07/31/2010 10:20AM

Midday repeats in Nassau after stewards take no action in inquiry

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Midday successfully defended her Nassau Stakes title at Goodwood on Saturday, taking the Group 1, $312,000 race by 1 1/4 lengths over 2009 French Oaks winner Stacelita, but not until she was exonerated for alleged interference at a stewards’ inquiry, the first to be televised in the history of British racing.

The Henry Cecil-trained Midday tracked Barshiba’s slow pace in third with Stacelita between them, but it was Midday who pounced for the lead at the quarter pole. She went quickly clear but Stacelita was not done yet. Christophe Soumillon angled out Stacelita and she actually grabbed a brief lead approaching the sixteenth pole, but Midday reasserted herself while drifting out a bit and causing Stacelita to check as she held on for second by a length from Antara. It was three quarters of a length back to Strawberrydaiquiri in fourth. Rosanara, a supplementary entry and this year’s French Oaks runner-up, trailed home last of seven. The time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:07.25 on good to firm ground.

Winning rider Tom Queally was the star of the televised inquiry as he asserted quite clearly that the 15-8 favorite Midday had not caused any interference that might have cost the 9-2 Stacelita the race. With the result official, the 4-year-old Midday, owned by Juddmonte Farms, earned her third Group 1 victory. Last year, she had beaten Rainbow View by 2 1/2 lengths in the Nassau, later winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf by a length from Pure Clan.

Both Midday and Stacelita are on course for a rematch in this year’s Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs, but they will take different paths to get there. Cecil, who does not want to run his filly on ground that is too hard, will send Midday in the 1 1/2-mile Yorkshire Oaks at York on Aug. 19, while trainer Jean-Claude Rouget is aiming the Martin Schwartz-owned Stacelita at the 1 1/4-mile Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp on Arc Day, Oct. 3.

The Nassau Stakes has become a key pointer for the Filly and Mare Turf as Islington won the 2002 edition a year before her Cup victory at Santa Anita. In 2006, Ouija Board won the Nassau a few months before landing her second Filly and Mare Turf at Lone Star Park.