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American Pharoah’s Holy Roman Empress Reigns at Punchestown

A cut back to nine furlongs worked well for Holy Roman Empress (3f American Pharoah x Damson, by Entrepreneur) on Thursday when the filly broke her maiden at Punchestown in Ireland.

Trying 1 1/8 miles for the first time on the soft ground, the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly broke a step slow but was quickly into stride and after the leaders. Racing up the rail, the filly was challenging for the lead after a few furlongs under Seamie Heffernan.

In the final two furlongs, Holy Roman Empress opened a clear lead and had more than enough to hold off all challengers. She led home a Coolmore-sired top three with a two length advantage on Zoffany’s Zofar Zogood, who was a head in front of Starspangledbanner’s Chrysalism.

“I think she can improve. I got her motivated and she hit the line well,” Heffernan told “I wasn’t too worried about the ground as we have a few by American Pharoah and they seem to go on all sorts of ground.”

Bred and raced by the Coolmore partners, the regally bred Holy Roman Empress is a half-sister to Group II winner Requinto and is one of seven winners out of champion Damson. The mare is also the dam of Group III-placed Independence Day with her daughter producing a New Zealand Group III winner and another producing a Group III winner in Last Kingdom and a U.S. Grade III-placed filly.

Holy Roman Empress also hails from the family of champions Whisky Baron, Gilt Edge Girl, and Tasaday.

Damson has a 2-year-old colt by Zoffany named Zoffa, a yearling colt by American Pharoah, and a weanling filly by Justify. She returned to Justify this season.

Last year’s Champion Freshman Sire, American Pharoah leads all North American and European second crop sires by number of stakes horses, graded stakes horses, and Grade I horses and is second by number of stakes winners and graded stakes winners.