Sent off the 5-2 choice in a field of 12 for the two-mile turf marathon, the 5-year-old Montjeu gelding was well back under jockey Eduardo Pedroza as the field headed into the final turn, but swung out five wide and carried on with a good kick to claim the victory.
Red Cardinal came in off a win at the same distance in the May 14 Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen (G2) at Hoppegarten for trainer Andreas Wohler, and in claiming Germany's premier long-distance race, punched his ticket with an all-fees-paid invitation to run in the Belmont Gold Cup.
This was the first year of the partnership between the New York Racing Association and Hoppegarten that resulted in Red Cardinal's stateside trip. His main goal this season is a run in the Nov. 7 Melbourne Cup (G1).
"He started very late in his career and hasn't had many races and keeps improving," Wohler said. "He's progressing and we're quite happy with where he is right now."
While 22-1 shot Roman Approval sailed away to a quick early tempo in the turf test, setting opening fractions of :24.95 and :47.76, Red Cardinal was seventh. Roman Approval looked to hold his advantage after running three-quarters in 1:14, a mile in 1:40.88, and 1 1/4 miles through 2:07.28, but was caught by his rallying rivals when the field turned for home and wound up 11th.
"My plan was to go in the middle of the field and let him be behind horses," Pedroza said of the winner. "He was very relaxed. He gave me a good feeling all the way. He went very easy (and) was feeling very good today.
"I waited for a long time to ask my horse. The other horses looked like they were getting a little bit tired coming around the corner, and I said I would wait a little bit more so I could make the move. I could do that because he has good acceleration. I asked him one time and he came back and (I) waited a little bit more. The second time I asked, he went very easy. He has good acceleration, so he can do that."
Red Cardinal took over with a sweeping move and had more than enough to hold off the late charge of St Michel by a neck. Now We Can was third two lengths back behind a final time of 3:18.79 on turf rated firm. Red Cardinal returned $7.60, $4.20, and $3.60, while St Michel brought $6 and $4.50. Now We Can paid $6.80.
Red Cardinal was bred in Ireland by Lynch Bages out of the Zafonic mare Notable. He improved his record to 5-3-1 from nine starts, with earnings of $328,862.
"He'll probably have his next race in France," Wohler said. "He then could race in Germany or in Australia itself. We want to give him a little break before he comes back. He'll be fresh for the campaign then."