May 12, 2021

Il Mercato earns Breeders’ Cup Turf berth with close win in Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini

Jockey Juan Carlos Noriega celebrates as Il Mercato (right) holds off Sixties Song in the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini (G1) at San Isidro Racecourse in Argentina to earn an automatic berth to the 2019 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park (c) Juan Ignacio Bozzello

Ricardo Benedicto’s Stud Rubio B’s Il Mercato just held off favored Sixties Song by a head on Saturday at San Isidro Racecourse in Argentina to earn an all-fees paid berth to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

The Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series of races whose winners receive guaranteed spots for corresponding Breeders’ Cup contests. All entry fees and a travel stipend are also awarded to the winners.

Il Mercato led the 18-horse field nearly every step of the way on Saturday, gunning straight for the front out of the gate. Jockey Juan Carlos Noriega guided the Not for Sale sophomore, who set the pace while just off the rail.

Upon hitting the top of the stretch, fellow three-year-old For the Top came powering through the inside to stick his head in front. Il Mercato fought back, regaining the advantage, and then held off 2016 Carlos Pellegrini winner Sixties Song to complete 1 1/2 miles over the heavy turf course in 2:28.52. Argentine Derby (G1) hero For the Top finished third.

Trained by Juan Carlos and Juan Sebastián Maldotti, Il Mercato was earning his third race from seven total career starts. The dark bay was third last out in the November 11 Nacional Stakes (G1) at Palermo, the same track over which he broke his maiden by nine lengths on September 16 and ran second in the October 15 Eduardo Casey (G2).

“We always were confident with Il Mercato, and we were waiting see him running on the front,” said Juan Carlos Maldotti, now a four-time Pellegrini winner. “He enjoyed it and also enjoy the fight. That’s the reason we never have doubts about the final result when Sixties Song came from behind.”