06/02/2017 12:03PM

Enable more than able in Epsom Oaks victory


Enable turned away the heavily favored Rhododendron in the final quarter-mile and pulled clear through driving rain to win the Group 1 Epsom Oaks by five lengths on Friday at Epsom Downs in England.

Enable gave jockey Frankie Dettori his fourth Oaks win, while trainer John Gosden won the race for the second time in four years, having taken the 2014 edition with Taghrooda. Alluringly finished a distant third, giving trainer Aidan O’Brien the place and show horses, though perhaps small consolation for Rhododendron’s sound defeat.

O’Brien’s runners for the Oaks card barely arrived from Ireland in time to start after the plane carrying them to England began spilling gas, delaying departure by four hours.

Things went even worse for trainer Kenny McPeek. The filly he sent for the Oaks, Daddys Lil Darling, became unhinged during the warm-up period for the Oaks, running off with jockey Olivier Peslier, who in the interest of self-preservation dismounted with Daddys Lil Darling still in full stride. Peslier escaped serious injury, as did Daddys Lil Darling, according to McPeek, but the filly was scratched.

A storm moved over the racecourse shortly before post time, causing prerace lightning that might have set off Daddys Lil Darling followed by a pelting rain that came shortly before the gates opened. When they did, it was Pocketfullofdreams, a pacemaker for Rhododendron, who set out for the lead while going along at a strong pace. Sobetsu tracked the leader, followed by Enable and Rhododendron. After coming past Tattenham Corner into the race’s final half-mile, the real battle began.

Sobetsu attacked the pacemaker first, but Rhododendron on the outside and Enable along the inside quickly went past her, those two fillies coming together and racing side by side for close to a quarter-mile. By the furlong grounds, it was clear that Enable was doing the better work, and she steadily kicked clear of Rhododendron until she and Dettori were alone at the finish.

It was six lengths from Rhododendron back to Alluringly in third and another 3 3/4 lengths to fourth-place Horseplay in a spread-out field. The final time for the 1 1/2 miles on ground still rated “good” was 2.34.13.

Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, Enable is a daughter of Nathaniel, whom Gosden trained to multiple Group 1 wins in 2011, including a victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile race in July to which Enable could be pointed. Enable, who could also run in the Irish Oaks, her trainer said, would get a massive weight break from older male rivals in the King George.

Produced by the Sadler’s Wells mare Concentric, Enable had one quiet all-weather-surface run at age 2 and was making her group-level stakes debut after winning the Cheshire Oaks on May 10. She already was very good on Friday and might have even better racing ahead of her.

Highland Reel start to finish in Coronation

Highland Reel took the lead at the start of the Group 1 Coronation Cup and never gave it up, turning back a midstretch challenge from Hawkbill, then holding clear a late move from Hawkbill’s stablemate Frontiersman to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Hawkbill faded to finish 3 1/2 lengths behind Frontiersman, as second choice Journey, ring-rusty in her 2017 debut, finished fifth.

Highland Reel, with jockey Ryan Moore aboard, ran 1 1/2 miles on the “good” course in 2:33.34 and gamely prevailed as the race favorite. Aidan O’Brien trains Highland Reel for owners Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor, and what a ride Highland Reel has given his connections.

His win Friday ran his record to eight wins from 22 starts, and Highland Reel, a 5-year-old son of Galileo and the Danehill mare Hveger, has captured Group 1 races at Arlington, Ascot, Sha Tin in Hong Kong, and at Santa Anita, where he led all the way in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last fall. He also finished second last fall to stablemate Found in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and rebounded smartly Friday from a last-of-seven finish over turf softer than he handles in the $6 million Sheema Classic on the Dubai World Cup card.