Coming right back off just seven days rest, European invader Together outlasted Marketing Mix to win the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) Oct. 15 at Keeneland (VIDEO) .
The 3-year-old daughter of Galileo finished second in the First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland going a mile just a week ago, but trainer Aidan O’Brien saw enough left in the tank to wheel her right back against a tough group that included star filly Winter Memories
. After racing mid-pack for a half mile, Together inched closer on the second turn, took a narrow lead over Marketing Mix at the eighth-pole, and outfought that rival to the wire to score by 1 1/4 lengths under Colm O'Donoghue.
Winter Memories made her patented late move on the turn to get into contention but failed to show her usual explosive kick in the stretch and flattened out to finish fourth as the 7-5 favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies.
Together is owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. She was bred in Ireland by Lynch Bages and Samac, and is out of the Pennekamp mare Shadow Song. This was her first win in eight starts this season.
, a graded winner in her last two turf starts, including the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), set the pace as expected under Ramon Dominguez. She led through splits of :24.31, :48.57, and 1:12.61 while Marketing Mix tracked in second. Kathmanblu
was also among the early frontrunners, as was More Than Real
When they straightened away Summer Soiree was still in front but was quickly swallowed by Together and Marketing Mix approaching the eighth pole. Marketing Mix was game the entire length of the stretch with Garrett Gomez aboard, but Together edged clear in the late going for her second group/graded stakes victory.
Marketing Mix settled for second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of Nereid
, who edged Winter Memories by three parts of a length.
The final time for 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf course was 1:48.83.
"We expected her to run well," said O'Brien's assistant Kieran Murphy. "She was good all week. Everything went exactly as we planned it.”
Murphy said a decision as to whether or not Together would run in the Breeders' Cup would be made a few days.
Together was making her third start in the United States. She finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) last fall at Churchill Downs. Though she had not won this year until the QE II, she had been group I placed on three different occasions, and was runner-up by just 1 1/2 lengths to Never Retreat
in the Oct. 8 First Lady.
As a juvenile, Together won the Silver Flash Stakes (Ire-III) at Leopardstown.
Improving to 3-5-3 from 16 starts, Together has now earned $835,619. She paid $11.20, $5.80, and $4. The exacta (2-4) returned $87.40 and the trifecta (2-4-5) was worth $590.
Summer Soiree was fifth, followed by Star Billing, More Than Real, and Kathmanblu.
Of Winter Memories' disappointing effort, trainer Jimmy Toner said: "She was a little flat today. I can’t really give her any excuses. I was telling (jockey) Javier (Castellano) when they put in an exceptional run like she did last out (coming from last to win the grade I Garden City at Belmont Sept. 17), it sometimes takes more out of them than you realize. She was not as keen as she was before.”