Siskin Seeks Redemption

November 6, 2020

The short but excellent career of Siskin has seen him develop into one of the top 3-year-old turf milers in the world, but he must prove on Saturday in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) that he has not lost a step. Owned by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud and a homebred of his Juddmonte Farm, he has raced in Ireland for most of his career in the care of Ger Lyons, including a stellar 4-for-4 juvenile season in 2019 that was capped by a win in the Phoenix Stakes (G1). 

Fast-forward 15 months and he has started just three times in 2020 with mixed results. He stamped himself as a true miler with a bullish win in the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1), defeating the likes of Cox Plate (G1) runner-up Armory and fellow Breeders’ Cup Mile contender Lope Y Fernandez. In his subsequent two starts, he tasted his first two defeats, including a 1¼-length loss to arguably Europe’s top miler of 2020, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Mohaather. He then ran the worst race of his career over shifty ground at Longchamp in the Prix du Moulin (G1), finishing fourth behind multiple G1 winner Persian King, champion Pinatubo and another Breeders’ Cup Mile contender, Circus Maximus

Siskin arrived in Kentucky, where he was born and raised at Juddmonte Farm, on Oct. 30 for what will be his final start. He will commence a stud career in Japan thereafter. 

“I was very happy with him when I saw him today,” said Garret O’Rourke, General Manager of Juddmonte Farm and manager of its USA operations. “He has a lovely coat to him compared to some of the other Euros when they come over here because of the time of year. You definitely get encouraged seeing them coming over with good skin and carrying good flesh. He’s had a good break since the last run, he travelled well and they’re happy with him. 

“The Mile requires the most luck,” O’Rourke continued. “It’s a short run and two turns with a lot of jockeying for position. Usually you have half to two-thirds of the field encountering that on the turn. You try to work out your own trip, but you can’t control what the opposition is going to do—but he’s a handy horse.” 

Seeing Siskin one last time before he heads off to stud is special for O’Rourke in his team, having foaled, raised and watched him grow into a racehorse. 

“It’s one of the real enjoyments of the breeding game and one of the things that Prince Khalid gets huge enjoyment out of. All of the time and effort and planning–it’s different from purchasing. There’s a lot more pride you get out of it, from what you’ve put into it.

“They’re like children you follow along,” he concluded. “Siskin was born and raised here and he’s never put a foot wrong. He has always been an honest and straight-forward horse and hopefully he can put a cherry on top of his great career.” 

Siskin takes on a field that includes the aforementioned Lope Y Fernandez and Circus Maximus, as well as fellow Guineas winner Kameko and top American G1 winners Uni, Digital Age, Ivar, Halladay and Raging Bull. Favoritism is likely to be split between defending champion Uni, Ivar and Kameko. 

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