10/01/2017 1:24PM

Rhododendron, Hydrangea give O'Brien exacta sweep in Prix de l’Opera


Rhododendron and Hydrangea gave trainer Aidan O’Brien a sweep of the exacta in Sunday’s Group 1 Prix de l’Opera for fillies and mares at Chantilly, France.

O’Brien said afterward that both 3-year-old fillies are candidates for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 4. Rhododendron earned a fees-paid berth for the BC Filly and Mare Turf through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program with the victory.

Rhododendron, second to Arc winner Enable in the English Oaks in June,  won the $472,520 Prix de l’Opera at 1 1/4 miles by a head at 9-1. Hydrangea, the 4-1 second choice, finished a neck in front of 39-1 Lady Frankel.

The disappointment in the field was Shamreen, the 4-1 favorite, who faded to finish last of 12 in the final quarter-mile. Queen’s Trust, who won the BC Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last November, finished eighth.

Rhododendron, who was ridden by Seamie Heffernan, was always near the front and took the lead with more than a furlong remaining. She was challenged in the final furlong by Hydrangea, but kept an advantage.

By Galileo, Rhododendron has won 4 of 10 starts for the Coolmore team of Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor. The Prix de l’Opera was her second Group 1 win. She won the Fillies’ Mile for 2-year-olds at Newmarket, England, last year.

There were two Group 1 sprints at the end of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: the $413,455 Prix de l’Abbaye at five furlongs and the $354,390 Prix de la Foret at seven furlongs.

Battaash (3-1) won his fourth stakes of the year, and first Group 1, with a frontrunning performance in the Prix de l’Abbaye. Ridden by Jim Crowley for Charles Hills, Battaash scored a four-length win over Marsha, the 2-1 favorite.

Marsha, a 4-year-old filly, won the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at five furlongs at York Racecourse in England on Aug. 25. Battaash, a 3-year-old gelding owned by Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, was fourth in the Nunthorpe.

In the Prix de la Foret, Aclaim won his second consecutive stakes for trainer Martyn Meade and owner Canning Downs. Ridden by Oisin Murphy, Aclaim (3-1) overcame trouble in the final quarter-mile to win by three-quarters of a length over 32-1 So Beloved, who is trained by David O’Meara. Karar, an 8-1 shot, finished third.

Aclaim, a 4-year-old by Acclamation, won the Group 2 Park Stakes at seven furlongs at Doncaster, England, on Sept. 16.

The Prix de la Foret was a first Group 1 win for Meade, who is based in Newmarket, England.