July 18, 2024

Anglophile, Freydis the Red score breakthroughs in Dueling Grounds Derby, Oaks

Anglophile (right) beats favored Far Bridge in the Dueling Grounds Derby (Photo by Coady Photography)

Improving from eye-catching thirds in preps at Ellis Park, Anglophile and Freydis the Red both scored new career highs at Kentucky Downs on Sunday.

Anglophile, a troubled near-misser in the Aug. 5 preview stakes, foiled odds-on Far Bridge in the $998,000 Dueling Grounds Derby (G3). Freydis the Red, who steamed late in the Aug. 6 Pucker Up (G3), set a course record in the $757,714 Dueling Grounds Oaks.

Dueling Grounds Oaks

Walking L Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Freydis the Red gave trainer Ken McPeek his third victory in the Dueling Grounds Oaks, after Daddys Lil Darling (2017) and Princesa Carolina (2019). The French-bred relished the step up in trip to 1 5/16 miles, as well as the strong tempo, to complete a transatlantic double for her family. Earlier on Sunday in France, her maternal relative Sauterne upset heavily favored Big Rock in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1).

Freydis the Red was underestimated herself as a 7.82-1 chance at Kentucky Downs. Reserved just about halfway down the field as front-running Callie’s Grit tore off through splits of :23.30, :47.25, and 1:11.45, Freydis the Red angled out to build momentum down the lane. The stalking Flashy Gem was the first to collar the fading pacesetter, only to be immediately overtaken herself. Sabalenka tried to rally in tandem with Freydis the Red, but she couldn’t match the winner’s powerful kick.

Under regular pilot Brian Hernandez Jr., Freydis the Red galloped by 2 3/4 lengths in a final time of 2:06.13 on the firm course. The daughter of Saxon Warrior lowered the old mark of 2:06.41 set by Micheline in the 2020 edition.

The 20.17-1 Sabalenka was the same margin clear of third-placer Flashy Gem, the only one in proximity to the pace who was still involved at the finish. Last Call got up for fourth, followed by Allamericanbeauty; Sun Bee; Mrs. Astor; 2.60-1 favorite Safeen, the Pucker Up winner who retreated from a chasing position; Callie’s Grit; Soft Talk; Milagre Do Sol; and the tailed-off Selenaia. Also-eligible Dashyns Dream was scratched.

Freydis the Red’s resume reads 9-2-3-1, $489,528. Needing 1 1/8 miles to break her maiden resoundingly at Churchill Downs May 29, the chestnut closed for fifth in her stakes debut in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Oaks (G1). The cutback to 1 1/8 miles in the Pucker Up didn’t play to her strengths, but Hernandez critiqued his ride at Ellis. Everything aligned on Sunday.

“The added distance,” her rider said of her move forward here, “and in her last race I didn’t give her the best of trips. I got stuck behind some horses, and over at Ellis you needed to make a little bit of a longer run with the shorter stretch, and we just left her too much to do. Whereas today she was always kind of there for me in position. When I needed her, she overtook those horses pretty easily.”

Freydis the Red broke the course record in the Dueling Grounds Oaks (Photo by Coady Photography)

McPeek bought Freydis the Red for approximately $147,300 as an Arqana August yearling. Bred by Eric Puerari, Oceanic Bloodstock SARL, Ecurie du Parc Monceau et al, she is out of the Shirocco mare Songerie. This is the productive family of U.S. and French champion Stacelita, herself the dam of Soul Stirring and granddam of Stars on Earth, both classic-winning champions in Japan.

Dueling Grounds Derby (G3)

LFG Racing’s Anglophile likewise benefited from the 1 5/16-mile distance of the Dueling Grounds Derby, and more room to maneuver at Kentucky Downs.

Trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by Declan Cannon, the 10.70-1 shot was nestled in fourth behind a slow pace. Up front, Wizard of Westwood tried to steal it by touring in :25.83, :50.76, and 1:16.55, but he couldn’t quicken away from the pack. As Battle of Normandy stormed on the outside, Anglophile burst through on the inside to take command.

Although Far Bridge was on the premises by that point, the favorite had relapsed into his self-defeating habits by lugging in. That forced jockey Jose Ortiz to take corrective action, and he could not quite make up his deficit with Anglophile.

“I had a good trip,” Ortiz said, “but he tried to lug in a little bit passing the quarter pole. I was right in the clear and he went back in behind Battle of Normandy. I had to take a hold and grab him and go outside again. I think that is what cost him the race right there. I am sure I would have won it.”

A well-named son of English Channel and the Kitten’s Joy mare Trustmore Lovemore, Anglophile crossed the wire a half-length in front in 2:08.93.

Battle of Normandy was another length astern of Far Bridge in third, in a trifecta that may have appealed to military history buffs. Next came Wizard of Westwood; Really Good; Clever Thought; Just a Photo; Red Route One, who never recovered after being hampered early; and Lion of War. Highway Robber, Desert Duke, and Out of Deductions were all withdrawn.

Anglophile’s scorecard now stands at 9-3-1-2, $735,599, reflecting a runner-up effort in the April 1 Cutler Bay S. in his sophomore bow as well as his third in the KY Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby at Ellis. The blinkers may have helped that day, amid his checkered passage, and he was focused on the job here.

“Beautiful trip,” Cannon said. “Got a little more forward than I thought today, but he fell into a nice rhythm. I knew he’d stay the distance. I just rode him with plenty of confidence. He was doing his best late work and hit the line strong. He’s a really nice horse.

“He beat older horses at Ellis (in a July 16 allowance), and that’s when I really knew he was on the improve. It’s not always easy to beat older horses going two turns. We pointed for this race for a long time.

“I shouldn’t have gotten beat on him last time,” Cannon added. “I made a mule of it. I kind of got stuck behind horses and got out too late. I made sure I got plenty of running room today, so I made amends.”

Hunter Rankin of LFG Racing was delighted with the breakthrough.

“Had this idea to put 14 guys together and got together with this horse,” Rankin said. “It is very special to me because my parents (of Upson Downs Farm) bred this horse (in partnership with Louie W. Wright).

“He is such a neat little horse; he does everything you ask him to do. If you don’t ask him to do it, he won’t but if you ask him he will. He has just gotten better with racing. We put blinkers on him a race ago and it helped him because he is so laid back. I can’t say enough about what Brian Lynch and his staff have done with him.”

Anglophile figures to reward connections over the long term, given how well English Channel progeny tend to do with maturity. The chestnut hails from the family of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Ticker Tape, Group 1 scorers Crowded House and Brando, and current French Group 2 victor Tribalist.