Brazilian-bred Ivar showed why he was an unbeaten champion in Argentina by delivering an explosive rally in Saturday’s $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). The 14-1 shot earned his first U.S. stakes victory while booking his free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) around the same Keeneland circuit.
The Paulo Lobo trainee was coming off a gutsy third in the Sept. 7 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs, where he argued an unsustainable pace yet boxed on. Ivar had likewise shown speed in his prior Churchill Downs allowance score, in his second U.S. appearance.
Lobo made the key decision to remove the blinkers here, and the 4-year-old colt reverted to the off-the-pace tactics that serve him best.
“We were very worried about the (far outside) post position,” Lobo said, “but his style – if you see his races in Argentina, he always comes from off the pace, way off the pace. Today, it worked very well. I was very concerned because of the first turn. Joe (Talamo) rode him 100 percent magnificent.”
With pace factor Halladay a significant scratch, Casa Creed went forward to carve out splits of :23.44, :47.39, and 1:11.13, and Ivar was switched off in seventh. The pacesetter continued to hold sway until midstretch, when Ivar suddenly engaged turbo on the outside to strike the front. Raging Bull, the 3-1 second choice, commenced his rally from last, but too late. Ivar had a length to spare in 1:33.99, faster than reigning Breeders’ Cup Mile champion Uni’s 1:34.90 in the First Lady (G1) two races earlier.
Raging Bull’s stablemate from the Chad Brown barn, Without Parole, worked out a ground-saving, stalking trip en route to a somewhat one-paced third. Casa Creed salvaged fourth from Flavius, the Tourist Mile winner who didn’t have the clearest path. The tracking Parlor retreated to sixth, followed by defending champion Bowies Hero, Brown’s disappointing 2-1 favorite Analyze It, and Born Great. Spectacular Gem was scratched along with the aforementioned Halladay.
“Down the backside, he got in such a good rhythm, was so relaxed,” Talamo recapped. “Congratulations to Paolo. He did a great job training this horse, (changing) his tactics. When he won at Churchill (June 18), he was in front. He took the blinkers off. Just an incredible training job on his part to get this horse to turn off like that. I was all smiles turning for home when I took him out there. He just exploded.”
Co-owned by Bonne Chance Farm and breeder Stud R D I, Ivar sports a mark of 7-5-0-1, $579,413. The dark bay was 3-for-3 in Argentina in 2019, romping by six lengths in both the Gran Criterium (G1) on turf and the Estrellas Juvenile (G1) on dirt. The first foreign-bred to be honored as Argentina’s champion 2-year-old colt, Ivar made his U.S. debut off an 11-month layoff at Churchill May 21 and wound up fifth. He added blinkers to win a month later, and similar spacing worked between the Tourist Mile and Shadwell.
Ivar is by the Sunday Silence stallion Agnes Gold and out of Brazilian Group 2 winner May Be Now, by Smart Strike. May Be Now is a three-quarter sister to 2016 E. P. Taylor (G1) heroine Al’s Gal (by English Channel), from the family of Chilean champion and multiple U.S. Grade 3 scorer Isola Piu Bella.