Immortal Verse once again displayed her sparkling turn of foot as she charged past Goldikova in the closing stages to win the $854,658 Prix Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville Aug. 15.
It was the second straight group I victory for the daughter of Pivotal, who also captured the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in June. The win earned Immortal Verse an automatic berth in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), since it is part of the “Win and You’re In” series sponsored by the Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
All eyes were upon Goldikova going into the Jacques Le Marois, as she sought to record her 15th group I victory. It was the third straight year that the 6-year-old mare contested the Jacques Le Marois; she won the event in 2009, but had to settle for second behind Makfi last year.
Twelve runners contested the 2011 Jacques Le Marois, which boasted seven group I winners in the lineup. Among those were Sahpresa (Sun Chariot Stakes, Eng-I), Planteur (Prix Ganay, Fr-I), Mutual Trust (2011 Prix Jean Prat, Fr-I), Dick Turpin (2010 Prix Jean Prat, Fr-I), and Tin Horse (Poule d’Essai des Poulains, Fr-I).
Goldikova was sent off as the heavy 3-5 favorite by the betting public. The Robert Collet-trained Immortal Verse, despite her Royal Ascot success, was dismissed at 19-1.
At the start it was Polemique and Flash Dance, stablemates of Goldikova, who went to the lead to ensure a good pace. They were quickly joined by Italian stakes winner Worthadd, with Mutual Trust and Cityscape hot on their heels.
The field of 12 was tightly-bunched through the early stages of the race, with only about four or five lengths covering the field. Goldikova, who broke from post 11, was forced to run wide throughout the race, as Olivier Peslier tried to get her settled in mid-field.
By the halfway point of the race, Goldikova had begun to make progress on the leaders as she edged closer, all the while still racing on the outside. With two furlongs left to run, Peslier went to work aboard the bay mare and she responded, charging up to challenge for the lead while being carried wide by a drifting Planteur.
Jockey Gerald Mosse was also hard at work aboard Immortal Verse, and the 3-year-old filly began to make progress along the inside rail. The field was fanned eight-wide across the course as they charged for the wire, with Goldikova grinding it out on the far outside and Immortal Verse flying up along the rail.
In the final yards, Goldikova could not match the quick turn of foot of Immortal Verse, who rolled past the champion mare to record a one-length victory. Goldikova just held off the late charge of Sahpresa to be second by a nose, with longshot Royal Bench another two lengths back in fourth.
Final time for the eight furlongs was 1:38.30 over a course softened by overnight rains.
A delighted Collet said after the race, “She proved again what I’ve always known, that she is a super filly.” He has not ruled out another trip to Ascot, where she could face Frankel in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) on Oct. 15.
Freddy Head, trainer of Goldikova, was understandably disappointed, but offered no excuses. Peslier said, “We were beaten by a very good filly, and maybe 15 days was a bit quick between races.”
Immortal Verse was bred in Ireland by Kilfrush Stud and races for Robert C. Strauss. She is out of the stakes-winning mare Side Of Paradise, a daughter of Sadler’s Wells. Side Of Paradise is a half-sister to champion Last Tycoon, winner of the third Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) in 1986.
Galikova Soars in Prix Guillaume d’Ornano
In the race immediately preceding the Jacques Le Marois, Galikova turned the tables on French classic winner Golden Lilac as she rolled to a two-length victory in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano (Fr-II).
The 3-year-old daughter of Galileo, who is a half-sister to Goldikova, had finished second to Golden Lilac in the Prix de Diane-Longines (Fr-I) in her last start. Galikova seems to excel going a route of ground, having recorded wins at both 10 and 10.5 furlongs.
Held up toward the rear of the field by Peslier, Galikova charged down the center of the course, sweeping to the lead within the final furlong. Galikova continued to draw off in the final yards even as she was being geared down by her rider.
Slow Pace closed well to take second, with Golden Lilac finishing third, another 1 1/2 lengths further back. Final time for the 10 furlongs was 2:07.60.
Galikova, who like her older sibling is trained by Freddy Head for the Wertheimer brothers, will now be pointed to the Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) on Sept. 11.