The Fugue outfinishes Al Kazeem to win the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 7. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
When The Fugue ran in the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 7, her victory meant two big things. She became only the fourth filly in 25 years to win the race, and she earned a spot against males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 2 due to the race being a “Win And You’re In” event. The Irish Champion Stakes was her second berth into a Breeders’ Cup turf race as she had won a spot in the Filly and Mare Turf in her last start
The 4-year-old filly’s connections all but confirmed that the Breeders’ Cup has been added to her agenda after the second win, making it the second year The Fugue is headed to Santa Anita Park.
If you look at The Fugue’s record, it is immediately apparent that she is a classy filly. She’s won a respectable five of 12 starts and has only been off the board twice for more than $1.6 million (U.S.) in earnings. But if you have followed The Fugue’s career, you know that tells only part of the story.
The daughter of Dansili won her only start at two then had a sophomore season marred with mishaps the next year. Other than a fourth-place finish in the 2012 English One Thousand Guineas, she hit the board in every race but she could only get to the front twice that year. The Fugue only raced in group events but it seemed that every time she was on her game, she would run into some sort of trouble. She earned her first Group 1 win in August 2012 and, after a second in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, she headed to the Breeders’ Cup.
But again, she ran into traffic issues that prevented her from getting her best run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Many thought that she would have won if she had gotten a clean run but it wasn’t meant to be. She took an extended break during the early part of the 2013 season and returned against the boys in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet.
The Fugue proved that she is a strong contender against any gender as she finished third in the prestigious race. The placing was even more significant as she finished third to one of the hottest racehorses in Europe at the time in Al Kazeem and beat three-time classic winner Camelot. But a surprising finish a few weeks later had many fans jumping off her bandwagon when she finished last in the Coral Eclipse Stakes. No explanation was given at the time but it was discovered after her next race that she had run with an undetected sickness.
"I thought she'd really trouble the colts in the Eclipse. I was devastated when she didn't, but on the day of the race, she was incubating something and she was very sick for 10 days afterwards,” trainer John Gosden told The Guardian.
The Fugue has made it clear that she intends to go to the Breeders’ Cup by first winning the Darley Yorkshire Oaks for her first berth into the championship weekend. The race also showed that when she is on, she is really special as she rolled to a four-length win in the race over a solid group of females.
But her most impressive win of the year, if not her career, came in the Irish Champion Stakes. The field had suffered multiple defections due to the weather and The Fugue was on the verge of scratching but the rain held off long enough for Gosden to feel comfortable running her. She got her revenge on Al Kazeem, beating him by 1 ¼ lengths with highly regarded 3-year-old Trading Leather third.
THE FUGUE'S CONNECTIONS CELEBRATE AFTER WINNING THE IRISH CHAMPION
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
"She's always been special and has always been a special one in the yard for everybody. She's very good and has arguably beaten the best around at the moment," jockey William Buick told BBC after the race.
The Fugue is headed to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October for her next start then is expected to go to the Breeders’ Cup.
The good thing about The Fugue when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup is that she has proven that she can handle both the 1 ½ miles of the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the 1 ¼ miles of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, winning at both distances. She is also competitive against the best males in Europe, which should translate well no matter who comes over for the Breeders’ Cup turf races.
THE FUGUE LAST FALL AT SANTA ANITA PARK
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
The Fugue’s sire, Dansili, is a leading sire in France who was also a group stakes winner during his career. From 761 starters, Dansili has sired 84 stakes winners, including 2006 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Rail Link. In 2013, the sire has had 34 stakes performers including Dank, who earned a Filly and Mare Turf “Win and You’re In” spot in the Beverly D. Stakes. Overall, Dansili has sired 16 Group 1 winners and was the leading British-based sire of group stakes winners from 2010 to 2012.
The Fugue is out of the graded stakes-placed mare Twyla Tharp, who has three winners from as many starters. Twyla Tharp comes from a family of group stakes winners with two of her half-brothers winning Group 1 races and three group stakes winners under her second dam.
Twyla Tharp’s half-brother Compton Admiral’s Group 1 victory came in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at 1 ¼ miles, showing that The Fugue’s female family also brings plenty of stamina. If one is worried that The Fugue’s ability to stay at a distance hasn’t been properly proven through her wins, a look at both sides of her pedigree will show that she has stamina to spare in her blood.
The Fugue had no problem with the ground at Santa Anita last year when she ran there for the Breeders’ Cup. If she can stay out of trouble in whatever race her connections choose for her, she should be a real threat in California.