Tag Archive for: Del Mar Oaks

Motion keen on Ascot return with Spendarella

Graham Motion may bring Spendarella back to Royal Ascot next year following her gallant display in chasing home Coronation Strakes heroine Inspiral.

The English-born trainer, who is one of the leading trainers in the States, has hit the bar on a couple of occasions with his runners at the Royal meeting with Sharing, who was also runner-up in the Coronation Stakes back in 2020 also running a big race. Motion also brought Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom over in 2013.

Spendarella, winner of a Grade Two contest over a mile at Keeneland in her April prep run, went down by four and three-quarter lengths to the John and Thady Gosden-trained Inspiral in the one mile Group One contest.

Motion, who trains out of Herringswell Stables at Fair Hill in Maryland, is keen to give the daughter of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie a breather before dipping into top-level company again.

“She wasn’t going to beat the winner,” said Motion. “I did think she got tired. I feel like every time I come over to England I learn something about doing this.

“Your fitness levels and requirements are a lot greater than ours – and she hadn’t run since April. It is a pretty stiff challenge, that course, and I think she was very brave.”

The lightly-raced three-year-old, who was partnered by William Buick, had the likes of 1000 Guineas winners Cachet and Mangoustine plus other top-class fillies Discoveries and Tenebrism in behind, and could well return to Ascot in 2023.

“I was really proud,” said Motion. “There were some Grade One winners behind her and I think she proved her metal. I’d love to think we could bring her back next year, but we will see how it goes. We are going to keep trying.”

The 51-year-old, whose family moved to the States when he was 16, learned his trade under Jonathan Sheppard in Pennsylvania and then Jonathan Pease in France, before returning to America as an assistant with Steve Moyer and then Bernie Bond.

Animal Kingdom, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Shared Account and four-time Grade One winner Main Sequence have helped put Motion at the very top of his profession.

He believes that Spendarella may add to his collection of major successes, if she can stay a little further.

“She made it back and she is on her way to Fair Hill now,” said Motion. “She quarantined at Churchill when she got back to the States. She has spent the last few days at Keeneland, as I have a little stable there.

“But I plan to go easy on her for a little bit and probably point her for the Del Mar Oaks.

“There are not too many races for three-year-old fillies going a mile over here of any consequence, but I kind of have to take a shot, and hope she will go a mile and an eighth.

“William was pretty adamant that she was a miler. I tend to think the same, but I think over here we might get away with it.

Spendarella on the gallops in Newmarket
Spendarella on the gallops in Newmarket (Megan Ridgwell)

“I do think over here, your horses tend to get a little further distance, with the firm and flat (surfaces). So, I’m hoping she will get the mile and an eighth.

“The two Grade Ones over here are both that distance. The Del Mar Oaks is at the end of August and the QEII is in October at Keeneland.”

Motion also had news on plans for Highland Chief, who took the scalp of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Yibir in the Grade One Man o’War Stakes at Belmont Park in May.

Highland Chief won the Golden Gates Handicap for Paul and Oliver Cole at Royal Ascot in 2020 and scored on just his second start for his new trainer.

Last time out he finished fourth to Tribhuvan in the Grade One Manhattan at the same track.

Motion added: “He will probably go to the United Nations, the Grade One at Monmouth Park (July 23), which Tribhuvan won last year.

“I’m pretty happy with him. I’m never overly confident, but he’s been going well.”