Ridden by Javier Castellano, the Juddmonte Farms' 4-year-old homebred took control in the stretch, but the even-money choice nearly withered in the final strides as Salute the Count made a big late run at the front-runners from the outside. First Defence completed the six furlongs in 1:09.48.
First Defence is by Unbridled's Song out of the grade I winner Honest Lady, by Seattle Slew. The dam was produced from Juddmonte homebred grade I winner Toussaud (by Northern Dancer's son El Gran Senor).
“I’m not sure if that family really likes it on soft turf," Frankel said. "Javier said he bobbled a few times. Hopefully, that’s why he was stopping. He made an easy lead, but maybe it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Watching him on the turn, it looked like he was going to gallop. At the end, I was looking for the wire.”
In his last start, First Defence ran fifth in the one-mile Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) on Belmont's main track.
True to Tradition, ridden by Eibar Coa, took the lead from the outside at the break, but First Defence took over after a few strides and paced the field through quick quarter-mile fractions of :21.93 and :44.84. True to Tradition stayed close but was 1 1/2 lengths behind the leader on the turn. First Defence was in firm control through the lane with a two-length lead, but had to dig deep to defeat Count the Count and Edgar Prado, who angled out mid-stretch and closed belatedly. Mohegan Sun, ridden by Alan Garcia nosed True to Tradition for third, finishing a half-length behind the first two.
“In the Met Mile, he ran well with Commentator, but I don’t think he liked to go that far," Castellano said. "He is a special horse for us. He can go either way for us now, grass or dirt.”
First Defence earned his fifth win in 10 starts and boosted his lifetime earnings to $376,534. The winning purse for the Jaipur was $97,980.
The winner paid $4, $3.10, and $2.40, topping a $2 exacta worth $18.40 with Salute the Count, who returned $4 and $.280 while making it back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Jaipur. Mohegan Sky was $3.80 to show.
True to Tradition was followed by Metro Meteor, Port Royal, Silver Timber and Hollywood Left. Emirates to Dubai and Frisco Star scratched.