Marsha and Lady Aurelia set for San Diego rematch
One of the most dramatic Group One finishes of the Flat season could have a sequel in California next month after Marsha, who beat Lady Aurelia by a nose in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August, was committed to a final run for the 10,500-strong Elite Racing Club in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar on 4 November. Sir Mark Prescott’s filly will be the Club’s first runner at the meeting, and heads to the December bloodstock sales a few weeks later.
Frankie Dettori, who rode Lady Aurelia at York, was so convinced that he had beaten Marsha that he punched the air in celebration after the line, and said afterwards that he was “dazed” to discover that Marsha and Luke Morris had got up in the final stride to win. Lady Aurelia, who is trained in the US by Wesley Ward, is also being trained for the Turf Sprint and is 11-8 favourite to gain her revenge in San Diego, with Marsha on offer at 5-1 with several bookmakers to confirm the York form.
Morris and Prescott will also be making their debuts at the Breeders’ Cup meeting, in a race in which Marsha will be chasing the richest prize of her career. The Turf Sprint, which has yet to be won by a European-trained runner in eight previous runnings, is worth $550,000 (£416,000) to the winner, more than twice the £198,000 that Marsha earned for her owners in the Nunthorpe.
“We were offered a place after York,” Dan Downie, Elite Racing Club’s manager, said yesterday. “We didn’t want to say anything until after Chantilly [where Marsha was second in the Prix de l’Abbaye], and we just made the final decision this week.
“It doesn’t look the strongest division [in US racing] and that was another reason that we felt she’d got nothing to lose. It’s going into the unknown travelling her over there, and it’s five furlongs at Del Mar, but she’s done everything so far and we think she’s obviously very smart and should take her chance.”
Marsha and Lady Aurelia are likely to have several pounds in hand of next month’s field in terms of ratings, and Downie is looking forward to the possibility of a rematch.
“We thought we ought to try again to see if we can beat her by a bit further this time,” he said. “I saw her on Monday and I have to say she looked fantastic. You’d want them both to arrive in top form and both to run their race and it will be a real spectacle, hopefully.”
Luke Morris, who rode Marsha to victory over Lady Aurelia at York, is set to make his Breeders’ Cup meeting debut