In Today’s Notes from Arlington International:
Classic Winner Just the Judge Hoping to Rule
Moment In Time Ready to Take on American St. Leger Boys
Havana Beat Lite on Racing, Long on Promise
CLASSIC WINNER JUST THE JUDGE HOPING TO RULE
In 11 starts over three seasons, classic-winning 4-year-old filly Just The Judge has proven her class against some of the best Europe has to offer, including a sharp victory in the Group I Irish 1000 Guineas and a runner-up performance in that race’s English counterpart. The daughter of French Derby winner Lawman enters Saturday’s Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. after a useful third in the Group I Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh behind highly regarded Thistle Bird – a performance that hinted she may be slowly coming back to the excellent form she showed in her sophomore season.
“She’s good and looks really well after the trip over,” Geoff Snook, traveling head lad for trainer Charlie Hills, confidently expressed. “She was really ready to come out and do something this morning. She just stretched her legs and had a look. She can be a bit spritely when she’s in a new space on her own, so we had the pony go with her.”
Owned by Qatar Racing and the Sangster Family, the earner of $556,286 will once again have the riding services of Jamie Spencer, who has ridden the charge in her last eight races and is the retained rider of the Qatar Racing. The Beverly D. looks to be one of the saltiest renewals in its 25 years, with six Grade I or Group I winners. Still, Snook was no less satisfied with what he saw on the Arlington International Racecourse turf this morning.
“She looked great this morning. It’s the best she’s moved,” he continued. “She’s possibly better than before the Pretty Polly.”
Though the bay filly won her banner race at a mile, her connections look forward to the longer 1 3/16-miles of Saturday’s marquee filly and mare turf event. “I think she wants a mile and a quarter, now, as opposed to when she won over a mile in the Guineas last year,” Snook said. “I think she wants that little bit extra as she’s gotten older.”
This year’s edition of the Beverly D. also looks to have a variety of running styles throughout, including what could be a strong pace. A mid-pack runner, Just the Judge may benefit from such. “I think she needs a decent early gallop,” Snook said. “I also think she needs more juice in the ground. Her 2-year-old form was more on softer ground. I think the it allows her to let down (her stride) easier, plus it probably takes some of the finishing speed off the faster-finishing horses, as well. If it’s ‘proper good’ ground, it’ll be ideal.”
MOMENT IN TIME READY TO TAKE ON THE AMERICAN ST. LEGER BOYS
One of the most intriguing entries of the International Festival of Racing on Saturday is that of Eliza Park International’s Moment In Time. A daughter of German champion Tiger Hill, the 5-year-old mare will face males in the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger and brings considerable back-class into the race, including an excellent third in the Grade I E. P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine the last time she made a trans-Atlantic trek.
“She’s lovely and shipped very well – she’s a professional. She has eaten everything,” reported Ian Russell, traveling head lad for conditioner David Simcock. “I was here with I’m a Dreamer and it would be nice to do it again.” That Simcock-trained mare landed the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. at a price two years ago in what was the Newmarket yard’s only other Festival runner.
“Today she just did a light canter; it was very routine,” Russell continued. “Tomorrow she’ll have a proper canter and will probably have a bit of work at the end of the week.” Moment In Time is expected to work four or five furlongs in a small blowout Friday to prepare for her long 1 11/16-miles journey on Saturday.
The bay Irish-bred comes off a good second in the Listed Chalice Stakes at Newbury over a soft 1½ miles and has taken to marathon races in 2014. Her best performance this year is arguably her fourth-place finish – beaten only three lengths in a 15-horse field in the Group II Dubai Gold Cup over a flat and good-to-firm two miles. In that race, she sat mid-division before accelerating well, only to be outpaced by longshot winner Certerach and big favorite Cavalryman – one of the best stayers in the world – and the well regarded Star Empire.
HAVANA BEAT LITE ON RACING, LONG ON PROMISE
The Listed $400,000 American St. Leger – now in its third edition – has attracted a complex field filled with more questions than answers. Foremost in the field of pending equine quandaries is the lightly raced England-based 4-year-old Havana Beat. A lively colt with a personality befitting his name, the Mick and Janice Mariscotti-owned son of European champion juvenile Teofilo enters the race off a favorable victory in the Listed Esher Stakes over 2 1/16-miles at Sandown Park – his second win in 12 starts.
“He’s taking it all in really well; this is the first time he’s been more than four hours away from home,” said traveling lass and exercise rider Maryann Wall. “I hope he can run against these. Dandino and Moment In Time are nice horses.”
From the yard of Andrew Balding, who brought Side Glance to finish third at long odds in last year’s Grade I Arlington Million, the marathon-loving bay has been shadowing his much more traveled aforementioned stablemate, who returned for another run in the Million. The two went out to the Arlington International Racecourse main course Tuesday morning to get their first feel for the local surroundings after clearing quarantine. The 7-year-old passport-stamping professional Side Glance – who has started in five other countries since his solid Arlington performance – traveled solo, while Havana Beat was escorted by a pony.
“He moved really well today and was in good spirits,” Wall explained. “We call him Harvey, for short. Sometimes he can be a bit naughty and you never know when he is going to do it, but he is an athlete and always tries really hard.”