In what was her final run on home soil, Prince Khalid Abdullah's Enable (GB) bade farewell to British race fans with the ultimate crowd-pleasing performance as she recorded her 10th consecutive Group 1 win with a second victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, which secured the wonderful 5-year-old mare a guaranteed start in the 2019 Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, Nov 1-2.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for Enable to start in the $2 million Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which will be run at 1 ¼ miles. Breeders' Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Enable becomes the fourth horse to gain a “Win and You're In” berth into the Filly & Mare Turf this year, joining Oh Susanna (AUS), who won the Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1) at Kenilworth in South Africa on Jan. 5; Gracia Divina (PER), winner of the Gran Premio Pamplona (G1) at Monterrico in Peru on June 30 and defending Maker's Mark Filly & Mare Turf winner Sistercharlie (IRE), who captured the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington on Aug. 10.
After going toe-to-toe with Crystal Ocean (GB) to land the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot in July, a 'Win and You're In” race for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), a rematch was passed over in favor of the 1 ½-mile Yorkshire Oaks, which trainer John Gosden described as 'a prep race' for an attempt at winning an historic third Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) on Oct. 6, which is also a new “Win and You're In” for the Longines Turf.
But with the four-runner field, including old foe Magical (IRE), the Aidan O'Brien-trained 4-year-old filly who Enable only narrowly defeated in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, the race was unlikely to be a walkover.
Nevertheless Enable completed her task in commanding fashion. In a race that could have proved a tactical headache, Frankie Dettori kept things simple by taking Enable straight into the lead from the outset after which the pair were never headed.
Magical, settled in third by Ryan Moore, moved forward to challenge approaching the final quarter- of a mile but once battle was engaged she could never get alongside. Enable and Dettori had all the answers as they eased over the line victorious by two-and three quarter lengths with Lah Ti Dar (GB) 10 lengths back in third, and the O'Brien-trained South Sea Pearl (IRE) finishing last.
Enable, a bay daughter of Nathaniel (IRE) out of the Sadler's Wells (USA) mare Concentric (GB), completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:29.90 over a course listed as good.
After crossing the line, Dettori took the mare back down the racecourse to acknowledge the crowd and was choking back tears on pulling up after riding his 14th Group 1 win of the summer.
“It's her last day in England,” he said. “I'm emotional because she is so good. She is amazing.”
Enable, the 1-4 favorite, equaled Frankel's record in winning her tenth Group 1 race, but Gosden was wary of the potential pitfalls having seen Taghrooda beaten at 1-5 in the same race five years earlier.
“There is always the banana skin and I did feel that but I was very clear she needed this race in between the King George and the Arc,” he said.
“She is quick from the gate so there was no point taking her back. She has cruised round there and Frankie said she really quickened the last two, she really turned it on. It's a long way in front over a mile and a half round the Knavesmire but she's done it nobly.
“She likes her training and racing which was why I didn't want to go with a massive gap to the Arc. It's a lovely prep for her and we couldn't be more pleased with her. Now we have the big old mountain of the Arc to climb.
“If she goes back to her three-year-old form which she looks like she is showing today she is mighty tough to beat. But I do emphasize, watch out for the three-year-olds. They are the ones you have to watch because they are getting the weight.”
Enable has won 13 out of 14 starts, suffering her only defeat on her second race at Newbury in April 2017, and her career earnings now stand at more than $11.3 million (£9.3 million).
Gosden added: “She has this amazingly competitive mind. If you were married to her you'd have to jolly well listen. She is a great filly with a great constitution. The only time she got beat was because she got boxed in. I've seen some wonderful race mares in my time and she's one of those.”
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