The Aidan O’Brien trained Cape Blanco bounced back to form last night in America as he landed his first Grade 1 of the season when he defeated leading turf horse Gio Ponti in the Man O War Stakes at Belmont Park.
Sent of the 3-1 second favourite Cape Blanco was always travelling well for big race jockey Jamie Spencer and when asked to quicken at the top of the home turn he put three lengths between himself and the rest of the field to score an easy success and his third Grade 1 of his career after victories in the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes last season.
O’Brien, who was celebrating his first victory in America since November 2009 said after the race “We’re delighted,” O’Brien told At The Races. “Jamie gave him a great ride and he was in great order.
“We were worried [about the rain] as he’s a real good mover, but we were hoping soft ground in America wouldn’t be nearly the same as soft ground here.
“His form in the Irish Champion Stakes was excellent and this was the first time this year everything went right. He’s a very tough, consistent and genuine horse with a great will to win”.
Sending Cape Blanco to America will be seen as some good placing by O’Brien. However he alluded to his hand been forced by the sheer depth of middle distance that is at Ballydoyle this season.
“He ran over a mile at Ascot and we were just trying to slot in all the horses in different races,” the Ballydoyle maestro added.
“We wanted to step him up to a mile two or further after Ascot and the choices were the Eclipse and races like that. We just wanted to keep them split up.
“Something like the Arlington Million on August 13 might suit him, but we haven’t discussed it. Looking at tonight, a race like that could suit him really well.”
Equally delighted was jockey Jamie Spencer who continues to enjoy a resurgent relationship with O’Brien after he quit as stable jockey to Coolmore in 2005. Spencer said of the race “I’m very happy with the way the race panned out”
“I joined the leader four furlongs out and my horse was really ready for it, but as I joined him we changed leads and lost a front shoe, so that was the only worry I had throughout the whole race. He’s a high-class horse and I’m glad he’s come back to form.”
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