CRYSTAL OCEAN LEADS WEDNESDAY’S JUDDMONTE INTERNATIONAL AT YORK FOR AUTOMATIC BERTH INTO BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
YORK, YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND (August 19, 2019) – Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) winner Crystal Ocean (GB) has a chance to win his second race in the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series this year when he tackles the 1 ¼-mile Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) on turf at York on Wednesday, a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
The Juddmonte International will be shown live in the US on NBCSN from 9-11 a.m. ET.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, Nov 1-2.
The $1,288,461 (£1,062,500) Juddmonte International will be the first European race to offer a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the winner of the Juddmonte International to start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run at 1 1/4 miles on the dirt track. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. If not Breeders’ Cup eligible, the Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of October 21 to receive the rewards
Crystal Ocean, owned by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and from the stable of eight-time Breeders’ Cup winner Sir Michael Stoute, secured an automatic start in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), with victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in June.
He followed that victory by narrowly coming out second best in an epic duel for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) at Ascot with the brilliant mare Enable (GB), the 2018 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner, who held on by a neck.
With Enable contesting the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1) at York’s four-day Ebor Festival, a rematch has been put off leaving Crystal Ocean a hot favorite to become Stoute’s seventh winner of the race won last year by the John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion.
Crystal Ocean, a son of 2009 International winner Sea The Stars (IRE), will face eight opponents, including the Aidan O’Brien-trained duo of Japan (GB) and Circus Maximus (IRE), plus Lord Glitters (FR), winner of the first race in the European schedule of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, the Queen Anne Stakes (G1). Stoute also saddles Eclipse Stakes third Regal Reality (GB).
An international flavor is provided by Cheval Grand (JPN), the 2017 Japan Cup (G1) winner, who finished sixth in the King George. He will be ridden by Roaring Lion’s jockey Oisin Murphy, who steered Japanese filly Deirdre (JPN) to victory in the Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood.
The Enable team of jockey Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden have never won the Juddmonte International in tandem but will aim to extend their golden summer together with the 3-year-old King Of Comedy (IRE). The 48-year-old rider partnered his 13th Group 1 winner in 78 days in France on Sunday for Gosden, who has trained 10 Group 1 winners this year.
King Of Comedy is taking a step up in distance having finished a neck second behind Circus Maximus in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Ascot with stablemate the Dettori-ridden Too Darn Hot (GB), who subsequently beat Circus Maximus in the Sussex Stakes (G1) at Goodwood, back in third.
“He ran a massive race in the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing strongly,” said Dettori. “He is drawn well here [stall 1]. Whether we can lower the colors of Crystal Ocean we don’t know, but after that run at Royal Ascot he deserves to be in the line-up.”
Ryan Moore deserts Circus Maximus in favor of Japan, the Investec Derby third, who made his Group 1 breakthrough in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1). Donnacha O’Brien will partner with Circus Maximus.
Hamdan Al-Maktoum’s Elarqam (GB), a son of 2012 International winner Frankel, has been supplemented into the race for a fee of $90,915 (£75,000) after winning the 1 5/16-mile York Stakes (G2) over course and distance on July 27, and is returning to Group 1 company for the first time since he was a beaten favorite in the 2018 Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Lord Glitters has made his name as a miler but had winning form over further before he joined current trainer David O’Meara.
“He won over a mile and a quarter in France early in his career and he won the Strensall Stakes over nine furlongs at York last year, when he beat the subsequent Lockinge winner Mustashry,” said O’Meara. “He also ran a blinder [behind Almond Eye] over that trip in the Dubai Turf and has never been stopping at the end of his races.
“We are under no illusions it’s a tough race and he’s got quite a bit to find with the likes of Crystal Ocean, but he’s in great form and the fact he’s won at York is another tick in his box. The Sussex Stakes wasn’t run at an overly strong pace last time and he needs an end-to-end gallop in his races. There should be enough pace on Wednesday.”
Thundering Blue, a gray Kentucky-bred son of Exchange Rate, could start the outsider of the field again despite finishing third at 50-1 12 months ago.
His trainer David Menuisier said: “I would give anything in the world for him to win a Group 1 because he so deserves it – he’s beaten so many Group 1 winners in his career. I’m not delusional, and it may not be on Wednesday, but I don’t think he’s lost any of his ability and hopefully he will remind everyone he’s a very good horse.”