Geraldina Wins QE II Cup in Japan; Magical Lagoon Last

Regally bred Geraldina came into her own in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1T) Nov. 13 at Hanshin Racecourse, taking advantage of yielding turf to land her first top-level win and showing promise of living up to the expectations of her pedigree.

The favorites, including international raider Magical Lagoon , found the off going too much to handle as long shots Win Marilyn and Lilac finished in a dead heat for second.

Daring Tact , the Japanese filly Triple Crown winner two years back, went to the post as favorite in the 2,200-meter (about 1 5/8 miles) event but finished sixth. Namur ran fifth and Shuka Sho (G1T) winner Stunning Rose was a rather stunning 14th. Magical Lagoon, the Juddmonte Irish Oaks (G1T) winner, faded badly through the stretch to finish last.

Geraldina, by Maurice  out of the Deep Impact  mare Gentildonna , won in 2:13.0 with Cristian Demuro in the irons. That time was 2.9 seconds shy of the course record, reflecting the condition of the turf.

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That seemed no matter to the winner, who lagged behind most of her 17 opponents until the field headed into the final sweeping turn. Demuro found a lane well out on the course, and Geraldina willingly ran by rivals to open a daylight lead, then held on well to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

The QE II was her first start on turf rated anything less than good.

“The filly was traveling very well in the last corner, came out and gave a good turn of foot,” Demuro said. “The last time when she won, it was a good race, so I was pretty confident with her.

“Gentildonna was a good filly,” Demuro said in a masterpiece of understatement, “and I think Geraldina can be like her dam.”

That will be a tall order, as Gentildonna’s seven grade 1 victories included the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks-G1T), the Dubai Sheema Classic Presented by Longines (G1T), and two editions of the Japan Cup (G1T). She finished second in three more grade 1 races and fourth in her third try in the Japan Cup.

Geraldina is the most accomplished of her four named foals.

Geraldina’s sire landed six grade 1 victories, including the Longines Hong Kong Mile (G1T) and the Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1T), the latter at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), as well as three events at the top level at home.

Shane Foley, who rode Magical Lagoon for trainer Jessica Harrington, said his filly was reluctant to load and couldn’t handle the off going despite enjoying a forward placing through most of the race.

“We were able to race in good position, but she likes quick ground and the rain, unfortunately, took her chance away,” Foley said. “I urged her to go from the third corner but she didn’t respond.

“I don’t know why she didn’t want to go into the gate, because she’s usually really good.”

Geraldina, bred by Northern Racing and running in the Sunday Racing Co. colors, is trained by Takashi Saito. She was making her 16th start and, despite a few flashes of talent, had not given much indication of living up to the credentials of her dam or sire. The first four of her five previous wins came well down the class order, and it was not until her 15th start that she won a graded stakes—the Sankei Sho All Comers (G2T) at Nakayama Racecourse Sept. 25. Her only previous start in a grade 1 event resulted in a seventh-place finish in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1T) almost two years ago.

Saito said before the QE II he saw indication that the light might have switched on for his filly.

“I was pleased with the way things went in her last race, which included getting a position early,” the trainer said. “She’s a lot more developed now and she’s a lot better at taking the bit and finding a good rhythm in her races.”

She’s still a long way from emulating Gentildonna, though.


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