THE Grade 3 Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes has only been run only twice since its 2019 inception due to the pandemic in 2020, but it may not see an easier winner than Frankie Dettori on Godolphin’s favourite Nations Pride.
The Irish-bred Teofilo colt had won the Grade 1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes in August after he had earlier finished second to Classic Causeway in the Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes.
Saturday’s win in the final leg of the Caesars Turf Triple for three-year-olds, was a resounding triumph over Classic Causeway in their third match and it brought his earning for the season to over $1.4 million.
Classic Causeway, a son of Giant’s Causeway, again tried to lead all the way in the Jockey Club Derby as he did in the opening leg, but this time Nations Pride was much closer to the pace over the mile and a half.
Always travelling well, Dettori moved outside of Classic Causeway after two out and quickened away past the front runner, opening a two-length margin at the furlong pole that became six and a quarter lengths at the wire.
The Grey Wizard, a Caravaggio gelding, rallied from fifth in the field of six to grab second by half a length over Classic Causeway.
“He’s got that turn of foot. Since his first run here, he’s really grown and filled out that frame of his. He’s done fantastic since he’s been here,” said Appleby’s assistant Chris Connett.
“Frankie gave him an absolute peach of a ride. It was fairly straightforward for a race like this.”
Last year, Godolphin’s Yibir won the Jockey Club Derby before victory in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and was the Eclipse Award-winning male turf runner in 2021.
“He broke well, and I didn’t want to let (Classic Causeway) have it easy in front. When Daunt took him on, it was great. It saved me from doing the job. At the corner I knew I had the race won. I knew that, and I still hadn’t gone for the gears yet. Everyone was cooked,” he added.
Connett said on a possible return for the Breeders’ Cup, “We travel home on Tuesday, and we’ll let the dust settle, see how he comes out of it and make plans from there.”
The colt covered the mile and a half in 2m 24.14secs, smashing the inner turf course record of 2m 2secs set by Pebbles in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Chad Brown captured two legs of NYRA’s Turf Triple for three-year-old fillies with the Grade 3 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational Stakes going to Klaravich Stables’ Frankel filly McKulick.
After winning the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes to open the series, she then finished second to Godolphin’s With The Moonlight, the Belmont runner-up, in leg two, the Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes.
Without that rival this time, McKulick reverted to her winning ways, edging away in the stretch to a half-length victory over Frankie Dettori and the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) winner Toskana Belle, who battled on well after being headed.