08/11/2007 12:00AM

Douglas gets a Festival win


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rene Douglas long has been the top jockey at Arlington Park, but when many of the world's top riders came to town for the International Festival of Racing, he has played second fiddle. So after Douglas gave Royal Highness a textbook ride Saturday to narrowly win the Grade 1 Beverly D., his kiss to the crowd and his wave of the whip shortly after he passed the wire carried added emphasis.

In a 1 3/16-mile turf race that unfolded in peculiar fashion - the expected front-runner and 2-1 favorite, Citronnade, was nowhere near an early pace set by longshot Jennie R. - Douglas allowed Royal Highness to settle in fifth in the field of seven fillies and mares. Leaving the half-mile pole, Royal Highness began gaining steadily while saving ground, and after turning into the stretch, the German-bred mare angled out and suddenly found herself in striking distance, with Irridescence the one to run down.

"Turning for home, I knew my chances were really, really big," said Douglas, who never had won any of the International Festival of Racing events. "But when I got to the other filly, she wouldn't give up. My filly really ran big to win."

Royal Highness, owned by the Monceaux Stable of Lucien Urano, returned $20.40 and earned $450,000 from a $750,000 purse after finishing in 1:56.68 over a course rated good. Lady of Venice finished another 2 1/2 lengths behind Irridescence in third, followed by Citronnade, Jennie R., Honey Ryder, and Lahudood.

Citronnade, ridden by David Flores, was away a bit slowly from her rail post and never recovered. After that, "she just wasn't that comfortable with the track," said Flores.

Honey Ryder, the 2-1 second choice, "was struggling to keep up," said jockey Garrett Gomez, and was never a threat.

Royal Highness, a 5-year-old mare by Monsun, was imported last fall after being trained in France by Pascal Bary. She now has won 2 of 5 starts in North America, and 4 of 14 overall.

As part of the new Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" series, victory in the Beverly D. gives Royal Highness an automatic berth in the $2 million BC Filly and Mare Turf on Oct. 27, but the mare still would have to be supplemented to the race for a 9 percent fee, or $180,000.

The victory was the second in the Beverly D. for trainer Christophe Clement, following the 2001 win by England's Legend.