07/30/2017 2:04PM

Roly Poly wins second straight Group I with Prix Rothschild


Roly Poly struggled to find herself this spring, but she is rolling now. At Deauville Racecourse on Sunday she won her second straight Group 1 by beating older female rivals in the Prix Rothschild.

Roly Poly benefited from an 8-pound weight break from her older foes but was dead game under Ryan Moore, nicking fellow 3-year-old Via Ravenna by a head after losing the lead about a furlong from the finish. The straight-course, one-mile Rothschild produced a blanket finish with Via Ravenna a nose in front of Siyoushake, who was a head better than race favorite and 2016 Rothschild winner Qemah.

A homebred by War Front out of Play Misty For me, by Galileo, Roly Poly is trained by Aidan O’Brien for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier. She was an advanced and active 2-year-old, winning her debut in April 2016, the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes in July, and completing an eight-start campaign with a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.

That 2-year-old finale coupled with seventh- and eighth-place finishes to start her 2017 campaign hinted Roly Poly might merely have been a precocious horse, but that’s not the case. Roly Poly improved to finish second behind stablemate Winter in the Group 1 Irish Oaks and the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, the latter race on the firmer going she appears to prefer.

She then beat elders in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, but the Rothschild field appeared deeper and stronger. Breaking alertly, Roly Poly went right up to contest the pace as the field broke into two groups, the eventual top three finishers in the bunch nearer the stand’s side rail. The two groups merged about three-sixteenths of a mile from the finish, and after engaging Usherette on the front end, Roly Poly was passed at the furlong grounds by Siyoushake.

But Roly Poly, having disposed of Usherette, turned her attention to Siyoushake, got back on terms with her at the sixteenth pole and had just enough left to hold off a late surge from Via Ravenna.

Roly Poly appears to prefer staying on top of the course, and racing over good ground Sunday she was timed in 1:36.45. The Andre Fabre-trained Via Ravenna ran the best race of her career, while Qemah was a tough-luck loser. Away slowly and a little too keen, Qemah tried to come between horses about a quarter-mile out, but lost her path when a horse came out, and had to be rerouted to the outside fence, where she was slightly short of room before finishing with good energy.