Photo: Four Footed Fotos
Arlington's International Festival of
Racing once again lived up to its billing. European horses took two
of yesterday's four major stakes, including the second running of the
$400,000 American St. Leger. Named after the oldest of the British
classics, it is fitting that English-bred Dandino took the local
rendition this year.
The St. Leger itself is the British
equivalent of the Belmont: it is the last and longest race of the
Triple Crown, dating back to 1776 and run at a distance of 1 mile, 6
furlongs, and 132 yards. It is run each september at Doncaster
racecourse. The American version is slightly shorter and much newer:
it is run at 1 mile, 5 ½ furlongs and was first run in 2012.
Thus far, the European horses are two
for two in our Leger: Irish-bred Jakkalberry, stablemate of Dandino, won the inaugural and
this year's winner Dandino has done most of his racing in England,
including two starts at Doncaster. Despite encountering some
trouble, the veteran Dansili horse was able to split foes at the end
en route to a half-length victory.
Marco Botti's charge was certain to be
favored with the vet scratch of Dark Cove, who had some filling in a
tendon. He was 4/5 when the gates opened. Ojos de Hielo broke
fastest, keeping Ioya Bigtime from his usual spot up front. Longshot
Ojos de Hielo took the field through a 26.28 opening quarter and
raced clear of the field around the far turn. The field was bunched
at the half-mile call, made at 53.82 seconds.
Coming down the straight for the first
time, Ioya Bigtime put a head in front of the pacesetter and those
two drew off from the field to a ¾ time of 1:18.01. Code of Conduct
led the trailing group as the two leaders continued to draw away
going into the backstretch. Dandino was content to sit off of this
pace throughout, letting the two leaders go theoigh a mile in
Ojos de Hielo was done soon after the
mile call, but Ioya Bigtime kept on. As they entered the far turn
for the second time, the field caught up to that leader with Conde of
Conduct heading the charge. As Code of Conduct came up on the
outside of Ioya Bigtime, Naajjar went out three-wide. Dandino was
stuck behind this group with Suntracer inside him on the rail as they
hit the top of the lane.
Code of Conduct began to draw off
before Naajjar began making a move in second. Dandino was steadied
at this point, but then was able to shift outside. Once he got
clear, Dandino ran right by the two in front of him. Suntracer tried
to keep up but could not, though he was good enough to overtake
Naajjar who held on for third.
The 1 ¼ call was made at 2:07.25 and
the final time was 2:50.78, slightly slower than Jakkalberry's 2:49
flat last year. This was Dandino's eighth career victory from 25
starts. It was also his first time racing on Lasix and first start
in the U.S. He has now earned $985,399 in his career. Trainer Marco Botti has won both editions of this race.