The Aga Khan's Bayrir, winner of three of four previous races including a group II stakes in France, rallied late to win the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park Aug. 18 (VIDEO).
With Christophe Patrice Lemaire riding for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, Bayrir went the 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 2:02.92 to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Finnegans Wake was second, followed by Summer Front and Handsome Mike. Favored Silver Max, who was seeking his seventh straight win, led to nearly the quarter pole but faded to fifth.
Bayrir, by Medicean out of the Darshaan mare Balankiya, was bred in France by the Aga Khan. He paid $8.40 to win as the third choice in the field of eight. The colt won the Prix Eugene Adam-Grand Prix de Maisons-Laffitte (Fr-II) in his prior start July 22; Lemaire has ridden him in all four of his races.
"It wasn't the plan (to be far back early), but the race started out very quickly," Lemaire said. "I let my horse get into the race. On the backstretch he was racing very well, and he took the bit on his own around the last corner.
"When I put him out he reacted very well. He's a very clever horse. He's a very classy horse."
Silver Max, a multiple graded stakes winner in search of his first grade I victory, grabbed the early lead as usual and led through fractions of :24.65 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.94 for a half-mile, 1:13.25 for six furlongs, and 1:37.63 for one mile when he was headed by Daddy Long Legs. He was tracked by Handsome Mike, Summer Front, and Daddy Long Legs into the far turn.
Summer Front and Finnegans Wake were the first to make bids, but they were passed late by Bayrir.
"I think he's a very good horse, because he's very calm, as you saw before the race," de Royer-Dupre said. "We had a good pace in the race, and he has a good turn of foot."
Bayrir, seventh of eight early, won by 1 1/4 lengths. Finnegans Wake finished the same distance ahead of Summer Front, who had two lengths on Handsome Mike.