Editor's note: It was reported Oct. 22 that Waldgeist is most likely headed for retirement after his Arc win, and is no longer expected to compete at this year's Breeders' Cup.
Fifth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, Waldgeist broke hearts in his last start when he secured a spot in this year’s edition by winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, defeating last year’s Turf and Arc winner Enable.
While connections haven’t committed Waldgeist to this year’s Breeders’ Cup yet, it is possible we’ll see him in California so let’s get to know the Galileo son a little better.
Trained by the legendary Andre Fabre, Waldgeist started his career with a victory in September of his 2-year-old year. He stepped right up to Group company from there where he finished third in the Group 3 Prix de Conde behind Frankuus.
He was back to his winning ways in his third start with a victory in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud against a field that included multiple future classic winners in Capri and Wings of Eagles in addition to the future Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling and Group 1 Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution. To say the Criterium de Saint-Cloud was a star-studded race full of future stars would be an understatement.
Waldgeist headed off to a winter break after that victory and returned in May for a French Derby prep where he finished second by 2 ½ lengths. That set him up well for the following month’s French Derby over a distance a bit longer than 1 ¼ miles but he came up just a nose short.
In his following four starts, Waldgeist struggled to find the winner’s circle but in his second start as a 4-year-old, he won a Group 3 to kick off a four-race winning streak. That streak saw him win the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud by a nose before beating 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Foy.
A traditional prep race for the Arc, it was no surprise to see Waldgeist in the 2018 edition of the Arc after the Prix Foy where he was defeated by Enable when finishing fourth by 1 ¾ lengths. While he came close to the champion mare that time, his next start at Churchill Downs wasn’t as successful when he finished 13 ½ lengths behind her. His connections took one more international shot with him in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase that December but Waldgeist was rounding off a long season and finished fifth to end his year.
While the horse has always been good, as a 5-year-old he’s had the best season of his career.
Waldgeist’s 2019 campaign started in the April 28 Prix Ganay where he ran away with the victory by 4 ½ lengths over Study Of Man. A pair of thirds in English Group 1s over the summer against Crystal Ocean and Enable saw him add more Group 1 form to his resume but Fabre has had him ready to run this autumn.
Waldgeist took out his second straight Prix Foy in September by two lengths before heading to this year’s Arc.
The race looked like Enable’s to lose coming into it, even with bad weather downgrading the track condition to “very soft” but the third time was the charm for Waldgeist, who had lost to the mare in their first two meetings.
Waldgeist was tucked in mid-pack by regular jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot in the 1 ½ mile race just a few lengths behind Enable. In the stretch, it looked to be all Enable with two furlongs left to run but as the mare headed toward history Waldgeist made his move in the middle of the track. Waldgeist showed a tremendous late kick to fly past Enable in the final half-furlong and win by 1 ¾ lengths.
Already a valuable stud prospect with three Group 1 wins to his name, the chestnut pushed himself into another bracket with his fourth Group 1, an Arc victory.
One of the top sires in the world, Galileo has had tremendous success in the Breeders’ Cup Turf with four winners. Three of those winners came from 2013 to 2016 when Magician, Found, and Highland Reel all found the winner’s circle. There is never any doubt that a horse will get stamina from Galileo, as Waldgeist has proven from the very beginning.
As is to be expected from a mare visiting Galileo, Waldgeist’s dam Waldlerche has a strong family behind her. The mare herself is a Group 3 winner and has also produced a Group 2 winner by Galileo’s Epsom Derby winning son New Approach. The mare has three winners from three to race with all having ties to Galileo in some way as her 3-year-old is a son of Galileo’s Arc-winning half-brother Sea The Stars.
While producing two stakes winners makes any mare high class, Waldlerche is actually the underachieving broodmare in her family right now. Her Group 2-placed dam Waldmark is the dam of classic winner Masked Marvel among her three stakes winners with another daughter producing stakes winning Al Dabaran. A strong continental European family, this is also the family of U.S. Grade 1 winner Wake Forest.
With both sides of his pedigree having an abundance of class and stamina, it is no surprise that Waldgeist is easily able to handle the distance of the Breeders’ Cup Turf. While Waldgeist’s first attempt at the Breeders’ Cup didn’t go as well as his connections hoped, he has turned into a more mature horse this year. It also helps that trainer Andre Fabre obviously knows how to get Breeders’ Cup victory with five wins to his name (the last being Talismanic in 2017) and that Enable is skipping this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
If Waldgeist comes over, he looks like he’ll be a standout among the Europeans and among the field in general. While Bricks and Mortar has been beating up on the Turf division this year, his competition isn’t at the level Waldgeist has faced and he’ll definitely be in for a challenge against this European. It is hard to imagine anything America is putting in the Turf outside of Bricks and Mortar being able to beat Waldgeist with the European contingent also looking like it may have a hard time beating Waldgeist if he runs as well in California as he ran in the Arc.