Aidan O’Brien believes potential star Santa Barbara has the necessary pace for this season’s Qipco One Thousand Guineas (G1), reaffirming the high regard that the once-raced Curragh maiden winner is held in.
A sustained market move for the regally bred Camelot filly has seen her cut to 5-2 favorite from as big as 10-1 last week, with the Ballydoyle trainer weighing up whether or not the exciting 3-year-old will line up in a Guineas trial on her way to Newmarket.
“Santa Barbara is doing everything very nice,” said O’Brien, who will be bidding to make it five One Thousand Guineas wins in the last six years on May 2.
“We just have to decide over the next 10 days if she goes to Leopardstown for a trial or whether she’ll head straight to the Guineas. We’ve always thought the world of her.”
He added: “She shows a lot of speed. Being by Camelot, we’d have thought that a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half would be possible for her, but at the moment she’s showing a lot of pace—that’s why we’re looking at the Guineas.
“If she had more runs at 2 you’d be more confident going there—she’s going to learn a lot from racing.”
Should the half sister to Breeders’ Cup winners Iridessa and Order of Australia land the opening fillies’ Classic of the season on just her second career start, she will have followed a different path to O’Brien’s previous six winners of the race.
Love, Hermosa, and Minding were all making their seasonal reappearance when winning the One Thousand Guineas but had an average of six starts beforehand.
O’Brien looks to have a strong crop of 3-year-old fillies this term and Joan of Arc, from the exceptional family of Gleneagles, Marvellous, and Happily, also entered the Guineas mix with a recent Curragh maiden success.
“We thought the world of her going to Dundalk last year, too, and she was unlucky to bump into a nice filly (Hazel),” said O’Brien of the top-priced 16-1 chance.
“We gave her a break, and I was delighted with what she did at the Curragh. You’d have thought, judging by her pedigree, that she’d like better ground but she handled the soft-to-heavy ground very well.”
Mother Earth gallops ahead of the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) runner-up Mother Earth could also be on the Guineas trail, possibly via Leopardstown next month, after reportedly doing well over the winter.
O’Brien raised the possibility of supplementing Kilcarn Stud Flame Of Tara Irish E.B.F. Stakes (G3) winner Divinely , a full sister to Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) heroine Found, for the Guineas if pleasing him in the interim, while stating that More Beautiful and Snowfall “work better than they’ve shown us so far.”
He added of his other Guineas entries: “Monday has done very well, and hopefully, she’ll leave her run in the Rockfel Stakes (G2) (beaten favorite when fourth of five) well behind. Looking at her, you’d imagine there’s every chance she’ll get much further than a mile. Queen’s Speech should stay nicely, too.
“We’re very happy with Willow, and we’ll probably go for an Oaks trial, or else the Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1). She’s one we’ve always liked, a real middle-distance filly.
“High Heels is a lovely filly, probably more of an Oaks type than a Guineas type. She was always going to improve a lot from 2 to 3, and we think she has physically.”