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Alpha Centauri faces males in Prix Jacques le Marois

Courtesy of Steve Andersen of DRF.com

Alpha Centauri has gone from the surprise winner of the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas in May to the leading female turf miler in Europe this summer.

The winner of three consecutive Group 1 races, the 3-year-old Alpha Centauri will face males for the first time in Sunday’s Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at a straightaway mile on turf at Deauville, France.

The $1.15 million Prix Jacques le Marois will define the rest of Alpha Centauri’s season.

A win could lead to a start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. The Prix Jacques le Marois is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth for the winner to the BC Mile.

First, Alpha Centauri must contend with 10 rivals in France’s top mile race, which is restricted to entire males and fillies. Alpha Centauri, trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington for the Niarchos family, will attempt to become the first 3-year-old filly to win the Prix Jacques le Marois since Immortal Verse in 2011.

As of Friday, Alpha Centauri was even-money in the future book with European bookmakers. Her biggest rival is another 3-year-old filly in With You, who won the Group 1 Prix Rothschild at a mile on turf for fillies and mares at Deauville on July 29. With You was fifth, beaten a half-length, in the French Oaks in June.

The Prix Jacques le Marois will be her first start against males.

Intellogent and Cascadian, first and second in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat for 3-year-olds at Deauville on July 8, and the 4-year-old Group 1 winners Recoletos and Accidental Agent have shown races that will make them competitive.

Recoletos won the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Longchamp on May 27, but was seventh behind 33-1 Accidental Agent in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 19. The Queen Anne Stakes was Accidental Agent’s first stakes win. The colt has not raced since the Queen Anne, making Sunday’s race a chance to prove the recent win was not a fluke.

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