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ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Day two of the 2019 Royal Ascot meet proved to be twice as nice for jockey Frankie Dettori, who began Tuesday’s festivities with a 40/1 stateside upset aboard Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary Stakes (G2) at Ascot Racecourse.
Breaking cleanly from post 23 under Dettori, Raffle Prize was well-placed early, riding close to the inner rail within only a handful of lengths of the pacesetting American Kimari. With 2 furlongs remaining, those two and Final Song began to separate from the rest of the 25-horse field.
Inside the final furlong, Raffle Prize began to draw even with the 3/1 stateside favorite Kimari. The crowd roared in anticipation of a tight finish. In the shadow of the wire, Raffle Prize inched ahead to win the 5-furlong sprint by a head in a final time of 1:01.58.
“My filly was very brave,” said Dettori after earning his first win of the meet. “She jumped good and I knew she had won over 6 furlongs, so when I saw (Kimari), I decided to take her on early. The other filly had only run over 4 1/2 furlongs. I knew that if it was a test of stamina, she would give in sooner or later, and in the final 200 meters (1 furlong), I saw her stride start to shorten. I knew I had her.”
Hard-luck Kimari was a length clear of Final Song in third, with Liberty Beach another 1 1/4 lengths back in fourth while on the far side.
The rest of the field crossed thusly: Liberty Beach, Al Raya, Mighty Spirit, Flaming Princess, Flippa The Strippa, Tango, Lambeth Walk, Theory of Time, Multiply By Eight, Shadn, Divine Spirit, Too Shy Shy, Anna’s Fast, Ventura Flame, Isabeau, Partridge, Love Bracelet, American Lady, Applecross, Brand New Day, Daughter In Law, and Ickworth.
Emten, Good Vibes, and Kemble were non-runners.
Raffle Prize’s victory was her second straight following a 5-length maiden-breaking effort while going 6 furlongs at Chester. The 2-year-old daughter of Slade Power’s young record now stands at 3-2-1-0.
“Raffle Prize did it well today,” said trainer Mark Johnston after picking up his 44th career meet victory. “People always ask you in the build-up to Royal Ascot about what your chances are at the Royal Meeting. However, you can never know your chance, particularly in these 2-year-old races where most of the field are effectively maiden winners. There is nothing in the race with a great deal of form to go on. All you can do is run your best horses at the right time. Coming into Royal Ascot, we thought she deserved to be here, but you don’t know how good your horses are going to be in relation to the others.”
Raffle Prize returned $84.60 to win and $16.60 to place, Kimari brought back $3.40 to place, and Final Song paid $3.40 to place.
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