Althiqa storms home to beat Summer Romance in G1 Just a Game
Althiqa produced a remarkable late run to edge out Summer Romance as the Charlie Appleby-trained fillies dominated the finish to the G1 Just a Game Stakes over a mile on turf at Belmont Park, USA, on Saturday, 5 June.
The four-year-olds were meeting for a third time this season having traded G2 contests at Meydan, UAE, earlier this year, with Althiqa winning the Cape Verdi in January and Summer Romance making all in the Balanchine the following month.
Summer Romance was quickly into her stride and adopted her usual front-running tactics under Luis Saez. She soon established a two-length advantage over the field, with Althiqa held up in eighth of the 10 runners by Mike Smith.
Althiqa still had seven rivals in front of her as Summer Romance kicked for home at the top of the straight but showed brilliant acceleration down the inside rail, heading her stable companion entering the final half-furlong to score by three-quarters of a length.
Charlie Appleby said: “We are delighted with both Althiqa and Summer Romance and it is great to get a G1 victory with a homebred filly. Althiqa is as tough as old boots and deserved to get her head in front at this level, while Summer Romance lost nothing in defeat.
“They had both won G2 races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, so it’s nice to see the form get franked so strongly. We might potentially keep them out in the USA for the time being and have a look at the G1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga next month.”
Mike Smith added: “Althiqa has got a big heart and is very, very honest, so she is going to run good. You are just going to have to make a trip when it’s time to move on. I was actually going to tip out, but she kind of leaned in like she wanted to drop to the fence, so I just let her. It was a small hole, but her trainer told me she had a big heart and she got on through there. She might suit American racing really well. We might want to keep her here.”
Luis Saez said: “Summer Romance ran pretty hard and I thought we were going to win. She came into the stretch running and then Mike Smith came really fast. We just got caught. She never gave up and tried to the wire.”