2017 Royal Lodge Stakes Race Recap

Just five horses went to post in Saturday’s Royal Lodge Stakes for 2-year-olds at Newmarket, and Roaring Lion edged the favorite Nelson in a thrilling finish to earn an all-fees paid trip to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar racetrack in California Nov. 3.

The victory also got Roaring Lion on the scoreboard in the new European Road to the Kentucky Derby. He picked up 10 points to qualify for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

Nelson and Mildenberger battled on the front end before jockey Oisin Murphy got Roaring Lion into contention at the furlong mark. He looked like an easy winner until he drifted left a bit in the stretch, allowing Nelson to counter-attack. But Oisen gave him a flick with his right hand and Roaring Lion dug in deep to outpoint Nelson at the wire by a neck for his 3rd victory in three starts. Well-bred Mildenberger was third.  
The final time over the good-to-soft going was 1:39.56.

Murphy said: "I was still on the bridle passing the bushes, so I couldn’t have sat any longer. We went a good gallop and he travelled like a really nice horse. I must be the luckiest young lad in the world riding horses like this.”

Roaring Lion is an American-bred Kitten’s Joy colt of the Street Sense mare Vionnet. Trainer John Gosden said the Breeders’ Cup is tempting because of the conditions in California.

“He’ll go to Doncaster or Del Mar, and he likes top of the ground,” which makes the Breeders’ Cup an interesting option. “The next 10 days with the horse will tell us everything.”

The Royal Lodge Stakes is a recognized trial for next season’s Classic races, the Guineas and Kentucky Derby, but Roaring Lion may be making his next trip to Southern California for the Breeders’ Cup.  

“He’s done nothing but improve, and we couldn’t be more pleased with him.”