Shaikh Duaij Al Khalifa's A' Ali (IRE), seeking his second Breeders' Cup Challenge victory this year, and the unbeaten Earthlight (IRE), headline Sunday's six-furlong Darley Prix Morny (G1) for 2-year-olds at Deauville. The Prix Morny winner will receive an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
TVG will televise the Darley Prix Morny on Sunday at approximately 9:50 a.m. ET
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, Nov. 1-2.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the pre-entry and entry fees for the Prix Morny winner to start in the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint at five furlongs, a race which was run for the first time at the World Championships last year. Breeders' Cup also will provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
The Prix Morny, first run in 1865, is named after Auguste de Morny, the founder of Deauville Racecourse.
While Sunday's race will be held on the northern coast of France near the prominent French breeding farms, the Morny field more resembles an event that could be held in Ireland as all eight of its starters were bred on the Emerald Isle, headlined by A Ali, a bay son of Society Rock (IRE), bred by Tally-Ho Stud, and trained by Simon Crisford.
A' Ali, ridden by James Doyle, has made a major splash on the juvenile scene in both England and France. After finishing second by a neck in a five-furlong novice race at Ripon on June 5, A' Ali won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes by a neck at Royal Ascot on June 20, and earned a free berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He followed up that score with a burst of speed in the final 50 yards to win the 5 ½-furlong Darley Robert Papin (G2) by three-quarters of a length over the straight course at Deauville on July 21 as the 3-5 favorite.
Godolphin's Earthlight (IRE) has won all three of his starts, the last two at Deauville, for trainer Andre Fabre. A bay son of Shamardal, Earthlight, ridden by Adam Kirby, broke his maiden in June at Maison-Lafitte, and then won the six-furlong Prix de Caen by 3 ½ lengths on July 2. He returned to Deauville for the six-furlong Darley Prix de Cabourg (G3) on July 28, taking the lead in the final furlong and driving home to a four-length win over the straight course.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien has won the Prix Morny four times, including in 2001 with Johannesburg, who went onto win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Belmont Park. (Arazi is the other runner to win both the Prix Morny and the Juvenile, which he captured in a tour de force at Churchill Downs in 1991.)
On Sunday, O'Brien saddles Arizona (IRE) and Royal Dornoch (IRE) for the Coolmore ownership group of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
Arizona has been the more impressive of the duo, winning two of three starts in the Magnier blue jacket. A bay son of No Nay Never out of Lady Ederle by 2007 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winner English Channel, Arizona, ridden by Ryan Moore, broke his maiden at odds-on by eight lengths in his second start, a six-furlong race at the Curragh on May 26. He was formidable in in his next start, holding off all challengers in the final furlong to win the Group 2, six-furlong Coventry Stakes by a half-length at Royal Ascot as the 15-8 favorite over 16 rivals.
Royal Dornoch, a bay son of Gleneagles (IRE), has a maiden win in three starts, and closed strongly for a third-place finish in his most recent start, the six-furlong, Group 2 Qatar Richmond Stakes, won by Golden Horde (IRE), at Glorious Goodwood on Aug. 1. Royal Dornoch will be ridden by Donnacha O'Brien.
After finishing fifth at 33-1 in the Coventry, Golden Horde, a chestnut son of Lethal Force (IRE), trained by Clive Cox, rebounded for his second win in four starts, capturing the Richmond by three-quarters of a length and outdueling the 8-5 favorite Threat (IRE). Owned by Al Mohamediya Racing and ridden by Mickael Barzelona, Golden Horde broke his maiden by 4 ½ lengths in an EBF Novice race at Windsor in his second start
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's 3-year-old filly Raffle Prize (IRE) has won three consecutive starts, including back-to-back Group 2 wins, first at 18-1 in the Queen Mary Stakes on June 19 at Royal Ascot and then at Newmarket on July 12, taking the Duchess of Cambridge at six furlongs by 1 ¾ lengths. A chestnut daughter of Slade Power (IRE), trained by Mark Johnston, Raffle Prize will be taking on males for the second time, having broken her maiden at Chester on May 25 in a six-furlong British Stallions EBF event. Raffle Prize will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, who has won this race five times and consecutively from 2014-16.
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