Shareta Shines in Rain-Soaked Yorkshire Oaks
It was the first group I victory for the daughter of Sinndar, who had been knocking on the door in major races for almost two years. Prior to the Yorkshire Oaks, the Aga Khan homebred had been second or third in several major contests, including the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) last year.
A field of six fillies and mares went to the post in the Oaks, which was contested in a driving rain. Favoritism went to the John Gosden-trained The Fugue, who was looking to add to her victory in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) last time out. Investec EpsomOaks (Eng-I) victress Was was looking to bounce back off a third-place finish in that same race. Another contender was Shirocco Star, who had been runner-up in both the Investec and Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I).
Shareta and Christophe Lemaire broke alertly and went to the lead. They were tracked closely by Was, Coquet, and Bible Belt. William Buick had The Fugue placed toward the back of the field, along with Shirocco Star.
Seamie Heffernan moved Was to the lead with six furlongs remaining, as Shareta continued to gallop along at a steady pace just behind her. With three furlongs to go, the tempo quickened. Heffernan tried to put some distance between Was and the rest of the field. Lemaire sent Shareta after her, and the French filly quickly drew alongside the Oaks winner.
Those two were then joined by The Fugue, and the three fillies battled it out as they charged toward the finish line. Inside the final furlong, a stubborn Was threw in the towel, leaving The Fugue and Shareta to fight it out to the wire.
The Fugue was able to get about a half-length in front, but Shareta battled back, eventually edging past The Fugue to win by a neck. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Was in third, with Shirocco Star in fourth.
The final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:33.87 over a course still rated as "good to firm" despite the heavy rain.
After the race, trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre told reporters, "We came because the filly was in very good condition and because this is a marvelous track. I know she stays. Many times in France the straight is much too short and she doesn't have time to show what she can do."
As for her future plans, Royer-Dupre said, "We have the Prix Vermeille to think of (rather than the Arc)−that is just for fillies. Sometimes the Arc is run on very soft ground and she doesn't like it too soft."
Gosden said of The Fugue, "She ran a great race. The winner is a very good filly and there aren't really any excuses. I think she prefers quicker ground and she'll be aimed towards the Breeders' Cup where we know she'll get that."
The 4-year-old Shareta was bred in France, and is out of the stakes-winning Barathea mare Shawara.
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