ASIAN QUEEN (Diamond Green out of a Country Reel mare) took second place in the 2400 meter (11/2 mile) Prix des Gardenias claiming race on the exceptionally fast turf in Clairefontaine the 10th of July, 2020. Jockey Frida Valle SKAR insisted until the end to ensure the place for owner Marie-Carmel NAIM. The horse was not claimed.
Bleu Astral disappointed his High Street Racing backers on Saturday as he faded to finish last of eight in the 17,000-euro Prix de General Saint Didier, a 1600-meter (one-mile) claiming race on the Cagnes-sur-Mer fibersand track.
Sent off at an unpromising 35-1 but away alertly under Guilain Bertrand in the amateur riders race, Bleu was soon tracking the leaders in third place, less than two lengths off a strong pace. After three furlongs he took the lead, but hopes were short lived as he fell back into third midway around the turn. Entering the straight he had nothing left, ultimately finishing 10 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Sterling Run.
“This was an extremely disappointing effort,” said trainer Gina Rarick. “He never took a breath during the race and he never relaxed. We’ll have to drop him into the lower claiming ranks now.”
A 2000-meter (1 1/4-mile) race fibersand later in the meeting could be Bleu Astral’s next start, although a return to soft or heavy turf, a surface over which he won twice last summer in Britain, might yet throw some light on the subject. For the moment, there is no turf race in the program for him.
Entered for a claiming price of 20,000 euros, the Astronomer Royal 4-year-old will be making his third start for trainer Gina Rarick. An improved effort last time in a similar event over an inadequate 1300 meters (6 1/2 furlongs) saw him finish ninth of 15, beaten by just 6 lengths. Further improvement is expected on Saturday when he returns to his favorite distance of a mile, over which he won his last two races in Great Britain in August.
Following a 14-hour van ride accompanied by his High Street Racing stablemate Grey Sensation and four other Gina Rarick trainees, Bleu Astral arrived in Cagnes last Friday morning and has settled in well. A sharp Wednesday morning workout on the main track with Ray of Hope, a two-time winner at Cagnes-sur-Mer last winter, sets him up well for this contest.
Bleu Astral will carry the the number three saddlecloth and break from post 2 in the race for amateur riders. Mr. Guilan Bertrand will be in the saddle for the first race on the card with post time scheduled for 12:45pm (11:45 am GMT); 7:45 am (EST).
Bleu Astral showed marked improvement in his second outing for High Street Racing at Deauville on Monday as he finished well to finish ninth in the Prix de Balme, overcoming a number of obstacles in the process.
Cutting back to 1300 meters (6 1/2 furlongs) and breaking from post 14 in the 15-runner claiming event while carrying co-highweight of 61.5 kilos (135 lbs.), ‘Bleu’ broke much more alertly than he did last time, but was taken back by rider Alexis Badel, who angled him over to the rail in a ground-saving move. Still next-to-last approaching the straight, ‘Bleu’ was closing well as the line drew near. In the end he finished 6 1/2 lengths behind the pacesetting winner Super Nothing, who clocked a quick 1:16.80 for the 1300 meters.
“This was a much better effort,” said trainer Gina Rarick. “He was much better out of the gate and carried his head better. It was a promising performance and he should do well next time at Cagnes-sur-Mer going left-handed at a mile or even longer.”
Gina reported that Bleu Astral had come out of the race in good order and suggested that he may be even better when switched back to turf.
Considering his wide draw, the heavy impost which saw him spotting his 14 rivals up to 22 lbs., a 6 1/2-length defeat to a winner who was carrying 15 lbs. less than the High Street Racing inmate must be considered an encouraging performance. At a longer distance and carrying a more competitive weight, there is every chance that Bleu Astral will continue to improve.
Bleu Astral makes a quick return for High Street Racing on Monday when he goes in the Prix de Balme on the Deauville fibresand course. The 1300-meter (6 1/2-furlong) claimer is worth 20,000 euros (10,000 euros to the winner).
The race is three furlongs shorter than Bleu Astral’s High Street racing debut at the same track on December 11 when he finished tenth in a 1900-meter (9 1/2-furlong) conditions race, and is also a step or two down in class.
As trainer Gina Rarick explained: “I would have preferred a distance closer to a mile, but we don’t have another entry that is suitable at the moment, so we’ll have to takes this one. I have added sheepskin cheek pieces to help keep him straight and focused. We should look at this race as essentially a second training gallop counting toward his eventual handicap mark.”
“‘Bleu’ did a nice piece of work Thursday,” Gina continued, “and I expect to see a better showing than last time.”
Bleu Astral has been entered for a claiming price of 20,000 euros but Gina does not expect him to be claimed. Carrying highweight of 61.5 kilos (135 lbs.) as he continues to carry a French penalty due to his two victories last summer in Great Britain, he has drawn post 15 in a field of 16 three-year-olds. Post time is 12:15 pm (CET), 11:15 (GMT) and 6:15 am (EST). Alexis Badel retains the ride.