The 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, seen winning the Arkansas Derby, got his first stakes winner as a sire Saturday as Maven won the Group 3 Prix du Bois at Chantilly in France. Photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park
July 1 (UPI) -- It was a weekend of surprises at the Curragh in Ireland as Aidan O'Brien landed the Irish Derby, but not with the horse anyone thought would win, and O'Brien's son upset his father's contenders in the Pretty Polly Stakes for fillies and mares.
In France, Frankie Dettori coaxed Coronet home first in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and, at Chantilly, Maven gave 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah his first top-level winner as a sire.
In Peru, a lightly raced 3-year-old filly earned a Breeders' Cup berth.
Of course a Coolmore-owned, Aidan O'Brien-trained horse won Saturday's Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Saturday at the Curragh. But, equally surely, it wasn't the one O'Brien or "the lads" expected to win. With Padraig Beggy up, Sovereign showed the way, got clear well out and ran on to win by 6 lengths over his stablemate, Anthony Van Dyck -- the Investec Derby victor and nearly even-money favorite to turn the Derby Double. Norway gave the Coolmore contingent a sweep of the top three positions with Epsom second Madhmoon checking in fourth.
Sovereign, a Galileo colt, entered the Irish Derby with only a maiden win to his credit from eight previous starts and hadn't really been competitive at this top level. He finished 10th at Epsom in his previous outing. Beggy bagged his second Derby -- this one at 33-1 following the 2017 Investec Derby on Wings of Eagles at 40-1.
"It wasn't the result we were expecting," O'Brien told Racing Post. "But full marks to Padraig. I'm delighted for him ... Anthony Van Dyck ran well but Sovereign was not for catching today."
O'Brien said he believes Sovereign will stay the St Leger trip and said he might "look at" the King George or the Grand Prix de Paris.
In Saturday's Group 1 Juddmonte Pretty Poly Stakes for fillies and mares, it appeared at the top of the stretch that the two globetrotters -- Godolphin's Wild Illusion and Coolmore's Magic Wand -- would slug it out for top honors. But then Wild Illusion tired to finish out of the frame and it was long shot Iridessa rallying to win by 2 1/4 lengths, going away under Wayne Lordan. Magic Wand held second by 1 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Pink Dogwood. Like Magic Wand, Pink Dogwood is trained by Aidan O'Brien, whose son, Joseph Patrick, conditions Iridessa.
Iridessa, a 3-year-old daughter of the Galileo mare Ruler of the World, won the bet365 Fillies Mile to end her 2-year-old season but was winless in three previous races this year. She entered off a fourth-place finish in the Tattersall's Irish 1,000 Guineas. Pink Dogwood was second in the Investec Oaks in her previous outing while Magic Wand continued a strenuous campaign that has seen her in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the Pegasus World Cup Turf, the Longines Dubai Turf at Meydan and the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park. Wild Illusion also contested the Breeders' Cup and has two recent outings in France.
The O'Briens said Iridessa and Pink Dogwood are candidates for the Irish Oaks.
One to watch: Juddmonte Farms homebred Siskin, a Kentucky-bred First Defence colt, won for the third time in as many starts Saturday at the Curragh, taking down the Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes by a comfortable 2 1/2 lengths over the Aidan O'Brien-trained Monarch of Egypt. The latter is by American Pharoah out of the Galileo mare Up, so the competition was legit. Fort Myers, a War Front colt also from a Galileo mare and also trained by O'Brien, was third as American-breds swept the placings.
It was hot in France on Sunday and so were John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
Coronet just did get up to win Sunday's Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, edging stubborn pacesetter Ziad by a scant neck after 1 1/2 miles. Lah Ti Dar was only a short head farther back in third. Aspetar, Marmelo, Morgan Le Faye and Thundering Blue completed the order of finish. Morgan Le Faye was a narrow favorite. Coronet, with Dettori timing things perfectly, got home in 2:28.66 -- not bad for turf rated good to soft.
Coronet, a 5-year-old Dubawi mare, was second in the 2018 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, beaten by inches by Waldgeist. The Gosden trainee had made a bad habit of finishing second in Group 1 events including the British Champions Fillies & Mares and the Yorkshire Oaks. In all, she had finished in the first four eight times in Group 1 events before finally winning one Sunday.
"We had planned for this race all year, after she just missed out last year, Gosden, who also trains Lah Ti Dar, told Racing Post. "She deserves this Group 1 success and they're two nice fillies. Lah Ti Dar found the ground a little too quick for her."
Owner-breeder Denford Stud also captured a Group 3 event Saturday at the Curragh with Buckhurst, a homebred 3-year-old son of Australia. "It's been a great weekend for Denford," said farm manager Richard Evans. "We are well chuffed."
Gosden and Dettori also won Sunday's Group 2 Prix de Mallaret with Mehdaayah, the Cheshire Oaks winner who finished seventh as the favorite in the Investec Oaks.
On Saturday at Chantilly, trainer Wesley Ward sent out the American Pharoah colt Maven to win the Group 3 Connolly's Red Mills Prix du Bois by a head over Jolie. Maven becomes the first stakes winner by the 2015 U.S. Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year. Maven showed the way and held gamely under Mickael Barzalona. Maven was withdrawn from the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot because of the rain-soaked ground. Ward said the colt is targeted for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.
Gracia Divina got by pacesetting Tesonera in the final furlong of Sunday's Group 1 Gran Premio Pamplona at Hipodromo Monterrico in Lima, Peru, winning by 2 1/4 lengths and earning a "Win and You're In" spot in this fall's Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Gracia Divina, a 3-year-old daughter of Street Hero, ran 1 1/4 miles over firm turf in 2:01.10 with Jose Reyes in the irons. It was her third win from five starts.
Gracia Divina is the second horse to gain a free berth into the Filly & Mare Turf this year, joining Oh Susanna, winner of the Group 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1) at Kenilworth Racecourse in South Africa in January.