Saeed Suhail’s 5-year-old Poet’s Word (IRE) surged to the front in the final furlong to upset odds-on favorite Cracksman (GB) to win Wednesday’s 1 ¼- mile Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) by 2 ¼ lengths under James Doyle at Royal Ascot and earned an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 82 stakes races, whose winners receive automatic starting positons and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 2-3.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Poet’s Word to start in the Longines Turf at 1 ½ miles. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters base outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Poet’s Word becomes the third horse to earn an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf this year. The first two to qualify were the filly La Extrana Dama (ARG), who won the Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (G1) at San Isidro in Buenos Aires, and Quarteto de Cordas (BRZ), who captured the Grande Premio Brasil (G1) at Gavea in Rio de Janeiro.
The Prince of Wales’s was also a record the 76th victory for Michael Stoute at the historic Royal Ascot meeting.
“Poet’s Word has been performing creditably in G1s and I am delighted for him to win one,” said Stoute. “We’ll take our time with him before deciding on future plans, but he could go for the Coral-Eclipse [Sandown Park, July 7th] or the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes [Sponsored by QIPCO, Ascot, July 28th]. There are a lot of options with him, as I think he is equally effective over 10 and 12 furlongs.”
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A bay son of Poet’s Voice (IRE), Poet’s Word, sent off as the 11-2 second choice, tracked just behind Cracksman in sixth place in the early going, while Eminent (IRE) and Royal Julius (IRE) set a strong pace through the first mile. Cracksman, winner of five straight races including last year’s Champion Stakes (G1), made the first move on the extreme outside and captured the lead. Doyle, stayed patient and then mounted a concerted stretch drive, and overtook Cracksman in the final furlong for Poet’s Word’s first Group 1 victory.
Hawkbill finished third, eight lengths behind the winner and was followed in order by Cliffs of Moher (IRE), Eminent, Royal Julius and Desert Encounter. Poet’s Word completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:03.51 over a course listed as good to firm.
Doyle, who claimed his ninth Royal Ascot winner, said: “They went a hell of a pace all the way. I could see Cracksman even after going a furlong was under pressure to hold his pitch. I thought, ‘I am going easy,’ and from Swinley Bottom to the home turn I was travelling all over him.
“It was just a case of hanging on and in the back of my mind I knew this horse stays a mile and a half, so I still wanted to press the button early enough.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes Replay
“Sir Michael is a master trainer, isn’t he? ”Doyle continued. “With horses like this he is just very patient with them. It is nice to ride him a big winner and particularly a landmark winner like this. I rode a fair bit for him when I was with Juddmonte and learnt a fair bit from him.”
He added: “I have ridden him [Poet’s Word] before in the Irish Champion Stakes [he finished second to Decorated Knight]; he travelled super that day and showed a nice turn of foot so I was pretty confident today. I had a nice position. I had a chat with Sir Michael before the race and he said, ‘look, just keep it nice and smooth’. After a couple of furlongs, I thought, ‘this is pretty smooth!’
Poet’s Word, came into the Prince of Wales’s off 2 ¼-length win in the 1 ¼-mile Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes (G3) at Sandown on May 24 as the odds on favorite over five rivals. Prior to that, he was second by three lengths to Hawkbill in the 1 ½- mile Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). Poet’s Word improved his career mark to won six wins in 15 career starts.
Stoute, whose first Royal Ascot winner came back in 1977 courtesy of Etienne Gerard in the Jersey Stakes, was tied with the late Sir Henry Cecil on 75 winners at the Royal Meeting, with his last success at the meeting coming back in 2016 with Dartmouth in the Hardwicke Stakes before Poet’s Word’s success today.
Reflecting on the achievement, Stoute said: “Henry’s record was formidable, because he accumulated those numbers when there were four days of Royal Ascot for most of his career and the five-day meeting hasn’t been implemented for that long.”