Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum's Lailani remained perfect on the year following a three-quarter length victory over England's Legend in the $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.
With the exception of the second quarter-mile, England's Legend ran fairly even quarters (:24.74, :23.42, :24.19, :24.36) while on a comfortable lead, with Lailani tracking in third-place most of the way. Under Jerry Bailey, Lailani passed Babae to gain second-place with a quarter-mile to run but still trailed England's Legend by two lengths. Lailani crept closer with a furlong to run and pulled to lead at the sixteenth-pole, completing the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.88 on the turf course listed as good.
"I didn't know what to expect from her since this was my first time riding her," said Bailey. "She handled everything great -- the surroundings and all. I was pretty content with my spot inside. She accelerated pretty quickly on the turn and I give her a lot of credit for running down England's Legend. She proved today that she has a lot of fight in her. This will definitely have her ready for the Breeders' Cup (Filly and Mare Turf). I don't know if I will ride her back. 'Frankie' (Lanfranco) Dettori usually rides their horses."
England's Legend held off third-place finisher Starine for second. Chaste, Babae, and Tweedside completed the order of finish. Spook Express was scratched.
"She ran a very nice race," said trainer Christophe Clement of England's Legend. "I wish that she could have gone the second quarter a little bit slower. Who knows? Maybe the winner is a very good horse. She is undefeated this year. On to the Breeders' Cup."
Lailani (Unfuwain--Lailati, by Mr. Prospector) finished off the board in both her starts as a juvenile but has visited the winner's circle following each of her seven races as a 3-year-old, including the Kildangan Stud Irish Oaks (Ire-I) and the Vodafone Nassau Stakes (Eng-I), the last named against older fillies and mares. She is trained by Edward Dunlop and was bred in Great Britain by Gainsborough Stud Management Ltd. Lailani earned $450,000 for the win, her seventh in nine career starts.
Lailani returned $6.90, $2.90, and $2.10. England's Legend paid $2.40 and $2.10. Starine returned $2.10. The winning exacta combination paid $14. (chart, Equibase