Results at Woodbine and Belmont over the weekend--Lailani winning the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT), European-trained runners1-2-3 in both the E. P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) and Canadian International (Can-IT)--have put a smile on European faces. Even Noverre's shock defeat in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot wasn't considered too disastrous since the Godolphin colt remained favorite for the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and actually tightened a point, to 7-1, with Coral Eurobet ahead of 8-1 Banks Hill, from France, Hap and Irish Prize.
Godolphin paid some $37,000 to supplement pacemaker Summoner into the QEII as Noverre sought to sew up the European champion miler title on Saturday. The pacemaker did his job too well, however, streaking six lengths clear turning into Ascot's short stretch and holding on by 1 1/2 lengths to score a stunning 33-1 upset. Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, said rather sheepishly: "Obviously we'd have liked the other horse (Noverre) to win. Noverre is the better horse...he is going to the Breeders' Cup Mile while Summoner is going to Dubai for the winter."
Banks Hill, trained by Andre Fabre, finished well for second in Longchamp's Prix du Moulin (Fr-I) at one mile and is on her way to the ten-furlong Prix de l'Opera (Fr-I) this weekend where a good showing could send her on her way to the Mile although the Filly & Mare Turf is being mentioned as a possible option.
Two other Euros on the fence come from Aidan O'Brien's Irish yard. His possible Breeders' Cup horses will be shipped to Southwell in England for a spin on the all-weather track on Wednesday, notably Classic aspirant Galileo, but the results could put St James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) winner Black Minnaloushe in the Classic instead of the Mile, and Prix Maurice de Gheest (Fr-I) hero King Charlemagne in the Mile instead of the Sprint. O'Brien has Nunthorpe Stakes (Eng-I) winner Mozart, undoubtedly Europe's champion sprinter, primed for the Belmont six furlongs.
The Atto Mile (Can-I) is still the North American form race for the Mile with the first four home--Numerous Times, Affirmed Success, Quiet Resolve and Irish Prize, the likely horses to repel the European invasion.