A Look at the 2011 Epsom Derby
By Valerie Grash
First contested in 1780, the 1 1/2 miles Epsom (now Investec) Derby has produced some of the greatest sires in racing history, including Blenheim II, Hyperion, Mahmoud, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Roberto, and Galileo. In 2009, Sea the Stars became the second Derby winner produced by the great mare Urban Sea, herself winner of the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Last year, Workforce captured the Derby-Arc double, the former in course record time.
This year’s field of 13 colts features a clear favorite, Carlton House (Street Cry), owned by The Queen. Already a winner over 10 furlongs, Carlton House is stamina-rich through his dam Talented, runner-up in the Group 3 Lancashire Oaks over 12 furlongs. Her sire Bustino captured the 14-furlong Group 1 St. Leger, while her damsire Mill Reef won multiple classics at 12 furlongs, including the Derby-Arc double. She’s also already produced a half brother to Carlton House, Friston Forest (Barathea) who’s won at 15 furlongs, so the Derby distance isn’t really an issue—a possible problem with a swollen joint may be, although after a Thursday workout, he was declared “on target.”
The likely second choice, French Group 2 Prix Greffulhe winner Pour Moi (Montjeu) will also garner support; his three-quarter sister Gagnoa won the 11-furlong Group 3 Prix Penelope and finished third, just two lengths back, in the Group 1 Irish Oaks at 12 furlongs. Three-time winner Native Khan (Azarmour) finished well back of superstar Frankel in the Group 1 2000 Guineas last out, but, with three-time Derby winning jockey Johnny Murtagh aboard, a win on Saturday would also be a moral victory for his connections after his contracted jockey Kieran Fallon abandoned him in favor of riding for Coolmore (barring last minute adjudication by the British High Court. Update: Fallon will not ride in the Derby).
Top Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien sends out four runners—Memphis Tennessee, Recital, Seville and Treasure Beach. Of the four, Seville (Galileo) appears best bred to travel 12 furlongs, with his dam Silverskaya twice a Group 3 winner at 12 furlongs and beyond. Last out, Seville finished second to Carlton House in the Group 2 Dante Stakes, so he’ll be looking for a better outcome on Saturday. Winner of the Group 2 Derby Trial, Recital (Montjeu) impressively won the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud last fall over heavy turf conditions, but O’Brien questions his ability to stay 12 furlongs (regardless of Fallon riding). Treasure Beach (Galileo) is the only entrant to have already run at (and win) at the Derby distance, in the Group 3 Chester Vase in his season debut, but he simply isn’t garnering much respect at nearly 30-1 odds. Neither is his stablemate Memphis Tennessee (Hurricane Run), despite the presence of strong stamina indicators: his second dam Cerulean Sky finished third in the 12-furlong Group 1 Prix Vermeille, and her Group 1-placed son Honolulu captured the 18-furlong Group 2 Doncaster Cup (not to mention winning the 22-furlong Queen Alexandra Stakes at Ascot).
For a higher price, John Gosden-trained Masked Marvel (Montjeu) looks promising, after opening his 2011 campaign with a facile victory in the 11-furlong listed Cocked Hat Stakes. Like Kentucky Derby victor Animal Kingdom, Masked Marvel possesses a stamina-rich German damside pedigree. His second dam Wurftaube was a multiple Group winner between 11 and 14 furlongs; both she and Animal Kingdom’s dam Dalicia are by legendary German stayer Acatenango. In addition to Masked Marvel’s group-placed dam Waldmark, Wurftaube has also produced Waldvogel, 12-furlong listed winner and group-placed at 16 furlongs.
Post time is 4:00 p.m. local time (11 a.m. Eastern in the U.S.) on Saturday, and will be broadcast on both HRTV and TVG. Also check your ADW account and/or local racing channel (NYRA Network, Capital OTB, etc).