07/26/2009 11:00PM

O'Brien wins Phoenix for 10th time


Aidan O'Brien did what comes naturally to him on Sunday, winning the Group 1, $319,000 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh for the 10th time in the last 12 years with Alfred Nobel. The 5-4 Danehill Dancer colt slogged his way through heavy ground to defeat his Ballydoyle stablemate Air Chief Marshal by a half-length, taking 1:20.32 to travel the swampy six furlongs.

Johnny Murtagh brought Alfred Nobel, the winner of the Group 3 Railway Stakes, from last to first in the eight-runner field, outdueling the 33-1 Air Chief Marshal, who was ridden by O'Brien's 16-year-old son Joseph. The filly Walk On Bye, who had beaten colts in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes in her last outing, was along for third, beaten three lengths in all as the 11-8 second choice.

Even O'Brien, who has won the Phoenix with subsequent Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Johannesburg, 2000 Guineas winner George Washngton and Irish 2000 Guineas winner Mastercraftsman, was impressed with Alfred Nobel's victory in the quagmire, noting, "Not many horses can do that. He looks a real good one."

With that in mind, Alfred Nobel will be aimed at a pair of seven-furlong Group 1 races later this year, the National Stakes at the Curragh on Sept. 13, and the Prix Jean Luc-Lagardere at Longchamp on Oct. 4.

Special Duty beats Siyouni

Siyouni lost for the first time in four starts at Maisons-Laffitte on Sunday when he failed as the 1-2 favorite in the Group 2, $184,000 Prix Robert Papin, going down to the filly Special Duty by 1 1/2 lengths. Trained by Criquette Head-Maarek for Khalid Abdullah, the 7.50-1 Special Duty pressed the pace under Stehane Pasquier in the 5 1/2-furlong juvenile dash, led approaching the eighth pole, and was ridden out to hold Siyouni safe with Dolled Up taking third place. The winning time on good to soft ground was 1:04.40.

Second in her July 4 Deauville debut in the Prix Yacowlef, a five-furlong listed race restricted to first-time starters, Special Duty is a British-bred daughter of Hennessy. Head said that she will return to Deauville for her next start in the six-furlong, Group 1 Prix Morny on Aug. 22, when she is likely to face Siyouni again, as well as Sorciere, the 1 1/2-length winner of the Yacowlef.