Was (right) holds off Shirocco Star (black and white silks) to win the Epsom Oaks.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/at-the-races-2012/22274956_jFd5jM#!i=1880470326&k=gdPV8dv">Order This Photo</a>

Was (right) holds off Shirocco Star (black and white silks) to win the Epsom Oaks.
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Trevor Jones

Outsider Was Upsets Investec Oaks at 20-1

Ballydoyle second stringer repels rally of Shirocco Star to win at Epsom June 1.

Outsider Was gamely held off the late charge of Shirocco Star to win the $542,500 Investec Oaks (Eng-I) by a neck at Epsom June 1.

Considered to be among Ballydoyle’s second string, the daughter of Galileo provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with yet another classic winner this season. The Irish trainer has a stranglehold on the British classics this spring with wins in both the QIPCO Two Thousand (Eng-I) and One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) last month. O'Brien's colt, Power, added the Abu Dhabi Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) to his classic haul last weekend.

The Oaks victory also provided O’Brien with the milestone 200th group/grade I winner of his career.

The defections of Kissed and Toptempo left a field of 12 fillies for the 12-furlong Oaks. Even with Kissed being scratched, O’Brien still sent out a battalion of five fillies in the race, with Ireland’s champion juvenile filly, Maybe, being considered the strongest of the contingent. Favoritism fell on Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s The Fugue, who entered the race off a convincing victory in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Eng-III) May 16.

At the start it was Nayarra that went to the front under Martin Dwyer. She galloped along at a steady pace, as Twirl ran alongside her in second. Seamie Heffernan had Was relaxed and settled on the rail just behind them in third, as both The Fugue and Maybe were stuck toward the rear of the field during the early stages.

The order remained the same for much of the race. As the field entered the long home straight, both Nayarra and Twirl began to fade out of contention. Heffernan asked Was for more and the filly responded, shooting through an opening along the rail to take the lead.

Shirocco Star was moving strongly out toward the center of the course, making up plenty of ground under an all-out drive from jockey Darryll Holland. The Fugue, who encountered numerous traffic problems throughout the race, finally was in the clear and also came charging under William Buick.

Deep within the final furlong it looked as though Shirocco Star would get up for the victory, but at the wire it was a determined Was that hung on for the narrow win. The Fugue finished just a half-length behind Shirocco Star in third. Vow ran evenly to take fourth, while Maybe, who also encountered traffic problems, was fifth.

Final time for the 1 1/2-mile contest was 2:38.68 over the good Epsom turf course.

After the race, O’Brien heaped praise upon Heffernan, saying, “He’s a great fellow, Seamus, a world-class jockey. He knows all these horses inside out and nobody deserves it more.”

Regarding his Oaks-winning filly, O’Brien said, “There’s no doubt she’s progressing all the time and she’s a filly who we are really looking forward to.”

Heffernan, who was collecting his first British classic victory, said, “I had enough horse to take two lengths when I needed it; I’ve been very lucky in these colors and I have the owners to thank for trusting me.

“I was on the bridle and had plenty of petrol,” he added. “When you have plenty of petrol you can go where you like.”

Bred in Ireland by Lodge Park Stud, Was is owned by the partnership of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Susan Magnier. The bay filly is out of the stakes-placed Alluring Park, a daughter of Green Desert who is a half sister to champion New Approach. In 2010, Was became the highest-priced yearling sold that year when she brought 1.2 million guineas at the Tattersalls October yearling sale.