08/12/2012 4:07PM

France: Excelebration takes advantage of Frankel's absence in Jacques Le Marois at Deauville


Even when Frankel doesn’t participate in a Group 1 one-mile race in Europe, his long shadow falls across the proceedings. Such was the case Sunday at Deauville in France, where Excelebration won a strong renewal of the Group 1 Jacques Le Marois by 1 1/4 lengths over Cityscape.

Excelebration became a multiple Group 1 winner while controlling the deepest one-mile Group 1 of the European flat season, but in two recent starts against Frankel, who has beaten Excelebration six times, Excelebration was handed five- and 11-length defeats. In another year, Excelebration might be the leading miler in the world. This year he is, at best, a distant second.

The Jacques Le Marois being a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Excelebrationed earned a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile as well as travel expenses for the race. Considering Aidan O’Brien trains Excelebration, and that O’Brien runs regularly in Breeders’ Cup races, the colt might well show up in California this fall.

Excelebration got an ideal trip in the straight-course Marois, which was run over a “good” course much less waterlogged than has been the case for much of the Deauville season. Christophe Soumillon rode the winner, replacing Ryan Moore, who missed the mount because of a fall earlier in the day, (Moore is expected to return to action Tuesday). Soumillon positioned his mount just behind pacesetters Cityscape and Elusive Kate. Excelebration moved outside for clear running with about a quarter-mile left in the race, and with Soumillon heartily encouraging, tackled the top pair with about an eighth of a mile to run. Excelebration – surely ecstatic not to see Frankel’s hindquarters churning far in front of him – ran on gamely, edging clear for the biggest win of his career and O’Brien’s first in the Marois.

Cityscape beat Elusive Kate for second by a neck, while Moonlight Cloud was an unlucky fourth, rallying well on the far outside in the late going. Caspar Netscher ran the best race of his life to get fifth, while Golden Lilac (7th), Immortal Verse (8th), and Fallen for You (10th) all disappointed.

O'Brien wins at the Curragh, too

Favored Cristoforo Colombo, trained by Aidan O’Brien, clipped heels and fell with about a furlong left in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes on Sunday at the Curragh in Ireland, but O’Brien won anyway. Pedro the Great scored a 2 1/2-length victory over Leitir Mor in the six-furlong race for 2-year-olds.

Cristoforo Colombo was reported to have suffered no more than a cut on his leg, while jockey Joseph O’Brien also apparently escaped serious injury.