06/03/2011 12:02PM

English Oaks: Front-running Dancing Rain pulls off 20-1 upset


Dancing Rain, the lone front-runner in a field of 13, held off a late threat from Wonder of Wonders to pull a 20-1 upset in Friday’s English Oaks at Epsom Downs, giving jockey Johnny Murtagh his first Oaks win.

The day was one to forget for the world-class jockey Frankie Dettori. He rode 9-4 favorite Blue Bunting to a fourth-place finish, but was slapped with a 10-day suspension after he eased down his mount in the final strides and was nipped for third by the 25-1 shot Izzi Top.

Dancing Rain, an Irish-bred filly by Danehill Dancer, made just her fourth start in the English Oaks. Murtagh had Dancing Rain about five lengths clear of the trailing pack in the race over 1 1/2 miles on turf and gave the filly a strong ride to prevail by three-quarters of a length through the uphill finish. Wonder of Wonders, the 3-1 second choice, finished four lengths clear of Izzi Top.

Dancing Rain has won 2 of 4 starts for trainer William Haggas. She beat maidens in her 2011 debut in April and was second to Izzi Top in the Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury on May 13.

Dettori’s suspension runs from June 17 to June 26, and covers the final two days of Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby.

◗ Earlier on the program, St. Nicholas Abbey won his first Grade 1 since October 2009 in the Coronation Cup, catching Midday, the winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Ryan Moore, St. Nicholas Abbey stalked pacesetter Dandino for the first mile of the race over about 1 1/4 miles, and needed a strong rally to catch Midday, who led took the lead with two furlongs remaining.

St. Nicholas Abbey, the even-money favorite, won by a length over Midday, who was sent off at 5-4. Clowance finished third in the field of five.

St. Nicholas Abbey races for Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and John Magnier and is trained by Aidan O’Brien. A 4-year-old Irish-bred colt by Montjeu, St. Nicholas Abbey has won 5 of 7 starts. The Coronation Cup was his fourth career stakes win, and first at the highest level since the 2009 Racing Post Trophy.

O’Brien said the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 23 could be St. Nicholas Abbey’s next start.

◗ At Maisons-Laffitte in France, Zingwella, the winner of a maiden race over 2 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park in April, could only finish fourth in a field of five in a conditions race over 5 1/2 furlongs.

Ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez for trainer Wesley Ward, Zingwella was beaten three lengths as the 7-10 favorite. Ward has had five winners in Europe this spring.