In a thrilling finish, Ricardo Benedicto's Stud Rubio B's 3-year-old Il Mercato (ARG) prevailed by a head at 17-1 over the favored Sixties Song (ARG), with For the Top (ARG), the Argentine Derby (G1) winner, in third, to win Saturday's $319,394, 1 ½ -mile Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini (G1) by a head at San Isidro Racecourse. As result, Il Mercato becomes the first horse to earn an automatic berth into the 2019 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of more than 85 stakes races, whose winners -receive automatic starting positons and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park, in California, Nov. 1-2.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for Il Mercato to start in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, which will be run at 1 1/2 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.
Il Mercato, a dark bay son of Not for Sale (ARG) out of the Equalize mare Equal Pretty (ARG), trained by Juan Carlos and Juan Sebastián Maldotti and ridden by Juan Carlos Noriega, won his third race in seven starts. Breaking quickest from the gate in the 18-horse field, Noriega shot Il Mercato to the front and confidently held that position just off the rail through the top of the stretch. The first challenge came from the 3-year-old For the Top (6-1), who closed strongly in deep stretch along the inside and put his head in front. But Il Mercado fought back to retake the lead and had just enough to hold off Sixties Song, the 2016 Carlos Pellegrini winner, to prevail at the wire.
Il Mercato completed the 1 ½ miles in 2:28.52 over a course listed as heavy.
“We always were confident with Il Mercato, and we were waiting see him running on the front,” said Juan Carlos Maldotti, now a four-time Pellegrini winner. “He enjoyed it and also enjoy the fight. That's the reason we never have doubts about the final result when Sixties Song came from behind.”
Il Mercato came into the Carlos Pellegrini off a third-place finish, beaten six lengths, in the 1 ½-mile Nacional Stakes (G1) on Nov. 11 at Palermo as the 3-1 favorite. He broke his maiden by nine lengths in his fourth start in an 11-furlong race on Sept. 16 at Palmero. He followed that performance with a second place finish in the 11-furlong Eduardo Casey (G2) also at Palermo on Oct. 15.
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