We’ll start our year off with a couple of runners in Deauville, but the focus is really shifting toward Cagnes sur Mer, which starts on Jan. 15. Gorki Park will have his second run tomorrow in Deauville in a 1,500-meter maiden. The distance will be too short for him, but he needs another lesson before he heads south. There is a better race for him in Deauville on Jan. 12, at 1,900 meters, but then he’d have to truck south in the next day or two, and that is too much stress for a young horse. So he’ll have a schooling session tomorrow instead.
Magical Flower will run Saturday in a condition race that she has no business being in, but because she is barred from everything else, it’s that or nothing. She needs 3,000 euros in earnings over the past year to avoid being the first eliminated, and she is at 2,900 euros, which in Deauville is the kiss of death. There are 10 runners Saturday – five deserve to be there, and five, like me, are hoping that one of the good horses is having an off day and that we can nose into 5th place to break the curse. Magic will soon head off to do some jump racing, but as long as she is here and working so well in the morning (as always), we might as well try to do something on the track, as futile as that effort might be.
After that, we hope to debut Blue Lilac and Santarini (who would be debuting for us, anyway), in claimers in Deauville on Jan. 12, the last chance before having to go south. If they get in, great, but if they don’t, they’ll go directly to Cagnes.
Deep Ocean and Hard Way, our two old stalwarts, both got eliminated in the handicap on Friday. Because it is a “Quinte” race divided into several divisions, priority entries don’t count, which leaves Hard Way out in the cold. It is extremely disappointing, because there is no other race for him now until spring, so I have to send him on vacation despite his being 100 percent ready to race. The program of winter racing in France defies all logic. With the exception of the one Quinte handicap, every other race is closed to horses who have won more than 20,000 euros last year except for claiming races. Since neither Deep nor Hard Way run claimers, we’ll have to wait. Deep, at least, can go to Cagnes, where there are races for him. Hard Way could go, too, except there isn’t a rider on the planet who would be able to hold onto him every day in training, so there’s no point in taking the risk. Instead, he’ll go to grass in Normandy for two months and come back in March.
The rest of the Cagnes line-up consists of Grey Falcon and Eternal Gift, who horses who could do very well down there. Grey Falcon has been the revelation, and I can’t wait to see him run again. Eternal has all the ability he needs to win a Quinte handicap, providing he can overcome his hormonal issues. He’ll have to be gelded at some point, but I really don’t want to stop for that now.
So we grit our teeth for a few more rainy trips to Deauville with the promise of sun in just two weeks. Not that I’m counting.