Had plans unfolded as anticipated, Mauralakana wouldn’t be running in the $2-million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park Oct. 24.
Robert Scarborough, Mauralakana’s owner, bought the 5-year-old daughter of Muhtathir in 2007 at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale for $900,000. The idea was to race Mauralakana through early August before sending her to Australia for the Southern Hemisphere’s breeding season. Scarborough, who lives in Australia, intended to breed her to Mr. Greeley, who shuttles from the United States.
But the Christophe Clement-trained Mauralakana won the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park in August and that changed everything. The Beverly D., a "Win and You’re In" Breeders’ Cup World Championships qualifier to the Filly and Mare Turf, was Mauralakana’s fifth stakes win since Scarborough bought the mare. More importantly for her owner, the Beverly D. was the French-bred’s first grade I score.
"The Beverly D. was the changing point," Scarborough said by phone from Australia Oct. 19. "She stepped up to grade I class; at that stage you go forward because you don’t get too many opportunities to finish up a career in the Breeders’ Cup."
While owned in a partnership that included her co-breeder, Maurice Hassan, Mauralakana finished seventh at odds of 20-1 in the 2006 Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs. She was then trained by Patrick Biancone. For her second go at the Breeders’ Cup, Mauralakana’s odds will be considerably lower. She is the 5-1 third choice in the morning-line in the 10-horse field.
Scarborough, 63, is the chairman of the Moonee Valley Racing Club, which will host the prestigious Cox Plate Oct. 25. With the time change, the Cox Plate will actually be run the evening of Oct. 24, California time. Therefore, Scarborough will be unable to attend the Breeders’ Cup, but his youngest son, Nick, will represent the Scarborough family.
Mauralakana is the first Breeders’ Cup starter for Scarborough. He has campaigned and or bred a dozen group I winners in Australia and Europe including Final Card and King Charlemagne, whom he bred in partnership with John Magnier and Michael Tabor. Scarborough and his wife of 39 years, Rosemary, operate a breeding farm, Wood Nook, in Nagambie in Victoria, Australia.
Scarborough sold his business — a company that provided health care services in Australia and the United Kingdom — four years ago. He is an ardent student of pedigrees and is passionate about the process of selecting stallions for his 30-strong broodmare band. Mauralakana will likely be retired after the Filly and Mare Turf, although Scarborough has fielded offers to race her in Hong Kong and Japan later this fall.
"I will breed Mauralakana first in the Northern Hemisphere and then bring her to Australia," Scarborough said. "I could go to Europe and bred to Zamidar, Zarkava’s sire. That’s an option."
Mauralakana’s bloodlines are top-notch: Her dam, Jimkana, is a full sister to group I winner Jim and Tonic.
Scarborough wasn’t expecting to make a return on his $900,000 investment before Mauralakana was retired, but he has and then some. Since her purchase nearly a year ago, the mare has earned $1,066,920 and has a record of 5-2-0 in seven starts.
In her Breeders’ Cup prep, the Clement trainee finished second in the Flower Bowl (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 27. In addition to the Beverly D., Mauralakana won the Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT), Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT), New York Stakes (gr. IIT), and the Mairzy Doates Handicap.
"I’ve had many group I experiences, but to be in the Breeders’ Cup with a mare who I will later have the progeny of is terribly important," Scarborough said.