Upset in the Irish Derby, favorites rule in North America



Sovereign – Photo Courtesy of

If you were looking for a long shot to come through in the biggest races of the weekend in North America, you were all but out of luck. If you were looking across the pond, though, you had a chance to find a pot of gold in the Irish Derby (G1) at The Curragh.

That’s where 33-1 outsider Sovereign stunned the opposition, including three of his stablemates, by pulling away for a six-length victory in the Irish Derby on Saturday, with favorite Anthony Van Dyck second and Norway third.

All three are trained by Aidan O’Brien, along with Broome, who finished sixth. The surprise is not only did Sovereign come in as O’Brien’s fourth-stringer, but winning jockey Padraig Beggy hadn’t won a race on Irish flats all season.

“I’m over the moon,’’ Beggy told reporters after the race, which gave him the second huge upset of his career – the first came two years ago when he won the Epsom Derby (G1) aboard 40-1 long shot Wings of Eagles. “This would be more important to me (than the Epsom Derby) as an Irishman. “I’m just very, very lucky I’ve won the English and Irish Derby.”

A son of Galileo, as are the second- and third-place runners, Sovereign’s next start could be in either the King George or Grand Prix de Paris (G1), according to O’Brien.

Back in Canada, it was only a mild surprise that third-betting choice One Bad Boy ($9.70 for a $2 win bet), went wire-to-wire to beat second choice Avie’s Flatter by 3 ½ lengths in the $1 million Queen’s Plate (G1) at Woodbine Racetrack, with 2-1 favorite Skywire bumped at the start and never in contention.

Whether One Bad Boy, an Ontario-bred, California-based 3-year-old trained by Richard Baltas, returns to Canada for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown – the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on July 23 — has yet to be determined. Winning jockey Flavien Prat is having quite the year, by the way. He rode Country House in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and finished second, but was declared the winner when Maximum Security was DQ’d from first for interference.

Owners Sayjay Racing, Greg Hall and Brooke Hubbard ponied up a supplemental fee of $5,000 to get One Bad Boy in the field, so they were plenty confident their horse was ready to run well in the Queen’s Plate.

Also at Woodbine: Holy Helena, the 2017 Queen’s Plate winner, captured the 1 ¼-mile Dance Smartly (G2) for Stronach Stables and trainer Jimmy Jerkens. The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper was third in the same turf race last year.

Dunbar Road cruises to take Mother Goose

In the United States, 1-5 favorite Dunbar Road ($2.60) pulled away in the stretch to win the $250,000 Mother Goose (G2) for 3-year-old fillies by 2 ½ lengths at Belmont Park.

Trained by Chad Brown. Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road won for the third time in four career starts. Jockey Jose Ortiz had his filly under control in fourth place in the field of six, then angled Dunbar Road wide and surged into the lead for her first stakes win. Her three victories have been by a combined 16 ¾ lengths.

Plans call for the filly to be shipped to Saratoga Race Course, where Brant says a two-turn race is likely but which race has yet to be determined.

Cal-invader Phantom Boss takes Bashford Manor

On closing day at Churchill Downs, California-based Phantom Boss ($5)  took the lead in the final eighth-mile to win the $125,000 Bashford Manor (G3) by three-quarters-of-a-length over Rowdy Yates.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Phantom Boss moved four-wide to draw even with the leaders and then inched away in the final yards.

 Phantom Boss, a 2-year-old son of 2011 Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford, is trained by Jorge Periban for owners Bada Beng Racing, Tom Beckerle, Terry Lovingier and Amanda Navarro.

In an earlier stakes race at Churchill Downs, 1-5 favorite Magic Dance ($2.60) won the $125,000 Debutante for 2-year-old fillies by 1 ½ lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Goncalo Torrealba’s Three Chimneys Farm LLC.

The 38-day meet ended with Corey Lanerie the leading rider for the 17th time with 43 wins, and Asmussen collecting his record-extending 21st crown as the track’s leading trainer with 28 victories.

Princess Rooney repeat for Stormy Embrace

Stormy Embrace - Princess Rooney

Stormy Embrace – Photo Courtesy of Gulfstream Park

In the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park, Stormy Embrace defended her title and earned another all-fees-paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), fighting off a challenge from Trenchtown Cat and winning by two lengths.

Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, the Matalona Thoroughbreds LLC’s Stormy Embrace is the first horse to win this race two years in a row since Gold Mover in 2002-2003. She was ridden by Wilmer Garcia.

A year ago after winning the race, Stormy Embrace finished off the board in the BC Filly & Mare Turf. It’s been a good season for the 5-year-old daughter of Circular Quay, according to Matt Vuscovich of Matalona Thoroughbreds.

“This business, sometimes you catch a buzz saw and sometimes you are the buzz saw,’’ he said. … “Plus, we wanted to go back (to the Breeders’ Cup) because we have unattended business.”

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell isn’t looking that far ahead.

 “We’ll just see how it unfolds. She tells us what she needs and what to do. Like I say, she’s lasted a long time and mostly because (the owners ) are patient, wonderful people,” said O’Connell. “We go one race at a time and one day at a time.”

  1. You got me here. A mild long shot – 6-1 Diamond Oops — returned to dirt after two failed tries on turf and won the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G2), edging 6-5 favorite Jalen Journey by three-quarters-of-a-length

Julien Leparoux was in town to ride for trainer Patrick Biancone, who also co-owns Diamond Oops with Diamond 100 Racing Club and Amy E. Dunne. Diamond Oops returned $15.20 for a $2 win bet. Safe to say Diamond Oops will continue to run on dirt – his four wins in eight career starts have all been on dirt.

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