Lope de Vega's Lucky Vega Well On Top In the Phoenix

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Lucky Vega | Racingfotos.com

Denied in the G2 Railway S. at The Curragh July 18, Lucky Vega (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) returned to the same course and six-furlong strip on Sunday to dominate a competitive renewal of the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. Despite the presence of four group-winning colts Steel Bull (Ire) (Clodovil {Ire}), The Lir Jet (Ire) (Prince of Lir {Ire}), Ventura Tormenta (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) and Laws of Indices (Ire) (Power {GB}), the market spoke mainly for Lucky Vega who was supported into 4-1 second favouritism and also Ballydoyle's maiden St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) who was the surprising 7-2 favourite. In the race itself, there was never anywhere else to look but the eventual winnner as Zhang Yuesheng's bay cruised under Shane Foley tracking the leading duo. Unleashed by Shane Foley to swamp Aloha Star (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) with 200 yards remaining, he was soon clear and had 3 1/2 lengths to spare over that rival at the line, with a short head separating her and The Lir Jet. Those placings were later reversed by the stewards, with Aloha Star having been judged to have intimidated the third. “That's Mr Zhang's first group 1 winner worldwide–I'm absolutely delighted for him,” trainer Jessie Harrington said. “”He was much more streetwise and on his work at home he had really started to come to himself.”

Unveiled as soon as the lockdown was eased by Jessie Harrington, Lucky Vega struck at the first time of asking in the six-furlong Naas maiden June 8 in which Battleground (War Front) was fifth. Jumping on Laws of Indices a touch too early in the Railway, he had been outstayed in the final yards and with that in mind Foley was keen to wait and wait this time. As that rival missed the break this time and failed to fire on all cylinders, there was no genuine threat in front and it was only when the G2 Airlie Stud S. winner Aloha Star arrived on the scene that Lucky Vega was let down for his closing effort. The result was emphatic, placing him undoubtedly in the higher category of winners of this race, particularly as this looked one of the most keenly-contested editions of recent times.

“He's a nice horse going forward and Shane said he's getting quicker,” Harrington added. “He probably needed it the last day because he had won his maiden without getting into a battle. The last day when he got into a bit of a battle it just hardened him up. We thought he was working well, but you never know until you go racing and everyone said this was a strong renewal. We'll have to sit down and think now, but Shane said we'd probably be thinking about the [G1] Middle Park. I think he'll get seven as well. Last year was all about the fillies, so it's great this year to come up with a good colt.”

Lucky Vega was further demonstrating the widely-recognised potency of his sire, becoming his 11th top-level winner. Out of the unraced Queen of Carthage (Cape Cross {Ire}), he is therefore a grandson of the classy Satwa Queen (Fr) (Muhtathir {GB}) who scored five times in group company, most notably in the G1 Prix de l'Opera. Satwa Queen, whose best performer was the German listed scorer Important Time (Ire) (Oasis Dream {GB}), is kin to the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud hero Spadoun (Fr) (Kaldoun {Fr}) and the Listed Prix Roland de Chambure scorer Anbella (Fr) (Common Grounds {GB}). She is in turn the second dam of this year's Listed Dragon S. winner Gussy Mac (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). Also related to the GI Manhattan H. hero Desert Blanc (GB) (Desert Style {Ire}) and the G3 Somerville S. winner and G1 2000 Guineas runner-up and G1 St James's Palace S. third Wichita (Ire) (No Nay Never), Queen of Carthage's yearling filly is by Free Eagle (Ire), while she has a colt foal by Footstepsinthesand (GB).

Sunday, Curragh, Ireland
KEENELAND PHOENIX S.-G1, €200,000, Curragh, 8-9, 2yo, 6fT, 1:13.35, g/y.
1–LUCKY VEGA (IRE), 131, c, 2, by Lope de Vega (Ire)
1st Dam: Queen of Carthage, by Cape Cross (Ire)
2nd Dam: Satwa Queen (Fr), by Muhtathir (GB)
3rd Dam: Tolga, by Irish River (Fr)
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN; 1ST GROUP WIN; 1ST GROUP 1 WIN. (€110,000 Wlg '18 GOFNOV; €175,000 Ylg '19 GOFOR). O-Zhang Yuesheng; B-Kilcarn Stud (IRE); T-Jessica Harrington; J-Shane Foley. €120,000. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0, $170,033. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–The Lir Jet (Ire), 131, c, 2, Prince of Lir (Ire)–Paper Dreams (Ire), by Green Desert. (€9,500 Wlg '18 TATFBR; £8,000 Ylg '19 GOFFPR). O-Qatar Racing Ltd; B-Donal Boylan (IRE); T-Michael Bell. €40,000.
*3–Aloha Star (Ire), 128, f, 2, Starspangledbanner (Aus)–Zain Art (Ire), by Excellent Art (GB). (€42,000 Wlg '18 GOFNOV; €67,000 Ylg '19 TIRSEP). O-D Keoghan & Partners Partnership; B-Patrick Beirne(Jnr) (IRE); T-Fozzy Stack. €20,000.
Margins: (3HF, NO, HF). Odds: 4.00, 5.00, 14.00.
Also Ran: Laws of Indices (Ire), St Mark's Basilica (Fr), Bubbles On Ice (Ire), Steel Bull (Ire), Giorgio Vasari (Ire), Admiral Nelson (GB), Ventura Tormenta (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
*Aloha Star was demoted from second.

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