Global powerhouses Coolmore and Godolphin fought out the finish of Friday’s $920,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), as Victoria Road and Silver Knott crossed the wire together in a thrilling finish. The camera revealed that the Aidan O’Brien-trained Victoria Road nipped Charlie Appleby’s 1.41-1 favorite Silver Knott, completing a European sweep of the turf features on “Future Stars Friday.”
Victoria Road was handing his connections a double, after stablemate Meditate dominated the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Earlier, Appleby had sent out Mischief Magic to score a European breakthrough in the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).
Drawn on the rail with Ryan Moore, Victoria Road broke well. Silver Knott did not, and that costly loss of early position might have been decisive. The Godolphin favorite had to regroup in ninth, drafting behind Victoria Road, who had camped out in a ground-saving sixth.
The 59-1 Curly Larry and Mo went forward through fractions of :23.40 and :48.29 on the firm turf. But the 51-1 stalker Mo Stash accosted him by the six-furlong mark in 1:13.04 and made his bid down the lane.
Then the two Europeans were both full of run and probing for room. Victoria Road was the first to extricate himself. Shifting out slightly, he found a seam between Packs a Wahlop and Nagirroc to challenge Mo Stash. Silver Knott stayed on the fence and bulled his way through to daylight.
Just when it appeared that Silver Knott might have the momentum, Victoria Road lifted his game on the outside. They drew away from the chasing pack, and the only question was which international shipper would prevail.
The colts’ battle for supremacy mirrored the battle between their trainers in the Juvenile Turf record book. O’Brien already had four wins in this race, but Appleby was closing in with three. If Silver Knott got up, the Godolphin trainer would tie the master of Ballydoyle.
Victoria Road found another surge to parry Silver Knott’s thrust in 1:35.99 for the mile. The 5.57-1 third choice returned $13.14 while enhancing his own scorecard to 8-4-2-0, $663,881.
Nagirroc kept on another 2 1/4 lengths astern in third, a fine two-turn debut. Mo Stash, another stretch-out sprinter, held fourth. Next came Battle of Normandy, Gaslight Dancer, Andthewinneris, Packs a Wahlop, Major Dude, I’m Very Busy, Webslinger, Really Good, Reckoning Force, and Curly Larry and Mo.
The first Grade/Group 1 winner for freshman sire Saxon Warrior, Victoria Road was also his first black-type winner in the Aug. 20 Criterium du Fonds Europeen de l’Elevage. In that Deauville feature, he edged Blue Rose Cen, the future Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) heroine. Victoria Road likewise became Saxon Warrior’s first Group winner in the Sept. 17 Prix de Conde (G3). Both of those victories came by a neck, so he has a habit of cutting it close. The May 7 foal has been a work in progress throughout the season, but he turned the corner with a fourth in the lucrative Ballyhane at Naas, and he’s now won four in a row for the Coolmore partners and Westerberg.
Bred by Trevor Stewart in Ireland, Victoria Road sold for $163,640 as a Tattersalls October yearling. The bay is out of multiple Group 3-winning sprinter Tickled Pink, an Invincible Spirit half-sister to Ballydoyle star Halfway to Heaven. Victress of three Group 1s including the 2008 Irish 1000 Guineas (G1), Halfway to Heaven has achieved even more as the dam of seven-time Group 1 queen Magical and multiple Group 1 vixen Rhododendron (herself responsible for top Ballydoyle juvenile Auguste Rodin).
O’Brien mentioned that the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1) was likely to be Victoria Road’s ultimate classic target.