Aidan O’Brien Could Be Set for More Guineas Success in 2023

April 18, 2023

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is a man horse racing fans in the United States are very familiar with. The Irishman has had a lot of success at the Breeders’ Cup meeting during his career, including in 2022 when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

O’Brien is the most successful trainer of his era in the UK and Ireland. He has won 41 British Classics, while in Ireland, he has prevailed in 47 Irish Classics. The Ballydoyle trainer has also had success around the world.

The Guineas (2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas) are the opening two Classics in the British Flat season. They both take place at Newmarket for three-year-olds. O’Brien has a strong hand in both races this year, so there is a good chance he will add to his tally in 2023.

Auguste Rodin Showed His Class at Doncaster

Arguably O’Brien’s best chance in the 2,000 Guineas this year is with August Rodin. The three-year-old colt ended last season with Grade One success in the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster. On the final outing of his two-year-old campaign, he went clear of his rivals in that 1m race in the final couple of furlongs.

The son of Deep Impact raced four times last season. He was beaten on his debut at the Curragh when he finished second behind Crypto Force. Just a month later, he got off the mark at Naas in a smart performance over 7f.

O’Brien opted to step his colt up in class when he ran him in the Grade Two Champions Juvenile Stakes at the Curragh. That was his first attempt over the trip of 1m and the Irish horse showed he was comfortable with the extra distance, beating some of the leading two-year-olds in Ireland.

The 53-year-old had lots of options for Auguste Rodin in October, with international races in France and the USA. He opted to make the short trip across the Irish Sea to Doncaster for the British contest. That’s a route he has often taken with his two-year-old colt. He won the race for a record-extending 11th time. 

Many sports bettors in the USA will see Auguste Rodin as their main selection in the 2,000 Guineas this year. Sports betting is legal across many states in the country, including Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, and Washington, and interest in the British Classic is likely to be high. O’Brien’s runner is the +400 favorite in the futures betting for the race at Newmarket.

Little Big Bear Could Be Biggest Rival to Stablemate

The biggest challenger to Auguste Rodin in the 2,000 Guineas may come from his stablemate, Little Big Bear. He is another horse that had an excellent two-year-old campaign on the track, with four wins from his five appearances.

O’Brien’s speedy colt featured over sprint distances in 2022. He is expected to step up in distance this season as he bids to become a Classic winner. The furthest he has raced over so far was the extended 6f trip at the Curragh.

The son of No Nay Never broke his maiden at Naas last season. He then showed his class at Royal Ascot, winning the Windsor Castle Stakes. That contest featured 24 runners and he finished the race strongly to prevail by a neck.

Little Big Bear’s final outing in 2022 came in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. Under the hands of his regular rider Ryan Moore, he made all the running in that 6f race. His rivals could not match his speed or stamina, which allowed him to break away from them for a seven-length success at the Irish course.

O’Brien’s runner was named Europe’s champion juvenile at the end of 2022. He was given a rating of 124, which is the highest any horse of his age had been given since Pinatubo was awarded 128 in 2019.

Meditate Has a Lot of Experience Ahead of Classic Campaign

Meditate takes the Breeders' Cup under Ryan Moore at Keeneland for Aidan O'Brien, Courtney Snow, Past the Wire
Meditate takes the Breeders’ Cup under Ryan Moore at Keeneland for Aidan O’Brien, Courtney Snow, Past the Wire

With seven appearances last season, Meditate had a busy campaign as a two-year-old. She ran in three Grade One races, including at the Breeders’ Cup meeting where she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Meditate was victorious on her opening four appearances on the track. She prevailed at distances ranging from 5f up to 7f. The fourth of those wins came in the Group Two Debutante Stakes at the Curragh. It is a race O’Brien has often used for his leading two-year-old fillies.

The daughter of No Nay Never featured in two Group One races in the UK and Ireland last season, but she had to settle for the runner-up spot on both occasions. She came home second in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh behind Tahiyra, while at Newmarket, she was less than a length behind Lezoo in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

Despite being given a wide draw at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Irish horse prevailed in a Grade One race at the third time of asking. Not only did she defeat some of the leading British and Irish rivals, but she also got the better of the best American juveniles in that race. She was given a patient ride by Moore before she powered home to score by over two lengths in Kentucky.

Meditate is the favorite in the futures betting for the 1,000 Guineas. O’Brien last won the race with Mother Earth in 2021. He will be hoping his latest filly can emulate the Classic winner in the 1m contest.

Statuette Unbeaten Going into Three-Year-Old Season

One of O’Brien’s most unexposed fillies going into the Classic campaign is Statuette. She has featured just twice so far in her career, but she has shown enough in those two races to suggest she has a big future.

The filly is the daughter of US Triple Crown winner Justify. She appeared for the first time in a maiden contest at Navan last May. Despite it being her debut, she looked very professional in that race. When asked to quicken by stable jockey Moore, she produced an impressive turn of foot to score by three lengths.

A month later, the Ballydoyle filly maintained her unbeaten record in the Grade Two Airlie Stud Stakes, a race for two-year-olds over 6f. She got a little upset in the stalls beforehand, but once she was racing, she soon settled. The Irish horse was made to work for her success on that occasion, as Badb and Matilda Picotte were involved in a battle with her inside the final furlong, but she saw them both off to score by less than a length.

As well as an entry in the 1,000 Guineas, Statuette is entered in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks. The latter is over 1m4f, which suggests O’Brien is confident in this filly’s stamina. She has not raced further than 6f so far.

Moore may have a difficult decision to make in the 1,000 Guineas as he will have to decide whether to partner with Meditate or Statuette as he bids to win the fillies contest for the fifth time in his career.

Guineas weekend takes place between May 6-7. All eyes will be on Newmarket to see the stars of the future in the biggest test of their careers so far. 

@pastthewire As always brilliantly written and perfectly toned observations written by @jonathanstettin everyone in the industry needs to read this and view it as a call to action.

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