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Lucky Vega set for St James's Palace farewell as stallion career awaits

Phoenix Stakes winner is to join the Yulong Stud roster

Lucky Vega and Shane Foley after winning the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes last summer
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Group 1-winning two-year-old Lucky Vega will be ending his brief yet successful racing career in Tuesday's St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot before heading to Australia for a future at stud. 

Yulong Stud owner Yuesheng Zhang will resist the temptation to extend the three-year-old’s campaign beyond an eighth career start and instead stick to the plan of bringing the son of Lope De Vega to his Victorian operation in August ahead of the 2021 breeding season.

One of six stallions on the Yulong roster, led by Written Tycoon, Lucky Vega will stand for an introductory fee of A$22,000 (£12,000).

Troy Stephens, Yulong’s nominations and sales manager, confirmed on Monday that the Jessica Harrington-trained Lucky Vega would be retired after his appearance on the opening day of the Royal meeting.

"It was definitely a hard decision to make and there was a lot of talk around it, but we want to be a premier stallion farm and we want to stand champion stallions, so the decision to bring him down [this year] was pretty easy when we looked at it that way," Stephens said. 

"He’s a Group 1-winning two-year-old son of Lope De Vega. He ran second in another Group 1 in the Middle Park Stakes up there as a two-year-old and now he’s got Group 1 form as a three-year-old, so bringing him down here he’s an out-cross to Danehill and we think he’s going to have a really good chance [of making it as a stallion]."

Lucky Vega, on the fifth line of betting as a 13-2 chance, ran fourth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas while also finishing third at his previous start to likely favourite Poetic Flare in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, his first start as a three-year-old.

Stephens would not dismiss the prospect of Lucky Vega bowing out as a dual Group 1 winner after the race.

"He came back as a three-year-old first-up in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket where he ran a very courageous third, beaten by a short margin. He then went to the Irish Guineas where he absolutely hated the track," he said. 

"It was blowing a gale and bucketing down with rain over there, but he held on for a strong fourth, so they are really happy going into the run. I think if he can go back to producing what he did at Newmarket he will be very hard to beat."

The early reaction to Lucky Vega from Australian breeders has been positive with Stephens suggesting it was hard to ignore the southern hemisphere feats of his own sire Lope De Vega during a four-year shuttling stint between 2011 and 2014. 

"Lope De Vega has sired four Group 1 winners down here: Gytrash, Santa Ana Lane, Vega Magic and now Vega One. Both Gytrash and Santa Ana Lane are out of Fastnet Rock mares while Vega Magic’s maternal granddam was by Danewin, so he’s certainly clicked well with Danehill and Danehill line mares down here," he said. 

"Even up in the northern hemisphere, he’s worked well with the likes of Belardo, one of his first crop champion two-year-olds, and he's out of a Danehill mare himself.

"He's going to be the first son of Lope De Vega to stand at stud in Australia, which is a huge thing, and breeders are pretty eager to see him and his bookings are certainly going well, so we couldn’t be happier with him."

Lucky Vega won his first start as a juvenile at Naas last June and finished runner-up in the Railway Stakes at the Curragh before going one better at the same course in the Phoenix Stakes in August. He was also runner-up to Supremacy in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September to round out his season.

Yulong is also launching the stud careers of Blue Diamond Stakes winner Tagaloa and Cantala Stakes winner Yulong Prince this year.


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I think if he can go back to producing what he did at Newmarket he will be very hard to beat
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