KINGSTON, Jamaica – In what will assuredly go down as one of the races of the year, Enable overcame an outside draw and an especially game Crystal Ocean to win Saturday’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Under jockey Frankie Dettori, the great mare had only three beaten early as her top rival assumed a nice stalking position behind a foursome of Aidan O’Brien trainees setting a stiff pace. But when the real running began, Enable was there to contend.
Tipped out off the final bend, Enable assumed an outside challenge against Crystal Ocean that lasted the length of the stretch. With a furlong to go, it could have ended either way before Enable, the 5-year-old daughter of Nathaniel, edged away in the final strides of the 1 1/2-mile feature.
It marked the second King George victory for Enable going back to her victory in this race as a sophomore in 2017 and extended her winning streak to 11 in a row. Overall, Enable, who’s trained by John Gosden for Prince Khalid Abdullah, has prevailed in 12 of her 13 career starts.
"She's a brave and wonderful filly, and what a great battle with Crystal Ocean -- a fantastic battle," Gosden said. "He headed her, and she came back. It's what you wanted to see: two great athletes -- the best older horse, the best older filly together."
A victory in the King George advanced Enable toward her season goal, and perhaps career finale, seeking a third straight victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. It also granted her a "Win and You're In" berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. Connections have not said whether she could continue on this season in defense of her victory in last year's Breeders' Cup before beginning a broodmare career.
Before those conversations happen, Gosden indicated York's Juddmonte International (G1) or Yorkshire Oaks (G1) could be next on Enable's calendar.
Enable was off at 2-5 on the American tote, carrying the type of price Gosden said discounted her challenge in this spot. All 11 runners at the five-day confirmation window ended up in the field with Crystal Ocean, the 7-2 second choice, a last out winner of Royal Ascot's Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1).
"The draw rather affected her," Gosden said of Saturday's King George. "...(Dettori) dropped farther than he wanted, and then I think she carried him back into the race. I said, 'I think you hit the front too soon, old boy.' But he said, 'I think I had to.'"
Dettori hopped off Crystal Ocean to ride Enable, who was making her second start of the season. She opened the campaign by defeated O'Brien-trained Magical -- second in the Breeders' Cup Turf -- in familiar fashion to take Sandown's July 6 Coral-Eclipse (G1).