Esoterique defeats males in Marois; comebacker Karakontie sixth
The four-year-old filly Esoterique darted through an open seam in the middle of the pack with just over a furlong remaining and drove home a 1 1/2-length winner of Sunday’s Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) under jockey Pierre-Charles Budot.
The highlight of the August meeting at Deauville, the one-mile event was a “Win & You're In” event for the October 31 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
Returning one week after running a close second to Muhaarar in the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) over 6 1/2 furlongs, Esoterique handled the soft going with aplomb, much like she did last season when taking the Prix Rothschild (G1) over the same course and distance.
Esoterique went on to finish fourth in the Prix du Moulin (G1) and Sun Chariot (G1) following the Rothschild, and kicked off her 2015 campaign with a third in the Prix du Muguet (G2). She then ran second by a length to Solow, Europe’s leading older miler, in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot prior to her second in the Gheest.
Trainer Andre Fabre was non-committal about Esoterique coming over for the Breeders’ Cup, but indicated it was an option after intended starts in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp and Sun Chariot at Newmarket.
Fabre also trains Marois runner-up Territories, who was made the 6-5 favorite off a second to Gleneagles in the 2000 Guineas (G1) and a victory in the Prix Jean Prat (G1). The sophomore eased into contention on the outside in deep stretch but simply didn’t have the quickness to keep up with Esoterique in the deep footing. He finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Gemany-based longshot Wild Chief.
Of greater interest to American fans was the performance of Karakontie, making his first start since his upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last November. The classic-winning colt hopped at the start, trailed most of the way and made a modest rally to finish sixth.
"He was having a first run since winning the Breeders' Cup Mile and was understandably ring-rusty,” said Alan Cooper, the Niarchos family’s racing manager. "The important thing is that [jockey] Stephane Pasquier said the horse gave him a nice feel and that there is plenty of room for improvement.
"We will take him to the [Prix du] Moulin, but the [Breeders’ Cup Mile] is what everything is being geared towards."