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Royal Ascot: 6-for-6 Caravaggio carries banner for Scat Daddy

Bob Kieckhefer recaps Day 4 at Royal Ascot, headed by Caravaggio providing another big win for his late sire, Scat Daddy. Coverage presented by Fasig-Tipton, home of the Sept. 10 Turf Showcase yearling auction.

Caravaggio is the latest star sired by the late Scat Daddy.
CARAVAGGIO (outside) with Ryan Moore up beat Harry Angel (center) Blue Point. Ian Headington/racingfotos.com

Caravaggio not only starred on the penultimate day at Royal Ascot, winning the Commonwealth Cup and cementing a Group 1 double for Coolmore, but he also set himself a high bar as a potential successor to his late sire, Scat Daddy.

Caravaggio and Winter provided the Irish combine, trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore the prestigious twin victories.

The day also saw another Derby also-ran, Permian, rebound for a Royal Ascot victory.

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The Commonwealth

Caravaggio, a gray colt with deep American roots, roared to his sixth win without a loss in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) for 3-year-olds, defeating the powerful Godolphin duo of Harry Angel and Blue Point and earning praise from his owners as a sire of the future.

The American challenger, Bound For Nowhere, raced prominently in the first few furlongs and salvaged an honorable fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths. The Wesley Ward trainee by The Factor had a bit of traffic but never gave an indication of threatening the top three.

Caravaggio allowed both his blue-clad opponents to lead the race into the final furlong. Then Moore got to work and quickly closed the gap, winning by three-quarters of a length. Harry Angel held second over his stablemate.

“He is a brilliant horse,” O’Brien said. “His changes of pace are unbelievable, really. He’s very quick. I don’t think we’ve ever had a quicker horse.”

Moore, citing strong headwinds down the Ascot straight, said, “It’s hard to make up ground. That was a very good race.”

Caravaggio won all four starts as a juvenile and easily took a season-opener at Naas in May in preparation for the Commonwealth. Now, O’Brien said he might have to be careful spotting his starts with an eye on Australia’s new Group 1 sprint in the fall.

“The lads have a plan in their mind that he might go to Australia for the Everest, so we have to be very conscious now if we want him to last for the autumn,” O’Brien said.

The Everest, a 6-furlong “buy-in” event to be run for the first time Oct. 14 at Randwick, is modeled after the successful Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. Already fully subscribed, it costs AUS$600,000 for a gate — with a three-year commitment.

Scat Daddy, who stood at the international stallion conglomerate Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky, died unexpectedly in 2015 at age 11 after showing promise of joining the top ranks of sires. His progeny have delivered on that promise at Royal Ascot meetings and include Lady Aurelia, who swept to her second Royal Ascot win on the first day of this year’s meeting.

Coolmore’s John Magnier said while he mourned the passing of Scat Daddy, “Hopefully, this fellow will take his place.”

“Aidan has always said that Caravaggio was one of the quickest that he ever had,” Magnier added. “He is unbeaten so far, so fingers crossed. He is a better racehorse than Scat Daddy, and it is a cross that we need. It’s just fortunate for us that he has come at the right time, like the cavalry.”

Caravaggio is out of Mekko Hokte, who is by Holy Bull, the 1994 U.S. Horse of the Year, who was euthanized just 15 days before the Commonwealth at age 26.

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The Coronation Stakes

Winter swept by her stablemates, Roly Poly and Hydrangea, in the final furlong to make it a 1-2-3 finish for Coolmore and O’Brien in the 1-mile Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Winter, a Galileo filly, continued her march after sweeping the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, and the outcome of the Coronation reprised the exact order of finish in the Irish race.

Moore kept Winter behind the early pace in the Coronation, called on her midway down the straight and was rewarded with enough effort to win comfortably. Roly Poly and Hydrangea both ran on courageously as Dabyah finished fourth. America’s hope, Mark Casse-trained La Coronel, could not keep pace with the Irish trio and finished fifth.

“It’s a hard thing to do, to win two Guineas and then come here,” Moore said. “She is only doing what she has to do.”

“She is obviously a very good filly to make it happen,” O’Brien added. “She was very good at Newmarket and the Curragh and did it well again here today.”

He said Winter could return in the Falmouth Stakes (G1) at Newmarket on Bastille Day ” but we will see how she is as she has had four quick races in not a lot of time.”

Her only win as a 2-year-old under trainer David Wachman came on the Dundalk all-weather course. Shifted to O’Brien’s care for her sophomore season, Winter finished second behind Hydrangea in the Guineas Trial at Leopardstown before blitzing the two Guineas races.

Of Roly Poly and Hydrangea, O’Brien added: “We’re delighted with them both – they have run crackers.”

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The King Edward VII

Permian rebounded from a 10th-place finish in the Investec Derby (G1) to win the “Royal Ascot Derby” — the King Edward VII (G2) over a few of the other Epsom also-rans. With William Buick in the irons for trainer Mark Johnston and owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, Permian powered down the straight and held off both Khalidi and the favorite, Crystal Ocean, for the half-length victory.

Permian, a Teofilo colt out of the Mark of Esteem mare Tessa Reef, came into the King Edward as the most experienced of the dozen runners. Before his Derby misadventure the Darley-bred colt won the Betfred Dante Stakes (G2) at York.

“Mark and the team were surprised about the result of the Derby,” Buick said.
In Friday’s race over the same 1 1/2 miles, he added, Johnston “wanted him to go forward without asking him too much. You don’t want to get too wide around here.”

“William said he would stay all day,” Johnston said. “We’ve taken a slight step back in grade by coming to this race after the Derby. But his next run now has to be in Group 1 company – he needs that Group 1 tag on his neck. We will just have a think about where we go next.”

The Albany Stakes

A relatively unheralded Irish-owned and French-trained filly, Different League, took an early lead on the far-side rails in and held off the favorite, Alpha Centauri, for a neck victory in the Albany Stakes (G3). Neither of the American runners in the 6-furlong event for 2-year-old fillies made any impression with Fairyland finishing 12th and Princess Peggy 10th.

Jockey Antoine Hamelin took Different League out quickly among the group that split toward the outer rail and was leading well midway through the race. In the final furlong, jockey Colm O’Donoghue tried to steer Alpha Centauri inside the winner Hamelin never gave her enough room to finish the move.

Take Me With You was third

Different League, a daughter of Dabirsim out of the Danehill Dancer mare Danseuse Corse, came to Ascot after winning both her previous starts for trainer Matthieu Palussiere. Both of those races, however, were at minor tracks in France.

The filly is owned by Theresa Marnane of Bansha House Stables in Ireland.

“We picked her up for eight grand (euros), but we couldn’t sell her as a yearling,” said Con Marnane, huband of owner Theresa Marnane of Bansha House Stables in Ireland. “We had her in at Doncaster Sales last year but couldn’t sell her. Nobody wanted her. But I’m glad they didn’t. She’s an absolute beauty.”

The Queen’s Vase

Stradivarius got through between rivals in the final yards to take the Queen’s Vase (G2) for 3-year-olds over Count Octave in a musical finish. Secret Advisor was third in the 1 3/4-miles marathon.

Drawn in the No. 11 gate, Stradivarius assumed a good, ground-saving position as the field immediately hit the first turn. With a lot of jostling for position, he waited behind the leaders and came out for room as the finish loomed.

Andrea Azeni had the winning ride for trainer John Gosden, subbing for the injured Frankie Dettori.

“He’s ridden him beautifully from an outside draw,” Gosden said.

The win puts the Sea the Stars colt in line for England’s top stayers race, the 15-furlong St Leger at Doncaster in September.

The Duke of Edinburgh

Rare Rhythm salvaged the day for Godolphin with a victory in the finale, the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes for 3-year-olds and up over 1 1/2 miles.

With William Buick continuing a stellar Royal Ascot, the Charlie Appleby-trained 5-year-old Dubawi gelding managed to avoid massive traffic issues that hampered many of the favorites and won by 2 1/4 lengths from Appeared.

Mainstream emerged from the scrum late but could only finish sixth, carrying Her Majesty’s colors and hopes for trainer Sir Michael Stoute’s record 76th Royal Ascot victory.

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