'Master'-ful Win in St. James's Palace Stakes
by Mary Schweitzer
Date Posted: 6/16/2009 1:41:46 PM
Last Updated: 6/18/2009 2:48:11 PM
Mastercraftsman repulsed a strong bid from Delegator to post a gritty neck victory in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot June 16.
The heavy favorite had to work hard in the final furlong to hold off a stubborn Delegator, who at one point stuck his head in front and appeared on his way to victory. Mastercraftsman battled back gamely though under Johnny Murtagh to post the hard-earned win.
Mastercraftsman provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with his sixth victory in the St. James’s Palace, tying him with Mathew Dawson for most wins in the race. O’Brien trainees have captured the last three runnings of the prestigious race.
O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard was represented by three runners in the contest, with Set Sail and Born To Be King joining their stable star in the field of ten. The three stablemates went right to the front at the start, with Set Sail rousted to the front by Seamie Heffernan. Mastercraftsman followed closely in second, as Born To Be King struggled to keep up in third.
Murtagh sent Mastercraftsman to the lead with three furlongs left, but was quickly joined by Delegator and Lord Shanakill. Delegator, under Jimmy Fortune, split his rivals and got his head in front inside the final furlong, but Mastercraftsman would not be denied.
Lord Shanakill finished strongly for third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Delegator. Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:39.21 over the good to firm course.
Mastercraftsman, a roan son of Danehill Dancer, now has six wins from eight career starts, with four of the wins coming in group I company. The colt was coming off of an impressive 4 1/2-length win in the Boylesports.com Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh May 23.
The soft-spoken O’Brien told reporters after the race, “He’s just one of those great horses. He's becoming very like a Giant's Causeway, the sort of horse that doesn't mind a mile or a mile and a quarter.”
“He’s an amazing horse with speed, stamina, and all ground comes alike to him,” O’Brien continued. “It was a great performance from the horse, and a marvelous performance from Johnny.”
Mastercraftsman was bred in Ireland by Lynch Bages Ltd., and is owned by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Susan Magnier. He is out of Starlight Dreams, by Black Tie Affair, and is a half-brother to Genuine Devotion (by Rock of Gibraltar), winner of the Locust Grove Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs last year.
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