First Mission much the best in G2 Alysheba Stakes


First Mission claimed the biggest win of his career so far as he powered clear of Japanese challenger T O Saint Denis in the G2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs, USA, on Friday, 3 May.

Encountering a sloppy track for the first time, First Mission was sent forward from the stalls and raced in third on the inside rail as T O Saint Denis tore off into a six-length advantage.

T O Saint Denis saw his lead halved leaving the back but continued to travel kindly in front, with First Mission taking second from Pipeline three furlongs out.

First Mission shifted out under pressure in the straight but closed strongly on the leader after straightening up approaching the final furlong.

The Brad Cox-trained four-year-old breezed past T O Saint Denis over half a furlong out and readily went clear, with Florent Geroux easing the Street Sense colt close home for a convincing four-length success.

Brad Cox said: “I was glad we weren’t up there with T O Saint Denis. We were sitting a decent trip and I was hopeful we were not too close with the fractions. First Mission has been training really well. Right before his last run at Oaklawn, he really turned it on and showed us what he was showing us leading up to the Pegasus. We really liked him in the Pegasus, but it wasn’t meant to be. We just drew a line through it, and things have worked out for him ever since.

“I think we have him in a rhythm now. I think he’s a G1 calibre horse, and we believe there is one out there with his name on it, maybe multiples. This sets us up to take a swing at it.”

Florent Geroux added: “When you get in a pace scenario like that, you just have to be patient and ride your race. I give a lot of credit to T O Saint Denis, who ran a huge race. Deep in the stretch, my horse was picking up his stride and he finished very easily.”