09/07/2013 2:40PM

Irish Champion Stakes: The Fugue outfinishes Al Kazeem at Leopardstown


Four-year-old filly The Fugue, winning her first big race against males, overhauled pace-setting Trading Leather and outfinished Al Kazeem to win the Group 1 $570,000 Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday at Leopardstown.

The Fugue, trained by John Gosden for Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and ridden by William Buick, waited near the back of the pack in the early stages of the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion as Trading Leather roared off to a long lead. Buick and the filly took closer order midway through the race and came down the middle of the homestretch with better acceleration than Al Kazeem could muster to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Al Kazeem, racing over the sort of rain-softened turf he reportedly prefers, did not appear to produce a performance quite on par with his best Group 1 victories from earlier this season, but ran well enough to finish two lengths in front of Group 1-winning 3-year-old Trading Leather for second.

Declaration of War, one of the favorites, was scratched by trainer Aidan O’Brien partway through the Leopardstown card, reportedly because of wet conditions. O’Brien’s remaining runner, Kingsbarns, making the first start of his 3-year-old season, was eased across the finish after being taken out of the real running about halfway through the Irish Champion by jockey Joseph O’Brien.

The Fugue, by Dansili and out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Twyla Tharp, won for the fifth time in 12 races and earned a fees-paid berth with travel expenses to the Breeders’ Cup Turf through the BC Win and You’re In program. The Fugue could race in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Champion Stakes this fall and stands a decent chance of going on to a Breeders’ Cup race at Santa Anita, where she finished a troubled third in the 2012 BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Earlier on the Leopardstown card, Australia, an O’Brien-trained 2-year-old, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Trial, another BC Win and You’re In race. O’Brien has won the last two editions of the BC Juvenile Turf.

Longshot La Collina scored a half-length win over Lily’s Angel and Say in the Group 1 Matron for fillies and mares.

* In England, Gordon Lord Byron delivered a powerful performance to win the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock by three lengths over Slade Power. A 5-year-old Ireland-based horse trained by Tom Hogan, Gordon Lord Byron came to prominence winning the Group 1 Prix de la Foret last fall in France, and the Sprint Cup was his first important victory of 2013.