Big Brown colt Darwin passed his first black-type exam with flying colours in Ireland on Saturday.
The USA import had won in restricted company at Naas last month and he took the next step with another convincing victory in the G3 The Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh.
Darwin (3c Big Brown – Cool Ghoul by Silver Ghost) stalked front-runner Leitir Mor and then launched a strong finish under jockey Joseph O’Brien. He stayed on well at the end of 1600m to win by almost two lengths from last year’s G1 Prix de la Foret winner Gordon Lord Byron.
Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien said the Coolmore team was very lucky to get Darwin from America. “He came to us with a massive reputation. When he won his maiden over there, Todd Pletcher was jumping around the place and it was obvious to see why.”
Darwin is a son of Vinery shuttler Big Brown and he has been a headline horse since making $1.30 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2YO Sale in March 2012. He had won a Belmont Park maiden on debut last October but was then injured when fourth in the G2 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.
“He’s still a big baby but has got a great cruising speed and he gets a mile well,” O’Brien snr said. “There are several options and we may go to Deauville now.
“Joseph said the race was over when he asked Darwin to quicken. He gave Joseph a very good feel and then idled when he got to the front.”
Darwin is the fourth first-crop stakes winner by Big Brown who will stand for a $22,000 (inc gst) fee at Vinery this year.
Big Brown captured the 2008 Kentucky Derby – Preakness Stakes double and his overall count is 38 winners of 60 races at a 62% strike rate.
– Karl Patterson