Roaring Lion pounces on Nelson in Royal Lodge

Sep 30, 2017 Kellie Reilly/

A Kentucky-bred scored 10 points on the “European Road to the Kentucky Derby” in Saturday’s Royal Lodge (G2) at Newmarket, as Roaring Lion got up to deny odds-on favorite Nelson.

Purchased for $160,000 as a yearling at Keeneland last September, the son of American turf champion Kitten’s Joy sports the colors of Qatar Racing. Roaring Lion brought a two-for-two record into this stakes debut for trainer John Gosden, and the 2-1 second choice remained perfect despite drifting out late.

Nelson, an Aidan O’Brien trainee, sparred early with Mildenberger while Roaring Lion was settled just behind them in the small field of five. As the favorite put away his pace rival, Roaring Lion issued his challenge and struck the front. Then he made it interesting by veering toward the stands’ side, allowing Nelson to regain the advantage.

But jockey Oisin Murphy got Roaring Lion reorganized, and the gray roared back to thrust his neck in front on the line. The winner negotiated the straight mile in 1:39.56 on good-to-soft ground.

Nelson, who was bidding to emulate his great sire Frankel’s victory in this race, earned four points for his hard-trying second. Mildenberger took home two points in third, and Petrus picked up one point in fourth.

The Royal Lodge was also a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), and Gosden is considering a venture to Del Mar. An alternative target is the October 28 Racing Post Trophy (G1) at Doncaster, depending upon whether the ground is suitable or if it is too soft.

“You either put him away or you look at a choice of two races,” Gosden said. “One is obviously Doncaster and the other is Del Mar. I love Doncaster and I would be worried if it got deep and that wouldn't be the place to go. He is an American-bred horse and he likes top of the ground. The next 10 days with the horse will tell us everything.”

Roaring Lion’s dam, Grade 1-placed Vionnet, is by champion Street Sense, who turned the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)/2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) double.

Roaring Lion photo courtesy of Newmarket via Facebook

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