09/30/2017 1:45PM

Roaring Lion earns spot in BC Juvenile Turf with Royal Lodge win

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Roaring Lion’s narrow win Saturday at Newmarket in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes for 2-year-olds made him undefeated in three starts, earned him a fees-paid automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and got him on the scoreboard in the new European Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Trained by John Gosden for Qatar Racing Limited, Roaring Lion’s connections are likely to take advantage of winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race, which also provides travel expenses to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar. Roaring Lion already was listed as a possible starter in the Juvenile Turf, a race mentioned again as a target after his Royal Lodge win.

Roaring Lion also earned 10 points in the European Road to the Derby, a series of seven European races that began with the Beresford Stakes on Sept. 24 at Naas Racecourse in Ireland, a race won by Delano Roosevelt. As with the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, which was created for the 2017 Derby, the horse accumulating the most points in the series whose connections desire to run in the Kentucky Derby is eligible for a slot in the 20-horse Derby field. The four 2017 races for 2-year-olds in the series award points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers. Nelson was second in the Royal Lodge, Mildenberger third, and Petrus fourth.

The one-mile, straight-course Royal Lodge marked Roaring Lion’s stakes debut, and a furlong and a half from the finish it appeared he’d win it easily. But after getting to the front over Nelson, Roaring Lion lugged to the left, allowing Nelson to counter-attack, and the winning margin wound up just a neck. The top pair was almost two lengths clear of third, with Roaring Lion clocking 1:39.56 over good-to-soft going. Oisin Murphy rode Roaring Lion, a son of Kitten’s Joy out of the Street Sense mare Vionnet.

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O’Brien lands two more Group 1's

Aidan O’Brien pushed closer to Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Grade 1 or Group 1 wins in a season when he sent out winners in both the Group 1 2-year-old sprints on Saturday at Newmarket. Favored Clemmie looked especially promising winning the Cheveley Park for fillies, while O’Brien landed a one-two punch in the Middle Park with U S Navy Flag and Fleet Review.

Clemmie, whose six-furlong straight-course time of 1:12 in the Cheveley Park was .44 faster than US Flag’s in the Middle Park, has now won three races in a row after finishing third and seventh in her first two starts. O’Brien did think enough of her from the start to race Clemmie in the Group 2 Albany Stakes as a maiden. Clemmie finished seventh of 20 in the Albany, but since has won the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes at The Curragh and the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket before her Group 1 success Saturday. Clemmie had been scratched from the Moyglare Stud Stakes on Sept. 10 at The Curragh because of heavy ground.

Clemmie and Ryan Moore raced near the front in the Cheveley Park, challenged French invader Different League for the lead a furlong out, and drew smartly away from that rival to win by 1 3/4 lengths. O’Brien said afterward he’d had the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in mind for Clemmie even before the Cheveley Park, and the one-mile race at Del Mar appears to be Clemmie’s next start. Clemmie is by Galileo out of Meow, making her a full sister to the multiple Group 1-winning 3-year-old Churchill.

U S Navy Flag already was making his ninth start of the year in the Middle Park, and after winning only one of his first seven races, U S Navy Flag now has won two straight Group races over six furlongs. Under Seamie Heffernan, U S Navy Flag raced prominently throughout the Middle Park, making the lead about a furlong from the finish and holding clear his longshot stablemate Fleet Review.

U S Navy Flag, by War Front and out of Misty for Me, by Galileo, could make still another start this fall in the Dewhurst Stakes, O’Brien said. Sioux Nation, Moore’s choice among the O’Brien runners, didn’t appear comfortable over the soft going and checked in sixth. Both he and fifth-place Beckford have been mentioned as possible runners in the BC Juvenile Turf.