December 5, 2021

Space Blues, Rougir, A Case of You eye Breeders’ Cup after Arc Day wins

Space Blues took flight late in the Prix de la Foret (Photo by ScoopDyga)

Torquator Tasso’s upset of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) was part of a theme at ParisLongchamp on Sunday. With the heavy going likely playing a role in the results, favorites were beaten in the other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events as well. Favored Space Blues proved the exception in the Prix de la Foret (G1). That was the day’s lone Group 1 that was not a Challenge race, but the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) is in his sights.

Prix de l’Opera (G1)

Le Haras de la Gousserie’s Rougir had gone winless since last October’s Prix des Reservoirs (G3), but the 22-1 shot mugged Grand Glory on the line in the Prix de l’Opera (G1). Trained by Cedric Rossi and ridden by Maxime Guyon, Rougir is likely to take up her free ticket to the Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Reigning Breeders’ Cup queen Audarya traveled sweetly into the stretch, when she ambled up to the front. But Grand Glory gained steam and appeared to launch a winning move, only to have Rougir join her. Anchored near the back early from post 14, Rougir stayed on relentlessly to thrust her nose across the wire first.

Fellow longshot Eudaimonia rallied for third, relegating Audarya to fourth. Thundering Nights was fifth, Zeyaadah a slow-starting sixth, pacesetter Sibila Spain seventh, and Joan of Arc a disappointing 10th of 14.

Rougir had run well on 2020 Arc Day, placing third in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), and she had been knocking on the door of late. Just edged in the July 18 Prix Chloe (G3) and Aug. 21 Prix de la Nonette (G2), she was beaten a half-length when fourth in the Aug. 3 Prix Rothschild (G1). The daughter of Territories wasn’t disgraced in the French classics earlier this season. Guyon blamed himself for her eighth in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (G1), and he was delighted to make amends here.

“I was badly drawn, and I had to be patient,” Guyon told France Galop. “Her trainer told me beforehand that the ground wouldn’t be a problem. I would like to thank all the connections for trusting me again, as I didn’t give her the best of rides in the French (1000) Guineas. It’s magic. I am really happy for Cedric too. This filly really deserved that.”

By covering about 1 1/4 miles in 2:11.15, Rougir advanced her record to 13-4-1-3. The French-bred is out of the stakes-placed Elusive City mare Summer Moon, from the extended family of dual classic hero Kahyasi.

Haras de la Gousserie’s Pauline Chehboub confirmed that Del Mar was on the agenda.

“We are hoping to go to the Breeders’ Cup next month. She is incredible and loves a fight.”

Prix de l’Abbaye (G1)

The 10-1 A Case of You uncorked a terrific rally to nip front-running longshot Air de Valse in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1). Second in the “Win and You’re In” Flying Five (G1) at the Curragh last out, the Irish shipper secured his free pass to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

“It’s amazing,” said trainer Adrian McGuiness, who mentioned Del Mar as his objective. “This is my third Group 1 starter. I am so proud and lucky to have this horse. He will give me a heart attack! He’s amazing. He’s fantastic. That’s why we go racing.”

Indeed, A Case of You kept his backers in suspense. Jockey Ronan Whelan held the colt up some way off the pace. Air de Valse mixed it up with Winter Power, then disposed of her pace rival and drew clear.

Reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint victress Glass Slippers and favored Suesa were not picking up, but A Case of You was improving position. The sophomore son of Hot Streak still looked second-best until the final strides, when he surged to complete about five furlongs in :58.02.

There was a five-length gap back to Glass Slippers in third. Suesa was a one-paced fifth, Winter Power retreated to eighth, and Berneuil was eased home in the 14-horse field.

Gary Devlin’s A Case of You sports a mark of 10-5-2-1. The winner of the Anglesey (G3) at two, he added the May 16 Lacken (G3) and ran below form in Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup (G1). A Case of You placed third in the Aug. 8 Phoenix Sprint (G3) before finding a new level on the cutback to five panels.

Irish-bred A Case of You was produced by the Key of Luck mare Karjera, a full sister to multiple stakes scorer Akanti and Grade/Group 3-placed Lock and Key.

Prix de la Foret (G1)

Conditions did not blunt the characteristic finishing speed of Godolphin’s homebred Space Blues. Confidently handled by William Buick, the Charlie Appleby veteran bided his time near the tail of the field before playing his hand. Space Blues rolled past Pearls Galore and Entscheiden to win cozily by two lengths in 1:22.97 for about seven furlongs.

Fellow closer Kinross worked his way into fourth, and Sagamiyra wound up fifth. Duhail, who had a spot of early trouble, threw in a rare clunker in 10th of 15.

Space Blues has compiled a record of 18-10-3-1. Victorious in the 2020 Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), Lennox (G2), Prix de la Porte Maillot (G3), and Spring Trophy, the chestnut captured the lucrative 1351 Turf Sprint on Feb. 20 Saudi Cup Day and recently took the Aug. 21 City of York (G2). He’d placed in a trio of Group contests during his sophomore campaign of 2019 – the Jersey (G3) at Royal Ascot, Prix Jean Prat (G1), and the Maurice de Gheest.

The Foret would have been in his datebook for the past couple of years, if not for setbacks. Plans call for the son of Dubawi to retire to stud next season. He’ll aim to go out on top in the Breeders’ Cup Mile that Buick believes would suit him to a tee.

Space Blues is a half to Group 2 winner Shuruq, the dam of U.S. graded performers Antoinette and Javanica. Space Blues is out of the Group 2-winning Miss Lucifer, by Noverre.

Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1)

The 11-2 Angel Bleu was last seen landing the July 27 Vintage (G2) on soft going at Glorious Goodwood, and the Dark Angel colt capitalized on the rain again in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). Saving ground in midpack for Frankie Dettori, Angel Bleu tipped out to run down pacesetter Noble Truth by three-quarters of a length.

Favored Ancient Rome made good late progress for third. Ebro River, who pulled early, was an exhausted eighth of nine.

The Marc Chan colorbearer clocked about seven furlongs in 1:24.57 to win a fees-paid berth in the Juvenile Turf (G1), and 10 points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby. The former is a more realistic possibility than the latter.

Trainer Ralph Beckett revealed that Angel Bleu could take advantage of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” perk, but wheeling back for Saturday’s Dewhurst (G1) is an option too.

“We came here on account of the ground,” Beckett said. “The turn certainly helped him. He had to be tough today and he was.

“The Breeders’ Cup is a possibility. However, at Del Mar, you have to go to the beach to find soft ground! It will also depend on how he recovers. I’m not ruling out the Dewhurst S. He’s already run well in the wake of his races that have come close together.”

Angel Bleu’s Vintage came just three days after his runner-up effort in the Pat Eddery S. at Ascot. Out of the Galileo mare Cercle de la Vie – a full sister to Highland Reel and Idaho – the French-bred juvenile brandishes a 7-4-1-1 line.

Prix Marcel Boussac (G1)

As expected, Andre Fabre scratched early favorite Raclette on account of the ground, but he still won the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) with Zellie. The Al Wasmiyah Farm runner plowed through on the rail in this “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Zellie was initially regarded as Fabre’s third-stringer, having finished runner-up in her last pair in the Aug. 3 Prix Six Perfections (G3) and Sept. 9 Prix d’Aumale (G3). Stablemate Fleur d’Iris, who beat her in the course-and-distance Aumale, inherited favoritism upon the withdrawal of Raclette.

But Fleur d’Iris was sapped by setting the pace on this ground. The stalking Times Square was the first to pounce as Fleur d’Iris and her attendant Agartha weakened.

By that point, the hitherto unhurried Zellie was on the move for Oisin Murphy. Gamely driving through on the inside, she slogged 1 3/4 lengths clear of Times Square in 1:42.67 for the metric mile.

Oscula collared Agartha for third. Fleur d’Iris ended up seventh, beating only Natasha who was swimming a long way out.

Zellie will decline the invitation for Del Mar, with connections preferring to call it a season and prepare her for the mile classics. She will bring a 6-4-2-0 resume into next year, including a score in the Prix Roland Chambure at Deauville.

By Wootton Bassett, Zellie is out of the Nathaniel mare Sarai, a half-sister to the 1000 Guineas (G1) heroine from 2006, Speciosa.