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British Idiom, Engage win opening-day stakes on Fall Stars Weekend; earn trips to Breeders’ Cup

Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ British Idiom swept to the lead at the head of the stretch and romped to a 6½-length victory to win the 68th running of the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) for 2-year-old fillies before a Fall Meet opening-day crowd of 16,427.

In the race prior to the Darley Alcibiades, Woodford Racing’s Engage held off a late charge from 2017 victor Whitmore to win the 167th running of the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2).

Both winners earned fees-paid berths to the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held Nov. 1 and 2 at Santa Anita. British Idiom secured a spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to be run at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 1 and Engage nailed down a spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) to be run at 6 furlongs on Nov. 2.

Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Javier Castellano, British Idiom covered the 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:45.80. Cox and Castellano earned their first victory in the Darley Alcibiades.

A debut winner going 6 furlongs at Saratoga in August, British Idiom rated in fourth place as Spitefulness and Sequin dueled through early fractions of :23.73 and :47.27.

On the far turn, Sequin took over but was quickly joined and passed by British Idiom, who erased any doubt about the outcome. Perfect Alibi also made a big move on the turn from fifth to take over second but was no threat to the winner.

The victory was worth $240,000 and increased British Idiom’s earnings to $281,250 with a record of 2-2-0-0. British Idiom is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Flashback out of the Mr. Sekiguchi mare Rose and Shine.

British Idiom rewarded her backers with payoffs of $9.20, $4.40 and $3.20. Perfect Alibi, ridden by Jose Ortiz, returned $3.40 and $2.60 and finished three lengths in front of favored Alandra, who paid $2.60 to show under Joel Rosario.

It was another three lengths back to Gone Glimmering, who was followed in order by Sequin, Three D Flag, Spitefulness, How Ironic, Micheline, Western Taffy and Heir of Light.

Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2)

In the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, 2018 winner and favored Promises Fulfilled was first out of the gate, with Zipp On By applying pressure through fractions of :22.22 and :45.43 as Engage raced in mid-pack.

At the head of the lane, the pacesetters began to wilt as Engage, swinging six wide, steadily moved toward the front and had enough to hold off Whitmore, who had bobbled at the start and spotted the field nearly 10 lengths in the early running.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Engage covered the 6 furlongs in 1:10.21 over a fast main track. It is the first victory in the race for Asmussen and Ortiz

The victory was worth $150,000 and increased Engage’s earnings to $649,080 with a record of 12-5-4-0.

Engage is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Into Mischief out of the Speightstown mare Nefertiti.

Engage returned $21, $8 and $6. Whitmore, ridden by Joel Rosario, returned $5.40 and $4.40. A nose back in third was Lexitonian, who paid $12.60 to show under Adam Beschizza.

It was another three-quarters of a length back to Recruiting Ready with Hog Creek Hustle, Promises Fulfilled, Zipp On By, Cove Blue and American Pastime completing the order of finish.

On a sad note

Keeneland Equine Safety Director Dr. George Mundy issued this statement on the fatal injury to Stella d’Oro in today’s fourth race:

Keeneland is saddened by the loss of Stella d’Oro, who was euthanized after sustaining a catastrophic injury in today’s fourth race.

Fast Dreamer was vanned off following the fifth race. The filly sustained an injury to her right front leg and was taken to her barn for further evaluation.

Keeneland remains committed to the welfare of all involved in this sport we love so much. The safety of the horses and riders participating at Keeneland is priority No. 1. Keeneland has instituted some of the strongest safety and integrity protocols in the nation, and we are a leading advocate for further reforms to make the sport as safe as possible.

In addition to the investigation conducted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which includes a forensic necropsy, Keeneland will conduct an independent review of the incident, the results of which will be published when completed.

For an overview of Keeneland’s safety protocols and initiatives, visit Keeneland.com/safety.

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