Aidan O’Brien’s Battleground had to make do with the runner-up spot as Fire At Will claimed a surprise victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland.
A son of War Front out of the yard’s Arc heroine Found, Battleground was strongly fancied to provide O’Brien with a fifth victory in this Grade One contest following the previous triumphs of Wrote (2011), George Vancouver (2012), Hit It A Bomb (2015) and Mendelssohn (2017).
Winner of the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood this summer, Battleground raced in midfield for much of the way and was still back in the field rounding the home turn, as Wesley Ward’s front-runner Outadore set sail for home.
Michael Maker’s Fire At Will reeled in the leader inside the final furlong before pulling nicely clear in the hands of Ricardo Santana Jr.
Battleground finished strongly for Ryan Moore to beat Outadore to second, with Jessica Harrington’s Cadillac not far behind that pair in fourth.
Ralph Beckett’s pair of New Mandate and Devilwala, as well as Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet, finished unplaced.
Maker said of the 33-1 winner: “I thought he was way overpriced – he’s done nothing wrong and is a very professional and classy horse.”
Moore said of Battleground: “He ran a lovely race, I like him a lot. He’s a horse with a big future.
“He ran on really well at the finish, but the winner had gone.”
Shane Foley was happy with Cadillac, and may have been closer with a shade more luck.
He said: “He got shuffled back on the first turn, but then ran on in the straight. He stays the trip very well.”
Frankie Dettori, meanwhile, felt the season had caught up with New Mandate.
He said: “I think he’s over the top, he ran with the choke out. It was one (run) too many.”