09/11/2009 11:00PM

Godolphin runs 1-2 in classic at Doncaster


Godolphin mastered the Group 1, $830,000 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday as the 14-1 Mastery outdueled his favored 9-4 stablemate Kite Wood in the 1 3/4-mile, 132-yard classic.

In delivering a fifth St. Leger triumph to the blazingly hot Godolphin team and a sixth to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, Mastery was taking advantage of good-to-firm ground that had helped him win the 1 3/8-mile Italian Derby on May 9. In victory, the son of Arlington Million winner Sulamani proved just a bit more game than Kite Wood, who had taken the lead at the five-sixteenths pole under Frankie Dettori, who was seeking his sixth St. Leger win. Ted Durcan grabbed a narrow lead aboard the winner 100 yards from home, only to have Kite Wood regain the front spot briefly before Mastery asserted himself late for a three-quarter-length victory. Monitor Closely, winner of the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes, closed well for third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Mastery, who was timed in 3:04.81.

Coolmore's Ebor Handicap winner Changingoftheguard failed to handle this step up in class to classic Group 1 company. Sent off as the 3-2 second choice, he faded to finish sixth, beaten nearly six lengths for all the money.

Rather surprisingly, this was the first British classic victory for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin since Rule of Law's St. Leger victory in 2004, although the boys in blue had won both the French 2000 Guineas and the French Derby in 2005 with Shamardal. No plans were announced for Mastery after the race, but the Breeders' Cup Turf, which was won last year by St. Leger victor Conduit, must be under consideration given his preference for firm ground.

* Godolphin dominated St. Leger Day as their Poet's Voice landed the Group 2, $166,000 Champagne Stakes for juvenile colts and geldings. So impressive was the British-bred son of Dubawi in leading throughout for a three-quarter-length victory over Coolmore's Viscount Nelson, that winning rider Dettori compared him to Dubai Millennium, the horse Sheikh Mohammed considers the best he has ever owned. The 11-8 choice, who was only third in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York last time, covered the straight seven furlongs in 1:24.91 and is being considered for either the seven-furlong Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Oct. 4 or the Dewhurst Stakes over the same distance at Newmarket on Oct. 17.