Keeneland: Harvey’s Lil Goil takes QEII; Mr Freeze ices Fayette

Keeneland’s recap of Saturday’s stakes races (Coady Photography photo above of Harvey’s Lil Goil edging Micheline in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup):

Harvey’s Lil Goil Turns Back Micheline to Win
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Dixiana

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 10, 2020) – The Estate of Harvey Clarke and Paul Braverman’s Harvey’s Lil Goil grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and then held off all challengers to win the 37th running of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana for 3-year-old fillies by three-quarters of a length over Micheline.

Trained by Bill Mott and ridden Martin Garcia, Harvey’s Lil Goil covered the 1 1/8 miles on a turf course rated as good in 1:48.72. The victory is the second in the race for Mott, who saddled Crown Queen to victory in 2014.

“We were pretty confident with her,” said Kenny McCarthy, who oversees Mott’s Churchill Downs operation. “She ran a super race for us at Kentucky Downs (finishing second to QE II runner-up Micheline in the Sept. 10 Dueling Grounds Oaks) in her last out and had trained really well in between. She’s a little superstar. She pretty much goes on any surface for us. At least in my mind, I think the turf probably is a little bit easier for her to handle.”

Sweet Melania set the pace with Harvey’s Lil Goil lapped on her outside through fractions of :23.89, :47.75 and 1:12.16. The two hit the top of the stretch as a team only to have Harvey’s Lil Goil quickly spurt away and open a daylight advantage.

“She has a lot of natural speed,” Garcia said. “She’s fast – you can do whatever you want. After the break, I moved outside and she was really comfortable by herself. When it was time to go, I asked and she responded.”

Favored Magic Attitude (GB) made the first run at her and then Micheline finished fastest of all to grab second but unable to catch Harvey’s Lil Goil. The result reversed the finish of the Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs Sept. 10 when Micheline prevailed by a neck.

“This is a big step up in class – a very deep field,” said Jimmy Bell, president of Darley America, Godolphin’s American breeding operation. “She just continues to get stronger and has developed over the spring and summer. These Grade 1 races are very tough, but she was gallant. She was full of run at the end. It was a great effort. Except for not getting our picture taken, we are very excited. There are some really good fillies in here, and this gives us an idea of where we rank with them.”

Bred in Kentucky by Clarke, Harvey’s Lil Goil is a daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of the Tapit mare Gloria S. The victory was worth $300,000 and increased Harvey’s Lil Goil’s earnings to $561,529 with a record of 8-4-1-1.

Harvey’s Lil Goil paid $9.20, $5.20 and $3.20. Micheline, ridden by Florent Geroux, returned $9.20 and $4.40 and finished a half-length in front of Magic Attitude, who paid $2.40 to show under Javier Castellano.

It was another half-length back to Red Lark (IRE), who was followed in order by California Kook, Hendy Woods and Sweet Melania.

Mr Freeze holds off Aurelius Maximus by a neck to win Hagyard Fayette

Mr Freeze won Keeneland’s Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2) under Javier Castellano. Coady Photography

Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Mr Freeze surged to the front on the far turn and then held off a late bid from Aurelius Maximus by a neck to win the 63rd running of the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2) for 3-year-olds and up.

Trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Javier Castellano, Mr Freeze covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:50.71. It is the third victory in the race for Romans, who previously won with M B Sea in 2003 and Pick of the Litter in 2014.

Mo Mosa shot to the lead out of the gate with Aurelius Maximus in closest pursuit and Mr Freeze racing in the clear just off the pace through fractions of :24 and :49.06. Approaching the half-mile pole, Mr Freeze and Crafty Daddy joined the front two with Mr Freeze four wide.

On the far turn, Mr Freeze had assumed command and opened a daylight advantage that was more than enough to hold his rivals at bay in the run to the wire.

“Today he ran like his old self,” Romans said. “That was a rough trip for him. I wasn’t expecting him to be four wide on both turns and stalking horses, but he showed what a good horse he really is.”

Romans said the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7 will be under consideration. “We’re going to have to talk about it,” he said. “We talked about the Dirt Mile (G1) before, but we’ll have to talk about everything (Mile and Classic-G1). Everything’s on the table.”

Said Castellano: “I had a beautiful trip. I like the way everything unfolded in the right place for my horse. Usually my horse goes to the lead, but they got the jump on us in the first turn. I was in really good position outside. Turning for home, I was very encouraged that he would get it done. He fought all the way to the wire and never let the other horse pass him. I am very proud of him. “

A Keeneland sales graduate, Mr Freeze is a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of To Honor and Serve out of the Tabasco Cat mare Heavenly Cat. It is the fourth graded stakes victory for Mr Freeze, who added $120,000 to his bankroll and pushed his earnings to $1,561,950 with a record of 16-6-4-2.

Mr Freeze paid $5.20, $3.40 and $2.40. Aurelius Maximus, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., returned $4.40 and $3.60 and finished three-quarters of a length in front of Title Ready, who paid $3.40 to show under Corey Lanerie.

It was another neck back to Coastal Defense, who was followed in order by Captivating Moon, Rated R Superstar, Crafty Daddy, Mirinaque (ARG) and Mo Mosa.

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Racing continues Sunday with a nine-race program beginning at 1:05 p.m. ET. Keeneland will offer a Pick 6 carryover of $34,998.45 and a Super High 5 carryover of $58,378.55.

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Jennie Rees