Stud Happy Again's 3-year-old George Washington (BRZ) swept down the center of the course and passed front-running Taksim (BRZ) inside the final furlong to capture Sunday's 87th running of the 1 1/2-mile Grande Premio Brasil (G1) at Hipodromo Gavea by 3 ½ lengths over Or Noir (BRZ), and earned an automatic starting position into the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive free berths and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on November 1-2.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for George Washington to start in the 1 1/2-mile Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. Breeders' Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Sunday's win gave trainer Luis Estevez his third consecutive triumph in the Grande Premio Brasil, having won the two previous editions with Voador Magee (BRZ) in 2017 and last year with Quarteto de Cordas (BRZ).
George Washington, a bay son of Redattore (BRZ) out of Princesa Carina (BRZ) by Know Heights (IRE), won for just the second time in 13 starts, and the first in his last eight races since winning a 1 1/8-mile race at Gavea on August 11 of last year.
Breaking from post 10 under jockey Marcelo Goncalves, George Washington was reserved in mid-pack in the 14-horse field, while 3-year-olds Taksim (BRZ) and Olympic Icecream (BRZ) who was part of the favored entry along with Olympic Hollywood (BRZ) at 5-1, set a solid early pace.
Coming out of the far turn, Taksim eased comfortably to the lead, opening up by as many as seven lengths, and showing the form that brought him a Group 1 win in March when he captured the Grande Premio Francisco Eduardo de Paula Machado by 2 3/4 lengths at Gavea. But approaching the eighth pole, Taksim began to tire and George Washington, Or Noir along the rail, and 5.4-1 Leviatan (BRZ), also trained by Estevez, took up the chase. With 100 yards remaining, George Washington overtook Taksim in a flourish, while Or Noir passed Taksim for the place spot. Olympic Hollywood finished fourth.
George Washington completed the 1 ½ miles in 2:27.94 over a course listed as heavy. He came into Sunday's race following an eighth-place finish in the Grande Premio Cruzeiro do Sul G1) (Brazilian Derby) on April 20.
The Grande Premio Brasil was the fourth of five Breeders' Cup Challenge races to be run in South America for the 2019 season. Il Mercato (ARG) qualified for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf when he won the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1) last December at San Isidro. Entropia (ARG) won the Gran Premio Criadores at Palermo in Argentina to earn an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, and Tamburo di Oro won the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) to gain a Breeders' Cup Mile berth.
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