How international is Collier Hill? The British-bred, 8-year-old gelding made Canada his seventh racing nation. His last start was in Sweden and within the past two years, he also has raced in England, Ireland, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.
But Sunday, he raced just fast enough to get to the winner's circle at Woodbine, outside Toronto.
After stalking the early pace, jockey Dean McKeown sent Collier Hill to the lead at the top of the stretch and quickly opened up a seemingly comfortable advantage. But then Go Deputy, from the red-hot barn of trainer Todd Pletcher, came running and even appeared to poke his nose in front. Collier Hill battled back and won the head-bob at the wire.
Asked if he thought Go Deputy was going to go by him in the lane, McKeown said, "I did. But this horse is such a battler. He's been all over the world. We've been to Dubai, Germany, Sweden and he's won everywhere. As an 8-year-old, he's just an incredible horse -- a very, very talented horse that just doesn't get the recognition he deserves."
The winner's share of $1,066,560 (in U.S. dollars), was about 50 percent of Collier Hill's total previous winnings.
In other weekend racing:
Leah's Secret stalked the pace five-wide down the backstretch in Saturday's $300,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, surged to the lead with a furlong to run and got home first, 3/4 length to the good of Vestrey Lady. Ex Caelis completed an all-long-shot trifecta that paid $26,441 for a $2 ticket. Mark Guidry rode Leah's Secret 7 furlongs in 1:22.74.Leah's Secret, making her first stakes start, came into the race off a fifth-place finish in the Weekend Delight at Turfway Park -- a Polytrack trial for her, according to trainer Helen Pitts. "We lost a little bit of time with her during August," Pitts said, 'and brought her back on the Polytrack at Turfway, hoping for a prep for this. I guess it worked."
In Sunday's $150,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes, Louve Royale bided her time until the field neared the third turn, then came running on the outside for jockey Julien Leparoux. Gaining steadily, the 5-year-old, Irish-bred daughter of Peintre Celebre got the lead in deep stretch and won by 1/2 length over long-shot Bottiglia. Bond Deal finished third. Louve Royale finished the 1 1/2 mile on firm going in 2:32.59.
On Friday, Meribel rallied from last in a field of 13 3-year-old fillies to win the $125,000 Valley View Stakes by 1/2 length over Precious Kitten. May Night finished third. Meribel, a daughter of Peaks and Valleys, finished 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:42.95. Garrett Gomez was up for trainer Christophe Clement. Gomez said the dramatic rally was helped by the Polytrack. "I'd say most of the time (horses) sit back there and eat a lot of dirt. On this Polytrack, they have no kickback. Horses that get back there settle into a nice stride and make a nice run. They don't have to fight their way through the clods and the dirt."
Arravale rallied when asked entering the stretch in Sunday's $1 million (Canadian) E.P. Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares and held well in the stretch to win by 1 length over Barancella. Naissance Royale finished third. Arravale, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Arch, ran the 1 1/4 mile on firm turf in 2:10.34 with Jose Valdivia Jr. up for trainer Madonald Benson. The favorite, Red Bloom, stalked the early pace but then faded to finish sixth.
In Saturday's third major event, the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, Fast Parade went to the front of the parade at the top of the stretch, drew well clear and then held off In Summation to win by 3/4 length. Old Dodge finished third. Fast Parade, a 3-year-old, Washington-bred gelding by Delineator, ran the 6 furlongs on "soft" turf in 1:12.41 under Patrick Valenzuela. Peter Miller trains the gelding.
Catch the Thrill trailed the field early in Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian) Princess Elizabeth Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, then caught them all and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Quiet Action finished second and Play Mizzty for Me was third. Catch the Thrill, an Ontario-bred daughter of A.P. Indy, ran the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:46.11 with Robert Landry up for trainer Mark Frostad. The victory was a comeback after a seventh-place effort last time out in the Natalma, last month, when she stumbled badly at the start. Landry said he had a scare again in the Princess Elizabeth, when his mount ducked in around the eighth pole. "I was just hoping no one was close that I would have interfered with anyone. She ran a tremendous race today."
Wild Gams and Wildcat Bettie B hooked up in a tight stretch battle in Saturday's $200,000 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup stakes for 3-year-old fillies, with Wild Gams prevailing by 3/4 length. G City Gal, the early leader, held on gamely for third, just a head farther back. Wild Gams, a New Jersey-bred daughter of Forest Wildcat, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.93 with Ryan Fogelsonger in the irons. "When I turned for home, I just kept going and knew it was (Wildcat Bettie B) on the outside coming," Fogelsonger said. "But you don't worry about it. You just look for the wire and get it done."
Oak Tree at Santa Anita
Symphony Sid played the right tune from the opening notes of Saturday's $100,000 Carleton F. Burke Handicap, jumping out to a huge lead and easily holding on to win by 5 1/2 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Artiste Royal. Runaway Dancer was third. Symphony Sid, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Unbridled, ran 1 1/2 mile on firm turf in 2:24.18 with jockey Michael Baze picking up his first graded stakes win. Mike Mitchell trains the horse for a group of owners including Bongo Racing Stable. "I wanted him to get an easy lead like he did and not press," said Mitchell. "I didn't want Baze to think the horse was a run-off. I knew he could rate and that the others would play catch-up and it worked out great. ... I was worried at one point, but when I saw how easy he was doing it, I felt a lot better."
Berriestoheaven came three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $65,000 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-fillies and edged clear, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Tizhen. Sego Lily finished third. Berriestoheaven, a Kentucky-bred filly by Smoke Glacken, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.32. Tyler Baze was up for trainer Patrick Gallagher.
Sunday, Dilemma came between rivals on the turn and then took the inside course to the wire to win the $65,000 Sunny Slope Stakes for 2-year-olds by 2 1/4 lengths over Caped for Flight. Prime Ruler finished third in the 6-furlong event, clocked in 1:09.69. Alex Solis rode Dilemma, a Kentucky-bred colt by Grand Slam, for trainer Patrick Gallagher.
Adore the Gold rallied to the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Dover Stakes for 2-year-olds and took charge, winning off by 2 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Air Lord. Kong the King finished third. Adore the Gold, a Kentucky-bred colt by Formal Gold out of the Dixieland Band mare Amore E Baci, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.84 with Joe Rocco aboard. "The only question mark coming into the race today was the two turns," said winning trainer Michael Gorham. "His pedigree says two turns. He rates kind behind horses in the morning and we have tried to get him to rate as much as we could and he has done that perfectly. So now he has answered the two-turn question." He said he hasn't picked out a next race for his colt.
Pickapocket opened a big lead at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $75,000 Pilgrim Stakes for 2-year-olds, then held on gamely to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Strike a Deal. The favorite, Giant Chieftain, made a nice move at mid-stretch, then hung to finish third. Pickapocket, a Florida-bred colt by Mecke, ran the 1 1/8 mile on the "yielding" inner turf in 1:52.62 under Eibar Coa.
In Sunday's $75,000 Miss Grillo Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Chestoria moved to the lead leaving the turn and worked clear to win by 1 length over Mystic Soul. Christmas Kid was third. Chestoria, a New York-bred daughter of Chester House, ran the 9 furlongs on "yielding" turf in 1:50.82 for Coa.
Saturday was New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park, highlighted by the $250,000 Empire Classic, a race easily the equal of a lot of open graded stakes run elsewhere. In that one, Organizer swung three-wide into the stretch after a pace-stalking trip and went on to pull a bit upset, winning by 3/4 length over Carminooch. The favorite, West Virginia, rallied from last to take third and long-ago Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide raced evenly to complete the superfecta. Organizer, a 4-year-old colt by Raffie's Majesty, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.40 under Eibar Coa. "Everything worked out today," said winning trainer Dominic Galluscio. "I thought if he could come off the pace, he would fire a better shot. Getting off the pace was a big factor."
In the grass races: Finlandia came from just off the pace to catch Sabellina in the final strides of the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap for fillies and mares, winning by a head. Rahy's Approval was third. Finlandia, a 4-year-old daughter of Royal Anthem, ran 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:51.56. And in the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap, Certifiably Crazy got a rail-skimming trip and held on at the end to win by a neck over Classic Fan with Continental Reins another neck back in third. Certifiably Crazy, a 6-year-old gelding by Fit to Fight, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:51.73.
Sprinters: Gold and Roses was up at the wire in the $125,000 Hudson Handicap to nip front-running favorite Sharp Humor and win by a neck. Papua was third. Gold and Roses, a 4-year-old Gold Token gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.37. No Reason rallied from well back to win the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap for fillies and mares by 1 length over Great Lady K. Carlow was third. No Reason, a 3-year-old daughter of Precise End, got the 7 furlongs in 1:23.33.
The young 'uns: In the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow, Chief's Lake went by pace-setting Solid Strike when asked at the top of the stretch and easily won off by 4 lengths over that rival. Good Prospect finished third. Chief's Lake, a gelded son of Yonaguska, ran 1 mile in 1:38.03 with Garrett Gomez up. And in the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies, Grand Merger came from last of seven to win by 3/4 length over My Kitty, with Laurentide Ice third. Grand Merger is a daughter of A.P. Indy. She ran 1 mile in 1:38.35.
Remington's big-deal card was Friday, with six stakes headlined by the $250,000 Oklahoma Derby. In that, Mr. Pursuit stalked the leaders early, came around them on the turn for home and won a tough stretch battle, beating Private Flight to the wire by 3/4 length. Private Flight then was disqualified for stretch interference and placed fourth, promoting More Than Regal to second and Casino Evil to third. Mr. Pursuit, a Kentucky-bred son of General Royal, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:50.21. Winning jockey Cliff Berry said trainer Joe Petalino "wanted me to get him into the race and settle. I was a little wide but I was in the catbird's seat the entire way. When I pushed the button, he went -- fast. He ran fantastic." Mr. Pursuit has four wins from 17 starts.
Brownie Points was the popular and decisive winner of the $100,000 Remington Park Oaks, pressing the pace and taking command easily when asked by jockey Luis Quinonez. Drawing clear in the stretch, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Forest Wildcat won by 3 3/4 lengths over Speed Wagon, with Chetten County third. Brownie Point ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.77. "I think she is pretty special," said winning trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. "Is she a Bien Nicole or a Bedanken? I think she has a chance to be that good."
Lineofbull upset the $75,000 Remington Park Sprint Championship, rallying from a pace-pressing trip to win by 3/4 length over Hallowed Flag. Stormy Business finished third. Lineofbull, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred son of Hesabull out of the Darn That Alarm mare June Taylor Dancer, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:21.87 with Justin Shepherd up and paid $69 for a $2 win ticket. The favorite, Jonesboro, ran eighth.
In the $100,000 Remington Green, Major Rhythm pushed the long-shot leader through the early furlongs, got to the lead at the top of the lane and was just able to hold on and win by a nose over Notable Okie. The favorite, Dontbotherknocking, put in a late rush to take third. Major Rhythm, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Rhythm, ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.38 with Earlie Fires aboard.
In the juvenile division, Going Ballistic came on late to win the $100,000 Remington MEC Mile by 4 1/2 lengths over Western Prize, with Loose Leaf third. Going Ballistic, a Florida-bred son of Lite the Fuse, finished the 1 mile in 1:37.40. And Polynesian Kitty scored a substantial upset in the $50,000 E.L. Gaylord Memorial for juvenile fillies, catching Round Lake in the final strides to win by a neck. Extreme long-shot Emma Grace was third, just another nose back, completing a $4,380 trifecta. Polynesian Kitty is a Kentucky-bred filly by High Yield. Helen Vanek rode.
Shaggy Mane took charge early in Saturday's $100,000 William P. Kyne Breeders' Cup Express Handicap and extended her lead in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Vaca City Flyer chased, finishing second, and Bid of Genius was third. Shaggy Mane, a 3-year-old, Cal-bred filly by Bertrando, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in1:09.34 with Luis Martinez aboard.
Wine Diva sat just behind the first flight through the early stages of Saturday's $50,000 Lady Luck Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, came three-wide around rivals entering the stretch and went on to win by 3/4 length after a tough stretch battle. Dawn after Dawn was second and Glamorous Cat finished third. Wine Diva, a Kentucky-bred filly by Pine Bluff, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.91 under Elvis Perrodin.
No Sleep had no problem in Saturday's $150,000 Violet Stakes for fillies and mares, leading all the way to a 2 1/2-length victory over Prop Me Up. Phyllis Sassy Girl checked in third. No Sleep, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Robyn Dancer, got the 1 1/16 mile on a "good" main track in 1:42.48 under Mike Luzzi.
Power of Freedom defeated both his rivals in the $55,000 Comet Stakes for 2-year-olds, stalking Elusive Fox for a while before taking charge. When turned loose in the stretch, the Florida-bred son of Red Bullet jetted off to win by 11 lengths. Elusive Fox finished second and Sipsey completed the order of finish. Power of Freedom got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.02 under Rajiv Maragh.