With a wicked late kick, favored Islington prevailed in a heated stretch duel with 45-1 longshot L'Ancresse to win the 1 ¼-mile Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) by a neck.
Yesterday, another European invader, finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind, for a 1-2-3 sweep of the race for the continent-based runners. Final time for the race was 1:59.13.
"She got hot and so did I," said winning rider Kieren Fallon about the post parade in 90-degree plus heat. "It got to both of us. I thought that Aidan O'Brien's filly (L'Ancresse) was going to tire, but she kept on pressing on. Things happened for me in here. It was just a great run."
In the early running, as expected, Bien Nicole went for the lead from her outside post as they passed the stands for the first time. Early on the backstretch, Bien Nicole had a 10-length lead before she came back to the field in the final turn. The early fractions were :46.73 and 1:10.52.
As they hit the final bend, L'Ancresse, under Edgar Prado, made the first move to collar Bien Nicole, but right behind her was Islington. Jockey Kieren Fallon swung out Islington to engage L'Ancresse and the two separated themselves from the rest of the field. Yesterday, ridden by Michael Kinane rallied from off the pace for the third spot, 3 ½ lengths back.
"The heat didn't seem to bother her," Prado said of the surprising runner-up. "She was nice and relaxed. We had a nice clear run chasing the horse in front (Bien Nicole). Then the favorite came up on us, slowly gaining on me. We had a good stretch duel but just got beat by a better filly."
Mick Kinane, aboard Yesterday, noted, "That other filly (Islington) had first run on me, but I had a great position turning for home. Then she started to fade a bit on me. I also think the ground was a touch quicker than she would have liked."
Islington, trained by Michael Stoute and owned by the estate of the late Lord Weinstock, paid $7.80, $6, and $4.20. L'Ancresse paid $32.60 and $13. Yesterday returned $7.80 to show. The $1 exacta, 4-11, paid $212.40.
Islington, the top older filly in Europe, is a bay 4-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells out of the Darshaan mare Hellenic. Third in the Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington last year, she had only one win from four starts this year, but has been running against the best older horses, male and female.
"I was always happy with her position," Stoute said. "It was a little tight on the turn, but as soon as we straightened for home, I knew she would win. She is a wonderful filly. There are not many better. Last year she had bad luck at Arlington."
The victory was worth $551,200, Islington's sixth in 14 career starts, pushing her career earnings to $1,553,043.
A champion trainer overseas, this was Stoute's second Breeders' Cup win. He saddled Kalanisi to win the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) in 2000.
"It feels great. I was third with Sonic Lady in 1987 so it feels nice to win. The key is to come really fresh. In the early days, it was sort of an afterthought (to enter the Breeders' Cup). You have to plan for it."
Islington came into the race off a third-place finish, beaten only a neck, by High Chaparral and Falbrav, in the Ireland The Food Island Champion Stakes (Ire-I) on Sept. 6. Both High Chaparral and Falbrav are among the favorites for the John Deere Turf (gr. IT).
Aidan O'Brien trained both the second and third-place finishers.
"They both ran well. L'Ancresse was in good form and had a good run down the rail. They both performed well."
Heat Haze ran well to be fourth for jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer Bobby Frankel.
After Heat Haze came, in order, Megahertz, Riskaverse, Voodoo Dancer, Tates Creek, Bien Nicole, Mezzo Soprano, Musical Chimes and Dimitrova.