09/10/2017 2:41PM

Caravaggio, Happily win stakes in Ireland to qualify for Breeders' Cup


Caravaggio and Happily won group stakes at The Curragh in Ireland on Sunday to earn automatic berths in Breeders’ Cup races at Del Mar on Nov. 3-4. They were two of three group stakes winners on the eight-race card for trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Caravaggio won the Group 2 Flying Five Stakes at five furlongs to earn a berth in the BC Turf Sprint at the same distance Nov. 4. Happily won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs to earn a spot in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at a mile Nov. 3.

O’Brien told the press that Caravaggio is a prospect for the BC Turf Sprint, but the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot on Oct. 21 is another possibility. Happily may run in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly, France, on Oct. 1 or the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, England, on Oct. 13. Those races are early enough in October that a start in the Breeders’ Cup would still be possible.

Caravaggio, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred by Scat Daddy, ended a two-race losing streak and won for the seventh time in nine starts in the $361,170 Flying Five Stakes on soft-to-heavy turf. Ridden by Ryan Moore, Caravaggio (the 10-11 favorite) closed from eighth in a field of 11 to finish a length in front of 50-1 stablemate Alphabet.

The Flying Five Stakes was Caravaggio’s fifth group stakes win, all at five to six furlongs.

Caravaggio is owned by the Coolmore team of Sue Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor, who also own Happily, a filly by Galileo. Happily (13-2) led a sweep of the first three finishers in the Moyglare Stud Stakes for those owners and O’Brien, with Magical (9-4) and September (4-1) running second and third.

O’Brien had four of the eight fillies in the Moyglare Stud and did not start Clemmie, who was favored in the betting as of Saturday. She was withdrawn because of soft turf.

Happily, who was ridden by O’Brien’s son, Donnacha, took the lead in the final strides to win by a short head over Magical, who was 3 3/4 lengths clear of September. Alpha Centauri, the 2-1 favorite, faded in the final furlong to finish sixth.

Happily has won 3 of 5 starts. The Moyglare Stud Stakes was her Group 1 debut.

In other Group 1 stakes at The Curragh on Sunday, the O’Brien-trained Order of St George won the $601,950 Irish St. Leger for the second time in his career, and Verbal Dexterity won the $421,365 National Stakes for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs.

Order of St George, a 5-year-old by Galileo, cruised to a nine-length win in the Irish St. Leger Stakes at 1 3/4 miles under Moore. The 14-1 shot Torcedor finished second in the field of 10.

Order of St George won the 2015 Irish St. Leger and was second last year to Wicklow Brave, who could only finish fourth this year. O’Brien said Order of St George may start in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at 1 1/2 miles at Chantilly on Oct. 1 or the Melbourne Cup at two miles at Flemington Racecourse in Australia on Nov. 7.

Verbal Dexterity is bound for the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at seven furlongs at Newmarket on Oct. 14 after his win in the National Stud Stakes at odds of 5-2. Ridden by Kevin Manning, Verbal Dexterity finished 3 1/2 lengths in front of Beckford, the 3-2 favorite, in the field of seven.

Verbal Dexterity has won 2 of 3 starts. The National Stud Stakes was his first stakes win for trainer Jim Bolger.