Newmarket hosted three major races for juveniles on Saturday. While the Middle Park (G1) for colts and the companion Cheveley Park (G1) for fillies sport the Group 1 laurel, the Royal Lodge (G2) offers U.S. perks. The mile affair serves as the first scoring race on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby and as a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Royal Lodge (G2)
The 7-2 Royal Patronage boosted the Epsom dreams of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and trainer Mark Johnston with a never-say-die display.
The early pacesetter with jockey Jason Hart, Royal Patronage appeared dusted by Godolphin’s Coroebus who uncorked a monster move to bolt clear. But Coroebus began to come back to earth, and Royal Patronage’s game persistence paid off. Coming again with an implacable effort, the Wootton Bassett colt got back on top by a neck at the line. The disappointment of the race was Masekela, the joint-favorite with Coroebus, who ran below form in fourth.
By finishing the good-to-firm mile in 1:38.06, Royal Patronage racked up his third straight win, after an Epsom novice and the Acomb (G3). Plans call for the French-bred to pursue the Epsom Derby (G1) path, with the Oct. 23 Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) as a possible seasonal finale. Depending upon how the colt progresses into the spring, Johnston will decide whether to aim for a Derby trial or the 2000 Guineas (G1). In any event, Royal Patronage has no transatlantic ambitions for the foreseeable future.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Coroebus, however, could be one for American fans to watch. By Dubawi, the “nephew” of Thunder Snow is bred to entertain the idea of dirt, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Coroebus winters in Dubai. He was making just his second career start here, and he could further his education at the Carnival. Note that Appleby mentioned the Vertem as a potential follow-up act, so anything beyond that is speculative.
Cheveley Park (G1)
Aidan O’Brien hinted that Tenebrism could come into the Breeders’ Cup picture after her 14-1 surprise in the Cheveley Park (G1).
Her odds had nothing to do with her raw ability, but rather the circumstances. The well-named daughter of freshman sire Caravaggio was a smart debut winner back on Mar. 28 at the Curragh. Unraced since, Tenebrism was conceding effectively a season’s worth of experience in an audacious comeback. That was apparent as she broke a beat slow and raced in last. Yet it didn’t matter.
Producing a telling burst for Ryan Moore, Tenebrism flew up the stands’ side rail to catch front-running Flotus by a length. Sandrine reported home a further three lengths adrift in third. Sacred Bridge, the 13-8 favorite, weakened to eighth in her career loss.
Tenebrism clocked six furlongs in 1:11.00, faster than the Middle Park’s 1:11.32.
Since Tenebrism is unusually fresh for this time of year, Del Mar would not be a bridge too far from that perspective. Lack of seasoning could pose more of a problem, especially if she blows the break. The Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) would provide an opportunity to test her over a mile.
Tenebrism’s optimal trip will be determined in time, and her pedigree could go either way. Although Caravaggio was a world-class sprinter, her dam is multiple Group 1-winning miler Immortal Verse.
Middle Park (G1)
Established form held up in the Middle Park, as 11-4 favorite Perfect Power unleashed his customary late charge to prevail by a half-length. Trainer Richard Fahey had been concerned about drawing post 1, putting him on the other side of the track from the stands. But the colt’s class came through under a cool Christophe Soumillon, who also rode him to Prix Morny (G1) glory last out.
Following Perfect Power home in the blanket finish was 12-1 Castle Star, a neck to the good of Armor. Go Bears Go was another neck away in fourth, edging the fifth-place dead-heaters Twilight Jet and Caturra.
Perfect Power earlier starred in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). Only a messy fifth in the Richmond (G2) has interrupted his winning spree.
A step up to seven furlongs for the Dewhurst (G1) could be in the cards, Fahey revealed to Racing TV’s Lydia Hislop. If he is supplemented to the Oct. 9 feature back at Newmarket, that would presumably cast doubt on his shortening up again at Del Mar. Fahey sounds more inclined to try a Guineas preparation, knowing he can always revert to the sprint game next summer.
From the first crop of the precocious sprinter Ardad, who peaked at two, Perfect Power stands to get more heft from his dam’s side. The Frozen Power mare Sagely hails from the extended family of Sagamix, Japan, Mogul, and Secret Gesture.