Near Gold earned the "Rising Star" designation from the French TDN as a 2-year-old in 2017, even though his trainer, Freddy Head, admitted at the time that the colt was far from a finished product.
The royally-bred colt kept firing, winning twice and finishing second four times in seven starts for Head, and since the pathway from Europe to the U.S. has been so prosperous for turf horses the last few years, West Point's bloodstock adviser, David Ingordo, sprung into action to bring him across the pond.
If Near Gold moves into a new context as Head projected he would with maturity and added distance (he is one of the only horses Head has ever nominated to the 12-furlong English Derby), he will have an abundance of options for trainer Cherie DeVaux, as turf racing is far and away the biggest growth category for opportunities and purse money in American racing these days.
The son of leading French sire Dansili is already settling in at DeVaux's barn at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. He worked for the first time on these shores on April 18 and will not need much prep time, since he won a race in France right after the New Year and came back to finish second in February before Ingordo came calling. The plan is to start the colt off in a race at Churchill Downs before placing a bulls' eye on the elite (and extended) Saratoga meet this summer.
Near Gold is a close relative to Goldikova, who not only was a standout miler against all comers in Europe but also conquered three straight editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile in the U.S. Goldikova is a half-sister to Near Gold's dam, Neartica, herself a daughter of one of the all-time great sires and broodmare sires, Sadler's Wells. Head trained Goldikoka and her Group 1-winning half-sister Galikova.
Debuting as a 2-year-old in September 2017, Near Gold finished second in a newcomers race on testing ground at Saint-Cloud racecourse in Paris. He was the beaten favorite, but the race turned out to be quite notable: the winner, Study of Man, went on to score in last spring's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (the French Derby). Near Gold garnered “Rising Star” status next time out when he scored by 3 lengths in a 9-furlong maiden on soft turf at Chantilly.
As a three-year-old, Near Gold never really had a chance to get rolling, finishing second and seventh in two starts in the spring, and then second again when resurfacing in December. He is lightly raced with only seven career outings and is in the right place to make an impact, as more than 50 European imports have gone on to become Graded stakes in the U.S. over the last two seasons.
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