ASCOT, England (AP) -Dawn Approach won the St James's Palace Stakes on the opening day at Royal Ascot following a thrilling race and a photo finish with Toronado on Tuesday.
The win followed Declaration of War's victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at the expenses of Kentucky Derby champion and race favorite Animal Kingdom.
Dawn Approach, ridden by Kevin Manning, confirmed his current run of form with a stunning finish. On a very humid day, the 2,000 Guineas winner started out as a 5-4 favorite over his preferred distance but was trailing in fifth after the final turn. He was squeezed in the home stretch, but fought until the end to win by a short head.
The horse trained by Jim Bolger bounced back superbly after a poor run at the Derby at Epsom earlier this month.
"It was so disappointing in the Derby. It was a big blow to everybody," Manning said. "Once I got my head in front and Richard (Hughes, on Toronado) was fighting me, he was always holding on. He's a real battler. I wasn't sure I'd won but I thought he had."
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said Dawn Approach's win will help restore the stable's image following a doping scandal that led to an eight-year ban in April for one of its trainers, Mahmood Al Zarooni.
"This is the biggest race of the whole week and it matters," he said. "It is massively important and massively important to Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin. I can't describe how great this win feels right now. It's a great day in Godolphin's history."
A 5-1 favorite, Toronado finished ahead of Mars, who went off at odds of 10-1. Toronado jockey Hughes was also hampered by jostling in the final straight and said he would not have been pipped to the post without the incident.
"I had him rolling and had to stop and get him rolling again, but the winner is very brave," he said.
In the Queen Anne Stakes, Animal Kingdom finished at the back of the field in what was expected to be his last race before retirement.
Ridden by Joseph O'Brien and trained by Aidan O'Brien, Declaration of War won by three-quarters of a length ahead of Aljamaaheer. Gregorian finished third.
"He came back to what we always thought he would be," Aidan O'Brien said. "He has a lot of speed so we waited as long as we could. He's a big powerful horse and when we produced him, he put his head in and was through."
Ridden by Johnny Velazquez, Animal Kingdom started as a 5-4 favorite but faded badly and finished 11th out of 13 horses in the prestigious race - a straight mile.
"My horse was pretty keen and he didn't get to relax too well. There was nobody there. I guess it was him being keen," Velasquez said. "When I let him go, he didn't come up with any run at all. I rode him out to the wire, but there was no point. Everybody was getting away from him. He just didn't have anything. He didn't have it at all."
Animal Kingdom won the Derby in 2011 and the $10 million Dubai World Cup this year. The versatile colt was hoping to cap his career in style by claiming one last victory, which would also have secured a Group One victory on three different track surfaces. But he was never in this race.
"It was an awkward post and Johnny had trouble getting him to settle," Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion said. "I don't want to offer too many excuses because he has trained perfectly for the race."
The four-year-old Declaration of War, which went off at 15-2, was briefly blocked in traffic but was unstoppable after moving up to the front, sweeping away the disappointment of his run in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month.
"I'm not really quite sure what happened in the Lockinge,"Joseph O'Brien said, "Dad thought he wasn't quite as fit as he'd hoped to have him. He said he had him 100 percent today and he was bang on. I was going very well and I just went into the gap. It got a little bit tight, but he was going exceptionally well and quickened up well, but he idled when he got there."
After the traditional procession down the course led by Queen Elizabeth II, a minute's silence was held for Henry Cecil, the renowned trainer who died last week at 70.
Knighted by the Queen in 2011, Cecil was champion trainer in Britain 10 times. He capped his career by training one of racing's all-time great horses, Frankel, who was retired last year after winning all 14 of his races.
Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom was unable to go out a winner, fading quickly in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday in his last race before retirement.
Ramon Dominguez, a three-time Eclipse Award winner as the leading jockey in North America, retired on Thursday due to a head injury suffered in a fall earlier this year.