For the first time since 1986, a filly has defeated the boys in France’s most illustrious juvenile race, as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Happily prevailed in Sunday’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) at Chantilly.
In the process, the Coolmore filly took care of some unfinished family business. Three years ago, Happily’s full brother, multiple champion Gleneagles, crossed the wire first in the Lagardere, only to be disqualified to third for interference. There was no such ambiguity about the result this time.
Sent off as the 7-5 favorite after her razor-thin victory in the Moyglare Stud (G1) at the Curragh, Happily stayed on relentlessly to wear down Olmedo and Masar in deep stretch. The daughter of Galileo edged away by 1 1/4 lengths and completed the metric mile on soft ground in 1:38.51.
O’Brien was scoring his 21st Group 1 win of 2017, pushing him closer to the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 for a calendar year. The master of Ballydoyle added another later on the card, with Rhododendron in the Prix de l’Opera (G1), making it 22.
Happily earned 10 points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby here, but she’s pointing for the classics closer to home. Same goes for Olmedo (four points for second) from the Jean-Claude Rouget yard, while Godolphin’s Masar (two points for third) and fourth-placer Woodmax (one point) are others unlikely to have Kentucky ambitions.
But Happily is under strong consideration for an American trip for next month’s Breeders’ Cup. She’s in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) by virtue of the “Win & You’re In” Moyglare Stud, and O’Brien mentioned Del Mar as a suitable target.
The Lagardere was staged on the biggest day of the French racing calendar, anchored by Europe’s fall championship event, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). The Arc was also won by a filly favorite, Juddmonte homebred Enable, so Happily’s triumph over the boys proved to be a harbinger.
Photo courtesy of Irish Champions Weekend via Twitter