The European Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby has a trio of one-mile races remaining that, following a four-month hiatus, is set to return in March — with big points at stake on the synthetic tracks.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes at Kempton Park in Surrey will kick off the month. The Patton Stakes at County Louth in Ireland is pencilled in for 3 March, with the final race — the Cardinal Stakes — at Chelmsford in Essex on 30 March.
The European Series, like the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, is intended to provide a place in the prestigious and highly lucrative main race in the United States on the first Saturday in May.
Pointing Towards The 149th Kentucky Derby
Already the race is on to qualify for the US$3million-guaranteed 149th Kentucky Derby, which will take place at the coveted Churchill Downs track.
A tiered point system in select races, introduced for the eighth year on the bounce, determines who gets to race in America’s showcase that regularly attracts European royalty and high-profile celebrities.
However, only one horse from both Europe and Japan can join in the overall annual cap of only 20 horses.
Magnificent Seven For European Series
The European Series comprises seven races. Four are run on the turf in late 2022, when the horses are age two, followed by March’s three races.
The initial pair of qualifiers are worth 20-8-6-4-2 points to the top five finishers, with the finale offering 30-12-9-6-3 points to those who cross the line in the top five places.
The Foxes Fends Off Challengers At Newmarket
The Foxes produced a career-best performance to take honours in the one-mile Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket, Suffolk, in September’s European series’ opener.
The Andrew Balding-trained colt came home strongest in the final furlong to win by a half-length ahead of fellow Irish horse Dubai Mile.
Godolphin’s Flying Honours, the British unplaced odds-on favourite, was a short head behind in third with Aidan O’Brien’s Greenland picking up the points by finishing fourth.
Crypto Force’s Dream Debut at The Curragh
On the same day — but across the waters in County Kildare, Ireland — witnessed Crypto Force triumph at The Curragh Racecourse.
It proved to be a dream debut for the Michael O’Callaghan-trained £900,000 purchase, who pulled two-and-a-quarter lengths clear at the line ahead of runner-up 4/7 favourite Adelaide River.
Third-placed Young Ireland, Roaring Gallagher in fourth and Lakota Seven in fifth each collected valuable points.
Unfancied Belbek Turns On The Style At Longchamp
Attention turned to Longchamp in France for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere meet in early October, which sprang a shock success for 17/1 long shot Belbek under Mickael Barzalona.
Stepping up to seven furlongs for the very first time brought a career-best from the Nurlan Bizakov homebred.
Gamestop was narrowly held off into second spot by a neck, with Breizh Sky settling for third. Favourite Shartash was beaten by two-and-a-half lengths in fourth, ahead of fifth-placed Vicious Harry to all bag points.
Auguste Robin Creates History In Doncaster
Aidan O’Brien became the most successful trainer in the history of the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes, courtesy of Ryan Moore steering the winner to the stands’ rail from the start on Auguste Rodin in the final 2022 European Series race.
Moore fended off the challenge of overall leader Holloway Bay in late October, and scored by three-and-a-half lengths from the rallying Frankie Dettori on Epictetus at the one-mile race in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
Holloway Bay finished third, Dancing Magic fourth with Auguste Rodin’s stablemate Salt Lake City in the points in fifth.
Final Stretch Is On The Horizon
Many bookmakers are getting excited about Auguste Rodin’s prospects and with the three remaining races geared towards success on grass and synthetic tracks there will be waves of bets this spring.
Bookmakers with online casinos, who are constantly introducing new slots, will be constantly altering their odds before these trio of races. Already this European Series has shown that for those who fancy a flutter that backing the favourite doesn’t always pay as outsiders can romp home.
A gruelling test of stamina will be in store for those runners on the final stretch of the European Road to the Kentucky Derby. They will battle it out over a hugely testing three races in an attempt to secure a place in America’s ultimate showpiece.