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BREEDERS' CUP 2011: Immortal Verse Stakes Her Mile Claim After Defeating Goldikova

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 17:  Immortal Verse (IRE) wins the Group 1 Coronation Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot racecourse on June 17, 2011 in Ascot, England  (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Immortal Verse (IRE) wins the Group 1 Coronation Stakes during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot racecourse on June 17, 2011 in Ascot, England (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images)
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If a horse has aspirations of coming to the Breeders' Cup and running (and winning) the Mile, one way to garner some attention for yourself is to defeat the three-time champion Goldikova (IRE) in an authoritative manner. That's what Immortal Verse (IRE) did yesterday in Deauville, France in the eight furlong Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois.

Immortal Verse, while going off at big odds of 19/1 against Goldikova, is a very good filly in her own right.  The three-year-old daughter of Pivotal is 7-4-1-0 in her brief career and has just notched back-to-back Group 1 victories at the prestigious meetings of Royal Ascot (Group 1 Coronation Stakes) and Deauville. She also won the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly in early June and appears to be developing into a fantastic miler in the later half of the year.

Following yesterday's race, trainer Robert Collet stated that they will consider running Immortal Verse in the Breeders' Cup Mile, as well as a possible date with Frankel (GB) in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot.  I would expect Immortal Verse to run in either of those two races, but not both.

As for Goldikova, she has now finished 2nd in two of her last three races and there may be small rumblings that she's lost a step or two this season.  Despite the defeats, I still think she has the ability to run at a high level but perhaps not as high as we're used to.

Goldikova's defeat to Canford Cliffs (IRE) at Royal Ascot was nothing to be disappointed with, despite the fact that Canford was blown away by Frankel at Goodwood.  Monday's defeat to Immortal Verse came in a race that Goldikova lost last year (to Makfi) and occurred just two weeks after her win in the Prix Rothschild. She's now run three times in the last 30 days, all in Group 1 races.  Not many horses could navigate a schedule like that; heck, our Classic contenders might race once in a 30 day period, if we're lucky.

At the same time, Goldikova is now six-years-old and there might be some signs that she's beginning to decline, even if just slightly.  I don't know if that decline is enough to make her vulnerable at the Breeders' Cup (her race on Arc day should tell us a lot, as it did last year), but I think it's difficult to imagine that she hasn't lost just a small step this season. 

In a related story, Goldikova's half-sister, Galikova (FR), won the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville yesterday over the very classy Golden Lilac (IRE).  The Prix Gouilaume d'Ornano is a 10 furlong race for three-year-old colts and fillies. I've also embedded the video from that race.

Below is the Prix Jacques le Marois replay, complete with your French commentary. (Goldikova breaks from the far left gate and sits near the rear of the field for much of the race.  She is usually a lot closer than this and you have to think a kinder draw might have allowed her to run a better race.  At the same time, Immortal Verse has a ton of late kick along the rail inside the final two furlongs; she was going to be tough to beat under any circumstances.)


Galikova in the Prix Guillaume d'Orano (the commentary is out of synch a bit on this video).