Sarafina swept from last to first within the final furlong to capture the $314,338 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I) by a neck over Cirrus Des Aigles June 26. The win earned Sarafina an automatic berth in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), since it is a qualifying “Win and You’re In” race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
The victory by the daughter of Refuse to Bend was the first in the race in 30 years for her owner/breeder, the Aga Khan, who last captured this race with Akarad in 1981.
Cirrus Des Aigles broke alertly and was sent straight to the front by jockey Franck Blondel. The 5-year-old gelding led the compact field of five at a moderate tempo through the early stages, with the other runners content to let him set the pace.
Silver Pond sat just off the leader in second, as Sarafina, who was racing very keenly under Christophe Lemaire, was reined back from third into last in an attempt to get her to settle. Once she was behind horses and covered up, Lemaire was able to get his filly to relax nicely and settle down.
Cirrus Des Aigles continued to lead the tightly-bunched field as they began to turn for home. Once the horses entered the straightaway it became a sprint for the wire. Lemaire pulled Sarafina into the clear on the outside, and the 4-year-old filly displayed an impressive turn of foot as she shot past the other runners to take over the second spot with a few strides.
Sarafina continued her drive to the finish, eventually overtaking Cirrus Des Aigles within the final yards to win by a neck. Silver Pond finished third, another 1 1/2 lengths farther back.
Final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:34.40 over the good to soft going.
Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre told reporters afterwards, “She was very fizzy at the start, but Christophe got her under control. He knew she was capable of that kind of finishing burst.”
As for future plans, Royer-Dupre stated, “The objective is the Arc, and she’ll have a prep race, possibly the Prix Vermeille (Fr-I).”
The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (gr. I) is run in October.
Sarafina now boasts a record of five wins from eight starts, with three group I victories to her credit. Sarafina was bred in France by her owner, and is out of the winning Darshaan mare, Sanariya.