Best Beyer: Royal Ship

• The week’s highest Beyer speed figure in North America

Horse Racing Royal Ship and Country Grammer
Royal Ship (Mike Smith, left) outlegs Country Grammer (Abel Cedillo) to win the G2 Californian at Santa Anita. Photo: Benoit

108 Royal Ship

Santa Anita (April 17): Californian Stakes G2 $200,000, 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Jockey: Mike Smith
Owner: Fox Hill Farms & Siena Farms
Pedigree: 4 bg Midshipman – Bela Val (Val Royal)
Time: 1m48.47s

Loads of good Beyers this week, when both Royal Ship and Country Grammer were rewarded with a BSF of 108 after finishing one-two in the G2 Californian at Santa Anita.

The pair were separated by a neck at the end of the $200,000 contest, and traditional handicapping would have the runner-up Country Grammer on top as he was conceding a couple of pounds.

Speed figures, though, seldom make concessions to weight differentials, and ex-Brazilian G1 winner Royal Ship won the race, so he gets the headlines here after a ding-dong duel.

Unseen since finishing fifth in the Travers Stakes, Country Grammer was making his debut for Bob Baffert after leaving Chad Brown. 

He set the pace, with Royal Ship pressing throughout before getting his head in front at the head of the stretch. Country Grammer fought back, however, before his rival edged the verdict after a stretch battle in which the pair drew well clear of odds-on favourite Independence Hall.

Formerly based at La Gavea in Rio, Royal Ship was winning for the first time in five starts since joining Richard Mandella in California last summer on the back of a five-race winning streak in Brazil.

The four-year-old has run exclusively in graded company in the US, where he had had only one previous outing on dirt. Next target for the winner is the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup on May 31.

Also worth of note was a 106 BSF for Coolmore’s highly rated $3.65m colt Cezanne, who landed his first graded success on his four-year-old debut for Bob Baffert in the G3 Kona Gold at Santa Anita on Sunday.

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