Steeler Tenacious in Juddmonte Royal Lodge

Juvenile scores clear victory at Sept. 29; first group winner for Raven's Pass.

By Myra Lewyn

Showing tenacity in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Eng-II) for 2-year-olds Sept. 29 at Newmarket, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Steeler scored a clear win in the first prep under the new points system for the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr-I).


Steeler covered the one-mile test under Kieren Fallon in 1:35.67 on turf rated "good" while earning his first group victory, improving his record to three wins and two seconds from five starts for trainer Mark Johnston. He is the first graded or group winner for Darley’s freshman sire Raven's Pass


In contention from the start, the big colt seized the lead three furlongs out and dug in when engaged by Artigiano, who momentarily looked to have his measure with an eighth of a mile to run. Steeler was up for the challenge, however, and shook off his rival inside the final furlong to prevail by a length in his first try beyond seven furlongs.


In a division of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" qualifying series called "Kentucky Derby Prep Season," Steeler amassed 10 points for finishing first and Artigiano earned four in his runner-up finish. Third-place finisher Al Waab was award two points, and fourth-place finisher Birdman one point.


Afonso de Sousa, a half brother to 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr.-I) winner Big Brown , was scratched.


Steeler also earned an automatic starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr.I), but Johnston declared the World Championships in North America not an immediate goal.

"The next step will be the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I at Doncaster),” Johnston told England’s Press Association. “We're not thinking about the Breeders' Cup at the moment but we'll take it one step at a time. He's a beautiful, big horse and we always felt that whatever he did this year there would be more to come."

Steeler, who was bred in Ireland by Airlie Stud, came into the Royal Lodge off a win in the Peter Willett Stardom Stakes Sept. 4 at Goodwood. Prior to that, he finished second in his stakes debut in the Pinsent Mason Acomb Stakes (Eng-III) in August at York after breaking his maiden in his second start earlier that month at Goodwood.

Produced by group III winner Discreet Brief, by Darshaan, the colt is a half brother to stakes-placed winners Doggerbank and Secret Dancer.