September 25, 2023

The Foxes too clever in BC WAYI Royal Lodge; Blackbeard adds Middle Park to resume

The Foxes upsets the Royal Lodge at Newmarket (Photo by Shamela Hanley/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

A tactical race in a small field proved a trap for odds-on favorite Flying Honours, but Saturday’s Royal Lodge (G2) at Newmarket suited King Power Racing’s The Foxes. Trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by David Probert, the 17-2 shot went last to first in this “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

Godolphin’s Flying Honours stalked in tandem with Ballydoyle’s Greenland, both in the slipstream of pacesetting Dubai Mile, who had things his own way through an early crawl. As the tempo lifted a quarter-mile out, Flying Honours was caught flat-footed.

Greenland picked up better, only to lose his steam when Dubai Mile shifted into his path, and he flattened out thereafter. Dubai Mile straightened and found extra, and Flying Honours finally went through his gears.

Quickening best of all on the rail, though, was The Foxes. Collaring Flying Honours, the son of Churchill got up by a half-length in 1:43.66 on the good Rowley Mile. The time was a full 7.66 seconds slower than Racing Post standard, illustrating the lack of pace.

Dubai Mile shaded Flying Honours for second, and survived a stewards’ inquiry into his waywardness to keep his placing. Greenland, another three-quarters of a length away in fourth, might have fared better without the incident.

The Foxes became the sixth stakes winner produced by blue hen Tanaghum, who is responsible for the same connections’ Bangkok as well as Matterhorn, Tactic, Yaazy, and current performer Perotan. The Darshaan mare also factors as the second dam of mile star Ribchester and reigning Vintage (G2) hero Marbaan.

Along with his Breeders’ Cup ticket, The Foxes scored 10 points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby. But Epsom is his long-range ambition. Nor do the other points earners figure to have Churchill Downs on the radar.

Balding’s postrace quotes suggested that The Foxes is likely to call it a season. The $626,102 Tattersalls October yearling made three starts in the spring and summer, finishing fourth in the Newbury maiden that produced Mysterious Night and ninth in the Chesham S. at Royal Ascot. The Foxes put it together to break his maiden at Glorious Goodwood, and the Royal Lodge advanced his record to 4-2-0-0. He still has the option of turning up for the Oct. 22 Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) at Doncaster.

The ensuing Group 1s on Saturday’s card could have more Breeders’ Cup implications.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Blackbeard, who already has a free berth to the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) through his Prix Morny (G1) victory, added another major prize in the Middle Park (G1). Under Ryan Moore, the No Nay Never colt was perched just behind the leaders, then swept past Persian Force to win handily by two lengths.

Stablemate The Antarctic closed well after a tardy start to grab second, outstaying Persian Force by 1 1/4 lengths. The trifecta almost replicated the Morny result, but with the minor awards reversed. The Antarctic coped with the stiffer finish better than Persian Force, who continues to run well in defeat.

Mischief Magic finished fourth. Marshman, the 15-8 favorite, pulled too hard early and wound up fifth in the eight-horse field.

Blackbeard, let go at a generous 100-30, improved his scorecard to 8-6-1-0. His lone unplaced effort was a fourth in Royal Ascot’s Coventry (G2), followed by a near-miss in the Railway (G2). Either side of those losses, Blackbeard has compiled three-race winning streaks. His spring hat trick concluded with the Marble Hill (G3), and his current skein began with the Prix Robert Papin (G2) at Deauville.

Given his busy campaign, Blackbeard is not certain to prolong it at Keeneland. O’Brien described the Breeders’ Cup as a “definite possibility,” but it depends upon how well he’s doing nearer decision time.

Also under consideration for a stateside venture is Lezoo, who beat O’Brien favorite Meditate in the Cheveley Park (G1). Trainer Ralph Beckett said that if she has another race this fall, it would likely be the Juvenile Turf Sprint, since he doesn’t believe that a mile is in her scope.

Co-owned by Marc Chan and Andrew Rosen, Lezoo was freshened since landing the July 23 Princess Margaret (G3) at Ascot. The 11-2 chance picked up a new rider in William Buick, who got the full intelligence briefing from her regular pilot, the suspended Frankie Dettori.

Lezoo was accordingly held up off the pace, then surged late on the far side to overhaul Meditate by three-quarters of a length. Meditate was wheeling back 13 days after her second to Tahiyra on soft going in the Moyglare Stud (G1), a race that may have told here. The same margin back in third was Mawj, the only horse to defeat Lezoo in the Duchess of Cambridge (G2). Swingalong, the Lowther (G2) winner, tired to fourth.

Trillium, back up in trip after taking the Molecomb (G3) and Flying Childers (G2) was too keen en route to checking in eighth. Like her stablemate from the Richard Hannon yard, Middle Park third Persian Force, Trillium would be intriguing on a slight cutback in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

The first European Group 1 winner sired by Zoustar, Lezoo clocked six furlongs in 1:11.84, slightly better than Blackbeard’s 1:12.02. She sports a 5-4-1-0 mark, including the Empress Fillies’ S. on the July Course.