Nobel Prize hangs on to give O’Brien his 10th Ballysax

Jul 12, 2020 Kellie Reilly/

The European Road to the Kentucky Derby came down to a dramatic photo in Sunday’s Ballysax (G3) at Dundalk, where the Aidan O’Brien-trained Nobel Prize just lasted from the fast-finishing Indicative Vote. The winner’s favored stablemate, Monarch of Egypt, lacked a punch in fifth.

Nobel Prize would vault to the top of the European Road leaderboard with his 30 points from the Ballysax, and Indicative Vote’s 12 points are enough for second place. But neither is Triple Crown-nominated, and it remains to be seen if a dirt experiment is of any interest.

Ballysax fourth Choice of Mine now has the most points of a Triple Crown nominee, picking up 3 more here to bring up his total to 11. O’Brien’s Triple Crown nominee Royal Dornoch, who earned 10 points for winning the Sept. 28 Royal Lodge (G2) as the first race in the series, would be next in line. 

Sunday’s renewal of the Ballysax was unlike its past runnings, both in terms of its postponed date and its conditions – the Polytrack at Dundalk as opposed to three months earlier on the Leopardstown turf, and its novel role as a European Road scoring race. But the one constant was the success of O’Brien, who’d won the race nine times before and made it 10 here.

Nobel Prize is a full brother to one of O’Brien’s all-time stable stars, Highland Reel, whose major wins include the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). His other notable full siblings are multiple Group 2 hero Idaho, unlucky not to take the 2016 St Leger (G1) when stumbling and losing his rider, and Cape of Good Hope, who became a Group 1 winner in Australia last year. 

They are all by Coolmore supersire Galileo and out of the Danehill mare Hveger, herself a Group 1-placed full sister to Elvstroem and half to Haradasun, both Australian champions who made a splash in the Northern Hemisphere. Elvstroem landed the 2005 Dubai Duty Free (G1) on Dubai World Cup night, and Haradasun captured the 2008 Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot.

As that pedigree profile suggests, Nobel Prize’s future probably lies on turf. He’d raced exclusively on the grass until the Ballysax. Breaking his maiden at Naas third time out as a juvenile, he reappeared at Royal Ascot and finished fifth in the Queen’s Vase (G2) to stablemate Santiago, the next-out winner of the Irish Derby (G1). 
Nobel Prize made use of his stamina to lead the about 1 5/16-mile Ballysax, while Monarch of Egypt was ridden quietly at the back in hopes of helping him get the trip. Choice of Mine briefly showed speed on the outside before conceding the pacesetting job to Nobel Prize.
Under apprentice jockey Killian Hennessy, Nobel Prize opened up as they swung into the backstretch, and continued to enjoy a comfortable margin until the field closed in down the lane. Monarch of Egypt was curiously kept behind horses rather than peeling out to see daylight, but didn’t find much once he had the chance anyway.
Instead, it was Indicative Vote who emerged as the threat from well off the pace. The winner of a Roscommon maiden in his only prior start, Indicative Vote gained fast on the inside as Nobel Prize began to lose focus and then wander around in front. Approaching the wire, Indicative Vote had all the momentum, but Nobel Prize managed to scrape home by a nose in 2:16.91.
Dalvey raced in third virtually all the way, which would be good for 6 points. Choice of Mine checked in another half-length back, trailed by Monarch of Egypt and the filly Siamese.
Nobel Prize races for his breeder, Coolmore, in partnership with Moffitt and the Meduri Syndicate that have longstanding involvement with his family. Indicative Vote is trained by Ger Lyons for Vincent Gaul, while Choice of Mine is a Charles Fipke homebred from the yard of Aidan’s son Joseph O’Brien.
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