06/27/2010 12:00AM

O'Brien runners sweep Irish Derby


It was all Aidan O'Brien in the $1.5 million Irish Derby at the Curragh on Sunday as Cape Blanco led home a Ballydoyle one-two-three in the mile and a half classic. Cape Blanco rewarded the faith rider Johnny Murtagh had in having chosen him from among the five Coolmore runners in the race.

The 7-2 Cape Blanco took the lead from stablemate and eventual runner-up, the 9-2 Midas Touch, approaching the furlong pole and held on by a half-length for the victory. Jan Vermeer, sent off at 4-1 after his fourth-place finish in the Epsom Derby, was third, another length back, but the 3-1 favorite Monterosso, running on just 10 days' rest after his Royal Ascot victory in the King Edward VII Stakes, was outpaced late by the trio of O'Briens and finished fourth, two lengths behind Cape Blanco. The time for the race on good to firm ground was 2:28.68.

The victory marked a return to form for Cape Blanco. He had won the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on May 13, defeating subsequent seven-length Epsom Derby winner Workforce by 3 1/4 lengths. Cape Blanco, a Galileo colt, then finished a surprisingly dull 10th as the favorite in the 1 5/16-mile French Derby, but he clearly relished the step up in trip to 12 furlongs.

Murtagh had an extra reason to celebrate Cape Blanco's victory as he had suffered a nasty spill in the first race on the card, tumbling to the ground when his mount Petronius Maximus pitched him off while vying for the lead in a maiden race. Murtagh escaped with some minor bruising and rode all of his remaining mounts.

There was added joy throughout the Ballydoyle camp as this was the fifth consecutive Irish Derby winner trained by O'Brien, the previous four being Dylan Thomas, Soldier of Fortune, Frozen Fire, and Fame and Glory.

A rematch between Cape Blanco and Workforce in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is in the works. That July 24 contest at Ascot is also attracting the attention of Sunday's narrow Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud runner-up Youmzain.

Formosina ends O'Brien's Railway streak

While O'Brien's Irish Derby winning streak remains intact, he was beaten in the Group 2, $123,000 Railway Stakes for the first time since 2004 and for only the second time since 1998 when the Jeremy Noseda-trained British invader Formosina got up on the line to defeat Samuel Morse by a short head. Ridden by Ryan Moore, the 7-2 Formosina covered the six furlongs for 2-year-olds in a stakes record 1:10.77.

Formosina had won his maiden last time out in his second start going six furlongs at Doncaster. A five-furlong listed winner at the Curragh, the O'Brien-trained Samuel Morse had finished fourth most recently behind the highly regarded Strong Suit in Royal Ascot's Group 2 Coventry Stakes. Afterwards, Noseda said that he would aim Formosina to the seven-furlong, Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on July 28.