08/21/2013 1:02PM

York: Juddmonte International win could propel Declaration of War to Breeders' Cup Classic


The Group 1 Juddmonte International on Wednesday at York looked like a showdown between a top older horse and a good 3-year-old. It was, but not in the way most expected.

With Al Kazeem, the 5-year-old race favorite, unable to produce his best form, and hot 3-year-old Toronado a total no-show, 4-year-old Declaration of War won the Juddmonte by 1 1/4 lengths over the Irish 3-year-old Trading Leather.

His win, on a fast-playing left-handed course over a distance a little longer than 1 1/4 miles, roused speculation that Declaration of War could be a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Classic this fall, a notion that trainer Aidan O’Brien didn’t shoot down after the victory.

Unbeaten in his first four starts this year and a winner in three straight Group 1’s – including a two-length score over Declaration of War in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes – Al Kazeem bid for the lead after tracking pacesetting Trading Leather about a quarter-mile from home Wednesday, but after briefly poking his head in front, Al Kazeem was confronted on the outside by stalking Declaration of War, a 7-1 shot who fairly comfortably pushed past Al Kazeem on his way to victory.

Al Kazeem faded late as Trading Leather plugged away along the inside, winding up second by 1 1/2 lengths. Al Kazeem was third, while Toronado, who won the Sussex Stakes against older horses in his most recent start, never got involved, finishing last of six in his first start beyond one mile.

The Juddmonte, worth about $665,000, was timed in a good 2:05.74 for the 10 furlongs and 88 yards.

Declaration of War, a son of War Front bred by Joe Allen and co-owned by Allen and the Coolmore group, won for the seventh time in 12 starts and added a second Group 1 this year to go with his victory in the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes. Ridden to victory by Joseph O’Brien, Declaration of War has been kept busy this summer and was making his third start in just three weeks, his most recent run having produced a fourth of 13 in the Prix Jacques Le Marois on Aug. 11 at Deauville.

Trading Leather, the Jim Bolger-trained Irish Derby winner, turned in another solid performance while racing at a distance perhaps shorter than his best.