06/23/2017 1:31PM

Winter, Caravaggio score odds-on wins at Royal Ascot


Caravaggio and Winter gave Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien a sweep of the two Group 1 races at Royal Ascot on Friday with short-priced favorites, extending the stable’s success at England’s most prestigious race meeting.

Through Friday, the fourth of five days at Royal Ascot, O’Brien had won three Group 1 races and four races overall.

Caravaggio (5-6) remained unbeaten after six races by winning the $506,520 Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. Winter (4-9) won her third consecutive Group 1 race in the $544,509 Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Caravaggio was about sixth in the field of 12 with a quarter-mile to go, and closed strongly in the final furlong to win by three-quarters of a length under jockey Ryan Moore. Harry Angel, a Group 2 winner at Haydock Park last month, finished a half-length in front of Blue Point. Harry Angel and Blue Point are owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing.

Bound for Nowhere, trained by Wesley Ward, finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths after encountering a touch of traffic in the final quarter-mile. Bound for Nowhere finished a half-length behind Blue Point.

Caravaggio races for the Coolmore team of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier. A colt by the late stallion Scat Daddy, Caravaggio won four races last year, including the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes in Ireland. The Commonwealth Cup was Caravaggio’s second start of the year, preceded by a win in the Group 3 Lacken Stakes in Ireland last month.

“He is the fastest horse we have ever had,” said O’Brien, who has now won 302 Grade 1 or Group 1 races in flat and jump races.

“Ryan was super confident on him and put him to sleep in the race. He said he would have a look at halfway where everybody was and that is what he did. He had plenty do at halfway behind two good horses and he only raced for 2 1/2 furlongs.”

O’Brien said the Group 1 July Cup at six furlongs at Newmarket on July 15 is a likely next target for Caravaggio. The July Cup would be Caravaggio’s first start against older horses.

O’Brien said a long-term plan could be the $7.5 million Everest Stakes, an owner-funded race at six furlongs on turf at Royal Randwick outside of Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 14.

The new race, announced in February, is structured similarly to the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. Berths for the Everest Stakes cost approximately $453,000.

Winter won the English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh in May and was confidently handled by Moore in the Coronation Stakes. Winter was in midpack for the first half-mile and moved into contention in early stretch, 2 1/2 furlongs from the finish. Winter took the lead with more than a furlong remaining and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Roly Poly.

“She is a filly that is thriving from race to race,” O’Brien said. “She traveled well – Ryan had her in a lovely position – she comes home very well, which is a massive thing.

“She is a great traveler and when you ask her, she picks up and gallops out strong. Physically, she is thriving.”

By Galileo, Winter has won 4 of 7 starts. O’Brien said Winter will be considered for the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at a mile against older fillies and mares at Newmarket on July 14.

O’Brien swept the first three positions in the Coronation, with Roly Poly and Hydrangea finishing second and third in the field of seven. Roly Poly and Hydrangea were ninth and 14th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita last November and second and third behind Winter in the Irish 1000 Guineas.

La Coronel, the winner of the Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 5 and two other Grade 3 races in her career, was the lone American participant in the Coronation Stakes. Trained by Mark Casse, La Coronel finished fifth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Winter.

Earlier on the program, the 20-1 outsider Different League won the Group 3 Albany Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

American trainer Wesley Ward had two runners in the field of 20 – Princess Peggy who finished 10th and Fairyland, who finished 12th. Princess Peggy won a maiden race at Belmont Park on May 27. Fairyland won a maiden race at Keeneland in April.

Princess Peggy was part of a hectic incident earlier in the week when she was struck by a bicyclist while being walked across a road outside of Ascot. Princess Peggy suffered scraps in the incident and underwent a veterinary exam before being allowed to run in the Albany Stakes.

Ward has had two winners at Royal Ascot this week.

Different League, trained by Matthieu Palussiere, is unbeaten in three starts, having won her first two races in France.