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Blue Rose Cen Rallies to Claim Prix de l’Opera

Blue Rose Cen  dug deep in the home straight to get back up to defeat Jackie Oh  and Lumiere Rock  in the Prix de l’Opera (G1) at Longchamp Oct. 1 to cap a brilliant 3-year-old campaign with the fourth group 1 victory of her career.

The opening half of the season in France belonged to the Freddy Head-trained Blue Rose Cen, a brilliant winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on Arc Day last year, as she ran riot in the French Classics.

Having captured the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (G1), the filly was a runaway winner of the Prix de Diane (G1) and looked set to dominate as she moved up to tackle older fillies during the summer.

However, she met with defeat in the Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood—when jockey Aurelien Lemaitre received criticism for his ride—and was turned over again in the Prix Vermeille (G1) last month.

Nevertheless, there was confidence behind Blue Rose Cen as she took on the older horses again in the Opera, with the filly sent off the 2-1 favorite for the 1-meter and two-furlong contest.

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Having initially led the field, the daughter of Churchill  was headed by Lumiere Rock and then passed again at the top of the home straight by Jackie Oh. It seemed another defeat was looming.

But this time Blue Rose Cen had more to give. Galvanized by Lemaitre, she surged back past Lumiere Rock and ran down Jackie Oh to take the victory in the Yeguada Centurion colors of owner-breeder Leopoldo Fernandez Pujals.

Head said: “It’s incredible. This filly has brought us so much. She has had a long and tough season, and every time she shows up. I’m delighted to be lucky enough to train her. For her to come back and win on Arc Day is really something else.

“My feeling really is that it is the filly who has made me and not the other way round. The choice of race wasn’t hard because she showed in the Vermeille what her limits were in terms of trip. She clearly showed where we needed to be going in terms of her program for next year.”

Blue Rose Cen was shortened to 4-1 joint-favorite (from 8) with Paddy Power for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) following her success.

“I’ll talk to her owner about whether that’s it for the year,” he said. “The Breeders’ Cup is a possibility, but I have to talk to the Yeguada Centurion team.”

The filly received an automatic berth into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race held in November at Santa Anita with her victory Sunday.

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