April 11, 2021

Mohawk jumps up to earn BC ticket, European Road to Kentucky Derby points in Royal Lodge

Mohawk kicked off a major race triple for Aidan O'Brien and jockey son Donnacha (Photo by Mike Ziegler)

After Just Wonderful got the ball rolling in Friday’s Rockfel (G2), Newmarket’s juvenile features on Saturday turned into an Aidan O’Brien monopoly, commencing straightaway with a Royal Lodge (G2) trifecta spearheaded by Mohawk. The Galileo colt secured a berth in the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs, along with 10 points as the winner of the first scoring race on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Overlooked at 8-1 after being dismissed in a pair of major events at the Curragh, Mohawk proved a different proposition going a mile on good-to-firm. Still, his effort here underlined the strength of his past stakes form. The Royal Lodge result compliments stablemate Anthony Van Dyck, who left him back in third in the August 26 Futurity (G2), and especially Godolphin’s Quorto, who beat the top three from the Futurity (neatly in the same order) in the September 16 Vincent O’Brien National (G1).

Mohawk showed useful tactical foot for Donnacha O’Brien, poised behind 20-1 stablemate Sydney Opera House as he blazed the trail in tandem with Victory Command. While market leaders Beatboxer and Arthur Kitt floundered, Mohawk picked up strongly and drew away from Sydney Opera House.

The best fancied of the Ballydoyle trio, the 9-2 Cape of Good Hope, shaped as if ring-rustiness cost him. Another to flatter Quorto, as the runner-up in the Superlative (G2), Highland Reel’s full brother had not raced since the July 14 contest. Cape of Good Hope improved his position before wandering around in the Dip, but regrouped to overtake Victory Command for third. He stands to move forward off this tightener.

Sydney Opera House, Cape of Good Hope, and Victory Command earned points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby on the 4-2-1 scale as the respective second through fourth, while Arthur Kitt, Duke of Hazzard, and Beatboxer rounded out the order of finish. Kadar, Kuwait Currency, and Fox Tal were scratched.

Mohawk covered the Rowley Mile in 1:36.12, improving his record to 5-2-0-1. Fifth on debut at the Curragh, the Coolmore runner scored as the odds-on favorite next time at Cork before rising to stakes company.

Bred by O’Brien’s Whisperview Trading, Mohawk is out of Group 3 winner Empowering, an Encosta de Lago mare from the family of Viren’s Army and Bigstone.

Judging by his pedigree, it’s doubtful whether the Kentucky Derby trail would be entertained, and O’Brien sounded more inclined to call it a season rather than advance to the Breeders’ Cup.

The Royal Lodge was a harbinger of the Group 1 double to come for Ballydoyle, and for Donnacha, who rode all three winners for his father.

Fairyland struck in the Cheveley Park (G1), again besting The Mackem Bullet in a reprise of their one-two finish in the Lowther (G2). Sporting the colors of Mrs. Evie Stockwell, her co-owner along with Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, the 6-1 chance lengthened well on the rising ground to advertise her claims for next spring’s 1000 Guineas (G1).

In the Lowther, Fairyland was resuming from the bug that felled the yard at the height of the summer, and she scraped home in a photo. The Kodiac filly came on for that run, and this time had a neck to spare at the line in 1:10.13 for six furlongs. Stablemate So Perfect threatened before reporting home just another half-length astern in third, and 6-4 favorite Pretty Pollyanna was fourth.

Fairyland boasts a 5-4-0-1 mark, her lone loss a third in the Albany (G3) at Royal Ascot. Early in the season, the smart Naas debut winner defeated her male stablemates Van Beethoven and Land Force in the Marble Hill.

A 925,000-guineas ($1,285,935) Tattersalls October yearling, Fairyland is a half-sister to Group 2 winner and Irish classic-placed Now or Never. They were produced by Queenofthefairies, an unraced Pivotal half to European champion Dream Ahead.

While Fairyland may be put away for the season, The Mackem Bullet’s trainer, Brian Ellison, is eyeing the Breeders’ Cup.

The O’Brien juvenile most expected to succeed on the day, unbeaten Ten Sovereigns, justified 8-13 favoritism in the Middle Park (G1). But unlike his cakewalks in a Curragh maiden and last time in the Round Tower (G3), the No Nay Never colt had to lift his game to repel the well-regarded Jash. Sheikh Hamdan’s colt launched a couple of stiff challenges, and Ten Sovereigns found an answer each time to prevail by a half-length. His time of 1:10.04 just shaded Fairyland’s.

The top two pulled well clear of third-placer Rumble Inthejungle. His early pace rival, Marie’s Diamond, faded to fourth, trailed by Emaraaty Ana, Legends of War, Sergei Prokofiev, and Space Traveller.

Now three-for-three, Ten Sovereigns will spark plenty of debate over the winter about whether he’s the 2000 Guineas (G1) winner or more of a sprinter in line for next summer’s Commonwealth Cup (G1). His sire was all speed, but his dam, the Exceed and Excel mare Seeking Solace, placed in the 1 3/8-mile Prix de la Seine in 2010. Yet this is also the family of Australian Group 1-winning sprinter Shamal Wind.

If his name is anything to go by, Ten Sovereigns may be in the mold of his sire. Coolmore’s Kevin Buckley tweeted the reference: