Goldikova emulates Miesque in Mile
Trainer Freddie Head has often remarked that his star pupil GOLDIKOVA (Ire) (Anabaa) could be better than Hall of Famer Miesque, whom he rode to back-to-back Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) victories in 1987-88. In Saturday's $1,818,000 Mile at Santa Anita, defending champion Goldikova gave even more substance to that claim by blasting to her second straight title.
Confidently handled by Olivier Peslier, the Wertheimer and Frere homebred produced a sustained charge from far back to catch the sophomore colt Courageous Cat (Storm Cat) by a half-length in the final yards. Goldikova blazed the firm-turf mile in 1:32 1/5 to become the fourth two-time winner of the Mile, following Miesque, Lure (1992-93) and Da Hoss (1996, 1998).
Peslier dropped Goldikova much farther back off the early pace after breaking from the far outside post 11. That tactic was the opposite of the one he employed from a wide post in the Prix de la Foret (Fr-G1) last out, where Goldikova pressed the early pace en route to being upset in third. Peslier made sure not to repeat the same mistake.
As the French sensation lagged near the rear, the front-running Gladiatorus (Silic [Fr]) ripped through fractions of :22 4/5 and :45 1/5. Cowboy Cal (Giant's Causeway), who applied intense pressure throughout, ranged alongside through six furlongs in a blistering 1:08 1/5. Courageous Cat was well placed in fifth.
Turning for home, the early leaders began to tire, and Courageous Cat unleashed his bold gambit in the stretch. The three-year-old tried to make the most of his stealing a march on Goldikova, but he could not maintain his advantage as the top-class four-year-old hit top gear. Goldikova kept up her relentless progress for the entire length of the stretch, and she cut down Courageous Cat to win going away.
"The draw (post 11) wasn't a big help," Peslier admitted. "I didn't want to make a run until the last turn. I came wide because that was the only place to go. She's lovely. She won last year; she won this year. I'm so glad for my owners that they have a filly like this."
"She was a little far back, but the pace was strong," Head recapped. "I was confident she would win when she came with her run into the stretch. It looked like she stopped a little, but Olivier smacked her 200 yards out for her last burst. She was a little keyed up going to the gate but quieter than usual. She's very special. It's been a long season and now to make this long trip in November."
Goldikova, the 7-5 favorite, rewarded her legions of supporters with mutuels of $4.80, $4 and $2.60. The nearly 23-1 Courageous Cat returned $12.80 and $8 for finishing second by one length. Justenuffhumor (Distorted Humor) rattled home from dead last for third, yielding $8 at 16-1, and fellow closer Court Vision (Gulch) was just a head away in fourth. The $1 exotics totaled $54.60 (exacta), $705.30 (trifecta) and $6,628.80 (11-6-10-1 superfecta).
"(Courageous Cat) ran his eyeballs out," jockey Garrett Gomez said. "He gave me 120 percent. He is still real young -- only a three-year-old -- and is lightly raced. I took back a little on the first turn and gave up a little position, but I wanted him to shut down a little and relax; and he did. I thought for a while I might get there first. He kept digging, but the filly was just too good."
"Huge effort -- just a huge effort," agreed Bill Mott, Courageous Cat's trainer. "I thought we might win it. He looked like a winner. He ran a winning race. It's hard to say. He's a three-year-old colt that is a little tender experience-wise, and he nearly beat last year's Breeders' Cup Mile champion."
"I'm really happy with (Justenuffhumor)," assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin said of the third-place finisher. "He had a great trip. I thought there'd be an abundance of speed. We saved ground and came up the inside. No excuses. We got beat by a super filly."
Delegator (GB) (Dansili [GB]), Karelian (Bertrando), Ferneley (Ire) (Ishiguru), Whatsthescript (Ire) (Royal Applause [GB]), Gladiatorus, Cowboy Cal and Zacinto (GB) (Dansili [GB]) completed the order of finish. Jockey Ryan Moore commented on Zacinto's being eased.
"I pulled him up," Moore said. "I was afraid that he might have hurt himself. He took a bad step or something like that and I was concerned, but it turns out he's fine. He is OK."
Now a seven-time Group/Grade 1 winner, Goldikova boasts a record of 15-10-2-2 with a massive $4,090,090 bankroll.
Goldikova could attempt a three-peat next year (Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com)
Two-for-two as a juvenile in 2007, Goldikova chased the peerless Zarkava a couple of times as a three-year-old. She recovered from a nearly disastrous start to finish second in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas) (Fr-G1) and subsequently checked in a non-staying third in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (Fr-G1). Goldikova resumed the winning thread when getting away from Zarkava in the Prix Chloe (Fr-G3), then went on to defeat older horses in the Prix Rothschild (Fr-G1) and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-G1). She capped her 2008 campaign in the Breeders' Cup Mile, where she dethroned Kip Deville (Kipling) by 1 1/4 lengths and extended her winning streak to four.
Goldikova suffered a shock defeat in her 2009 bow in the Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-G1), winding up a well-beaten seventh on soft ground. Sidelined for nearly two months thereafter, she returned with a comfortable score in the Falmouth S. (Eng-G1). Goldikova posted an effortless title defense in the Prix Rothschild, which was just a prelude to her six-length rout of males in the Prix Jacques le Marois (Fr-G1) in stakes-record time. She was freshened in advance of her prep in the Foret, and she took the expected step forward here.
The Irish-bred filly was produced by the winning Blushing Groom (Fr) mare Born Gold, who is also responsible for Group 3 scorers Gold Round (Caerleon) and Gold Sound (Fr) (Green Tune), the Group 3-placed pair of Born Something (Ire) (Caerleon) and Red Tune (Green Tune), and the unraced juvenile colt Ocean Seven (Green Tune). Born Gold is a full sister to multiple Group 1 heroine Gold Splash. Goldikova's second dam is Group 1 queen Riviere d'Or (Lyphard), and her third dam is champion Gold River (Fr) (Riverman), who captured the 1981 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1).
Head held out hopes for Goldikova to go for a three-peat in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs.
"We haven't discussed her future -- maybe we'll come back and try for three."
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