisLongchamp.

Glass Slippers was runner-up to the brilliant Battaash when last seen in the July 31 King George (G2) at Glorious Goodwood. Rather than trying him again in the Nunthorpe (G1), Bearstone’s Terry Holdcroft preferred to skip York and head to the Curragh fresh. That idea paid dividends, while her rivals who did wheel back on short rest from the Aug. 21 Nunthorpe – especially Que Amoro and 4-1 favorite A’Ali – ran well below form here.

Que Amoro zipped to the early lead, but could not maintain her gallop and ultimately ended up 12th of 14. Although pace attendants Maid in India and Keep Busy remained prominent, they were unable to fend off the 9-2 Glass Slippers.

Driving through on the inside for regular rider Tom Eaves, Glass Slippers denied fellow British shipper Keep Busy by a half-length in 1:00.58 for 5 furlongs. The course had been upgraded to “good,” but residual moisture left it “tacky,” according to Ryan’s description.

The rallying Sonaiyla snatched third late from Maid in India, thus thwarting a British trifecta. Make a Challenge fared best of the males in fifth, beaten only a couple of lengths from the far outside post 14. A’Ali never factored and trudged home last.

Glass Slippers, who captured the Prix du Petit Couvert (G3) on this corresponding Sunday a year ago, backed up her prep win by upsetting the Abbaye on Arc Day. The 4-year-old was making just her third start of the season in this spot, having begun 2020 with a fifth to Battaash in the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot.

By Dream Ahead and out of the Mind Games mare Night Gypsy, Glass Slippers is a half-sister to Group 3-placed stakes scorer Electric Feel.

Moyglare Stud – BC WAYI

The Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) came down to a tussle between the O’Brien brothers, and the Donnacha-trained Shale repelled Joseph’s favored Pretty Gorgeous to land a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

This marked the third meeting between the two familiar foes. Round one went to Shale in the Aug. 6 Silver Flash (G3). Round two came on soft going at this course and 7-furlong trip in the Aug. 22 Debutante (G2), where Pretty Gorgeous was pretty emphatic. The improving ground conditions may have helped Shale in the Sunday rematch – not that she’s dependent, but it’s possible that Pretty Gorgeous moves up in the wet.

Ridden for the first time by Ryan Moore, the 9-2 Shale stalked the pace before striding to the fore. Pretty Gorgeous smoothly advanced, with Shale right in her sights and almost in her grasp. Instead of tackling her, however, Pretty Gorgeous could not get by. Shale pulled out extra to hold a three-quarters of a length advantage while clocking 1:27.19.

Oodnadatta got up for third, followed by Bubbles on Ice. Early tracker Snowfall and pacesetter Mother Earth retreated to ninth and 11th, respectively, of 13.

Although both of Shale’s stakes victories have come on good ground, she broke her maiden by 3 3/4 lengths on soft-to-heavy at Gowran. The Oct. 4 Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) and Oct. 9 Fillies’ Mile (G1) at Newmarket are her next options.

As a daughter of Galileo and Homecoming Queen, the surprise winner of the 1000 Guineas (G1) in 2012, Shale is a full sister to Group 2-placed Berkeley Square and stakes-placed First of Spring. Homecoming Queen is herself a three-quarter sister, by Holy Roman Emperor, to Dylan Thomas. The mare is also a half-sister to Queen’s Logic and Remember When, dam of this summer’s Derby (G1) shocker Serpentine.

Vincent O’Brien National

Joseph O’Brien gained immediate compensation in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1), as Thunder Moon overcame a troubled trip to explode into the 2021 classic picture.

Drafting behind leaders Military Style and Masen, the Zoffany colt was trapped in the pocket when they tread water. Godolphin’s well-backed Master of the Seas, in contrast, had clear sailing to take command on the outside. But Thunder Moon had the gears and athleticism to dodge the obstacles, dive into a path for Declan McDonogh, and quicken smartly to score by 1 1/2 lengths. If his final time (1:28.53) was slower than Shale’s, the visual told a different tale.

Aidan O’Brien, whose prime contender Battleground was scratched with a cough, had to settle for the minors. Wembley rattled home to nip his still-green stablemate St Mark’s Basilica. Master of the Seas faded to fourth. Lucky Vega, buried on the inside but unable to do much once clear, wound up fifth, while Military Style and Masen brought up the rear.

A homebred for the O’Briens’ Whisperview Trading, Thunder Moon bolted up at first asking in the colors of Anne-Marie O’Brien. Mrs. C. C. Regalado-Gonzalez acquired him after that Aug. 9 success at the Curragh.

Thunder Moon is a half-brother to stakes winner Table Rock, later known as Anticipation in Hong Kong. Their dam, the Sadler’s Wells mare Small Sacrifice, descends from the prolific Moyglare Stud family of Trusted Partner.

Irish St Leger

That same female line was responsible for another Sunday conqueror as Search for a Song retained her crown in the Irish St Leger (G1). The Moyglare homebred became the first back-to-back winner since the legendary Vinnie Roe (2001-04), likewise trained by Dermot Weld. (In the interim, there was a two-time, but non-consecutive, hero in Ballydoyle’s Order of St George in 2015 and 2017).

Jockey Oisin Orr allowed Search for a Song to loll about much of the way in the back of the main group. Lifting her game in the stretch, the Galileo filly produced a potent kick to defeat British shipper Fujaira Prince by two lengths. Twilight Payment boxed on a neck away in third, but favored Sovereign folded to sixth in the eight-horse field.

Search for a Song had not won since her upset of Kew Gardens here last year, but Weld emphasized that her program was all about the title defense. Her first two outings of the season were forgettable – a sixth in the Mooresbridge (G2) and a stumble that caused Orr to pull her up in the Munster Oaks (G3). Yet Search for a Song turned the corner last time out when a staying-on third to Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1).

Produced by the remarkable Danehill mare Polished Gem, Search for a Song is a half-sister to Free Eagle, Custom Cut, and Sapphire, and a full sister to Falcon Eight. Polished Gem is herself a full sister to Grade 1 heroine Dressed to Thrill, both daughters of 1988 Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) victress Trusted Partner.


Sarah Kelly’s Cayenne Pepper ran herself right into Keeneland consideration with a four-length romp in the Blandford Stakes (G2). The Jessica Harrington trainee is eyeing the Oct. 10 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) before a possible tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Runner-up in her three outings this term, Cayenne Pepper had played second fiddle to Magical in the Pretty Polly (G1) in her only prior try at this 1 1/4-mile trip. A step up to 1 1/2 miles appeared a bit beyond her scope when the beaten favorite in both the Irish Oaks (G1) and Give Thanks (G3). That latter effort looked better Sunday as Give Thanks winner Tarnawa came back to dominate the Prix Vermeille (G1).

Reverting in trip here suited her perfectly. Perched right off longshot front-runner Amma Grace, Cayenne Pepper pounced and drew off with Shane Foley in 2:09.18. Amma Grace outperformed her odds in second, and Thundering Nights lumbered on for third. The disappointments of the race were Ballydoyle’s Magic Wand, who was a lackluster eighth, and One Voice, a subpar ninth of 11 for Harrington.

Cayenne Pepper began her career with a three-race winning streak capped by last summer’s Flame of Tara (G3). She ended 2019 with a fourth in the Fillies’ Mile (G1), still her only time out of the exacta.

By Australia, sire of Saturday’s St Leger (G1) star Galileo Chrome, Cayenne Pepper is out of the Elusive Quality mare Muwakaba. Her third dam is Allegretta, dam of the sublime Urban Sea and ancestress of Galileo and Sea the Stars, among others. Thus being by Galileo’s son Australia, Cayenne Pepper sports 4×3 inbreeding to Allegretta. And since her second dam is by Nureyev, the close relative of Galileo’s sire Sadler’s Wells, Cayenne Pepper also has a duplication of Special — the Rasmussen Factor twice over.