July 25, 2024

Classic winner Mawj makes all in Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Mawj in The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland
Mawj in The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography)

Mawj was the class of the field heading into Saturday’s $501,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and called on plenty of it to win the nine-furlong grass test for three-year-old fillies at Keeneland.

Victorious over Irish star Tahiyra in the classic 1000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket in May, Mawj was making her first start since that win, and racing beyond a mile for the first time, in the Challenge Cup. She had been sidelined over the summer after developing a chest infection.

Showing her customary speed from the start under Oisin Murphy, Mawj soon led and set fractions of :23.26, :47.72, and 1:11.89 over a course rated good. Shaking off second choice Elusive Princess in upper stretch, Mawj responded to Murphy’s urgings and passed the wire a half-length to the good of the surging Lindy, the French 1000 Guineas (G1) runner-up.

“She felt back to her best,” Murphy said. “We did quite quick sections in the first half of the race, but she is a superstar filly. She found plenty.”

U.S.-based Mission of Joy, a 25-1 chance, finished a half-length behind Lindy in third, an excellent performance, given the competition. Elusive Princess finished fourth and was followed by Sounds of Heaven, Liguria, Elounda Queen, Papilio, and Freydis the Red.

A homebred racing for Godolphin and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Mawj paid $4.64 after completing the course in 1:48.06.

The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup capped a big weekend for Godolphin both at Keeneland and nationwide. On Friday, their three-year-old colt Bold Act set a stakes record beating older rivals in the 1 1/2-mile Sycamore (G3) on turf. Earlier Saturday, the Godolphin-owned Eternal Hope captured the Sands Point (G2) at Aqueduct, also for three-year-old turf fillies.

Mawj will now be considered for either the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) or the 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), both at Santa Anita in three weeks.

β€œIt looks to me she has plenty of speed as a miler and she made it today nine furlongs. But we’ll see. The Mile might be the best for her, sure, but I want to decide closer to the race,” bin Suroor said.

Mawj showed promise at two, winning the Duchess of Cambridge (G2) at Newmarket and placing in the Albany (G3) and Cheveley Park (G1) in four stakes appearances. She’s become a star at three and had preceded her Guineas triumph with a pair of wins at Meydan in Dubai last winter. She’s now won six of nine starts with earnings of $956,585.

Bred in Ireland, Mawj is by Exceed and Excel and out of Modern Ideals, by New Approach. Mawj is a half-sister to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and champion turf male Modern Games.