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Kentucky Derby prep: Bergamasco scores upset on Europe trail

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Bergamasco made a purposeful move to the grandstand side of
the course after turning for home and rallied for an upset victory Friday in
the Patton, a points race in Ireland on Europe’s road to Kentucky Derby 2024.

Off at 6-1 in the U.S. pool and 10-1 in Europe, the gelded
son of Cappella Sansevero was the longest shot of only three runners who
started the one-turn mile on the all-weather course at Dundalk. Now 2-for-2 as
a 3-year-old, Bergamasco’s winning time with no run-up was 1:39.83.

Trained by Jack Davison, Bergamasco raced in last place up
the backstretch, but he was not far off the early pace set by odds-on favorite
Navy Seal (3-5 U.S., 10-1 Europe) and stalked by second choice Nerano (4-5,
5-4).

Jockey Ronan Whelan shook the reins as Bergamasco made the
left turn going wide into the homestretch. By the time the field angled to the
outer rail, Bergamasco took the lead in the final furlong. Under right-handed urging, he ran on to a 1
3/4-length win over second-place Nerano. It was another three-quarters of a
length back to Navy Seal in third.

Henry Adams, an Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemate of Navy
Seal, was scratched.

Owned by JPD Partnership, Bergamasco ran his record to 9: 3-0-2.
After two off-the-board finishes in turf races in June and August, he was moved
to the Dundalk synthetic for all his ensuing races. His previous wins came in a
six-furlong maiden race in November and a mile handicap Jan. 26 over the same
course and distance as the Patton.

Friday’s race was intended to award 20-10-6-4-2 points to
the top five finishers toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby via the Europe
road. Even though Bergamasco moved into the lead in those standings, he
was not among the early nominees for the U.S. Triple Crown. Of the three Patton
horses, only Navy Seal was nominated, and he stands ninth in Europe qualifying.

The Cardinal Stakes worth
30-15-9-6-3 points, the one remaining race on the Europe trail, will be run April 6 going one mile on the all-weather course
at Chelmsford City, England. No more than one Kentucky Derby invitation will be
extended, but it cannot be passed any lower than the fourth-ranked horse in the
final standings. In its seventh year, the Europe invitation has yet to be
accepted.

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