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Circus Maximus Upsets Gosden Pair in St. James’s Palace

Circus Maximus Upsets Gosden Pair in St. James’s Palace

ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – A showdown between pupils of some of the world’s best connections resulted in trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Circus Maximus pulling the 13/1 stateside upset over a pair of John Gosden pupils in Tuesday’s $689,500 St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Ascot Racecourse.

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Breaking from the gate under Ryan Moore while adding blinkers, Circus Maximus closely attended early leader Fox Champion until straightening for home off of the far turn. Moore gave Circus Maximus the signal and he began to draw away. The 8/5 stateside favorite Too Darn Hot made a bid with a furlong remaining, but he was unable to get closer than a 1/2-length off.

Too Darn Hot’s stablemate King Of Comedy finished strongly down the middle of the lane, but it proved to be just a touch too little in the end. Circus Maximus fended off both Gosden runners – along with the rest of the 11-horse field – to win the mile-long event in a final time of 1:39.96.

“Circus Maximus has been a little bit slow coming to himself and learning about it all,” said Moore, who also won the Coventry Stakes (G2) two races prior aboard the O’Brien-trained Arizona. “He showed plenty at 2 and ran a good race at Doncaster at the end of the year, which gave him a chance, plus the rain helped. When Too Darn Hot got to me, he did not go by me, and I knew this horse would keep going.”

Too Darn Hot finished a length of of the winner in third, with Skardu just a 1/2-length off of him in fourth. Completing the order of finish came ShamanPhoenix Of Spain, Fox Champion, Van BeethovenRoyal MarineBell Rock, and The Irish Rover.

Circus Maximus’ win was his second of 2019 and improved his overall record to 7-3-0-1 with $499,544 earned. The 3-year-old son of Galileo was a late supplemental entry by co-owners Flaxman Stables (who also bred him) and the Coolmore contingency of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derek Smith.

“It is hard to believe, but we are just privileged to be a small part of it,” said O’Brien of his pupil who was cutting back in distance from the 12-furlong Investec Derby (G1). “It is a big challenge for the horse to drop back down in trip. That’s why we put the blinkers on him, as he didn’t have much time to learn how to race back at a mile, so that helped him. We were worried about the pace of the race for Circus Maximus back over a mile, having raced over a mile and 1/2, so we are delighted, really.”

Circus Maximus returned $24 to win and $6.40 to place, King Of Comedy brought back $3.40 to place, and Too Darn Hot paid $2.60 to place.

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