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ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Shadwell Stable homebred Nazeef surged to the front in the late stages to take Tuesday’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes (G2) on Day 1 of the 2020 Royal Ascot Meet.
Sent forth as the 3/1 second choice stateside, Nazeef and jockey Jim Crowley sat in midfield while Invitational struck the front and set the pace. Though Magic Lily gave closest chase, Invitational found herself with a healthy advantage halfway home and momentarily looked like a runaway winner.
Nearing the final 2 furlongs, Invitational grew leg-weary and lost the sizeable gap that she had created. Agincourt took over the lead with 1 furlong remaining, but Nazeef was hustling with every step and met the front-runner’s throat latch nearing the wire.
Though Agincourt raced all-out to get home first, Nazeef proved too strong, narrowly winning the 8-furlong turf event over the good to soft going in 1:40.57.
“It’s great to have three winners,” said Crowley, who also won the King’s Stand Stakes (G1) and the Buckingham Palace Handicap earlier on the day. “I had some nice rides today and they all ran very well. … Nazeef was coming into this race off the back of a nice win … and she toughed it out really well. She has done nothing but improve with every run.”
Queen Power was third over Iconic Choice and Posted, while completing the order of finish behind them came Invitational, the 5/2 stateside favorite Jubiloso, Wasmya, Lavender’s Blue, and Magic Lily. Miss O Connor was a non-runner.
Nazeef’s win improved her near-perfect record to 6-5-0-1, with this being her first success against Group stakes foes. The 4-year-old Invincible Spirit filly appears to be evolving into a top-level campaigner for trainer John Gosden, who also won the Ribblesdale Stakes (G2) with Frankly Darling earlier on the day.
“She is the sweetest filly,” Gosden said. “You go into the barn and she is the first to come and say hello to you. She is very affectionate and very genuine and very brave. She did nothing but improve last year; she went right through the handicap ranks and came into Listed this year. I have warned about the bounce factor; in her case, she won the Listed race at Kempton and came back and won here. I think she deserves a little rest now.”
Nazeef brought back $8.60 to win and $3.20 to place, Agincourt brought back $10.40 to place, and Queen Power paid $3.20 to place.
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