- DRF Bets
- Handicapping & PPsHorsemen's ProductsReports
Access past performances
- The Wizard
- DRF Gameplan
- Quick Sheets
- DRF Picks
- Today's Racing Digest
- Key Race Report
- Positive ROI Report
- Moss Pace Figure Reports
- Debut Reports
Racing and Wagering InformationTools
- DRF EasyForm PPs
- DRF Classic PDF PPs
- DRF Formulator PPs
- DRF HarnessEye PPs
- DRF Daily Harness Program PPs
- Daily Racing Program PPs
- NewsCategoriesTrack Reports
- StorePast Performances
- Compare all DRF PPs
- DRF Formulator PPs
- DRF Classic PPs
- DRF EasyForm PPs
- Daily Racing Program PPs
- See all Pricing/Plans
Updated on 09/17/2012 1:56PM
St. Leger Stakes: Encke denies Camelot a sweep of English Triple Crown
By Jay Hovdey
DONCASTER, England – The cheers that greeted Derby and 2000 Guineas winner Camelot as he loped past the finish post on his way to the start for Saturday’s classic St. Leger Stakes turned to stunned mumbles some 10 minutes later, after chances for the first English Triple Crown winner in 42 years went down by three-quarters of a length at the hands of the 25-1 longshot Encke carrying Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin blue.
Before a sellout crowd of more than 31,000 at Doncaster, bathed in warm, sunny Yorkshire weather after three days of clouds and rain, Camelot was attempting to emulate the Triple Crown success of Nijinsky in 1970 and 13 others before him in sweeping the English 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby, and the St. Leger.
But whether or not the pace was false or the trip unlucky or the journey of about 14 1/2 furlongs just too far, the odds-on Camelot ended up second best to a horse he outclassed badly on paper, and now must be listed alongside Cotherstone (1843) and Ladas (1894) as colts who finished second in the St. Leger – a race first run in 1776 – after winning the first two jewels in the crown.
Aidan O’Brien, Camelot’s trainer, was kicking himself afterward for not entering a pacemaker that he felt would have assured a quicker run through the first half of the race. As it was, Camelot found himself at the back of the nine runners on a modest pace with Main Sequence, who had missed the break.
“That’s exactly where I would have wanted him to be going this distance,” O’Brien said. “My first thought though was that it was a steadily run race after going a couple of furlongs, and Joseph couldn’t do anything about it.”
O’Brien was referring to jockey Joseph O’Brien, the trainer’s 18-year-old son, who was too distraught in defeat immediately after the race to deal with the press. That left most of the talking to Mikael Barzalona, Encke’s jockey, who at age 21 was winning his second English classic after taking the 2011 Epsom Derby aboard Pour Moi.
Barzalona, who upset the Dubai World Cup with Monterosso earlier this year, gets high marks for taking the race to Camelot when the serious running began halfway down the long Doncaster stretch.
At that point, O’Brien had been waiting for a clear path off the rail with the heavy favorite. But Encke and Barzalona, racing alongside and just ahead, beat Camelot to daylight and struck for home.
“I knew Camelot was on the inside and could see he had difficulty navigating,” Barzalona said in describing the final quarter-mile. “I asked my horse to go, and he went very quickly.”
Camelot tried to answer, but appeared slow to change gears, unlike his electrifying kicks in the one-mile Guineas and 1 1/2-mile Derby. It was only in the shadow of the line that Camelot made it as close as he did, just catching Encke’s flank, while Michelangelo, one of three John Gosden runners, finished third, three lengths farther back.
“The favorite was unlucky,” said Gosden, who was gunning for his third straight St. Leger victory. “If he’d gotten out when he wanted to, he would have won by 1 1/2 lengths.”
Encke is an American-bred son of Kingmambo who has been in the mix of European 3-year-olds not named Camelot taking turns beating each other all season long. Trained by Mahmood al Zarooni, Encke was third to Thought Worthy in the recent Great Voltiguer, but his St. Leger performance more closely resembled his close second to Noble Mission in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, when he opened daylight and gave way grudgingly.
Still, the 2012 will be remembered as the race Camelot lost.
“I saddled Alleged in the St. Leger when I worked for Vincent O’Brien, Nijinsky’s trainer,” Gosden noted. “He won two Arcs, so you know he was a good horse. But a quality horse can be beaten in the St. Leger, and Alleged was beaten that day by the Queen’s filly Dunfermline.”
Aidan O’Brien pointed to the key moment in the stretch as making the difference.
“When the gaps came, the winner was in probably a handier position and was gone,” O’Brien said. “When Camelot got out, he just stayed on rather than quickened up. But that was always liable to happen, because we were running him a bit farther than his distance. That’s the way it is, and well done to the winner.”
O’Brien added there was no decision yet on whether or not Camelot would run as a 4-year-old, but at the end of the day Saturday it hardly mattered.
Jon Yarde, I think the reason why the English triple crown is harder is twofold. First the distances are from 1mile, 1 1/2 miles, and 1 3/4miles. Incredibly difficult. Also the 3 months between the races makes it harder. I think the 5 weeks in the American TC makes it easier for a horse that gets on a roll. The Belmont is a killer and horses going for the crown are tired before going into this race.
I saw the race and thought Camelot was poorly ridden and would have won handily with a more aggressive ride. Now since Americxa's Breeders Cup series really has no true star power, why not bring Camelot over the Pond and prove once and for all how great he is?
Camelot has so far proven himself to be a very, very good racehorse, but I would hesitate to place the "great" tag on him as yet. Yesterday at Doncaster, he attempted to join the list of legends of the game, by becoming the first horse, since the great Nijinsky in 1970, to win the English Triple Crown. He could very well have done so under a more judicious ride by jockey Joseph O'Brien. A St. Leger win would also have been sweet for his trainer, Joseph's father Aidan, who would have once and for all emerge from the ghostly shadows of the former master of Ballydoyle, the legendary Vincent O'Brien (no relation) who also happened to be the trainer of Nijinsky. I've replayed the video of the race over and over again, and posted the following comments on another website that had a blog on the result and its meaning to British racing: Both Encke and Camelot ran the better part of the race hemmed in on the rail with the favorite about 2 lengths behind Encke. There was a point at the top of the stretch at the 4 furlong pole when Encke’s jockey, Barzalona, moved one path off of the rail, and Joe O’Brien, instead of following, moved alongside electing to stay on the rail. At the 3F pole there was a gap in between Encke and the third place finisher, Michelangelo, that Camelot with his turn of foot could have gone through had O’Brien been behind and not inside of Encke. The race was lost here as he was made to stay inside another half furlong until forced to check and move to his right to avoid the weakening pacemaker, Dartford. In the meantime Encke improved his position and was poised to strike, while Michelangelo, ridden by Frankie Dettori, was alongside Camelot keeping him trapped in a pocket. O’Brien did not extricate himself until reaching the 2 furlong pole. Camelot was a little unbalanced by the maneuver, and took a few strides to level out. Meanwhile Barzalona cracked the whip and Encke responded and was 3 lengths in front of Camelot. Race over! I would take issue with Ray Sousa's comment that Encke was racing at his optimal distance. Where does he get the information to support this? Neither Encke nor Camelot had so far raced beyond 1 1/2 miles, and Encke had never won beyond 1 1/4 miles. The closest he came to winning at a mile and a half was at Glorious Goodwood where he lost the Gordon Stakes by a short head (nose) to Frankel's full-brother Noble Mission. Furthermore, if you are a follower of Dr. Steven Roman's dosage theory, Camelot's dosage is slightly better that Encke's. Camelot's Dosage Index = 0.94 and Center of Distribution = 0.16; Encke's DI = 1.05 and CD = 0.20. In assessing the Leger on pedigree, only Michelangelo and Ursa Major have better numbers, and only the latter, Guarantee and Dartford (in a pace making role for the Gosden-trained Masked Marvel) had ever gone beyond 12 furlongs prior to yesterday. Finally I'll address the difficulty in landing this Triple. In the early 70s I wrote a paper on the difficulty of landing the American Triple Crown vs. the English one. This was fresh after Secretariat's 1973 coronation, which I had witnessed in person at Belmont Park. I was in a better position than most to analyze this as I had also witnessed Nijinsky's Triple, while living in England. While the "tremendous machine" was winning the U.S. Crown for the first time in 25 years, it had been 35 years since Bahram preceded Nijinsky in accomplishing the English triple. I concluded that the English version was harder to win because of the greater variation in distances (1 mile to 1 3/4+ miles) and the length of time between races. Some may argue that the time factor is exactly why the US version is harder, but I contend that it's easier to keep a horse in top form over 5 weeks that it is to do over 4 months. Also there is greater variation in the tracks, the 2000 Guineas being run over a straight mile, then moving to the undulations of Epsom Downs, and then on to a galloping track like Doncaster.
hes a great horse trying to win at a distance that was just beyond his best,aginst a good horse at his optimal distance.and he came up a little short,had he received an absolutely perfect trip his class would have gotten him home.then again had this been at his optimal distance he would have had more of a kick and put his rival away.triple crowns are supposed to be dificult thats what makes them special,whats the pion of having a triple crown winner every few years?.its a challenge and it takes a truly great horse thats bred to stay a classic distance to do it,not just any very good horse or a horse with distance limitations.im glad they havent started shortening the distances to make it easier.im tired of seeing thourobreds that look like quarter horses in mad breakneck dashes to the first turn only to stagger home with their legs wobbly and their tongues hanging out gasping for the wire.
Camelot is still a great horse. Two out of three wins in the Triple Crown is something to be extremely proud of. It's difficult to win any race, no less win highly coveted stakes races. Losing the third by such a short amount does sting a little, but Camelot's connections can be mighty proud of all that Camelot has accomplished. The jockey is young, I think everyone is being a bit hard on him. The English Triple Crown is just as elusive as the American Triple Crown, it seems. Even more so.
Come on folks.. the kid is 18. Racing is racing. Getting beat by less than a length is nothing to hang your head about. He won the first two legs. Don't know where to watch these races but I'm pretty sure from the article he gave his best when he could run.
Now the Euros can sympathize with the Yanks, those 2 out of 3 Triple Crowns really sting.
Aiden O'brien has St Nicks Abbey in the Turf Classic. Doubt this horse comes to the USA. All I can say is dont ride your own kid in a top race. Bad move.
Really bad ride. Dont know if this horse wouldve won but trying to close up the rail is a bad move.
Hey Aidan, Bring Camelot to California for the Breeders Cup Classic. That might be a fitting conclusion to a great campaign.
- 1.Posted 05/08/2013 04:00PM
- 2.Posted 05/16/2013 10:55AM
- 3.Posted 05/15/2013 05:42PM
- 4.Posted 05/17/2013 11:22AM
- 5.Posted 05/16/2013 10:36AM