Allen Stable’s homebred Civil Union continued her rapid rise in Saturday’s $250,000 Flower Bowl Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park, winning her fourth straight to earn a free ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
The Shug McGaughey trainee was coming off a graded stakes debut in the Glens Falls (G2) at Saratoga, where she toppled Chad Brown favorite My Sister Nat, and the two reprised their roles here. This time, Civil Union rallied from farther back, and My Sister Nat made the margin much closer, but the verdict was the same.
With Joel Rosario back aboard, Civil Union rated near the back of the pack on the inside, trailed only by My Sister Nat, as the 20-1 Lovely Lucky carved out splits of :24.62, :48.93, and 1:14.36 on the firm inner turf. Cambier Parc, who supplanted Brown stablemate Nay Lady Nay as the 2-1 favorite late, appeared to be working out the textbook trip stalking the longshot. Although putting away the leader after a mile in 1:38.27, Cambier Parc couldn’t achieve separation from the field.
Room opened up for Civil Union to muscle her way through into the clear, and the 3-1 chance made the most of it to take charge. My Sister Nat, the half-sister to 2019 Flower Bowl star Sistercharlie as well as last Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) hero Sottsass, rattled home wider out to pose a threat.
But Civil Union had a pedigree calling card herself. A three-quarter sister to War Flag, who captured the 2017 Flower Bowl for the same connections, Civil Union kept her head in front at the wire. The 5-year-old daughter of War Front negotiated 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.28.
“It was close in the end, but she got the job done,” Rosario told NYRA publicity. “She’s a push-button filly. When you want her to go, she’s just there for you, so she makes it easy for us. She gallops and gallops and had enough left to finish. It’s nice to ride those kinds.”
Nay Lady Nay, the 2.90-1 second choice, also worked her way into contention without quite packing the punch of the top two. Checking in another three-quarters of a length back in third, Nay Lady Nay was comfortably clear of the rest. Cambier Parc was a disappointing fourth, yet to regain her sophomore form. La Signare, Beau Belle, and Lovely Lucky rounded out the order of finish.
The Kentucky-bred Civil Union, who was making just her eighth career start, has compiled a 5-1-1 record with $396,810 in earnings. Originally with Brown, the May 19 foal won at first asking at the Spa as a 3-year-old in the summer of 2018. Civil Union was sidelined after a second in a Keeneland allowance that fall, and she resurfaced from a 13-month layoff to finish fourth in another entry-level allowance at Aqueduct last November.
Switched to McGaughey for 2020, Civil Union warmed up with a third at Gulfstream Park Jan. 30. The bay returned from a five-month break, stepped up a bit in trip, and finally cleared that first allowance condition at this track and trip June 21. Civil Union hasn’t looked back since, driving to victory in the 1 1/2-mile River Memories here on the way to the Glens Falls and up the class ladder.
“When she started off this winter in Florida, I never imagined that she would be a Grade 1 winner,” said McGaughey, who added that any Breeders’ Cup decision is pending discussion with owner/breeder Joseph Allen.
Civil Union is the fourth stakes performer produced by the Unbridled’s Song mare Photograph, all by War Front. Her full brothers earned their stripes abroad – Group 3 scorer War Dispatch, third in the 2015 French Derby (G1), along with the Group 3-placed pair of George Patton (in France) and U S S Michigan (in Ireland).
Photograph is herself a half to two major performers by War Front, the aforementioned War Flag and the ex-Aidan O’Brien Lines of Battle, winner of the UAE Derby (G2) before becoming a Group 1-winning champion stayer in Hong Kong under the name of Helene Super Star. This is the further family of influential sire Dynaformer.
While Brown was denied another Flower Bowl by a former trainee, he received compensation two races later, as his new recruit Tamahere made a smashing U.S. premiere in the $150,000 Sands Point Stakes (G2) for sophomore fillies.
Last seen dominating the June 18 Prix La Sorellina at La Teste de Buch in Bordeaux, the Wootton Bassett filly was antsy at the gate but otherwise flawless. Tamahere bided her time early for Irad Ortiz, then inhaled them to prevail by a very handy two lengths in 1:35.21 for the mile over the Widener turf.
“The trainer had told me ‘she has a nice turn-of-foot, you’re going to love her,’” Ortiz revealed. “I just trusted Chad and waited as long as I could and when I asked her, she was ready.”
Speaktomeofsummer got up for second from Drop a Hint, and pacesetter Pure Wow faded to fourth. Next came Brown’s other runner, Selflessly, and Giacosa in a dead-heat for fifth, followed by 2.20-1 favorite Miss J McKay and the 84-1 Positive Power.
Tamahere, the 5-2 second pick, was rewarding the investment for new owners Swift Thoroughbreds, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables. The bay was previously trained by Francois Rohaut for Meridian International Sarl, which purchased her for €27,000 as an Arqana October yearling. Her resume of 7-3-2-1, $132,370, includes a third in last fall’s Grand Criterium de Bordeaux.
In his postrace comments, Brown mentioned that Tamahere was initially in the mix for Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland. But her temperamental tendencies led him to keep her at Belmont rather than ship for her first U.S. outing.
Bred by Elevage du Sarai in France, Tamahere is a half-sister to stakes winner Shadan (by Orpen), who was sixth in the 2018 Sands Point in her sole U.S. appearance for Brown. Their dam, the Giant’s Causeway mare Alatasarai, comes from the family of 1997 Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) heroine Classic Park.