Trainer Aidan O'Brien and Ballydoyle captured their second group I win in three days Sunday when their juvenile standout Oratorio got up in the final strides to win the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp.
O'Brien won the Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket Friday with Ad Velorum for only his second group I of the season. In a sign that things are getting better, the top Irish conditioner won his fourth Lagardere, considered France's top 2-year-old race.
Prominent early, Oratorio, ridden by Jamie Spencer, took the lead more than two furlongs out. But he came under heavy pressure an eighth of a mile from home and fell back as Early March and Layman took over. Seemingly beaten, the game Danehill colt surged on again to get up by a short neck over Early March, who nosed Layman for second. The seven-furlong race was timed in 1:19.30 on good going.
"He's got real Danehill toughness. He put that head out and he quickened," O'Brien told Racing Post
"It's amazing," he said. "We haven't been able to do anything right all year, everything has gone wrong. Everyone's been at full throttle all year, doing their best. This is a big relief."
Montgomery's Arch was fourth, followed by Democratic Deficit and Tony James.