Soft Going Suits Westerner in Prix Royal-Oak

Ecurie Wildenstein's homebred Westerner, ridden by Dominique Boeuf, unleashed a powerful run down the straight to win the Prix Royal-Oak (Fr-I) at soggy Longchamp Sunday by 2 1/2 lengths over outsider Alcazar.

The Aga Khan's Behkara was third, 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner, while 7-2 favorite Vinnie Roe was another length behind, finishing a disappointing fourth in the French version of the St. Leger.

Boeuf was part of the same connections that brought Bright Sky to Santa Anita Saturday for a sixth-place showing in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), including trainer Elie Lellouche. Rider and trainer hurried home and arrived just in time for the French race.

"You're never tired when you win a group I race," Lellouche told The Racing Post.

"The colt certainly prefers soft ground but he can go on all surfaces. He's improved all season and will remain in training next year when the Ascot Gold Cup could be a target."

The 1 15/16-mile turf classic was completed in 3:31.20 on very soft going.

Boeuf, who won the Royal-Oak last year with Mr. Dinos, had Westerner in command halfway through the straight, overtaking Alcazar, and he rolled home without a late threat.

Pat Smullen had Vinnie Roe in position for the final stage, but the fifth-place finisher in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Oct. 5 failed to fire.

Westerner is a 4-year-old colt by Danehill out of French champion Walensee, by Troy.

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