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Camelot’s Athena Springs the Upset in Belmont Oaks for Coolmore and O’Brien

8th at BEL, $1,000,000GI Belmont Oaks (1 1/4m)Winner: Athena, f, 3 by Camelot (GB)

Athena | Sarah K Andrew photo

Despite making an eighth trip to the races in the space of less than 12 weeks, her third start in 16 days and second in the last six days, Michael Tabor, Sue Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Athena (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) showed positively no signs of road-weariness, kicking on sharply once produced in upper stretch by Ryan Moore en route to a visually impressive victory in the GI Belmont Oaks Invitational S. on Long Island.

“A mile and a quarter on hard ground is probably her trip,” said T. J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O’Brien. “She can probably go a bit farther as well but it’s great to get her going at a mile and a quarter and she can go a mile and a half in time. Ryan [Moore] knew he had enough horse under him to do what he wanted. He just had to the press the button on her, and whenever he wanted her to go, she went.”

Athena broke away without incident and settled third-last in the field, as La Signare (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), coast-to-coast winner of the GIII Wonder Again S. last time out set the pace in advance of the well-bet GIII Edgewood S. heroine Toniette (Scat Daddy). Favored Significant Form (Creative Cause), who couldn’t quite reach La Signare in the Wonder Again, box-seated the field from third just to the inside of stablemate and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mighty Scarlett (Scat Daddy). There was no change in the plot through the middle furlongs and the first real move came from Toniette, who tried to take it to La Signare once heads were turned for home, but Moore hooked Athena to the wide outside and the duo quickly descended on the front rank. Thewayiam (Fr) (Thewayyouare) looked dangerous for a stride or two from a tight spot at the fence, but Athena had all the momentum and went on to a clear-cut success.

“She’s a very straightforward filly,” the winning jockey said. “She’s taken her racing very well. I rode her before the start of the year and all she’s done is improve tremendously. In her first out, I wasn’t sure what she could do. The second time I rode her, she really impressed me. This was the third time I’ve rode her [second time in a race] and I thought she was very impressive.”

No better than fourth in any of her first four career appearances, Athena was runner-up in a Curragh maiden May 11, then promptly flew across to England and finished second in the Listed Haras de Bouquetot Trial eight days hence. Returned to Ireland, the bay finally won her maiden at Fairyhouse May 31, was fourth in the 12-furlong G2 Ribblesdale S. at Royal Ascot June 21 and was most recently third behind Urban Fox (GB) (Foxwedge {Aus}) when taking on her elders in the G1 Pretty Polly S. July 1.

Pedigree Notes:

Athena becomes the second Group 1/Grade I winner from the initial crop of her G1 Investec Derby-winning sire and comes one week after the victory by the Joseph O’Brien-conditioned Latrobe (Ire) in the G1 Irish Derby. Pedigrees don’t come much richer than Athena’s. A half-sister to 2014 G1 Irish Oaks victrix Bracelet (Ire) and GSW Wading (Ire) (both by Camelot’s sire Montjeu {Ire}), Athena counts the irrepressible Urban Sea as her second dam, a winner of the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe whose status as one of history’s greatest broodmares has already been cemented. She is the dam of eight winners from nine to race, including Galileo (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) and Sea the Stars (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}), in addition to ‘lesser’ champions Black Sam Bellamy (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) and Urban Ocean (Fr) (Bering {GB}) and SW & G1SP Born to Sea (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}). Urban Sea’s daughter My Typhoon (Ire) (Giant’s Causeway), a 1.8-million Tattersalls December foal acquisition in 2002, was the winner in this country of the GI Diana S. and is a member of the formidable broodmare band at Live Oak. Urban Sea’s half-brother King’s Best (Kingmambo) was victorious in the 2000 G1 Sagitta 2000 Guineas, while Allez Les Trois (Riverman) was responsible for 2001 G1 Prix du Jockey Club hero Anabaa Blue (GB) (Anabaa). Cherry Hinton produced a filly from the second crop of Triple Crown hero American Pharoah this past Jan. 30.

Saturday, Belmont Park
BELMONT OAKS INVITATIONAL S.-GI, $1,000,000, Belmont, 7-7, 3yo, f, 1 1/4mT, 1:58.71, fm.
1–ATHENA (IRE), 121, f, 3, by Camelot (GB)
1st Dam: Cherry Hinton (GB) (GSP-Ire), by Green Desert
2nd Dam: Urban Sea, by Miswaki
3rd Dam: Allegretta (GB), by Lombard (Ger)
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. O-Michael B. Tabor, Magnier, Mrs. John, and Smith, Derrick; B-Roncon & Chelston (IRE); T-Aidan P. O’Brien; J-Ryan L. Moore. $535,000. Lifetime Record: G1SP-Ire, SP-Eng, 10-2-2-1, $608,749. *1/2 to Wading (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}), GSW-Eng; Bracelet (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}), G1SW-Ire, GSW-Eng, $549,707. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.2–Thewayiam (Fr), 121, f, 3, by Thewayyouare
1st Dam: Water Feature (GB), by Dansili (GB)
2nd Dam: Shining Water (GB), by Kalaglow (Ire)
3rd Dam: Idle Waters, by Mill Reef
(€17,000 Ylg ’16 AROYRG). O-Dubb, Great Point Stables LLC, The Elkstone Group LLC, Al Shahania Stud America LLC and Bethlehem Stables LLC; B-S.C.A. La Perrigne (FR); T-H. Graham Motion. $185,000.3–Chipolata (Fr), 121, f, 3, by Muhtathir (GB)
1st Dam: Chicago May (Fr), by Numerous
2nd Dam: Red Bravo, by Red Ransom
3rd Dam: Exemina, by Slip Anchor (GB)
(€18,000 RNA Ylg ’16 AROYRG). O-West Point Thoroughbreds, Hubert Honore and Robert Masiello; B-Hubert Honore (FR); T-Christophe Clement. $100,000.Margins: 2HF, NK, NO. Odds: 10.40, 11.10, 36.75.
Also Ran: Significant Form, Mighty Scarlett, Fatale Bere (Fr), Capla Temptress (Ire), Paved, Toinette, La Signare (Fr).
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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