Edited Breeders’ Cup Release ― Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg’s Warm Heart (IRE) narrowly got the better of Free Wind (IRE) Thursdayin a stirring finish to the 1 1/2-mile Pertemps Network Yorkshire Oaks (G1) at York. The daughter of Galileo (IRE) earned an automatic starting position in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
After finishing behind stable companion Savethelastdance (IRE) and Bluestocking (GB) on soft ground in the July 22 Juddmonte Irish Oaks (G1), Warm Heart, ridden by James Doyle, bounced back to the form which saw her win the Ribblesdale Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot in June.
After 10-3 favorite Savethelastdance set the pace under Ryan Moore, Warm Heart, off at odds of 9-1, traveled powerfully up the York straight and took up the running from her stable companion after passing the 2-furlong marker. Her main danger appeared to be the John and Thady Gosden-trained Free Wind, a 5-year-old mare who was also bouncing back from a poor run on heavy ground at Goodwood last time out. The duo locked horns but it was Warm Heart who found plenty to win by a head. Savethelastdance finished 2 1/4-lengths back in third.
Warm Heart completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:25:86 over nine rivals on a surface listed as good to firm.
Aidan O’Brien, who won the £500,000 contest for the seventh time, said: “It just didn’t happen in the Irish Oaks. The ground was a little bit on the slow side. She was lovely today. She’s a very classy filly and you saw what she did in the Ribblesdale.”
O’Brien also suggested Warm Heart she could end up at Santa Anita in November.
“Warm Heart handles the better ground very well, so it’s not a problem with her,” he said. “She can do anything. She could end up at the Breeders’ Cup.”
O’Brien saddled Tuesday (IRE) to win last year’s Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland.