Champs Elysees not only won the Sept. 7 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-IT) (VIDEO) at Woodbine, but became the fifth grade/group I winner out of the grand mare Hasili. The 5-year-old English-bred son of Danehill trained in California by Bobby Frankel scored by a nose over German invader Quijano in a five-horse blanket finish.
Hasili’s special place in history doesn’t end there. Six of the mare’s foals are either grade/group I winners and/or champions, with four of them millionaires and two of them winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
Northern Dancer himself also played a special part in Hasili’s success. All six of her key runners trace in male line to him. Five are by Northern Dancer’s grandson, Danehill (by Danzig), and the other is by Danzig’s son, Green Desert. Besides Champs Elysees, the others are Banks Hill, Cacique, Dansili, Heat Haze, and Intercontinental. Champs Elysees races as a homebred for Khalid Abdullah, who bred and race Hasili (by Kahyasi).
Champs Elysees, unhurried in the beginning of the 1 1/2-mile race, made his move in the stretch under Garrett Gomez and was joined by Quijano, and several others. Following the first two at the finish was Season Retreat, a half-length behind the runner-up, followed closely by Marsh Side and Spice Route. French Beret, who led into the stretch, finished sixth.
Cloudy’s Knight, the early leader, weakened nearing the stretch and ended up eighth. Better Talk Now, the 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner, finished seventh. Time for the race was 2:32.02 over a yielding turf course.
The Northern Dancer was Champs Elysees’ initial start outside California. He had begun his career in France, where he was a group winner, and later was group I-placed in Italy. First-place earnings of $450,000 (Canadian funds) in the Canadian upped his earnings to $1,001,327 in U.S. funds.
Earlier on the card, Lawrence Goichman’s New York-bred J’ray won the Canadian Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) at nine furlongs. The 5-year-old mare by Distant View out of the Darshaan mare Bubbling Heights came from last in the field of 11 to win by a length over Irish-bred Callwood Dancer in 1:51.86.
“I’d say this filly has really got good,” said winning rider Joe Bravo. “This little filly relaxed back there. She saved all her energy until the turn for home. She exploded and really showed her true colors.”
The Canadian win came in J’ray’s first Canadian start and was her eighth career stakes winner. Trained by Todd Pletcher, she has earned $856,161.