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Breeders’ Cup Classic Profile #7: Planteur [IRE]

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Basics:

(Danehill Dancer [IRE] x Plante Rare [IRE], by Giant’s Causeway)

  • Trainer: Marco Botti
  • Jockey: Ryan Moore
  • Owned by: Mohammed Hamad J Al Thani
  • Career Record: 23:7-6-2
  • Earnings: £2,258,663 (France, UK, Dubai)

Vital Stats:

  • 2013 Record: 5:2-1-1
  • 2013 accomplishments: Twice G1-placed (3rd Dubai World Cup, 2nd Prix d’Ispahan)
  • Santa Anita record: 0:0-0-0
  • TrueNicks rating: A Variant 3.83
  • Dosage Index: 1.89
  • Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: N/A
  • Lost last prep (12th Qatar Prix Dollar (II), by 5+ lengths)
  • Aims to be the oldest horse to win the Classic at age 6

Summary: One of my favorites the past couple of years in Dubai and one of my preferred Euros (besides Cirrus des Aigles), Planteur has long been a staple on Europe’s poly and turf courses, and at the age of 6 is apparently taking a big shot trying dirt in America’s biggest race. On and off again form-wise, Planteur has raced with the best of the lot and hopes to transfer that form to the soil.

Prep Schedule: Planteur kicked off the year with a win in the Blue Square Bet Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield in a weight-for-age stake run on polytrack, going wire-to-wire to win by a half-length. He then shipped to Dubai for another run at the World Cup (I) on Tapeta, racing well to finish 3rd well behind winner Animal Kingdom. From there, he shipped to France’s Longchamps course for the Prix D’Isphan (I) on grass, making a mild rally from just off the pacesetter to miss the win by a short head to Maxios. From there, he made a start at Royal Windsor’s turf course in the Winter Hill Stakes (III), which he won easily after being eager to go very early and taking off to win by 1. Unfortunately, his next start in the Prix Dollar (I) was fruitless; he was sent to his usual leading spot but could not hang on and finished 12th.

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Physique: Lean, long-legged, and long-bodied, Planteur has a big engine attached to his physique, and just by watching his races he has a very efficient sweeping stride characteristic of a nice turf horse. His body suggests he could have a nice kick in the end, but questions arise as to how well he could possibly do squandering in the dirt.

Pedigree: Sired by one of the premier Euro stallions in Danehill Dancer, Planteur’s family features a mix of American and European breeding with leading turf influencer Danzig and multiple references to Native Dancer and Natalma. Damsire Giant’s Causeway was one of the best Euros to transfer his grass form to dirt, with two traces to top turf sire Roberto on the bottom.

Running Style: Pacesetter or just off the pace

Pros: He’ll be at great odds and his on-again, off-again form cycle places him in an “on position” right now to do well in this race. He’s been fairly consistent this year with just one off-the-board start, and his running style should adhere well to the speed bias of Santa Anita’s dirt.

Cons: Will Planteur do dirt? It’s tough figuring out whether he will or not as a horse who has done well on grass, poly, and Dubai’s nefarious Tapeta. Can he go one more and run away with the race, which is already full of speed?

Final Word: He had a lot of doubters heading into the Dubai World Cup, including Timeform which ranked him far below other runners. I for one had other ideas at the time about Planteur, and he wound up running third for the second straight year. He is TOUGH… now to answer whether or not he’ll do dirt. I’ll jump on board if I hear his workouts at the track are incredible, but other than that, he remains a fitting longshot.

Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World

Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World

Derby Dozen #10: Lines of Battle

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(War Front x Black Speck, by Arch)

  • Trainer: Aidan P. O’Brien (Camelot, St. Nicholas Abbey, Giant’s Causeway)
  • Jockey: Ryan Moore (This is his first Derby race)
  • Owned by: Joseph Allen, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
  • Record: 6:3-1-0
  • Earnings: $1,276,204
  • Best speed figures: Unknown top Equibase beyond his 92 in a troubled Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (I) start, best *known* Beyer was a 74 on turf

Background: According to Wikipedia, “lines of battle” is a naval tactic when ships of a fleet line up end-to-end to create a single-file line for individualized combat. For Lines of Battle the horse, while his own tactical advantage has been questioned and generally doubted due to the poor preparatory nature of the UAE Derby (III), it wouldn’t be crazy to think that in this year’s wide-open field that a good Euro shipping in wouldn’t have a shot. Owned by Coolmore and trained by the legendary Aidan O’Brien, the easy-breezy winner of the UAE Derby is a Kentucky-bred coming home to race on dirt.

Prep Schedule: Lightly-raced, Lines of Battle won 2 stakes as a two-year-old at 6 and 7 furlongs, one on turf and one on the synthetic course at Dundalk. He was 2nd by a neck in another turf event at Leopardstown, and 6th in another won by Dawn Approach where he failed to get going when the footing was soft. He closed out the year with a wide, trouble-laced trip in the 1-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I) where he finished 7th. In his first and only start so far as a three-year-old, he ran easy to a comfortable win in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby (III) in Dubai, looking much the best despite a long layoff, a big field, and adding on more ground.

Pedigree: As expected with a horse owned by Coolmore connections, Lines of Battle has a ritzy pedigree. His sire War Front has been tops since being at stud, siring winners on every surface including fast router The Factor, recent Illinois Derby (III) winner Departing, G1 turf miler Data Link, and more. War Front himself was an accomplished runner, running mainly sprints with a victory in the Vanderbilt (II). War Front is by the prolific success sire Danzig and out of the Rubiano daughter Starry Dreamer, who was G1 and G2-placed routing on dirt and turf. The bottom half of Lines of Battle’s pedigree is even more promising with Arch as his damsire, much like last year’s Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another and star G1 runner Uncle Mo. Black Speck’s dam, Andover Way, was also a good runner with a win in the 1982 Top Flight (I) and was runner-up to eventual Eclipse winner Track Robbery in the 1982 Apple Blossom (I)… and the dam of another pretty legendary colt named Dynaformer. Lines of Battle features two crosses up close to Danzig, who is his grandsire on top and is the damsire of Arch.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A+ Variant 4.03

Running Style: Adaptable, likely towards the rear

Pros: He looked surprisingly dominant despite having no prior starts as a three-year-old in the UAE Derby, holding off a late run from Elleval, who I personally liked most in the race. Physically strong-looking, he’s a proven shipper and has run the farthest at 1 3/16 miles and designed to go further.

Cons: Mystery trips up any logical handicapping of how this horse will do. We have no idea how he compares to the American field other than putting a beat-down on He’s Had Enough (and honestly who hasn’t?) and El Camino Real (III) winner Dice Flavor. We can’t even compare times because Dubai was slow, slow, slow overall. If he can transfer his grass and Tapeta form over, great, but otherwise it’s a guessing game.

Final Word: I could have included a number of horses in the Derby Dozen, and I’m including Lines of Battle on a whim because a) he impressed me in the UAE, b) he looks good and ought to be fresh, and c) screw the “UAE runners don’t do anything,” I liked Master of Hounds a while back and he ran a pretty good 5th! Of course, it would be nice to see first how he handles Churchill before I make a final final remark on him, but that won’t happen until Tuesday at the earliest… he’s worth thinking about more than others in this race!

Ryan Moore and Modun sit second-last before ultimately winning the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap at Newbury.

Ryan Moore and Modun sit second-last before ultimately winning the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap at Newbury.

Workforce flies home first by 7 lengths in the 2010 Epsom Derby

Workforce flies home first by 7 lengths in the 2010 Epsom Derby

Workforce [GB] (King’s Best x  Soviet Moon [IRE], by Sadler’s Wells) readies quietly before winning the 1 1/2 mile Epsom Derby (I), England’s richest and most treasured race. A field of 13 starters is confirmed for the 2011 Derby, happening at Epsom Downs on June 4.

Workforce [GB] (King’s Best x  Soviet Moon [IRE], by Sadler’s Wells) readies quietly before winning the 1 1/2 mile Epsom Derby (I), England’s richest and most treasured race. A field of 13 starters is confirmed for the 2011 Derby, happening at Epsom Downs on June 4.

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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