July 14, 2024

Ottoman Fleet sails home in Arlington

Ottoman Fleet wins the Arlington S. at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Media)

Godolphin’s hot favorite Ottoman Fleet made short work of Saturday’s $278,750 Arlington (G3), the first of a trio of turf stakes on Stephen Foster Preview Day at Churchill Downs.

Arlington (G3)

Part of Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby’s stateside crew, Ottoman Fleet was shortening up after missing narrowly in his title defense in the May 4 Fort Marcy (G2) at Aqueduct. But the 1 1/16-mile trip was a question mark for the Sea the Stars gelding, who’d never run over this sharp a distance. As it turned out, the classy operator had enough gears to beat this group.

Ottoman Fleet navigated the right passage through the race. Initially headstrong on the inside for Flavien Prat, the 1.08-1 choice settled in a ground-saving third behind a contested pace.

Front-running Northern Invader was prompted, and increasingly hounded, by Irish Aces through fractions of :24.48, :48.16, and 1:11.87 on the firm course. Emmanuel, who might have been expected to be forward or at least tracking, was hampered out of the gate and never recovered in last.

Turning into the stretch, Irish Aces swept past Northern Invader, but Ottoman Fleet had clear sailing. Prat had all the room in the world to tip out, and Ottoman Fleet’s turn of foot did the rest. The British import completed the circuit in 1:41.45.

Chasing the Crown rallied to keep the margin to a length without seriously threatening the winner. Irish Aces was another length back in third, with a three-length gap to Northern Invader. Smokin’ T and Emmanuel concluded the order under the wire. Harlan Estate and Stitched were scratched.

Ottoman Fleet has compiled a resume of 18-6-5-5, $812,881. The five-year-old bay has been a horse-for-the-course at Newmarket, scoring in the 2022 Fairway S. and James Seymour S. as well as the 2023-24 runnings of the Earl of Sefton (G3). Ottoman Fleet found Belmont Park a happy hunting ground in last year’s Fort Marcy (G2), but placed third next time in the Manhattan (G1). He’s amassed five Group placings over the past two Dubai Carnivals, including a second in the Jan. 26 Jebel Hatta (G1) to stablemate Measured Time, who’s penciled in for the June 8 Manhattan.

Bred by SCEA Marmion Vauville and Alain Jathiere, Ottoman Fleet sold to Godolphin for about $575,000 as a Tattersalls October yearling.

Despite his name, Ottoman Fleet hails from a family cultivated by Greek breeder Leonidas Marinopoulos. His dam, the Motivator mare Innevera, is a half-sister to five Group performers. Chief among them is Group 1-winning highweight Keltos. Innevera’s other accomplished half-brothers are Group 2 victors Krataios and Loxias, Group 3 scorer Kavafi, and multiple Group 3-placed stakes hero Iridanos.

Regret (G3)

Three Diamonds Farm’s homebred Pin Up Betty followed up her course-and-distance maiden romp by defeating experienced stakes foes in the $272,500 Regret (G3). Trained by Mike Maker and piloted by Luis Saez, the 6.65-1 shot exploded from the back of the pack and returned $15.30.

Way to be Marie, the 1.59-1 favorite after her close second in the Edgewood (G2), was eager to dictate from her rail post in splits of :23.82, :49.10, and 1:14.01. German-bred Gavea was draped alongside, and Way to be Marie couldn’t shake her off. Indeed, the 27-1 Gavea was the one traveling better into the lane and threatening to pull the upset.

Pin Up Betty, who had been unhurried at the rear, launched a well-timed move rounding the far turn. The daughter of Constitution was still on her left lead, but she had plenty of momentum to overhaul Gavea and the weakening Way to be Marie. Saez got Pin Up Betty to switch leads, only for her to drift out toward the center of the course. Her minor miscues didn’t matter, as she had 1 1/2 lengths to spare over the late-running Buchu.

Gavea outperformed her odds in third, holding off Everland by a half-length. Way to be Marie checked in fifth, trailed by Hello Hollywood and the tailed-off Sassy Princess. Dancing N Dixie and Faith Understood were scratched along with Poolside with Slim, who won Friday evening’s Penn Oaks.

By negotiating 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.70, Pin Up Betty advanced her record to 9-2-4-1, $319,365. The bay was persevering on dirt without success, although she was just denied by Band of Gold, the future Martha Washington S. winner, at Churchill last November. Pin Up Betty continued her seconditis when moving to turf two back, but she broke through by five resounding lengths when stepping up to 1 1/8 miles last time out.

The Kentucky-bred is out of I’m Betty G, who won or placed in 10 turf stakes for the same connections. The Into Mischief mare didn’t earn a graded trophy, but she did place in the 2017 Commonwealth Oaks (G3) and Valley View (G3) as well as the 2019 Marshua’s River (G3).

Audubon S.

Prat accomplished a stakes double in the nightcap, guiding Cugino to a wire-to-wire victory in the $275,000 Audubon S.

The Shug McGaughey trainee had gone close in two prior stakes attempts. A neck shy in the March 2 Colonel Liam S. at Gulfstream Park, he was nipped in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland. Blinkers were prescribed for the American Turf (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day, but a challenging trip from a wide post contributed to his fourth-place effort.

Cugino drew more favorably in post 2 in the Audubon, and new rider Prat capitalized on the role of inside speed. Too quick for Formidable Man through an opening quarter in :23.83, Cugino opened up by three lengths passing the half in :48.17. Just when it looked as if the Twirling Candy colt might be running too freely, Prat was able to give him a breather to the six-furlong mark in 1:13.16.

Formidable Man took a run at Cugino swinging for home, but the longtime leader spurted away again. Cugino kicked 4 1/4 lengths clear while finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.22, a couple of ticks faster than Pin Up Betty in the preceding Regret.

Lagynos closed to snatch second by a head from Camaro Z, who was an even third, and Rock’n a Halo got up for fourth. Next came 1.90-1 favorite Cameo Performance, Formidable Man, Thomas Aquinas, Nomos, and Can Group. Twirling Point was withdrawn in favor of the Jersey Derby, which he duly won at Monmouth Park.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Jimmy Kahig, Cugino has bankrolled $364,100 from his 6-2-3-0 line. The $225,000 Keeneland September yearling was bred in Kentucky by Gage Hill Stables and W.S. Farish.

Cugino is a half-brother to multiple Grade 3-placed Battle of Normandy and stakes-placed Veronica Greene. Their dam, the multiple stakes-winning Kitten’s Joy mare Adorable Miss, is a full sister to Grade 3 vixen Noble Beauty.