Beauty Gen­er­a­tion one to beat

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By Mar­cus Hersh Fol­low Mar­cus Hersh on Twit­ter @DRFHersh

HONG KONG – The horse has wide, ten­der feet that are sus­cep­ti­ble to sore­ness, this Beauty Gen­er­a­tion. His per­son­al­ity around the sta­bles at Sha Tin Race­course comes straight out of cell block A.

“He’s a bit of a head case,” said trainer John Moore. “He’ll sav­age you; he’ll kick you. You’ve got to get to know him.”

Moore joked he might in­vest in a heavy padded fal­coner’s glove for the horse’s groom. Or maybe he wasn’t jok­ing.

If Beauty Gen­er­a­tion wins the $3.2 mil­lion Hong Kong Mile for the sec­ond year in a row on Sun­day, there will be plenty of fi­nances for any kind of pro­tec­tion the groom needs. And if it’s to be a fal­coner’s glove, fine – Beauty Gen­er­a­tion could eas­ily wind up in Dubai for the $6 mil­lion Dubai Turf in March.

It took the horse (geld­ing, ac­tu­ally) the bet­ter part of two full Hong Kong sea­sons to win over the harder cyn­ics here. Even now, there’s still a lin­ger­ing air of doubt. Beauty Gen­er­a­tion, once a con­firmed fron­trun­ner, fi­nally set­tled and fin­ished win­ning the BOCHK Mile last month at Sha Tin, but drifted out to the mid­dle of the race­course through the home­stretch.

The same thing – at least a hint of it – hap­pened again Thurs­day morn­ing when Beauty Gen­er­a­tion and reg­u­lar rider Zac Pur­ton went through a stronger gal­lop (they’d call it a can­ter here in Hong Kong) prompt­ing Moore to say some in­ter­est­ing things at a Thurs­day morn­ing press con­fer­ence.

“I think the horse is get­ting into a lit­tle bit of a habit,” he said. “He has a ten­dency to get his head on the side on the right and tends to hang out that bit. When Zac rode him this morn­ing he fanned on the cor­ner and it ap­peared he was hang­ing out that lit­tle bit. But after­wards we went through with a fine-toothed comb – with the vet and the far­ri­ers – and as far as we’re con­cerned, he’s sound.”

Moore also made a some­what cryptic re­mark when asked how he was han­dling the pres­sure of hav­ing the star of Sun­day’s Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Races. He said he was tak­ing it all in stride – but some peo­ple in the sta­ble were strug­gling more.

All this could mean noth­ing – but there are things to con­sider with a fa­vorite who’ll be odds-on to beat 13 ri­vals in the 1,600-meter one-turn Mile.

Last year’s Hong Kong Mile was Beauty Gen­er­a­tion’s break­through race. He fol­lowed up with two more Group 1 wins last sea­son and has won all three of his starts this Hong Kong sea­son. His con­nec­tions played up his sup­posed lack of fit­ness be­fore his sea­sonal de­but, and then Beauty Gen­er­a­tion went out and won a Group 3 stakes by more than three lengths, set­ting a course record for 1,400 me­ters.

“The fa­vorite, he’s a good horse – a very good horse,” said Ryan Moore, who rides 4-yearold filly One Mas­ter in the Mile. “He’ll be very tough.”

One Mas­ter has come around sharply late this year, scor­ing eas­ily her big­gest win in the Group 1 Prix de a Foret on the Arc un­der­card at Longchamp and fin­ish­ing a sneaky-good fifth in the Breed­ers’ Cup Mile. There, One Mas­ter got bogged down on the deeper in­side part of the Churchill Downs turf course but plugged along to fin­ish only one length be­hind vic­to­ri­ous Ex­pert Eye.

There’s also a Ja­panese fe­male, Viv­los, en­tered in the Mile along with two Ja­panese colts, Mozu As­cot and Per­sian Knight. The lat­ter is rated higher than the for­mer, but Mozu As­cot holds a hint of ap­peal at a price.

“Mozu As­cot was very un­lucky last time in the Mile Cham­pi­onship,” said jockey Christophe Le­maire. “If the pace is strong, he’ll have a chance.”

The race also in­cludes an Aus­tralian, Comin’ Through, the French colt Inns of Court, and the English geld­ing Beat the Bank. They all might be en­ter­ing the lair of a mon­ster.

“This is his town, this is his track,” said Moore of Beauty Gen­er­a­tion.

Ap­peal­ing ar­ray in Vase

Hong Kong’s best horses gen­er­ally are sprint­ers and mil­ers, and rare is a race at any level at 1 1/2 miles. Yet the best race, top to bot­tom, on the Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Races card is the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase.

The field for the Group 1, $2.56 mil­lion race is 14 strong and in­cludes 10 in­ter­na­tional ship­pers from Ja­pan and Europe, in­clud­ing Ir­ish Derby win­ner La­trobe, the first Hong Kong starter for trainer Joseph O’Brien, and Rostropovich, trained by Joseph’s dad, Ai­dan O’Brien.

The el­der O’Brien won this race a year ago with in­ter­na­tional star High­land Reel, but Rostropovich has no such cre­den­tials. He has col­lected a mighty mass of air miles, hav­ing flown from Ire­land to Aus­tralia and back for the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber be­fore leav­ing home again for Hong Kong.

Jockey Ryan Moore, prin­ci­pal rider for Ai­dan O’Brien, might not be keen on his chances since Moore winds up on the im­prov­ing 4-yearold Mi­rage Dancer for trainer Michael Stoute. Mi­rage Dancer has made a strong fa­vor­able im­pres­sion train­ing this week and has a top pedi­gree (by Frankel out of Heat Haze), but he is only a Group 3 win­ner who never has started in a Group 1.

“He has the po­ten­tial to get bet­ter, but he’s got to im­prove,” said Moore.

Waldgeist is the Vase’s toprated run­ner, but has started seven times in a cam­paign that be­gan in April and also in­cluded a trip to the Breed­ers’ Cup Turf, where Waldgeist fin­ished a well-beaten fifth. A rel­a­tively small son of Galileo, Waldgeist does not give off strong signs of vi­tal­ity right now.

Prince of Ar­ran breaks from post 14 but there’s room to op­er­ate be­fore the Vase field hits the first of two turns. He comes out of a fine third in the two-mile Melbourne Cup, worked well here Thurs­day, and should prefer this shorter dis­tance, ac­cord­ing to trainer Char­lie Fel­lowes.

Eziyra was no match for Sis­ter­char­lie in the BC Filly and Mare Turf but could run into a plac­ing with a top per­for­mance Sun­day. An­other Euro­pean, Salouen, ran his best race on soft ground when he nearly up­set Cracks­man in the Coronation Cup.

Ea­gle Way and Ex­ul­tant fin­ished one-two last month in a BOCHK Jockey Club Cup, where a tax­ing tempo set the race up for their closing runs. Zac Pur­ton, Ex­ul­tant’s jockey, said Thurs­day he had been dis­ap­pointed Ex­ul­tant couldn’t best Ea­gle Way given the race dy­nam­ics.

The Ja­panese mare Cro­cos­mia fig­ures to set the pace, while the Ja­panese filly Lys Gra­cieux tries to stretch her re­cent Group-1 win­ning form from 2,200 to 2,400 me­ters.

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