Zhukova overwhelmed as War Flag stakes Breeders' Cup claims


Belmont Park: Flower Bowl Stakes (Grade 1) 1m2f | turf | 3yo+ f/m

There was disappointment for the Dermot Weld team in New York as heavily fancied Zhukova was overwhelmed in the closing stages of the Flower Bowl, in which the mare finished last of six behind surprise 9-1 winner War Flag (Shug McGaughey/Jose Ortiz).

The betting suggested a French recruit was going to win the Grade 1 event but it was not front-running favourite Grand Jete, although he looked set to win entering the final furlong.

Instead, it was the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained War Flag – beaten in Grade 3 company on her last two outings – who delivered a career-best to hold off Dacita by a head, with Grand Jete back in third.

War Flag, who is owned by Joseph Allen, was one of four winners on the card for Jose Ortiz and has now booked herself a starting berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

McGaughey is hopeful she can line up at Del Mar on November 4. He said: "I have never been to Del Mar, so I can't comment on the turf course out there, but I think she'll probably like it. She's got some tactical speed. Hopefully she will come out of it good and we will be able to make the trip."

Pat Smullen pressured Grand Jete with Zhukova, a six-length winner on her previous visit to the States, but she had nothing left to offer in the final furlong.

Also on Sunday

Santa Anita: LA Woman Stakes (Grade 3) 6½f | dirt | 3yo fillies

Unique Bella (Jerry Hollendorfer/Mike Smith) is heading for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint after a three-and-a-half-length success on her return to action off a seven-month layoff.

Regarded as America's top three-year-old filly before sustaining a shin injury in March that ruled her out of the major summer skirmishes, she was made a 1-5 shot for her reappearance.

Although she won comfortably, she gave her supporters a degree of concern by fluffing the break before being produced outside horses and cruising home to record her fourth Graded-stakes win.

Belmont Park: Frizette Stakes (Grade 1) 1m | dirt | 2yo fillies

Separationofpowers (Chad Brown/Jose Ortiz) pressed her claims for the Breeders' Cup when a ready winner of New York's most prestigious race for two-year-old fillies.

The filly cleared away from the field by three and a half lengths under Ortiz, and is now as short as 8-1 for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar with British bookmakers.

Keeneland: Juddmonte Spinsters Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f | dirt | 3yo+ f/m

Romantic Vision (Rusty Arnold/Brian Hernandez) earned a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff after being driven out to score by a couple of lengths from Martini Glass.