Pedro the Great Springs Upset in Phoenix

Pedro the Great drew off in the final furlong to win the Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I).

Outsider Pedro the Great drew off in the final furlong to post a 2 3/4-length victory in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh Aug. 12.

The victory by Pedro the Great provided freshman sire Henrythenavigator with not only his first stakes winner, but also the first grade/group I winner of his stud career.

Pedro the Great was one of two runners sent out by trainer Aidan O’Brien. Cristoforo Colombo, like ‘Pedro’, a son of Henrythenavigator, was the more highly regarded of the two colts, having finished second in the Railway Stakes (Ire-II) in his last start. Also in the field were British raider Bungle Inthejungle, winner of the Molecomb Stakes (Eng-III) and Probably, who had defeated Cristoforo Colombo in the Railway and was sent off as the favorite.

It was quite an eventful renewal of the Phoenix, both before the race and during the actual running. As the horses were cantering down to the start, Lottie Dod threw rider Johnny Murtagh. The filly was immediately caught, but Murtagh suffered some minor injuries and was replaced by Pat Smullen.

As the field broke from the gate, Bungle Inthejungle and Lottie Dod both reared up and missed the start. Jockey Martin Harley quickly hustled ‘Bungle’ to the front to take the lead. They were followed by Probably and Leitir Mor, as Cristoforo Colombo and Pedro the Great were content to trail the field early.

Bungle Inthejungle continued to lead the field at a decent clip throughout the early stages of the race. With two furlongs left to run, Pedro the Great was switched to the outside by Seamie Heffernan, while Joseph O’Brien elected to send Cristoforo Colombo along the inside rail.

Both O’Brien runners were closing in on the leader when Cristoforo Colombo apparently clipped the heels of Probably and went down. That made things easier for Pedro the Great, who swept past Bungle Inthejungle to take the lead.

Pedro the Great cruised to the wire to win impressively. Leitir Mor closed to take second, with Lottie Dod another 1 3/4-lengths back in third.

Final time for the six furlongs was 1:19.05 over the soft going.

Thankfully, both Cristoforo Colombo and Joseph O’Brien were quickly on their feet. Cristoforo Colombo did suffer a cut on the inside of his leg and was being checked out by vets after the race.

The victory in the Phoenix was a record 12th for trainer O’Brien. He will now point Pedro the Great to the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Ire-I) on Sept. 15.

Pedro the Great is owned by the partnership of Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor. He was bred in Kentucky by Hascombe Stud, and is out of the stakes-winning Rainbow Quest mare, Glatisant. Pedro the Great is a half brother to both English Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Footstepsinthesand, and Frappe, the dam of 2012 Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner, Power.