07/01/2017 3:10PM

Capri gives O'Brien his 12th Irish Derby victory


The deck keeps getting shuffled, but Aidan O’Brien still holds all the right cards.

O’Brien upset the Epsom Derby last month with longshot bomber Wings of Eagles, who beat his better-fancied stablemate Cliffs of Moher. On Saturday, it was Wings of Eagles who was favored in the Group 1, $977,652 Irish Derby, but O’Brien won it with Capri, who was ridden at The Curragh by Seamie Heffernan.

Capri, a 6-1 shot overseas, had been sixth in the Epsom Derby but got a perfect trip under Heffernan and just held off Cracksman and Wings of Eagles on Saturday. Cracksman finished second by a neck and was a nose better than Wings of Eagles. Waldgeist, the second favorite, finished fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Wings of Eagles. The winning time for the 1 1/2 miles over yielding turf was 2:35.45.

It was the 12th Irish Derby win for O’Brien, whose five runners in the race held the top five positions for much of the running. O’Brien’s first Irish Derby win came 20 years ago with Desert King.

The Anvil served as a pacemaker Saturday under Anna O’Brien, opening up a considerable lead in the early stages while pursued by Douglas Macarthur on the outside and Capri on the inside. The ground along the inside looked superior during Saturday’s card, and by the time Heffernan steered off it to go around The Anvil, the field had swung into the straightaway and was going for home.

Wings of Eagles and Ryan Moore also had raced along the fence for much of the trip, but they had to come a few paths wide to make their move, while Cracksman, a good third at Epsom, was even wider under Patrick Smullen after racing from sixth position halfway through. Cracksman and Wings of Eagles both were going well in the final furlong, but Capri stayed on just well enough to nail down the victory, his fourth from nine starts but his first as a 3-year-old.

Capri, by Galileo and out of Dialafara, by Anabaa, won three races in a row as a 2-year-old, including the Group 2 Beresford over heavy ground at The Curragh. He had finished fourth, third, and sixth in his three starts this year before breaking through at the highest level Saturday.

O’Brien said after the race there are no set plans for Capri, even suggesting he could be given a break to point for a fall campaign.