Another elite success for Hayley Turner, riding I’m A Dreamer for David Simcock in the Beverly D Stakes, reiterated that she should no longer be celebrated merely as Britain’s most accomplished female jockey.Colm O’Donoghue, meanwhile, passed a milestone of his own, proving that stables other than Ballydoyle should benefit from his class by taking the inaugural American St Leger on Jakkalberry for Marco Botti. And the French got a piece of the action, too, when Bayrir landed the Secretariat Stakes for three-year-olds.
But if these triumphs nearly represented abuse of hospitality, then some of the visiting riders seemed to overdo the meek manners in the big one. Few, admittedly, actually chose to detach themselves from the leisurely pace set by Ramon Dominguez, largely being trapped behind less competent runners. But the fact is that several, having allowed Little Mike to break clear, were never nearer than at the line – notably Afsare, who finished strongly for second.
The Luca Cumani-trained five-year-old’s connections will not overstate what might have been, however, given how earnestly Afsare had tried to refuse the gate beforehand.
Little Mike’s success completed a classic American fairy tale. He is owned by Carlo Vaccarezza, who arrived from Genoa 46 years ago. “I was 15 years old and had 60 dollars in my back pocket,” he said. “I had no skills, no job, no diploma. I was just a kid who wanted a better life for myself.”
He found a job working for a trainer at Aqueduct, in New York, where his diligence was noticed by patrons of his boss. They offered him employment in a new venture and so began a lucrative career in the restaurant trade.
Vaccarezza bred Little Mike for $5,000 (£3,000) from an unraced stallion and a mare gifted by a friend after a mediocre racing career. Now Dale Romans is likely to train the gelding for the Breeders’ Cup. “I saw the fractions and I said to Dale: ‘It’s over!’” Vaccarezza said. “You can’t give this horse that kind of lead, it’s impossible.”
O’Donoghue had to settle for fifth on Crackerjack King, for whom he suspected the track was riding a little slow, but once again advertised his eligibility for any stage with a smooth ride on that horse’s half-brother. Jakkalberry will now be aimed at the Melbourne Cup.
As for Turner, she just held out after committing halfway down the straight. This was her second Group One success for Simcock as deputy for William Buick – this time claimed for Joviality, in third – following that breakthrough success on Dream Ahead in the July Cup last year.
Though the first woman to win this prize, which is confined to fillies and mares, Turner will be aware that female riders have a longer tradition of success here than in her homeland. As such, Simcock perhaps warrants more credit than he was able to claim with Dream Ahead – whose departure to stud, after all, left a gaping void in his Newmarket stable.
“Probably Hayley hit the front early enough,” he said. “It’s not a long straight, by our standards, but it certainly felt like one. But she’s been an able substitute twice for us now, and it all worked out perfectly.
“We view our stable as in a transitional stage, with Dream Ahead gone and a new band of owners, and I’m A Dreamer has very much been carrying us through.”