Certify dominates Fillies' Mile; Waterway Run punches BC ticket
Unbeaten Certify provided Godolphin with the team's third consecutive success in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket on Friday. White Moonstone and Lyric of Light have taken the mile event for the previous two years, but neither matched the style and panache of Certify's success.
The Mahmood al Zarooni filly was backed into 4-6 favoritism and was held up in rear by young French jockey Mickael Barzalona, before being given the office inside the final two furlongs and she easily drew away to beat Roz by 4 1/2 lengths.
"When you have a good horse, it makes it easier," Barzalona said. "She was a little bit keen and hung a little bit today but, when I asked her to go, she answered. She is very straightforward and kept going."
The Fillies' Mile was a "Win & You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the first race in the new "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" scoring system, but Certify doesn't appear ready to take up either offer.
Unbeaten in four runs, Certify is expected to sign off for the year and aim for the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas on May 5. The daughter of Elusive Quality now heads the Guineas betting with Paddy Power at 8-1, having been 14s prior to her success over the classic's course and distance.
"She was a bit excited before the race and that is not normal for her," al Zarooni noted. "It is her fourth run of the year and I would prefer to put her away for next season.
"I asked Mickael what he thought and he said she was excited and to put her away. I will have to talk to His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) and I think it is likely we will put her away -- she is a lady we should look after.
"She was still a little green at Doncaster last time (when outdueling Purr Along in the Group 2 May Hill), and she was in front a long time today and I think was still a little green.
"Lyric of Light won this race last year," the trainer added, "but I think that this filly has won the race better than she did. I cannot say 100 percent definitely that she is better than Lyric of Light, but she has won by over four lengths and Lyric of Light only won by a head.
"I think she will stay further than a mile but the One Thousand Guineas will be her first target."
Godolphin's Racing Manager Simon Crisford hailed Certify as a "top-notch filly" in the aftermath of her emphatic victory.
"That was a fantastic performance and she has won very well," Crisford said. "The result was never in doubt.
"Mickael said that was a little bit funny today. She didn't want to go into the gates, she was a little bit awkward and maybe that's a sign that she has been running at the top level for her past few races and she might be telling us that she has had enough for the year.
"Mickael felt that her attitude was a little different today, that she was a little bit touchy and sometimes fillies can be like that at the end of the season. It doesn't matter because she has won a Group 1, a Group 2, a Group 3 and has done exceptionally well. She is a very, very good filly.
"From her first win she has always looked very exciting, and when she beat that smart filly (Sky Lantern) who went on to win a Group 1 in Ireland, she showed her prowess as a leading juvenile.
"Obviously, I have to talk with Sheikh Mohammed and discuss the situation with Mahmood," Crisford continued, "but I would imagine that it is more likely that she will be put away for the winter now. Whether she goes out to Dubai or not will be discussed in due course -- we have only just seen her race -- and we need to spend a little bit of time talking about it.
"You can never be sure that she will make a top three-year-old. If you look back over the years, a lot of good juveniles haven't trained on and some have. Some horses that you don't necessarily expect to improve from two to three do improve. You can never be confident, you just have to be hopeful and all you can say now is that Certify is the leading filly of her generation at this moment in time. We have to wait and see how good she is in six months."
Crisford also graciously commented on the absence of the John Gosden-trained Winsili.
"It was a shame that Winsili couldn't run because she looked a very nice prospect, but our filly did it well," Crisford said.
Although Certify won't head for the Breeders' Cup, the Friday card turned up a definite Juvenile Fillies Turf runner in Waterway Run. The Ralph Beckett trainee showed a fantastic attitude to get the better of Richard Hannon's Light Up My Life in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes at seven furlongs.
The daughter of Arch traveled comfortably under Jim Crowley and put away a stubborn Light Up My Life inside the final two furlongs to score by a half-length.
"I am very pleased with Waterway Run," Beckett said. "The ground was probably on the slow side for her but she is very tough.
"She will go straight for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf because she was nominated for it as a foal and that seems the next logical step. She will like the better ground there and the syndicate who own her will have a lot of fun."
Crowley seconded the Breeders' Cup idea.
"It would be great if she went to the Breeders' Cup," her rider said. "She is very laid back and am sure that the traveling wouldn't be a problem for her. It would be very exciting if she does go.
"You want uncomplicated fillies and you could ride her any way you want -- she has got a nice cruising speed and you want to make use of it.
"Richard Hannon's horse had made the running before and we didn't want to take each on but my filly settled well, traveled great and picked up nicely.
"It's very difficult to say if she will be a Group 1 filly. I don't see why she shouldn't be, and I think a mile will certainly be her best trip. There's no reason why she shouldn't progress again."
Also at Newmarket Friday, Penitent bagged another Group 2 success when making all the running under Daniel Tudhope to win the Joel Stakes by a neck from Andrew Balding's Side Glance. Premio Loco put in another good effort for trainer Chris Wall and was a further 1 1/4 lengths back in third.
Penitent joined trainer David O'Meara at the beginning of the season after being bought for 40,000 guineas and has won three of his six starts this term including the Group 2 Mile at Sandown in April. He came to Newmarket on the back of two fifth-placed finishes in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown and the Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster on September 15.
"He's been a great horse for me," O'Meara said. "The ground looked a little slower than good out there and that has definitely helped him. He's been a grand horse to win a listed and a Group race at the beginning of the season and then come back and win another one at the end of the season.
"We thought he was a bit unlucky not to finish third at Doncaster on fast ground. He got hampered against the rail and had to check and make a second run. In Ireland he just ran a little bit flat, but he was showing us plenty enough at home to suggest he retains all his ability.
"Ideally he would want even softer ground but Danny (Tudhope) gave him a fantastic ride. The owners have become very good supporters of ours. Nick Bradley, one of the driving forces behind Middleham Park Racing, was adamant that Danny should pop out, stay on the far rail and do his own thing. He got it spot on."
"The plan was to stay on that far rail and, if I got beat, I got beat - that was the plan and it worked," Tudhope echoed." I was probably down for a little bit -- they went such a strong gallop -- but he is a good horse and more than capable. He's proved that today.
"He likes soft going but good horses can go on any ground and there is a lovely covering of grass out there."
"He is a very good horse on his day. You could probably put a line through a couple of his runs but he is not a horse to forget."
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