Jockey Christophe Lemaire opened Saudi Cup Day with a triple aboard Japanese shippers in the turf races. Neom Turf Cup (G3) favorite Authority and Red Sea Turf H. (G3) outsider Stay Foolish benefited from enterprising frontrunning rides, while Songline rallied with a perfectly-timed move in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3).
Neom Turf Cup (G3)
Silk Racing Co.’s Authority brought top-notch form as the runner-up in the Japan Cup (G1), but few could have forecast his wire-to-wire tactics in the $1.5 million Neom Turf Cup. The 2.30-1 choice was proven over much further than the about 1 5/16-mile trip, and Lemaire wasted no time in dictating terms. American hope Channel Cat didn’t go forward as expected, and British shipper Solid Stone couldn’t apply meaningful pressure.
On cruise control throughout, Authority delivered the coup de grace in the stretch and held sway by 1 1/4 lengths in 2:06.72. German import Kaspar, now locally-based, closed to snatch second in from France’s Ebaiyra and Britain’s Harrovian. Kaspar’s sometime rival from their homeland, Grocer Jack, was also part of the blanket finish for the minors in a rallying fifth, in an encouraging debut for William Haggas.
Next came Flying Visit; Arctic Sound; Passion and Glory; La Casa Terifa; Solid Stone; Pyledriver, who retreated after a tough trip out wide from post 14; Zuran Zuran; and Eudaimonia. Channel Cat clipped heels when in tight between Pyledriver and Grocer Jack down the lane, took a frightening fall, and unseated Joel Rosario. The initial report on the broadcast suggested that Channel Cat got right back on his feet. Rosario received medical attention but was cleared to ride.
Authority, who paid $6.60, was handing trainer Tetsuya Kimura a winner with his very first international runner. Kimura indicated that the Mar. 26 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) would be next.
“I had the best horse in the race,” Lemaire summed up. “I set the pace the way I wanted, without any pressure. Then he used his long acceleration and did the same he used to do in Japan.
“He was very comfortable and at the end his strength made the difference. I knew he could stay the trip very well. The ground is firm, which we wanted. The plan was to go to the front and it worked out. I knew he would be very relaxed. At about 2000 meters I let him go; he did very well.
“The Japan Cup is one of the best races in the world; my horse was beaten by a Triple Crown horse in Contrail. The level in Japan is very high so it gave me a lot of confidence running second that day.”
Authority advanced his record to 12-6-2-1, including victories in the 2020 TV Tokyo Hai Aoba Sho (G2) and the past two runnings of the Copa Republica Argentina (G2).
By Orfevre, Authority is out of the Symboli Kris S mare Rosalind, a full sister to multiple Grade 1 star and noted sire Epiphaneia. Thus his second dam is champion and outstanding broodmare Cesario.
1351 Turf Sprint (G3)
Songline was likewise the first international runner for her trainer, Toru Hayashi. A 5-1 chance whose best form was over a metric mile, the Sunday Racing Co. colorbearer proved that she had the gears for this about 6 3/4-furlong dash.
The 8-5 favorite, Godolphin’s Naval Crown, blasted to the lead from post 14, with Britain’s Pogo also flashing speed. The two went too fast to sustain their effort in deep stretch.
By that point, Songline had worked her way into the clear, and British filly Happy Romance quickened to loom large. But Songline was stronger to the wire. Edging Happy Romance in the final yards, Songline then held the late thrust of American contender Casa Creed by a neck in 1:18.00.
Happy Romance was beaten two necks in a gallant third. Another 3 1/2 lengths back came Lauda Sion, followed by Pogo, Happy Power, Rohaan, Cold Front, Masaabeeh, Horoscope, Naval Crown, Entscheiden, Third Kingdom, and Thunder Moon.
Songline returned $12 and improved her resume to 9-4-2-1. Her signature win had come in last fall’s Fuji (G2) over older males, and she was narrowly denied by Schnell Meister in the NHK Mile Cup (G1). But she captured the about seven-furlong Kobai S. at Chukyo early in her sophomore season, hinting that this could be in her wheelhouse.
“This is the greatest moment of my career,” Hayashi enthused of winning the $1.5 million contest. “I have been training for only four years, and it is my first time racing a horse outside of Japan, so for Songline to do this…I think I am dreaming!
“She is such a brilliant filly and the ride from Lemaire was perfect. The owners also deserve great credit for their ambition in coming here. As a three-year-old last year she raced well in this counter-clockwise direction over a mile and she has a lot of natural speed, so we thought we could run well coming back in distance a little.”
Like Authority, Songline is by a Sunday Silence-line stallion out of a mare by Symboli Kris S. The dark bay is a daughter of Kizuna and Luminous Parade, who hails from the family of Japanese globetrotter Deirdre.
Red Sea Turf H. (G3)
Yoshito Yahagi pulled off another masterstroke on the world stage, this time with the 10-1 Stay Foolish in the $2.5 million Red Sea Turf H. (G3) for stayers. Winless for four years, since the 2018 Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2), and untried at this long a distance since flopping in that year’s Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) (G1), the Shadai homebred rose to the occasion under an inspired Lemaire.
Stay Foolish readily took the early lead. Nayef Road, who was projected to be on the pace, broke poorly and found himself out of position. Advancing past the stands for the first time, Nayef Road joined Princess Zoe as a stalker, but wilted by the final turn.
Meanwhile, Stay Foolish had settled into a comfortable rhythm, enabling him to kick away from the field at the decisive stage. The son of Stay Gold opened up by 4 1/4 lengths and clocked about 1 7/8 miles in 3:06.08.
Irish celebrity Sonnyboyliston kept on well for runner-up honors as the 137-pound highweight, conceding five pounds to the winner. Godolphin’s Siskany, always handy just off the leader, was outkicked in third. Baron Samedi got up to nip Dubai Future for fourth. Mirinaque, Skazino, Desert Fire, Glycon, Princess Zoe, Louganini, Fabilis, Derevo, and Nayef Road completed the order under the wire. Step by Step was an early scratch.
“Once again I took the lead and he was very comfortable in front,” Lemaire said. “He used his stamina. What a performance! He was quickly away so we didn’t stop.
“He’s an easy horse, he likes to gallop. He doesn’t have a big turn of foot; that’s why I took the lead. The ground is good, inside the rail is good. When they are good they keep going.
“We don’t have many long-distance races in Japan; 2000 meters, 2200 meters is a little bit short for him and today he dominated the race. Running free like this he was unbeatable.”
Yahagi confirmed that the Melbourne Cup (G1) is in his datebook for the first Tuesday in November.
“I thought before he could win, absolutely,” the horseman said. “I knew he was training well so we had some confidence before the race. He is a one-paced sort of horse so this distance of 3000 meters must help him.
“To lead was one of our tactics and I depend on Christophe to decide what is best in the race; I trust him. It is a great day for Japanese racing, proving how strong it is.”
Stay Foolish rewarded the Yahagi faithful, or those picking up on the Japanese trend, with a $23.60 mutuel. The seven-year-old has collected 12 graded stakes placings, notably the 2017 Hopeful (G1) and three runnings of the Kyoto Kinen (G2) including to champion stablemate Loves Only You a year ago. His scorecard stands at 30-3-5-7.
Stay Foolish’s dam, the Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Kauai Lane, is a King Kamehameha half-sister to high-class Black Hawk and Pink Cameo. They were all produced by Group 3 vixen and Irish classic-placed Silver Lane, a full sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Hawkster.