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Irish Invader Nahrain Wins Flower Bowl

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 Rich.

 

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 her.”

 

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.

 

 

 

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