LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Suedois had been a useful horse overseas when competing in group-level races, but it was his first trip to North America that led the French-bred 6-year-old gelding to a breakthrough performance.
Ridden by Danny Tudhope, Suedois was up in the desperate last jumps to win the 32nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile, marking his first-ever Grade 1 (or Group 1) victory in 32 career starts.
The Shadwell, the richest race of the 17-day Keeneland fall meet, was the last of five straight FallStars Weekend stakes on a huge Saturday card.
Before an ontrack crowd of 28,763, Suedois settled into midpack of the 14-horse Shadwell after breaking from post 3, with Tudhope enjoying an unencumbered run once the field straightened onto the backstretch. Leaving the quarter-pole, Heart to Heart, the front-running 2-1 favorite under Florent Geroux, sped away to an open lead, and after several others tried in vain to catch up, it took a sustained outside rally from Suedois to land the $600,000 winner's share. The win margin was a half-length, with Ballagh Rocks finishing another head back in third.
"I thought I had a nice position," said Tudhope. "He travels really well, and I didn't want to get [to the front] too soon. He finished really strong. He handled the track really well. I was happy with the way it went."
Suedois, owned by George Turner and Clipper Logistics and and based in England with trainer David O'Meara, returned $21.40 after finishing the mile in 1:35.94 over a firm course. The gelding was being treated with the diuretic Lasix for the first time.
The Shadwell is a Win and You're In event toward the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar. O'Meara said he would discuss whether to run back in the Mile with the gelding's owners before committing.
Suedois, by Le Havre, had won one Group 2 race and one Group 3 race while also mustering one second and two thirds from his seven Group 1 attempts. He now has earned $1,366,012.
For Heart to Heart, a nine-time graded winner, the narrow loss perpetuated a nagging frustration for his connections, as he still lacks a Grade 1 victory from 31 starts. The 6-year-old horse was defeated in very similar fashion here in the spring in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile.
"You obviously feel for the horse," said Brian Lynch, who trains Heart to Heart for Terry Hamilton. "He runs his eyeballs out every time. You've got to be humble and gallant in defeat, as hard as he tries."
Heart to Heart, an Ontario-bred, would have to be supplemented to run in the Breeders' Cup, so missing out on the WAYI berth is particularly stinging.
Ballagh Rocks, a 6-1 shot under Jose Lezcano, matched strides with Suedois for much of the stretch run while racing to his inside. He had 1 3/4 lengths on Divisidero, who got fourth by a nose over Mondialiste after that late-running pair left themselves with too much to do. Miss Temple City, making her last start before she is sold at auction next month, was just another head back in sixth.
Mondialiste, the 2016 Arlington Million winner, also is trained by O'Meara, whose profile continues to rise in European racing.
"We've been here [in the U.S.] a couple times before," said O'Meara.
The $2 exacta (3-10) paid $102.40, the $1 trifecta (3-10-6) returned $351.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (3-10-6-2) was worth $135.13.
An all-stakes pick four (races 6-9) returned $1,258.70 on 50 cents, with the pool attracting $469,845.
An all-stakes pick five (races 5-9) that included a 26-1 winner (Bucchero) and a 16-1 winner (Zipessa) returned a whopping $15,170.75 on 50 cents. The pool was $404,587.
The cross-country pick four wager that combined the Champagne and Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park with the Breeders' Futurity and Shadwell from Keeneland returned $2,054.60 on 50 cents. The pool was $284,486.