Derby Qualifying Race Set for Newmarket

Newmarket hosts the first Kentucky Derby qualifying race Sept. 29.

By Myra Lewyn

The final day of Newmarket's Cambridgeshire Festival Sept. 29 is anchored by a pair of group I races for females as well as a group II event that kick-starts a new points-based system to determine the field for the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

In addition to the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Eng-I) and Cheveley Park Stakes (Eng-I), Saturday's card includes Royal Lodge Stakes (Eng-II), a one-mile turf test for juveniles that is the first race in Churchill Downs' new 36-stakes series, the "Road to the Kentucky Derby."

Among the field of nine is Afonso de Sousa, a half brother to 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Big Brown , the season's champion 3-year-old male.

By Henrythenavigator, Afonso de Sousa broke his maiden by nine lengths at Leopardstown in July in his third career start for trainer Aidan O'Brien and subsequently finished third to Dundonnel and Royal Lodge entrant Steeler after setting the pace in the Pinsent Masons LLP Acomb Stakes (Eng-III) on Aug. 22 at York in his most recent outing.

The winner of the Royal Lodge also receives an automatic starting berth the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. Last year, 2011 Royal Lodge winner Wrote  won the Juvenile Turf.

The Royal Lodge has produced three Derby starters: 2010 winner Daddy Longs Legs; 1994 winner Eltish, runner-up in the Juvenile and sixth in the 1995 Derby; and 2004 third-place finisher Wilko, who won the 2004 Juvenile and finished sixth in the Derby.

Four group I winners, including Elusive Kate and French classic winner Beauty Parlour, will meet in the Sun Chariot Stakes for fillies and mares.

Elusive Kate enters off a strong third-place finish after setting the pace in the Haras Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I), in which she was overtaken in the final 200 meters by winner Excelebration, second four times and third once to undefeated Frankel, the world's top-rated racehorse. Prior to that, she won the Prix Rothschild (Fr-I) in August at Deauville, a victory that followed a runner-up finish in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes (Eng-I).

Beauty Parlour makes her first start since being transferred from trainer Elie Lellouche to Henry Cecil. The Deep Impact filly was upstaged by 25-1 longshot Valyra in the Longines Prix de Diane (Fr-I; French Oaks) on June 17 at Chantilly after winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I; French One Thousand Guineas) in May at Longchamp.

Also entered is Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes (Ire-I) winner Chachamaidee and 2011 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) winner La Collina.

The Cheveley Park Stakes attracted a field of 11 2-year-old fillies that includes early favorite Maureen, winner of the Juddmonte Princess Margaret Stakes (Eng-III) on July 28 at Ascot. The Holy Roman Emperor filly, who has two wins and a second from three career starts, received a two-month break after her comfortable 2 1/4-length Princess Margaret win for trainer Richard Hannon, who said his runner is in fine fettle and ready to race.

"She has really thrived for the break and has even grown a little as well as thickening out in all the right places," Hannon said on his website. "She looks to have improved again since she won the Princess Margaret at Ascot two months ago, and we could not be happier with her."

Challengers in the 12-filly field include unbeaten Rosdhu Queen, who captured the Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes (Eng-II) on Aug. 23 at York in her most recent start for trainer William Haggas, and Winning Express, recent winner of a listed stakes at Salisbury to stay perfect in two lifetime starts for trainer Ed McMahon, who supplement her to the six-furlong Cheveley Park Stakes at a cost of approximately $24,240 (15,000 British pounds).