Jockey Club Oaks: German Group 1 winner Toskana Belle receives Frankie Dettori on her North American debut – Horse Racing News

Toskana Belle after winning Group 1 German Oaks

Australian Bloodstock’s Toskana Belle will represent multiple flags in her North American debut of Grade 3, $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks, a 1 3/8 mile indoor turf test for Grade 2 fillies, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

Bred in France and bred in Germany by trainer Andreas Wohler, Toskana Belle enters the final leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series fillies division after a narrow 16-1 triumph in Group 1 Pries der Diana [German Oaks] on August 7 in Düsseldorf.

The chestnut daughter of Shamalgan, multiple champion in the Czech Republic, posted top speed in the 1 3/8 mile test over good ground and held her lead in the stretch race, fending off a late rally from Wagnis for win by a head. .

Luke Merrell, manager of Australian Bloodstock, said Toskana Belle should appreciate a tough stance.

“She’s desperate for firmer ground and she’s really tough,” Merrell said. “In Australia we call it a ‘dead track’ and that’s what she ran the other day when she won the German Oaks. It’s not rock hard like you would in the States States or Australia, but it’s certainly not mush or up to their cannonball type either.

Toskana Belle handed Australian Bloodstock their third victory at the German Oaks, previously won with Turfdonna [2015] and Salomina [2012]. Merrell has expressed interest in making the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 5 at Keeneland with Toskana Belle if she talks about her winning form on that side of the pond.

“We’ve won the German Oaks a few other times and that’s probably the best racehorse we’ve won it with so far,” Merrell said. “There is so much money to be made traveling with these fillies and obviously you can get that firmer ground in the States. Hopefully she can have a good little campaign with this run and then maybe in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Ahead of the German Oaks, Toskana Belle was third in the Group 3 Diana Trial over 10 furlongs on June 5 at Hoppegarten after claiming a one-mile win at Dusseldorf in May. She beat her maiden on good soft ground in a nine-stadium test at Evreux in France.

“We’re heading in there with a bit of confidence,” Merrell said. “You could say she could be undefeated. She got a questionable run in Group 3 and the market kind of discounted her for the Oaks and that’s why she was so expensive.

Merrell noted Toskana Belle’s strong canter in the German oaks, in which she earned a time form rating of 105, and added that her efforts appeared to be on par with those of her older counterparts.

“I have a real opinion of her. She is the only year-round horse in Germany that runs as much as older horses,” Merrell said. “All the other 3-year-olds in the last two years haven’t been able to do this. She was able to run better times than them. She ran a record in France and just ran fast times and fast splits. She’s not one of those typical 3-year-olds who will only be 3, I think she’ll really train next year and be able to compete in some high-level stuff. Andreas seems very confident that she has traveled well. She’s the right guy to bring, so hopefully she shows up.

Australian Bloodstock, based in Newcastle, New South Wales, has already achieved North American success with Wohler, winning the 3rd year Belmont Gold Cup [now a Grade 2] in 2017 with Red Cardinal. Wohler is also no stranger to success in North America, shipping Silvano to the United States in 2001 for a winning entry in the Grade 1 Arlington Million and winning Woodbine’s Grade 2 Sky Classic in 2008 with Lauro.

“We have a few, about half a dozen in Europe and about 100 to 150 here in Australia,” Merrell said. “I always look at America because obviously there are a lot of black type breeds there and it really adds something when you try to market these fillies if they have a European and American shape, a lot of breeders like that. She is one of those horses that should absolutely love these conditions. She likes to be on the front lines. She’s got a kick and a good turn, and she’s got heart about her. The only thing we wouldn’t want to see is a wet track.

Merrell praised the German breeding program, which produced American Grade 1 A winners Raving Beauty, 2018 Just a Game winner and First Lady, and 2005 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Shirocco.

“For a population that produces around 600 foals a year, they have this incredibly good record of producing world champion after world champion. They can certainly raise a top horse on the international stage,” Merrell said.

If she wins, Toskana Belle is sure to receive a flying dismount from internationally renowned rider Frankie Dettori, who will ride the filly for the first time on Saturday. Dettori is also set to board Year 1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational winner Nations Pride for the Million Dollar Year 3 Caesars Jockey Club Derby on the same day.

“He’s obviously larger than life, Frankie,” Merrell said. “We were going to ride Ryan Moore, but he had to ride one for Coolmore [Victoria Road in the Group 3 Prix de Conde at Chantilly]. We have been lucky with him in the past by winning the [Group 1] Melbourne Cup [aboard Protectionist in 2014] with Ryan, but Frankie has been good enough to hang out and ride for us. Andreas has won races with us before, we had Red Cardinal win there a few years ago so hopefully we can do it again.

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James R. Rhodes