07/21/2012 1:14PM

Ascot: Danedream up by a nose to take Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes


The German filly Danedream’s first longshot victory in a major European race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last fall, came in a romp, but her second, on Saturday at Ascot in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, came down to a head bob, with Danedream beating the race’s gallant 2011 winner Nathaniel by a nose.

Danedream and Nathaniel hit the finish wire together after racing 1 1/2 miles, the photo too close to call with the naked eye. But a few minutes later, jockey Andrasch Starke elatedly raised his arms as he led his triumphant 4-year-old filly toward the winner’s enclosure.

The King George being a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Danedream earned an automatic fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf, a race her connections passed in 2011, instead sending Danedream to the Japan Cup, where she finished sixth.

Operating in a vacuum, there was no doubt Danedream had the requisite quality to capture the King George. Her five-length Arc win had been breathtaking, and in her previous start she had demolished Group 1 rivals in the Grosser Preis von Baden while racing over even wetter and more testing going than the good-to-soft ground Danedream encountered Saturday in her first journey to England. But after a useful comeback run in Germany to start her 2012 campaign, Danedream had turned in a flat performance finishing last of four June 24 in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

It took about one mile Saturday to see Danedream had gotten back on form. Racing mid-pack as the Aidan O’Brien-trained rabbit Robin Hood belatedly took over his pace-making duties from Dunaden, Danedream merely held her position during the early stages of the King George, but when Starke asked her to move into a contending position running round the race’s one right-handed turn, she did so willingly. And when, in the stretch run, Nathaniel set sail for home, briefly seizing command of the running, Danedream went with him. The filly slowly whittled away Nathaniel’s advantage over the final furlong, tagging him at the finishing post.

St. Nicholas Abbey, the 2011 BC Turf winner, was left with too much to do in the stretch but rallied strongly to edge Reliable Man for third. Well backed Sea Moon was fifth, followed by Dunaden, Brown Panther, Japanese invader Deep Brillante, Masked Marvel, and Robin Hood. Winning time for the 12 furlongs was 2:31.62.

Peter Schiergen trains Danedream, a German-bred Lomitas filly, for owners Gestut Burg Eberstein and Teruya Yoshida, who purchased an interest in the filly last fall. Danedream took home a first-place prize of almost $886,000 for her victory, her seventh win from 16 starts and fourth in Group 1 competition.

◗ Earlier on the card, Fanunalter upset the Group 2 Summer Mile, where highly regarded Carlton House could only finish in a dead heat for fourth.