Mawj goes gate-to-wire in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)
Keeneland Press Release
LEXINGTON, Ky.— Godolphin’s homebred Mawj (IRE) grabbed the lead out of the gate and maintained her position all the way to post a half-length victory over Lindy (FR) in the 40th running of the $501,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Oisin Murphy, Mawj covered the 1 1/8 miles over a turf course rated as good in 1:48.06. It is the first Keeneland stakes victory for Murphy as well as for bin Suroor, who collected his 500th career grade or group victory.
Mawj was first out of the gate with Elusive Princess (FR) and Mission of Joy to her inside, but she assumed a clear lead going into the first turn. From there, she raced unopposed on the lead through fractions of :23.26, :47.72 and 1:11.89.
Going into the final turn, Elusive Princess applied a little pressure only to have Mawj kick clear again. In the stretch, Mission of Joy passed a tiring Elusive Princess to challenge Mawj only to have the Godolphin runner fend off that bid and have enough left in the tank to hold off a final challenge from Lindy.
Coming on the heels of a victory in the English One Thousand Guineas (G1) on May 7 at Newmarket, Mawj extended her 2023 undefeated streak to four and improved her overall record to 9-6-1-1. A daughter of Exceed And Excel out of the New Approach mare Modern Ideals, Mawj is a half-sister to champion and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Modern Games (IRE).
The victory was worth $294,500 and increased Mawj’s earnings to $956,585.
Sent off as the favorite in the field of nine, Mawj returned $4.62, $3.14 and $2.74. Lindy, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, returned $5.30 and $3.64 and finished a half-length in front of Mission of Joy, who paid $8.76 to show under John Velazquez.
It was another 1½ lengths back to Elusive Princess, who was followed in order by Sounds of Heaven (GB), Liguria, Elounda Queen (IRE), Papilio (IRE) and Freydis the Red (FR).
Racing continues Sunday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. ET with a nine-race program that is highlighted by the $350,000 Franklin (G2) for fillies and mares going 5½ furlongs on the grass. Slated as the seventh race with a 4:12 post time, the Franklin features Breeders’ Cup winners Caravel and Twilight Gleaming (IRE).
Sunday is Kids Club Family Day Presented by Kentucky Children’s Hospital.