Circus Maximus Edges Terebellum in Thrilling Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and Earns Automatic Berth into TVG Breeders' Cup Mile
ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND (June 16, 2020) -–Flaxman Holdings, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 4-year-old colt Circus Maximus (IRE) rallied strongly to repel the filly Terebellum (IRE) to capture the US$317,000 Queen Anne Stakes (G1) on the opening day of Royal Ascot. With this victory, Circus Maximus earned an automatic berth into the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 6-7.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Circus Maximus to start in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, which will be run at 1 mile over the Keeneland turf course. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a minimum travel allowance of US$40,000 for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Circus Maximus, who finished fourth in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last year, boasted winning form at Royal Ascot having captured the St James’s Palace Stakes (G1) 12 months ago.
On his first start since he ran in California, Circus Maximus was prominent throughout the race as the field tacked over to the grandstand side of Ascot’s straight mile. He was taken into the lead by Ryan Moore approaching the final furlong but was quickly joined by Terebellum, under Frankie Dettori, who went half a length up. But the blinkered Circus Maximus fought back doggedly to first draw level and then get a head in front on the line.
Marie’s Diamond (IRE) took third, a further 3 lengths behind.
Circus Maximus, bred by Flaxman Stables Ireland, completed the mile in 1:40.05 over a course listed as good to soft as the 4-1 favorite.
Flaxman Holdings and the Niarchos Family have won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) six times, with Miesque (twice), Spinning World, Domedriver (IRE), Six Perfections (FR) and Karakontie (JPN).
Winning jockey Moore, said: “He won the St James’s Palace Stakes last year and the Prix du Moulin (G1) at Longchamp. He’s been a really good horse and this is his third Group 1. They had their chance to come and beat him but he just put his head down, battled away and fought all the way to the line.”
For the first time in the meeting’s history, Royal Ascot is being staged without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to travel from Ireland due to the restrictions, winning trainer Aidan O’Brien watched the action from home in Ballydoyle, County Tipperary.
“That’s Circus Maximus exactly, he is very tough, he travels with a lot of speed, he quickens and then toughs it out,” said O’Brien. “Ryan gave him a brilliant ride.”
O’Brien is using three separate teams of staff to ship his horses to the meeting, one to take them to the airport, another to accompany them on the plane and a third to collect them at the other end.
“Circus Maximus is a very good horse. He has pace, tough and brave, a trademark Galileo with loads of speed. I think he is probably underestimated. A mile is his best trip which makes him more valuable, interesting and important. He loves getting eyeballed.
“He wears the blinkers because he is lazy and it’s only when the tempo is strong like it was that he really focuses. At a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, the tempo is not strong enough for him and you can’t get him to focus. A mile is what he is very comfortable at and I would imagine that is what he will stay at. Like a fighter, if you don’t get his blood up he doesn’t really bother.”
O’Brien said Circus Maximus was now likely to contest the Qatar Sussex Stakes (G1), another ‘Win & You’re In’ race for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, run at Goodwood on July 29.
“That’s the race for him,” he added. “He’s very comfortable racing around a bend as well.”
Godolphin’s Terebellum was race fit having won the Dahlia Stakes (G2) 10 days earlier but would have preferred a stronger gallop, according to trainer John Gosden.
“They didn't go any pace which probably played against her as she gets a mile and a quarter,” said Gosden. “She hit the front and the other one just came back on the run to the line under a rousing ride."
Circus Maximus becomes the fourth horse this year to earn a “Win and You’re In” for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile. In January, Kantor, Blank, Sarkis & Yutar’s 4-year-old gelding Vardy (SAF) won the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (G1) at Kenilworth Racecourse in South Africa to gain the first berth in the division. Peter M. Brant’s 5-year-old Raging Bull (FR) captured the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park in California on May 25, and on June 7, Sunday Racing Co.’s 4-year-old filly Gran Alegria earned the third automatic starting position into the Mile by taking the Yasuda Kinen (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse.
ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.
The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky and features a total of $35 million in purses and awards. The event will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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