Excelebration Shines in Jacques Le Marois

Excelebration took advantage of not having to face Frankel by powering to a 1 1/4-length victory in the Prix Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville Aug. 12.
 
The victory earned the son of Exceed And Excel an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita, since it is part of the 'Win and You're In' series sponsored by the Breeders' Cup.
 
A field of 11 went to the post in the Marois, with an incredible nine group I winners amongst the runners. Slight favoritism went to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Excelebration, who was hoping to add a second group I victory to his résumé after having been second or third when facing Frankel on five separate occasions. Excelebration was ridden by Christophe Soumillon, who was a last-minute substitution for Ryan Moore, who had been injured in a spill earlier on the card. 
 
Others in the quality-packed field were Moonlight Cloud, who would be trying to wheel back from her victory in the Prix Maurice de Gheest (Fr-I) seven days earlier; Cityscape, winner of the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT); Elusive Kate, winner of the Prix Rothschild (Fr-I), Fallen For You, winner of the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot; Immortal Verse, winner of this race last year when defeating Goldikova; Golden Lilac, winner of the Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-I); Most Improved, winner of the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I); and Tin Horse, winner of the 2011 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I).
 
The other two runners in the field were Indomito, a hard-knocking German runner who was fourth behind Frankel and Excelebration in the Queen Anne (Eng-I) last time out, and Caspar Netscher, an up-and-coming 3-year-old that had captured the Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen-German 2,000 Guineas (Ger-II) earlier this season. Such was the quality of the field that a horse like Cityscape was dismissed at 25-1.
 
At the start it was Elusive Kate that was sent to the lead by Frankie Dettori. Cityscape sat just off her flank in second, with a tightly-bunched group led by Excelebration and Most Improved right behind them.
 
Elusive Kate held on to a slight lead as she continued to hug the rail through the early stages of the race. The rest of the field remained tightly-bunched behind her, as several runners jockeyed for position for the final stretch run. Cityscape raced in second to Elusive Kate's outside, with Soumillon and Excelebration sitting just behind her in third.
 
As the field entered the final two furlongs, both Cityscape and Excelebration drew alongside Elusive Kate and the race was on, as all three horses battled for the lead. With a furlong left to run, Excelebration finally spurted clear of his two rivals and cruised to the wire an easy winner.
 
Cityscape edged Elusive Kate by a neck to take second, with Moonlight Cloud just a head behind that filly in fourth after a trouble-filled trip. 
 
The final time for the eight furlongs was 1:34.60 over the good turf course.
 
After the race Soumillon told reporters, "It was a fantastic chance ride to get. I feel very sorry for Ryan as he was telling me before his fall that he thought the horse would win."
 
Excelebration is owned by the partnership of Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor, who purchased the colt from Giuliano Manfredini after his victory in the Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I) last year.
 
Excelebration was bred in Ireland by Owenstown Stud and is out of the Indian Ridge mare Sun Shower.

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