ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Mohammed Bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiya’s Baghdad returned to the Royal Ascot meet in search of his second victory in as many starts, and on Day 4, he found success once again, this time taking the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap.
Breaking from the barriers under Ryan Moore at 7/2 odds, Baghdad was prominently placed in the early going while Byron Flyer held a narrow advantage over Pivoine. Tipped out to run four-wide in the far turn, Moore gave Baghdad an early queue near the 3-furlong marker.
Set down for the stretch drive, Baghdad took command with 1 1/2 furlongs remaining, then dug deep late to hold off a hard-charging Ben Vrackie to win the 1 1/2-mile event by a short head in a final time of 2:30.59.
“We had to go wide on the home bend, so I don’t think Ryan was totally happy with his position,” Johnston said. “But he had to commit on the outside to make sure he got a clear run. Ryan rode a brilliant race and it is wonderful to see him have another winner here this week.”
Fujaira Prince was able to get up for third, with Corgi behind him in fourth and Collide a neck back in fifth. The rest of the field crossed thusly: Downdraft, Aquarium, Byron Flyer, Arthurian Fame, Lucius Tiberius, Lethal Steps, Secret Advisor, Johnny Drama, Top Tug, Spark Plug, Temple Church, Kasperenko, Pivoine, and Sevenna Star.
Baghdad’s win was his second straight, having taken the Qatar Racing Handicap at Newmarket on May 5. The 4-year-old son of Frankel improved his career record to 10-5-0-2.
“It is fantastic for Baghdad,” Johnston said. “He fractured a cannonbone when winning the King George V Stakes last year. Baghdad has only had two runs back this year and I have to say that we saved him for this a bit. Had he gone up a bit more in the handicap, he would not have got in. We wanted to wait for this before going on to bigger things.”
Baghdad returned $9.40 to win and $3.20 to place, Ben Vrackie brought back $4.80 to place, Fujaira Prince paid $3.40 to show, and Corgi paid $3.40 to place.