Queen Of Bermuda set for Breeders’ Cup
Queen Of Bermuda will launch the next phase of her career by racing in the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, on Friday.
The two-year-old was chosen as one of 12 runners from 28 entries for the 5½-furlong Juvenile Turf Sprint race, which has an eye-watering purse of $1 million.
It will be the filly’s first outing since switching from William Haggas’s Newmarket stable in Suffolk, England, to train under Maryland-based H. Graham Motion, notable for his work with 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Queen Of Bermuda, owned by Bermuda Thoroughbred Racing, will be ridden by Frenchman Flavien Prat on “Future Stars Friday” and has odds of 20-1.
Simon Scupham, the BTR chairman, believes “if she’s ridden right” and has “the breaks” Queen Of Bermuda can be competitive.
“They call [the Breeders’ Cup] the world championship, but that’s the American view on everything!” said Scupham, who heads to Kentucky today.
“They give you $40,000 just to race, which almost covers what you would be spending to go, so it’s almost a free run for us. She’s had a long season and hopefully it’s not a bridge too far for her.
“She’s not particularly fancied and is up against some good horses. Having said that, we’re not intimidated by any of the horses ... she could be competitive.”
Second favourite Soldier’s Call, 9-2, beat Queen Of Bermuda into second place at the group three Prix d’Arenberg at Chantilly Racecourse in Oise, France, last month.
“Our jockey [Christophe Soumillon] settled her a bit too far back,” Scupham said. “Arguably, another half a furlong and we would have beaten Soldier’s Call that day.”
With racing scant for three-year-old sprinters at group level in Britain, Scupham said it made sense to relocate Queen Of Bermuda to the United States where there are greater opportunities and less competition.
“William Haggas has already told us that there’s nothing for her in the UK next year,” he said.
“The only race would be the Commonwealth Cup, a group one race for three-year-olds at Royal Ascot, but it’s not just fillies, it’s colts as well. If that’s the plan for the whole year, it’s not really good enough.
“She’s very small and we don’t expect her too grow too much, while the other horses around her will. She’s not ready to go breeding and we want to have some fun with her, so we decided we would look to America.”
Scupham hopes Englishman Motion will be the perfect trainer for Queen Of Bermuda as he has had plenty of success working with fillies.
“Graham’s view is that in America she could potentially get up to a mile, which is where the serious money is for her,” he added.
“They race around a bend, so they’re not leaving the stall and going hell for leather. If Graham can get her to relax and race over a mile, there’s a lot of pickings for her.”
Bought at the Craven Breeze Up Sale in April for 230,000 guineas (about $293,382), Queen Of Bermuda has had am impressive season, romping to victory at the Ayr Gold Cup in Scotland and winning a Listed race at Deauville, Normandy.
Scupham believes she compares favourably with Johnny Barnes, the BTR’s previous flagship horse, who had a memorable four-year career, finishing runner-up in a group one race at Saint-Cloud, Paris, and winning a group three at Deauville.
“Queen Of Bermuda is already worth more than we paid for her [as a broodmare],” Scupham said. “She loves her racing, thrives on her racing and never puts in a bad performance.
“She never gives up and is like Johnny Barnes in that respect. She gives 100 per cent every time.”
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