Royal Ascot Day 2 Double for O’Brien with Auguste Rodin, Illinois

Royal Ascot is all about tradition, and no trainer has made more history there than Aidan O’Brien. The Irish wizard scored twice Wednesday, extending his record for wins at the meeting to 87 in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes. It also was his record 400th Group 1 or Grade 1 victory.

Auguste Rodin (2) ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) on Day Two of the Royal Ascot Race Meeting at Ascot Racecourse in Ascot, United Kingdom on June 19, 2024. Shamela Hanley/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Ballydoyle barn star Auguste Rodin returned to the winner’s circle at Royal Ascot Wednesday

O’Brien’s longtime go-to guy, Ryan Moore, rode a flawless race on 13-8 favorite Auguste Rodin, sitting patiently in fourth before taking the lead just inside the quarter pole. He held off 33-1 French shipper Zarakem by three-quarters of a length to earn an automatic berth to defend his Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) title in November at Del Mar.

Moore’s 81st Royal Ascot victory equaled Frankie Dettori. The late Lester Piggott’s record of 116 looks unbreakable.

The highly anticipated matchup of 2023 Breeders’ Cup winners never materialized, as the filly Inspiral never got rolling under Kieran Shoemark and finished sixth. She lacked her late burst in the BC Filly & Mare Turf (G1) after being stuck in last for most of the 1¼ miles.

It was the sixth Grade 1 or Group 1 victory for Auguste Rodin, a son of Japan-based stallion Deep Impact.

“When he gets to the front, he waits, so I’ve been giving bad instructions,” O’Brien told Rishi Persad of ITV. “Ryan said he wanted to be more forward and engage him earlier, and he has the temperament and the pedigree.”

Two races earlier, O’Brien ran 1-2 in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase. Illinois, the 7-4 favorite with Moore, was 1¼ lengths better than Highbury (3-1). Both colts were sired by the late Galileo. Illinois was timed in 3:00.57 for 1¾ miles, one of six course records set Wednesday on firm, very fast ground.

Gosdens first, second exacta in Duke of Cambridge

The father-son training team of John and Thady Gosden were 1-2 in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Oisin Murphy led throughout on Running Lion ($13.80), who defeated stablemate Laurel by two lengths over a mile.

Gulfstream shipper Gabaldon second in Windsor Castle

Emisael Jaramillo sent Gabaldon to the early lead, and less than 100 yards from the wire it looked as if the big gray 2-year-old would win the 5-furlong Windsor Castle Stakes. But seven strides from the wire, Jamie Spencer went past him on 5-1 shot Ain’t Nobody, and the Florida-bred colt had to settle for second by a length at odds of 16-1.

Gabaldon, trained by Jose D’Angelo, qualified for the race by winning the 5-furlong Royal Palm Juvenile May 11 at Gulfstream Park. The $9,000 yearling buy has been a terrific bargain for owner Soldi Stable.

The other United States shippers flopped. Cheval de Guerre, trained by Eddie Kenneally, was 16th. Honorary American, trained by Wesley Ward, was 24th of 27 for Joel Rosario in his turf debut.

Ward and Rosario also came up empty in the day’s opener, the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes. Ultima Grace battled for the lead until fading badly in the final 1½ furlongs of the 5-furlong sprint. The 11-1 shot finished 20th of 26 behind 23-1 winner Leovanni, trained by Englishman Karl Burke, like Ward a standout with 2-year-olds.

Two other longshots, Mighty Eriu (56-1) and Maw Lam (24-1) completed a trifecta that returned $22,261.40 for $1.

The undercard

Wild Tiger, the 6-1 favorite, rallied for Murphy and defeated 28 rivals in the Royal Hunt Cup, a mile cavalry charge down a straight course. It was trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s 39th Royal Ascot win. Sonny Liston, named for the heavyweight champion of the early 1960s, repeated his second-place finish of last year … Late-running Doha (10-1) edged 6-1 Hopeful by a head in the 24-horse Kensington Palace Stakes over a mile.

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