After being collared and apparently beaten by Roaring Lion in Saturday’s Racing Post Trophy (G1), 6-5 favorite Saxon Warrior came again to prevail in a thriller at Doncaster. His gameness thereby propelled trainer Aidan O’Brien to a record 26th Group 1 win in a calendar year, one more than the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, with more chances to pad that total by season’s end.
The Racing Post Trophy turned into a battle of winners from the first two points races on the “European Road to the Kentucky Derby.” Saxon Warrior landed the September 24 Beresford (G2) at Naas, and Roaring Lion prevailed in the Royal Lodge (G2) for trainer John Gosden at Newmarket. Both undefeated going into Saturday’s clash, the colts were tied at 10 points apiece. The Racing Post Trophy was therefore going to decide the points leader on the European scoreboard ahead of the winter holiday, with no further points races until next March.
Top jockey Ryan Moore opted to ride Saxon Warrior from a four-strong entry for O’Brien, and placed the favorite in an early stalking spot as the two pacemakers scampered forward. Readily passing them to strike the front, Saxon Warrior was then accosted by Roaring Lion rallying from the back of the pack. Roaring Lion built up about a half-length advantage until Saxon Warrior responded to get back up by a neck. The winner negotiated the straight mile over good-to-soft turf in 1:40.12 to remain perfect through three starts.
Although Saxon Warrior doubled his Kentucky Derby points total to 20, the son of Japanese supersire Deep Impact is expected to stay on turf and point for the Epsom Derby (G1). He has now clinched early favoritism for Epsom from stablemate The Pentagon, who finished another 2 1/2 lengths back in third on Saturday.
Roaring Lion, a Kentucky-bred by turf champ and leading sire Kitten’s Joy, earned 4 points for his second in the Racing Post Trophy and now goes into winter quarters with 14. The Pentagon opened his account with 2 points, and fourth-placer Verbal Dexterity, another likely eyeing the European classics, scored 1 point in fourth.
Photo of record-breaking trainer Aidan O'Brien and Saxon Warrior courtesy of Champions Series via Twitter