08/08/2010 12:37PM

Zoffany stuns Strong Suit in Phoenix at Curragh


Richard Hannon's incredible streak of luck with 2-year-olds this season came to an end at the Curragh on Sunday, when 4-9 favorite Strong Suit finished third behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Zoffany in the Group 1, $262,000, Phoenix Stakes.

The winner of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, Strong Suit was always close up in the six-furlong contest, leading over a furlong from the line as he was pressed by the 12-1 Glor Na Mara. Meanwhile, Johnny Murtagh had been content to keep Zoffany at the back of the seven-runner-field. He rallied the son of Dansili to sweep past the dueling leaders near the line for a 1 1/4-length victory, clocking 1:11.29 for the six furlongs on yielding turf. Strong Suit surrendered second to Glor Na Mara by a half-length.

Sent off as the 3-1 second choice as one of four O’Brien-trained horses in the race, Zoffany won his third straight race, having taken the listed Golden Fleece Stakes and the Group 3 Tyros Stakes, both at seven furlongs at Leopardstown. The cut back to six furlongs didn’t affect him, although he appears to be a horse who will eventually stay at least a mile. He has improved greatly since Royal Ascot, where he was sixth, 8 3/4 lengths behind Strong Suit, in the Coventry.

O’Brien has won 11 of the last 13 Phoenix Stakes, a race that serves as the first juvenile Group 1 contest in the Northern Hemisphere. He said Zoffany’s next start would probably be a return to seven furlongs, in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh on Sept. 11.

Coming into the Phoenix, Hannon had won eight juvenile group races with five horses, all in England. After the race, William Hill installed Zoffany as the 8-1 favorite for next year’s 2000 Guineas, with Strong Suit the 10-1 second favorite.

Fame and Glory easily wins Royal Whip

Fame and Glory extended his winning streak to four as he had no trouble at all in scoring a handy victory as the 1-2 choice in the Group 2, $132,000 Royal Whip Stakes at 1 1/4 miles. Johnny Murtagh kept his eye on affairs aboard the winner as he followed his 40-1 stablemate Grand Admiral, who opened a six-length lead at the halfway point. Leading at the eighth-pole, Fame and Glory defeated his 66-1 stablemate Dixie Music by 3 1/2 lengths. Grand Admiral was third, another 1 1/4 lengths behind, giving O’Brien a sweep of the first three places. The time for the 1 1/4 miles on good to yielding ground was 2:06.62.

O’Brien said Fame and Glory would use either the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Sept. 4 or the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp on Sept. 12 as his prep for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, for which he is the 9-4 favorite in the wake of the injury to the previous favorite, Harbinger.