December 3, 2022

Nations Pride runs fastest ever 1 1/2 miles at Big A in Jockey Club Derby

Nations Pride wins the Jockey Club Derby (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Nations Pride ran the fastest 1 1/2 miles in the long history of Aqueduct when dominating Saturday’s $955,000 Jockey Club Derby (G3) under Frankie Dettori.

The heavy, odds-on favorite in a field of six three-year-olds, Nations Pride saved ground until the final turn, when he was eased out to take aim at long-time leader Classic Causeway. Sweeping past that rival, Nations Pride opened up and was 6 1/4 lengths on top at the finish.

“At the corner I knew I had the race won,” Dettori said. “I knew that and I still hadn’t gone for the gears yet. Everyone was cooked.”

Nations Pride returned $3.10 to win. The Grey Wizard, an 11-1 chance, finished second by a half-length over Classic Causeway. Completing the order were Ardakan, Daunt, and Wicked Fast.

The final time over the firm inner turf was 2:24.14, which destroyed the previous mark of 2:27 set by the star English filly and champion Pebbles in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The fastest 1 1/2-mile time recorded on Aqueduct’s main track was 2:26.20, set by Going Abroad in the 1964 Manhattan H.

Inner turf records for 1 1/2 miles and 1 3/8 miles (twice) have been easily eclipsed in recent days at Aqueduct, which is hosting the fall meet normally held at Belmont Park. Few major stakes have been run at Aqueduct over 1 1/2 miles or in such ideal conditions over the decades, which explains the longevity of those prior records.

Nations Pride’s win came minutes after owner-breeder Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby enjoyed another North American success when Modern Games became the first ever three-year-old winner of the Woodbine Mile (G1), and by a similarly healthy margin.

This was the third stakes win on the year for Nations Pride, who captured the Newmarket S. in England in April before finishing eighth in the Epsom Derby (G1) and second to Classic Causeway in the Belmont Derby (G1) in his U.S. debut. Nations Pride got his revenge over Classic Causeway in last month’s Saratoga Derby (G1), winning by 1 3/4 lengths. His career mark now stands at 9-6-2-0, $1,434,216.

Bred in Ireland, Nations Pride is by Teofilo and out of Important Time, a stakes-winning daughter of Oasis Dream and the Group 1-winning Satwa Queen.