By Jill Williams
With the 76th renewal of Friday's GI Personal Ensign S. at Saratoga billed as a clash between division heavyweights Nest (Curlin) and Clairiere (Curlin), it was the other daughter in the field by Hill 'n' Dale's super sire Curlin who would prevail in a pillar-to-post mild upset. IDIOMATIC (f, 4, Curlin–Lockdown, by First Defence), a Juddmonte homebred trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, threw her name into the figurative hat, winning her third consecutive graded race and first Grade I. Last year's GI Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath (Arrogate) outbattled Nest for second, while Clairiere never got involved over the sloppy track and finished fifth.
Idiomatic broke from the rail and quickly skipped to the lead, ears pricked while under a hold as 45-1 longshot and Midwest shipper Malloy (Outwork) tracked her through a :24.53 first quarter and a :48.84 half. Nest was third early while Secret Oath followed and the pair of Sixtythreecaliber (Gun Runner), a July 19 Spa allowance winner, and Clairiere trailed. The tempo quickened with a half-mile to go; Idiomatic still traveled easily. Approaching the eighth pole, Geroux started riding as Nest attacked from Idiomatic's outside and Secret Oath countered from the inside. Despite drifting late, Idiomatic put both away to win by a healthy four-length margin as runner-up Secret Oath outpunched Nest by just a neck. Final time for the nine furlongs was 1:49.12.
Eclipse champion Nest suffered her first defeat at the Spa, while four-time GISW Clairiere was off the board for the first time since an uncharacteristic poor effort in last year's Personal Ensign.
“Based off the paper, I felt pretty confident [my filly] could establish a pretty solid lead,” said Cox. “I liked her [on a wet track], just the way she's made, she's big but she's not real heavy. I thought she could bounce through it, I really did.”
Cox continued when asked about his thoughts on defeating Nest and Clairiere: “It's huge. They're champions. They've accomplished so much and they're still in good form. I'm very proud of her to win by a few lengths there. Big race and I'm very proud of her.”
Fresh off back-to-back wins in the July 8 GII Delaware H., despite an ugly stumble at the break, and the June 3 GIII Shawnee S. with corresponding dual triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, Idiomatic has done her best running when loose on the lead. She's taken an interesting path to this level, debuting with a win in April of her sophomore year at Turfway Park. Five of her first six starts–sandwiched around a seven-month, mid-year break–were on the all-weather surface at Turfway. After posting three consecutive wins there to kick off her 4-year-old campaign, which included a first stakes try in the Latonia S. Mar. 25, Cox shipped her to Belmont, where she made her graded debut May 6 with a distant second behind Pass the Champagne (Flatter) in the GII Ruffian S. Idiomatic hasn't lost since.
“I want to congratulate Juddmonte, Prince Khalid, and his family for keeping the legacy going,” said Cox. “They have a tremendous operation worldwide and this is a huge update for the farm and their operation. This filly is a homebred, so it means a lot.
“The week before I ran her in the Ruffian, I told [Juddmonte's] Garrett [O'Rourke] this filly will run on the dirt. It was an unbelievable breeze. She was second that day to Pass the Champagne, but her works on the dirt have been great all spring and into the summer. She gave us a lot of confidence this spring and summer. I've been confident in her for a while.”
— TDN (@theTDN) August 25, 2023
Not too many significant racing weekends in recent memory don't involve a son or daughter of Curlin as a major player. It's impossible to overstate the chestnut's prowess as a sire of racehorses. The Hill 'n' Dale stallion is indisputably one of the best stallions of this generation and, with the Personal Ensign result, currently ranks second on the leading sire list behind only Into Mischief. Those two, along with Tapit, harken back to the days of Mr. Prospector, Danzig, and Seattle Slew, a trio who also interchangeably dominated just a few decades ago. Idiomatic is one of 54 graded winners and 96 black-type winners for Curlin, and his 21st at the Grade I level.
Idiomatic is a fourth-generation Juddmonte-bred and hails from the direct female line of Broodmare of the Year Best in Show (Traffic Judge), whose daughters have been brilliant producers and are responsible for a plethora of top horses over the last 50 or so years. One of those top horses was Juddmonte homebred, 'TDN Rising Star', and champion Close Hatches (First Defence), a full-sister to Idiomatic's stakes-winning and multiple Grade I-placed dam, Lockdown. Close Hatches is the dam of Tacitus (Tapit), whose big wins included the 2019 GII Wood Memorial S. and whose placings included the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Belmont S.
Broodmare sire First Defence, another Juddmonte homebred descending from the operation's wonderful Broodmare of the Year Toussuad (El Gran Senor), has 14 stakes winners out of his daughters. He now stands in Saudi Arabia.
Lockdown died in 2022 after producing just three foals. She has an unraced 3-year-old filly named Abditory (Medaglia d'Oro) and a yearling filly by Into Mischief.
PERSONAL ENSIGN S.-GI, $500,000, Saratoga, 8-25, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/8m, 1:49.12, sy.
1–IDIOMATIC, 120, f, 4, by Curlin
1st Dam: Lockdown (SW & MGISP, $445,900), by First Defence
2nd Dam: Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat
3rd Dam: Silver Star (GB), by Zafonic
1ST GRADE I WIN. O-Juddmonte; B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Florent Geroux. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 10-7-1-2, $1,049,490. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Secret Oath, 122, f, 4, by Arrogate
1st Dam: Absinthe Minded (MSW & MGISP, $607,747), by Quiet American
2nd Dam: Rockford Peach, by Great Above
3rd Dam: Strawberry Skyline, by Hatchet Man
O-Briland Farm; B-Briland Farm, Robert & Stacy Mitchell (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas. $100,000.
3–Nest, 124, f, 4, by Curlin
1st Dam: Marion Ravenwood (SW, $112,598), by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Andujar, by Quiet American
3rd Dam: Nureyev's Best, by Nureyev
($350,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House; B-Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $60,000.
Margins: 4, NK, 12. Odds: 4.00, 7.20, 0.75.
Also Ran: Malloy, Clairiere, Sixtythreecaliber.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.