December 5, 2023

Live in the Dream stuns BC WAYI Nunthorpe

Live in the Dream paid $83.50 in his Nunthorpe upset (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders' Cup)

Live in the Dream was easy to overlook ahead of Friday’s Nunthorpe (G1) at York, having never won a black-type race, and representing connections who’d yet to have a Group winner. But the front-running longshot grabbed all the attention from the start and upset Highfield Princess in this “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

Trained by Epsom-based Adam West and ridden by Sean Kirrane, who just recently graduated from the apprentice ranks, Live in the Dream was a 28-1 chance in the British market and 40-1 (paying $83.50) stateside. The Steve and Jolene De’Lemos colorbearer had a progressive profile as a four-year-old emerging from handicaps to hold his own in smart company. Yet his placings in the May 6 Palace House (G3) and May 27 Temple (G2) suggested that he wasn’t quite ready to make a splash at the top level. Nor did his tune-up fourth in the Aug. 6 Prix du Cercle at Deauville portend a leap forward.

Live in the Dream found the Nunthorpe ideal, however, for a breakout performance. Dashing straight to the lead from post 4, the chestnut gelding soon had most of his rivals off the bridle. Big Evs, trying to become the first two-year-old to win the Nunthorpe in 16 years, chased out wide before fading. Favorite Highfield Princess, the defending champion, traveled well in a stalking position, and Bradsell crept into contention, but both still had work to do to catch the leader.

The further they went down the straightaway, the more difficult their task appeared as Live in the Dream retained control. He had one length to spare at the wire in a final time of :56.87 for five furlongs on the good-to-firm course.

Runner-up Highfield Princess had the consolation of gaining revenge on Bradsell, her King’s Stand (G1) conqueror, by three-quarters of a length. Bradsell was a half-length up on fourth-placer Makarova. Next came Regional, Equality, Khaadem, Get Ahead, Nymphadora, Twilight Calls, Queen Me, Ladies Church, Dramatised, Big Evs, Tees Spirit, and Aesop’s Fables.

Live in the Dream improved his scorecard to 18-6-2-2. Aside from handing his human connections their first major score, he became the first Group 1 winner for sire Prince of Lir. The Kodiac stallion was best known for his exploits in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot, capturing the 2016 running himself and siring the hero of the 2020 edition, The Lir Jet.

Bred by Lorna Doyle in Ireland, Live in the Dream is a half-brother to stakes-placed Live in the Moment, who is currently plying his trade in handicaps for the same owners. Their dam, Approaching Autumn, is an unraced daughter of New Approach and Autumn Wealth, successful in the 1 1/2-mile Pinnacle S. in 2005. Live in the Dream’s fourth dam, Braiswick, scored her signature win in the 1989 E.P. Taylor (G1).

Judging by West’s postrace comments, Live in the Dream is likely to go on a transatlantic venture too, and take advantage of his fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.