23/01/2020. Crystal Ocean, Enable, Waldgeist Joint World’s Best // KOREA, GAON CHAMP & TRIPLE NINE BOTH BEATEN BUT BIGGER CHALLENGES AWAIT // RACING IN RIO, by TDN LOOK // Empire Maker Dies


Crystal Ocean, Enable, Waldgeist Joint World’s Best


Enable and Frankie Dettori | Amy Lanigan

LONDON, UK–Every racing fan has their own idea of which horse is the best, but when it came to settling the top horse of 2019 on official figures, there was not one but three. The Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, announced in London’s Landmark Hotel on Wednesday afternoon, delivered the unique situation of a three-way tie for top honours between Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), Crystal Ocean (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). Look back to the replay of the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO S. from last July and you will find the trio finishing in the order above, and it was for this race that the runner-up, Crystal Ocean, was given his year-high mark of 128 when giving three pounds to Enable and finishing just a neck behind her in a bravely fought finish. Enable’s matching mark was achieved in her next race, the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the final race in Britain for the mare last year before she took her seasonal bow in the G1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. And from this Paris showdown, her conqueror Waldgeist was also awarded 128, the trio having been judged to be a pound clear of the performance of the Hong Kong-trained Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road To Rock {Aus}) in the G3 Celebration Cup.

All foaled in Britain, the leading trio all raced for their breeders: Enable of course represents Prince Khalid Abdullah’s powerful Juddmonte operation, while Crystal Ocean, bred at Southcourt Stud, carried the colours of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild to victory on eight occasions, including in last season’s G1 Prince of Wales’s S. He was trained by Sir Michael Stoute just metres along the road from where Enable is stabled at John Gosden’s Clarehaven. Meanwhile, Waldgeist, now resident at Ballylinch Stud in Ireland ahead of the start of the covering season, was bred by the Waldlerche Partnership which consists of Gestut Ammerland, Newsells Park Stud and Coolmore. The latter relinquished their ownership in him in 2017, after which he continued to race for the other two partners.

Coolmore still has a link to one of the top trio, however, as Crystal Ocean has recently taken up residence on its National Hunt roster at Beeches Stud.

In acknowledging the achievements of Crystal Ocean, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild also paid tribute to his late sister, who died in 2015 and was also a successful National Hunt trainer. He said, “My sister Renee Robeson ran the breeding side for many years and I ran the racing. Our stud has been in existence for over 200 years and this is a very proud moment. Among the many horses that my father and grandfather have bred, this is one of the greatest of them all. He’s probably one of the most consistent horses I’ve ever known. He always tried and he always succeeded in finishing among the first three.”

While her peers have now moved on to their respective stud careers, Enable is back in training for a fifth season and looked resplendent when paraded at Gosden’s yard on Monday morning.

“Every sport needs a champion and she has really captured the imagination, she has attracted people to the sport,” said her jockey Frankie Dettori. “It’s very rare we get this kind of horse and it’s going to be a lot of pressure [this season] for me and for John [Gosden] and Prince Khalid Abdullah but let’s just enjoy it.”

Andreas Jacobs, whose late father Klaus bought Newsells Park Stud at the turn of the century and also owns Gestut Fahrhof in his native Germany, was in London with co-breeder Dietrich von Boetticher to receive the award on Waldgeist’s behalf. He said, “I have to salute my father who bought his grandam, Waldmark, as a foal. She was the first horse bought for Newsells Park Stud. The Arc was a race I dreamt to win when I was five or six years old and it just made the season exceptional.”

The phenomenally consistent 7-year-old Beauty Generation, trained by John Moore, flew the flag for the Southern Hemisphere-breds on 127, while an international quartet was awarded a mark of 126. These were the highest-rated sprinter, Shadwell’s Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who achieved this rating for his record-breaking G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe S. victory; Godolphin’s wide-margin G1 Longines Grosser Preis Von Baden winner Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}); Japan’s Horse of the Year Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) for her G1 Arima Kinen win, and GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso (Curlin), who was deemed the world’s top-rated dirt horse.

Also tied on 125 were Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), the five-length winner of the G2 Shadwell Joel S., G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase hero Glory Vase (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), and Australia’s darling Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), who bowed out permanently from racing on Apr. 13 with an extraordinary 25 Group 1 victories to her name.

The G1 Tenno Sho victrix Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), dual Royal Ascot winner Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal), City Of Light (Quality Road), for his GI Pegasus World Cup victory, and G1 TJ Smith S.-winning sprinter Santa Ana Lane (Aus) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) were all level on 124.

Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) was king of the staying division having been awarded a mark of 122 for his runs in both the G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup and G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup. A total of 296 horses, trained in 17 different countries, were rated 115 or higher.

Arc On High Again

The IFHA also released its top 100 Group/Grade 1 races on Wednesday with the rankings calculated from the ratings of the first four horses home.

Only once since the award was created in 2015 has the Longines World’s Best Horse Race not been awarded to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which was the winner for the fourth time on 126.25, with the first four placed filled by the Group 1 winners Waldgeist, Enable, Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) and Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the only other race to have been given this accolade to date, in 2016.

Completing the list of top 10 races for 2019 are the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO S. (125.75), Prince of Wales’s S. (124.25), Coral-Eclipse S. (123.00), Takarazuka Kinen (122.25), Arima Kinen (122.00), Juddmonte International S. (122.00), Australia’s Longines Queen Elizabeth S. (122.00), Ladbrokes Cox Plate (121.75), QEII Cup (121.50), and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (121.50).

Britain heads the list of 10 countries with races in the top 100 with 21 of the leading contests, with Australia and America tied for second on 20 and Japan next with 11. (by TDN)




Listed action returned to Korean racing this past weekend with the Segye Ilbo Cup kicking off the 2020 feature race schedule at Seoul on Sunday afternoon. And it was last year’s champion three-year-old Simjangui Godong who prevailed, defeating Do Kki Blade and favourite Gaon Champ in a tight three-way finish. Meanwhile down at Busan, four-time President’s Cup winner Triple Nine returned following a thirteen-month absence but was unable to overcome a 60kg impost in the class 1 Handicap.

Simjangui Godong Segye Ilbo

Racing for the first time since running an excellent 3rd in last year’s Korea Sprint over the same 1200M distance, Gaon Champ was sent off as favourite for the Segye Ilbo Cup. For a first-up effort, he ran very well, recovering from a slightly sluggish start to put in a strong effort, briefly heading the field a furlong out.

He would be reeled in though as first Do Kki Blade and then ultimately Simjangui Godong swept past at the death with Simjangui Godong getting up to win by a head. It was a fine performance from Simjangui Godong, who was dropped back to six-furlongs for the first time having ended last season in big Stakes races around two turns, including a 3rd place in the President’s Cup that along with his runner-up finish in the Derby, secured him Champion Three-Year-Old honours.

It is likely that all three place-getters will next be targeted towards the SROA Chairman’s Cup, at the same distance on March 15, which is the first Group race of the year. It’s also the first leg of the Sprint Serie and it would be no surprise if  Gaon Champ overturns the form that day.

Returning from an even longer absence was Triple Nine. He didn’t race at all as a seven-year-old with his most recent appearance before Sunday coming in his victorious effort in the Grand Prix Stakes in 2018.

Such is his rating though that Triple Nine was assigned 60kg to carry in the 2000M handicap – 8kg more than any other in the race. With his customary late speed, Triple Nine almost defied the handicapper but it wasn’t to be as Jumbo Blade and New York Mangchi clung on to dispute a photo-finish – Jumbo Blade taking it by a neck.

Given the ansence and the weight, it was an excellent performance by Triple Nine and – his notoriously problematic fetlock issue permitting – one he can build on. At set weights there are still not many in Korea you would back against him.

Further down the ranks, things are looking quite promising. A couple of weeks ago, US import Mark Story (Dreamlicious) took his record to three wins from three starts, all of which had been achieved in fast times and in a facile manner. Last Saturday it was the turn of fellow American-bred Eoma Eoma (Algorithms) to burnish his credentials. The $60K purchase made his second start in Saturday’s race 8 and stepping up to 1300M, won by as many as he pleased, finishing just half a second outside the track record despite being eased down in the final furlong. Both look potentially the real deal and their inevitable meeting will be eagerly awaited.



By Lucas Marquardt (reading time: 6 minutes)

Take the man-made structures from most cities and what’s left is a meadow and, maybe, a pretty confluence of rivers. Take them from Rio de Janeiro, and you have one of the most picturesque places on Earth. Soaring granite peaks…verdant jungles…wide, pristine beaches and an eponymous ocean current that keeps the turquoise coastal waters warm year-round…



Empire Maker Dies

Monday, January 20, 2020


Empire Maker | EquiSport Photos

By Alan Carasso

Empire Maker (Unbridled–Toussaud, by El Gran Senor), who gave Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms its lone American Classic winner in the 2003 GI Belmont S. before going on to be a sire of sires and grandsire of two Kentucky Derby winners–including a Triple Crown winner–passed away Saturday, Jan. 18 at Gainesway Farm in Lexington. He was 20 years old and succumbed to a rare disease that compromised his immune system.

“The passing of Empire Maker will leave a tremendous void not only in the breeding industry as we know it, but in the hearts of all of us who worked with him, every day,” said Antony Beck, the owner of Gainesway. “It was a huge honor and privilege to stand Empire Maker at Gainesway with our partners Don Alberto. He was the epitome of class and quality. I have never been involved with a stallion that possessed a better disposition. His impact on the breed has been significant, particularly producing very sound stock. He will be missed by all of us at Gainesway.”

Trained by the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, who once called the colt “the best horse he ever trained,” Empire Maker validated 2-5 favoritism and his connections’ lofty opinion of him when graduating over Belmont’s one-turn mile in late 2002, then snapped a baby two-race losing streak with a 9 1/2-length thumping of his rivals in the GI Florida Derby. The half-length winner of the GI Wood Memorial, defeating Funny Cide (Distorted Humor), Empire Maker was the 5-2 favorite for the GI Kentucky Derby and loomed boldly outside of Funny Cide in upper stretch, but was outfinished and settled for second. Having passed the GI Preakness S., won in convincing fashion by Funny Cide, Empire Maker stood between Funny Cide and horse racing’s first Triple Crown in a quarter-century. Frankel openly embraced the role of villain and, on a sloppy June Saturday on Long Island, Empire Maker put Funny Cide away with a furlong to race and splashed home 3/4 of a length the best. He was retired to his owner’s Lexington nursery following a runner-up effort in the GII Jim Dandy S. with a record of 4-3-1 from eight starts and earnings of $1,985,800.

To date, Empire Maker is the sire of 726 individual winners, 62 black-type winners, including 33 at the graded level, and a dozen Grade I winners. Standing for an introductory fee of $100,000 at Juddmonte in his first year at stud in 2004, Empire Maker was represented by three stakes winners from his first crop to race in 2007, led by Country Star, who broke her maiden in the GI Darley Alcibiades S. before adding the GI Hollywood Starlet S. Though later to develop, that first crop of horses would ultimately include additional top-level winners Acoma, Muskha and Icon Project. All four were females.

From his second crop to race in 2008 came Pioneerof the Nile, who gave Empire Maker another Grade I-winning juvenile when taking out the CashCall Futurity for Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert. Pioneerof the Nile added the 2009 GI Santa Anita Derby and was second in the GI Kentucky Derby before becoming the sire of 2015 Triple Crown hero American Pharoah. Pioneerof the Nile was sadly lost in March 2019.

Empire Maker thwarts Funny Cide’s Triple Crown bid in the 2003 Belmont

Zayat Stables also raced Empire Maker’s son Bodemeister to a smashing front-running success in the GI Arkansas Derby in 2012 and the Virginia-bred was desperately unlucky when second to I’ll Have Another in both the Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness S. Like Pioneerof the Nile, Bodemeister retired to WinStar Farm (recently sold to Turkey) and was responsible for 2017 Derby victor Always Dreaming. Other sire sons of Empire Maker at stud worldwide include Sky Kingdom (Darby Dan, Kentucky), Battle Plan (Japan) and Federalist (Jpn) (South Korea).

In the name of his Palides Investments N V, the late Saud bin Khaled bred the filly Royal Delta from his three-time graded stakes winner Delta Princess (A.P. Indy). From her sire’s fourth crop, Royal Delta–one of eight ‘TDN Rising Stars’ for Empire Maker–won the GI Alabama S. and defeated older females in the 2011 GI Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, securing the first of her three Eclipse Awards. Owner Benjamin Leon acquired Royal Delta for a sales-topping $8.5 million at Keeneland November in 2011 and kept her in training at four and five, successfully defending her Breeders’ Cup title in 2012 and adding Grade I wins in the Delaware H. and Personal Ensign H. the following season.

Empire Maker was sold to the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association to stand at the Shizunai Stallion Station in November 2010 and he covered mares there for the next five seasons, siring the likes of Group 3 winner Eterna Minoru (Jpn) and nine other black-type winners. His daughter Power Gal (Jpn) was part of his final Japanese crop in 2016 and was exported to this country, where she annexed last year’s GIII Honeybee S.

In the fall of 2015, it was announced that Empire Maker would be returning to the U.S. to stand at Gainesway in an equal partnership with the Solari Family’s Don Alberto Stable. His first foals since his return are 3-year-olds of 2020 and includes GI American Pharoah S. hero and ‘Rising Star’ Eight Rings, a $520,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase whose breeding rights were acquired by Coolmore in October 2019.

Daughters of Empire Maker have produced 475 winners, among them 43 stakes winners. Some 17 of those have come at the graded-stakes level, including Grade I winners Separationofpowers (Candy Ride {Arg}), Arklow (Arch) and Outwork (Uncle Mo).

Said Carlos Heller, the owner of Don Alberto, “We are heartbroken that he won’t be with us anymore. He was such a special horse to our family in so many ways and was our first major stallion interest since the establishment of Don Alberto Farm in the U.S. It is a huge loss not only for our family and our friends at Gainesway but also for our breed. We will always remember him as such a generous horse always giving his best at every stage of his life.

He continued, “We can say that he was aptly named and indeed made an empire that keeps growing every day through his progeny. We were fortunate to have been involved in a small part of his life. An incredibly intelligent and kind horse that will be sorely missed by everyone. We hope that his last few crops here in the U.S. will make his name shine even brighter in years to come. I would like to take a moment and extend my gratitude for all of the outstanding care and support he received at Gainesway. I particularly want to express my appreciation to Antony Beck and his staff at the farm, as well as Dr. Slovis and Dr. Javernick.”

Read Chris McGrath’s column on the sire’s legacy here.