05/01/2016 2:17PM

Minding heads one-two-three sweep for O'Brien in English 1000 Guineas


Chicken one day, feathers the next, or, as in the case of trainer Aidan O’Brien’s fortunes in the Guineas races this weekend at Newmarket, England, vice versa.

A day after the O’Brien-trained Air Force Blue bombed as the heavy favorite in the 2000 Guineas, O’Brien not only won the English 1000 Guineas with Minding, he swept the top three placings when Ballydoyle rallied for second in front of Alice Springs on Sunday.

Minding, like Air Force Blue, was heavily favored, but unlike Air Force Blue, who never was much involved, Minding raced prominently from the start. Minding broke sharply under Ryan Moore and, racing in the middle of a spread-out field as the fillies began racing down the straight-course mile, she held a forward position behind pacesetting Lumiere. Perfectly content with his placement, Moore sat patiently until about a quarter-mile remained, and when he asked Minding for run, she quickly delivered. Minding opened daylight on her rivals stride by stride, and crossed the finish 3 1/2 lengths to the good.

O’Brien’s second home, Ballydoyle, had messier passage. Away somewhat awkwardly, she wound up last while hemmed along the stands’ side rail, lacking room for much of the trip. Finally able to split horses, Ballydoyle finished with good energy and was up for second by a half-length over Alice Springs, who traveled one-paced across the finish. The longshot Fireglow finished a neck farther back in fourth, as Minding stopped the timer in 1:36.53 over “good” going.

It was O’Brien’s third Guineas win following Homecoming Queen in 2012 and Virginia Waters in 2013, and Minding seems likely to next contest the Investec Oaks next month at Epsom. Minding, bred in Ireland and owned by the Coolmore connections, is by Galileo and out of the mare Lillie Langtry. An excellent 2-year-old, Minding won her third Group 1 race Sunday while running her career record to 6-4-2-0.

Usherette aces stakes test

After two easy wins to start her 2016 campaign, Godolphin’s homebred 4-year-old filly Usherette was stepped up to group stakes competition Sunday and passed her test with high marks.

Held up in midpack by jockey Mickael Barzalona, Usherette stormed home to win the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes by a length over the high-quality filly Arabian Queen, who had vanquished Derby- Arc winner Golden Horn in the Juddmonte International last summer.

Arabian Queen set a moderate pace and looked a likely winner a quarter-mile out before Usherette ran her down. It was 4 1/2 lengths farther back to Amazing Maria in fourth, with Irish Rookie fifth and favored Jazzi Top seventh in her 4-year-old bow.

Usherette, trained by Andre Fabre, won her first two starts at 3 before finishing seventh in the Prix Rothschild when first tried in stakes competition, but she’s clearly talented and if able to maintain her current trajectory seems destined for Group 1 success this season.

France: Dariyan takes Ganay

The 4-year-old Dariyan, flattering the form of the Sheema Classic in Dubai, won his first Group 1capturing the Prix Ganay on Sunday at Saint-Cloud in France.

Ridden to victory by Christophe Soumillon for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre and owner the Aga Khan, Dariyan had last been seen finishing sixth March 27 in the Sheema Classic, won sharply by Postponed, but facing lesser competition Sunday he burst to the lead with a little more than a furlong left and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Silverwave.