January 30, 2023

Rougir outclasses Beaugay rivals

Rougir wins the Beaugay Stakes at Belmont Park (Photo by Joe Labozzeta/Coglianese Photos)

One week after stablemate Speak of the Devil wowed observers in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), fellow Arqana purchase Rougir captured her debut for their connections in Saturday’s $150,000 Beaugay (G3) at Belmont Park. Likewise trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat, the 3-5 favorite went last to first by three resounding lengths.

Rougir has common ownership with Speak of the Devil as well, although Peter Brant co-owns Rougir with Coolmore’s Michael Tabor. They teamed up to acquire Rougir at Arqana last December, when the reigning Prix de l’Opera (G1) heroine commanded nearly $3.4 million. Brant bought Speak of the Devil at the same sale, solo, for about $2.2 million.

Last seen finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar, Rougir was resuming at a shorter 1 1/16-mile distance. But the daughter of Territories had proven effective at a metric mile in the past. At two, she won the 2020 Prix des Reservoirs (G3) and placed third in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1). Last season as a sophomore, she finished a close fourth in the Prix Rothschild (G1), just off third-placer Speak of the Devil, before stretching back out.

Rougir therefore had a class edge over the Beaugay field. Confidently handled by Prat, she was anchored at the back of the pack early. Prat switched the rail-drawn filly to the outside to avoid a traffic snarl down the backstretch.

Fractions were not available on the chart, but Trakus caught frontrunning Plum Ali in :26.05, :50.81, and 1:15.14. While the inner course was officially firm, rain had been around through the afternoon. Prat found it riding a bit softer, as he told Maggie Wolfendale in his postrace interview on “America’s Day at the Races.”

At the top of the lane, the stalking High Opinion collared Plum Ali, only to be accosted by Our Flash Drive. Wider out, however, Rougir was just beginning to unwind. Readily overtaking the leaders, she drew clear in 1:43.40, according to the hand-timing on the chart. Trakus recorded her final time as 1:44.14.

Our Flash Drive, the 28.50-1 longest shot on the board, nipped the 14.60-1 High Opinion for second. Brown’s other runner, the Brant-owned Lemista, came again for fourth after losing position. Lemista had been runner-up in the 2021 Beaugay, so her trip possibly cost her the chance of duplicating that performance. Next came Runaway Rumour, Stolen Holiday, and Plum Ali.

Prat believed his early maneuver to the outside was key.

“I had the chance down the backside and got myself outside the slow pace,” the winning rider said, “and it felt like it wasn’t going to be any good to stay on the inside. So, I gave myself the chance to go around and it was a big help for me.

“It’s been a pleasure to ride for him,” Prat added regarding his linkage with Brown. “I just try to do my best. Obviously, he’s given me some great horses to ride, so I’m just a really spoiled guy right now.”

Brown feels the same about the pipeline of European imports coming his way.

“I’m the lucky recipient of some nice fillies he (Brant) bought over there,” the horseman said. “Me and my team are very grateful for all the horses Mr. Brant sends us. It looks like we’re off to a great season. This is his 10th graded win already this season. He’s having a great year and deservedly so. He’s done the right thing by his horses (this) winter resting them.

“I was thrilled with her race,” Brown said of Rougir. “She showed a nice turn of foot that she shows us in the morning. It certainly looks like she’ll stretch out fine. She’s proven at a mile and a quarter previously and I think that’s where she’s headed. We’ll take a look at running her back in the (June 10) New York H. (G1). There was an easy pace and such and she was still able to overcome and run well.”

Brown highlighted Lemista’s difficult passage.

“I thought Lemista ran a pretty good race, too,” he said. “She was a little too far back. I thought her first step out of the gate was good and then she sucked back to last turning for home. She doesn’t have the turn of foot necessary to get those kind of trips. Next time, I look forward to stretching out Lemista a touch and putting her more into the race. She looked willing to do that today. It’s only her first start of the year, but I think she’s going to have a fine season.”

Rougir has now bankrolled $622,775 from her 15-5-1-3 line. Formerly campaigned by Haras de la Gousserie, the chestnut placed in last summer’s Prix Chloe (G3) and Prix de la Nonette (G2) in addition to her high-profile credits outlined above.

The four-year-old was bred by Jan Krauze in France. Her dam, the Group 3-placed Summer Moon, is a Green Tune mare from the family of 1988 Epsom/Irish Derby (G1) champion Kahyasi.