July 16, 2024

Vandeek edges Ramatuelle in BC WAYI Prix Morny

Vandeek prevails in the Prix Morny at Deauville (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders' Cup)

Favored Justify filly Ramatuelle appeared to have made the winning move in Sunday’s Prix Morny (G1), but British shipper Vandeek picked up strongly to deny her in Deauville’s “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).

Now undefeated in three starts, Vandeek is validating his purchase price (approximately $815,386) as the joint sales topper at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up. The KHK Racing colorbearer handled soft ground at Glorious Goodwood to win the Richmond (G2) in his latest, and that ability to rally in testing conditions was clutch on very soft going here.

The Simon and Ed Crisford pupil was switched off near the rear early by Andrea Atzeni. Up front, July (G2) winner Jasour, who had been scratched from the Richmond due to ground concerns, set a demanding pace in :23.58 and :45.86. He couldn’t sustain the tempo, and his nearest pursuer, Thunder Blue, folded even more abruptly. The stalking Elite Status likewise retreated.

Ramatuelle, held up just off the pace, quickened to take command. The even-money choice had romped in her last two versus males at Chantilly, the June 18 Prix du Bois (G3) and July 16 Prix Robert Papin (G2). She tried to establish similar separation, but Vandeek prevented her from getting away.

Having to follow Ramatuelle through in search of running room, Vandeek did well to claw back the deficit and negate her first-run advantage. Although the filly gamely reached for the wire, Vandeek kept pulling out more to get up by a short neck.

The first Group 1 winner by hot young sire Havana Grey, who had a third of the field with Elite Status and Jasour as well, Vandeek negotiated about six furlongs in 1:09.84.

River Tiber, winner of the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot, sustained his first loss when checking in a further two lengths away in third. But the Aidan O’Brien trainee had been under a fitness cloud after a setback, and almost did not make the race. Patiently handled to improve position, River Tiber is eligible to move forward next time.

Sacred Angel deserves credit for holding fourth, faring best of the pace-adjacent runners. There was a five-length gap back to Valiant Force, who already booked his Breeders’ Cup spot in the Norfolk (G2). Next came Sajir, Elite Status, Jasour, and Thunder Blue.

“Vandeek met some trouble in the race,” co-trainer Simon Crisford said, “and when the filly kicked, it was going to be a serious test of his capabilities to see if he could run her down. The track’s tiring, but we knew he’d cope with it. He finished off really well.

“His temperament is very good; he’s bombproof. He’s very laid back, and we could back him up quickly. It helps he can find a fourth and fifth gear. I think he’ll stay further as time goes on, but he’s a work in progress.”

Indeed, Vandeek had fluffed the start in his Nottingham debut, yet had the raw talent to overcome it. He has built upon that effort while climbing the class ladder, and the Middle Park (G1) is reportedly next.

Bred by Maywood Stud in Great Britain, the gray is out of the Exceed and Excel mare Mosa Mine. This is the family of Group 1 queen Balbonella, dam of French highweight Anabaa, 1997 French 1000 Guineas (G1) winner Always Loyal, and Group 3-winning sire Key of Luck. Anabaa later became famous for siring Breeders’ Cup legend Goldikova.