Second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf,
Nahrain made her second trans-Atlantic crossing a winning one with a mild upset
in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park.
Trained by Roger Varian and ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the 4-year-old Selkirk filly relaxed
in midpack behind measured fractions of 25.33, 51.73 and 1:17.43 set by Hit It
Midway through the stretch, four European-breds took over from the
pacesetter and separated from the pack. In deep stretch, Nahrain kicked into
high gear and barreled between her rivals to grab the lead in the final yards
and hit the wire a half-length clear of Zagora, with favored Dream Peace along
for third and I’m A Dreamer four lengths clear of Hessonite for fourth..
Nahrain’s winning time for the race, a “Win and
You’re In” event for the Filly & Mare Turf on November 2 at
Santa Anita, was 2:05.56 for 1 ¼ miles over a yielding turf course.
“We’re in [the Breeders’ Cup] now, aren’t
we?” said Varian. “We were second last year. From when she was
second last year we were keen to have another toot at it this year. She’s
shown up today, hasn’t she?”
It was the first victory in four starts this year for the Darley Stable
color-bearer, who was no factor in her first two outings in England but then
finished third, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes on
September 9 at the Curragh.
“She showed us in her last start when she was third at the
Curragh that she was coming back to herself,” said Varian, who in 2011
saddled Nahrain to four straight victories, including the Group 1 Qatar Prix de
l’Opera at Longchamp, prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
“Her first two runs in the summer, the level of form she showed
was incomparable to the high level of form she showed last year, so when we
went to Ireland
we were just hoping she was going to show us something. When she ran third
– of course, we would have liked to have won that day, it was only a
Group 2 – it was her first race this year where she finished strongly to
the line and showed she was on her way back.”
Sent off at 5-1, Naihran returned $12 for a $2 win bet. The
winner’s purse of $360,000 lifted her earnings to $1,041,961, with a
career record of 5-1-1 from nine starts.
Zagora, who held a brief lead in the stretch, was a nose ahead of 2-1
favorite Dream Peace.
“I thought both horses ran well,” said Chad Brown, who
trains both Zagora and Dream Peace. “By no fault of Ramon [Dominguez]
– it was such a slow pace – [Zagora] inherited the lead, and had to
go on. I don’t know if she really saw that horse [winner Nahrain] coming
or not. I thought she ran very well. Dream Peace had a rough trip; she was a
little far back on a slow pace, had to go widest of all. She got bumped turning
for home and hung a bit down the lane, so it wasn’t an ideal trip for
Completing the order of finish behind the beaten favorite were
I’m A Dreamer, Hessonite, Bizzy Caroline, Hit It Rich, and Halo Dolly.
Starformer was scratched.