Albert the Great, Xtra Heat, Repent and Siphonic, for example, all ran either beyond expectations or through adversity to hit the board. Sakhee rebounded from winning the Arc d'Triomphe three weeks earlier to almost win the Classic. Spain "coulda" and maybe "shoulda" won her second straight Distaff.
A lot of handicappers wrote off Albert the Great after he ran poorly in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. But the hard-knocking, 4-year-old son of Go for Gin rebounded impressively Saturday, taking the lead late in the run down the backstretch and holding on gamely to get third-place money, less than 2 lengths behind Tiznow.
Trainer Nick Zito, who has nursed a special affection for Albert the Great throughout his career, was almost a silent man at this year's Breeders' Cup. But he can take pride in the horse's accomplishments and heart as the colt heads for stud duty at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky.
"He ran his race, just like I thought he would," Zito said Sunday.
Xtra Heat, a 3-year-old, bargain-basement filly, put on a clinic in the Sprint. After a few jumps, she was a length ahead of Caller One, one of the fastest horses in the world. Most handicappers felt that if Xtra Heat got into a pace duel with Caller One, Caller One would easily put her away. But Caller One never could catch her and Squirtle Squirt, with a dream trip behind the leaders, was all out to win by ½ length.
"That's what I hoped she would do except for the last two jumps," said trainer John Salzman Sr. "She won for me. I'm very proud of her."
Even rival trainer Bob Baffert, who sent El Corredor to a 12th-place finish in the Sprint, said he was impressed with Xtra Heat.
"I'll tell you what -- she impressed me so much. I didn't give her a chance at all. They did a hell of a job with her. She is one fast hussy," Baffert said.
Salzman and two partners bought Xtra Heat, a daughter of Dixieland Heat, last year for $5,000. She has earned more than $1.2 million on the track and may head for the Golden Shaheen at Dubai next spring -- a race that Caller One captured this year.
Both the second- and third-place finishers in the Juvenile, behind Johannesburg, showed something extra.
Repent, who came from well back in the field to take second, was sent to the post at odds of 42-1 despite winning the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park in his last start. In that race, he also closed from well back against a track bias.
"He ran super," said trainer Kenny McPeek. See you in May....He'll be formidable. This horse is going to be a big part of the Triple Crown."
Tony D'Amico, who rode the son of Louis Quatorze, added, "If I would have had another sixteenth of a mile, I might have caught that horse (winner Johannesburg)."
Another potential future star, Siphonic, finished third in the Juvenile at 9-1 odds. The son of Siphon won the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in his last outing and might have been better than third Saturday with better traffic flow.
"He stayed down on that dead rail, but he kept on running," said jockey Jerry Bailey. "I was forced to stay there and couldn't move. I was trapped."
Trainer David Hofmans said Siphonic "ran a great race....He took all the worst of it. Jerry said he would pay his own way out to ride him in California."
A glance through the Equibase charts suggests many other stories waiting to be written, foreshadowed by Saturday's action.
--Did Godolphin Racing put Sakhee into the Classic, his first time on dirt, to use the race as a prep or test for next spring's Dubai World Cup? The 4-year-old son of Bahri came up a nose short of completing a double-header victory for Godolphin after Fantastic Light won the Turf.
--Trainer D. Wayne Lukas blamed jockey Victor Espinoza for Spain's loss in the Distaff. Spain led into the final few yards before Unbridled Elaine caught her. Lukas said Espinoza began riding Spain too soon.
--Baffert also implicated Espinoza in Officer's disappointing fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Juvenile but, unlike Lukas, didn't blame the rider. He said Officer was too eager and hooked Came Home in a fatal speed duel that Espinoza couldn't effectively control.
In other weekend racing:
Emirates World Series
Fantastic Light's victory in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf gave him a commanding lead in his effort to win back-to-back Series titles. Fantastic Light now has 30 points with Galileo stuck in second with 19 after his disappointing sixth-place finish in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Sakhee moved into third place in the standings with 18 points, thanks to his thrilling second-place showing in the Classic.
A third leg of the Series was contested Saturday -- the Carlton Draught Cox Plate at MooneeValley in Melbourne, Australia. There, Northerly won by ¾ length over Sunline, who was trying to win her third straight Cox Plate.
Northerly took the lead about 50 metres from the line and Northerly, Sunline and Viscount battled it out to the finish. Stewards spent nearly 45 minutes on an inquiry invoving Northerly and Viscount before letting the result stand.
Silvano finished fourth in the Cox Plate. His points, added to those scored for winning the Arlington Million in August, moved him into fourth place in the standings with five others -- including Northerly and Classic winner Tiznow -- tied at 12 points.
The Series moves along to the Japan Cup on Nov. 25 and concludes with the Hong Kong Cup on Dec. 16 -- its 12th race in its 10th country on its fourth continent.
The fall meet concluded with Aldebaran drawing off in deep stretch to beat Capsized by 3 ¼ lengths in the $125,000 Nassau Handicap. Tubrok was third as the fave. Aldebaran, a 3-year-old son of Mr. Prospector, got the 1 mile on the lawn in 1:33.62.
In the co-featured $100,000 Tempted Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Smok'n Frolic romped by 6 ¼ lengths with Saintly Action second and Wopping third. Smokin' Frolic, by Smoke Glacken, did the 1 mile in 1:37.77.
In Saturday's Championship "undercard," Graeme Hall beat Country Be Gold in the $100,000 Stuyvesant Handicap, finsiheing in 1:47.95 under John Velazquez with Cat's At Home third. And Yonaguska powered to the lead on the turn to win the $100,000 Sport Page Handicap by 1 ½ lengths over Silky Sweep. Big EE was third.
On Friday, Shine Again nipped pace-setting favorite Dream Supreme at the wire to win the $150,000 First Flight Handicap for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs; Listen Here made a statement by winning a stretch duel with Monthir in the $100,000 Nashua Stakes for 2-year-olds; and Brazilian-bred Verruma and Chilean-bred Babae gave a South American flavor to the Athenia Handicap for fillies and mares on the grass by winning their respective divisions.
Cagney edged clear in the stretch run of Sunday's $125,000 Carleton F. Burke Handicap and went on to win by 1 ½ lengths over Kerrygold. Trainer Richard Mandella said Cagney, a 4-year-old Brazilian-bred, is under consideration for the Japan Cup on Nov. 25.
Illusioned came four-wide at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap, took command down the lane and won by 3 ¾ lengths. The 3-year-old son of Woodman finished the 7 furlongs in track-record time of 1:28.63.
Stage Classic emerged from a group of rivals at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $150,000 Sky Classic Handicap and drew off to win by 2 ¾ lengths over Strike Smartly. Stage Classic, a son of Sky Classic, got the 1 3/8 mile over yielding turf in 2:21.79.
Also Sunday, Streakin Rob upset the Coronation Futurity, rallying down the stretch to win by a neck over Foregone. The son of Bold Executive, sent off at odds of 18-1, ran 9 furlongs in 1:53.63.
Ioya Two closed smartly from just off the pace to win Sunday's $75,000 Estrapade Handicap by 2 ¼ lengths over early leader Please Sign In. Lady Angharad was third. Ioya Two, an Illinois-bred daughter of Lord At War, picked up her fourth win of the meet on its closing day -- three of them stakes wins.
On the penultimate day of the meet, stablemates Miners Gamble and Bold Pilot got home 1-2 in the $50,000 Taylor's Special Stakes. Miners Gamble took the wide route around pace-setter Final Row, while Bold Pilot took the rail. Miners Gamble was first by a neck.
Disco Rico took command on the turn for home in Saturday's $75,000 Lite The Fuse Stakes and rolled home first, 2 lengths ahead of In CC's Honor. Sassy Hound was third. Disco Rico, a son of Citidancer, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.91 and trainer Valora Testerman said he will be pointed for the De Francis Dash on Nov. 17.
In a stakes triple-header on Sunday, Shag scored a gate-to-wire, 2 ½-length victory over Avenging Passion in the $55,000 Straight Deal Stakes and in races restricted to Virginia-breds, Chambord Liquor won the $40,000 Tyson Gilpin Stakes for 2-year-olds in his first career start and Saturday's Child cruised to victory in the $40,000 Hildene Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.