Lael Stable's Chez Pierre turned in a devastating performance to land the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland on Friday and become the fourth winner at the top level for Mehmas.
Although Mehmas is renowned for throwing good two-year-olds, Chez Pierre is also proof of the toughness and longevity of many of his progeny, being a five-year-old from his first crop.
Sent out in front by Flavien Prat, Chez Pierre covered the mile on a firm turf course in a stakes-record 1:33.46 to give trainer Arnaud Delacour his first victory in the race (photos below courtesy of Keeneland).
Dr Zempf initially tried to match strides with the winner but by the time they headed down the backstretch, Chez Pierre had opened up a healthy lead, something that he still had in hand as they turned for home. Breeders' Cup Mile winner Modern Games gave vain chase but he couldn't get anywhere near Chez Pierre, who cruised to the wire as the near four-length winner.
“When he ran last year at Laurel Park (winning the Henry S. Clark-L Stakes) and ran a pretty big number, showed great acceleration, we thought he would probably be major,” said Arnaud Delacour. "Modern Games is considered one of the best milers in the world, let's face it. So a performance like that today (from Chez Pierre) is very exciting, I think now that he’s running, the most difficult part has been done. So we’re just going to do maintenance breezes and map out a summer with him. Obviously it seems he likes the firm turf – today was perfect to his liking – so we will try to spot him in races on firm turf.”
Prat added: “He broke well. I talked with Arnaud that we could find ourselves on the lead, which happened. But he wasn’t really comfortable. He was looking around, and when that horse (Dr Zempf-GB) down the backside made a move, it actually helped me a lot because then I had a target and he was able to settle down and get in a good rhythm. Turning for home I tipped him out and he really accelerated well.”
From the first crop of Mehmas, Chez Pierre was bred in France by SCEA des Prairies & Ecurie de Castillon, is one of two stakes winners out of the Orpen mare Hortensia. He was one of the standouts of the 2020 Arqana Summer Sale when sold for €100,000 to NBB Racing, for whom he won three races, all at Chantilly.