Eight sophomore fillies will vie in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks (G1) at the Curragh on Saturday, with post time for the 1 ½ mile race slated for 7:15pm local time (2:15 Eastern, 11:15 Pacific). The race, worth 250,000 Euros this year, has produced the likes of Enable, Snow Fairy, Peeping Fawn, and Ouija Board of late.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien conditions half of the field, including the up and coming Snow. 5-1 currently, chestnut filly Snow is yet another Galileo (Ire) daughter out of the Group 1 winning Desert King mare Chelsea Rose. She is already the dam of millionaire Kew Gardens, and her daughter looks to emulate the dam by winning a Group 1 at the Curragh.
Snow has won two of five starts. She couldn’t get off the ground as a juvenile, finishing eighth and fourth in a pair of maiden events, but was off from October until June 13 when she won over 1 ¼ on this course. Second beaten a half-length in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Blue Wind Stakes (G3) on June 21, she was very impressive winning a Group 3 at Cork on July 5.
O’Brien currently has five wins in the Irish classic, with Seventh Heaven in 2016 the most recent winner. The record is six by Sir Michael Stoute, but with half of the field hailing from Ballydoyle, O’Brien is in with a huge shot. He just has to get past favored Cayenne Pepper.
Cayenne Pepper was second in a field of Group 1 older mares in the Pretty Polly on June 28. The only horse to outrun her that day was globe-trotting multi millionaire Magical, who was once good enough to give Enable her all at the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Cayenne Pepper has won three of her five starts, but has not won since August 30 of last year, when she was riding a three-race win streak to take a Group 3 over this course. Shane Foley will ride the Jessica Harrington trainee.
O’Brien will also start Ennistymon, most recently second in the Epsom Oaks (G1) on July 4. She was beaten nine lengths by stablemate Love, but she now has two runs over the 1 ½ mile distance of the race. Wayne Lordan will ride.
O’Brien’s other two runners are Laburnum and Passion. The latter was fifth in the Epsom Oaks after running third at Royal Ascot. This will be her third race in a month; the hard knocking Galileo daughter has only won once in six tries.
Even So rounds out the top contenders. G M Lyons, currently best known as the trainer of top UK sophomore Siskin, campaigns this filly by Camelot. She is coming off a win at Naas by a neck over O’Brien’s Laburnum; that was over 1 ¼ miles. She has two wins and two thirds in five starts, and will have Colin Keane up to ride.
I love Snow in this spot especially if she is the third choice. Cayenne Pepper is definitely beatable, with the biggest challenge coming from Snow’s stablemate Ennistymon.