With racing winding down in the United States, some of the top runners are pointing for the big year-end races in the Orient, including the Japan Cup later this month and the Hong Kong International races in mid-December.
Trainer Bobby Frankel is planning to send Timboroa to the Japan Cup on Nov. 25 and Lido Palace to the Japan Cup Dirt on the preceding day.
Lido Palace did not run in the Breeders' Cup Classic last month because he would have required a huge supplemental entry fee. And Frankel said as long as he was going to Japan with Timboroa -- and as long as Breeders' Cup Turf winner Fantastic Light wasn't -- he might as well take Lido Palace along for the main event. Jerry Bailey will ride both.
Others expected to contest the Japan Cup, which is the penultimate leg of the Emirates World Series, include Golan, who won the Two Thousand Guineas for trainer Michael Stoute.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club announced Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal is a confirmed entrant for the Dec. 16 Hong Kong Cup. He will the the first reigning Breeders' Cup champion to contest one of the HKJC's International Races. Others invited include Arlington Million winner Silvano, 1999 winner Jim And Tonic, and Japanese star Agnes Digital.
Val Royal worked 3 furlongs at Hollywood Park in California on Thursday and make make his next start in the Citation Handicap there on Nov. 24.
The Hong Kong Vase, at 2,400 metres, could be an even stronger field. Inivitees include Wednesday's Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal and Saturday's Singapore Gold Cup winner Kutub, With Anticipation from the States, Japan's Stay Gold, and defending champion Daliapour.
Last year's Hong Kong mile saw New Zealand's superstar mare, Sunline, narrowly defeat local favorite Fairy Prawn King. They are both expected back. But invited to challenge them are the likes of Slickly, Shogun Lodge and Forbidden Apple.
Caller One, despite his disappointing finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, headlines the Hong Kong Sprint invitees list.
While Fantastic Light, with 30 points, appears to have wrapped up his second straight Emirates World Series title, there could be some movement in the rankings. Silvano, currently in fourth place with 15 points, could easily pass Sakhee and Galileo to take over second with a respectable showing at Hong Kong.
In weekend racing action:
Give The Slip, with Richard Hills in the irons, tried to do just that to an international field in Wednesday's $2 million (U.S.) Melbourne Cup. But Ethereal, a New Zealand mare fresh from winning the Caulfield Cup, had other ideas. Ethereal unleashed a powerful stretch kick, caught Give The Slip in the late going and won by ¾ length. Persian Punch was third. Ethereal is trained by Sheila Laxon, whose husband trained 1988 Cup winner Empire Rose. The race was run on a sodden course after heavy rains. One of the local favorites, Universal Prince, was declared from the Cup on Tuesday on the advice of veterinarians and another, Kaapstad Way, was scratched on Wednesday morning because of the condition of the course.
Singapore Gold Cup
Kutub, a 4-year-old son of In the Wings, scored a 3-length victory in Saturday's Singapore Gold Cup, finishing the 1 3/8-mile event in 2:15.10 under Frankie Dettori. The Godolphin Racing color-bearer now has won three of his six starts this year and is expected to ship to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 16. Earlier, he won the Preis von Europa, a German Group I event.
Watch grabbed the lead from pace-setter Ioya Two in the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000 Cardinal Handicap, then held off Sitka to win by 1 length. Gino's Spirits was third. Watch, trained by Frank Brothers and ridden by Craig Perret, got the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.12. "You just put her in position where she can run and she will give you her all," Perret said of the 4-year-old Lord At War filly, owned by Claiborne Farm. Brothers said Watch may take the rest of the year off.
Sunday, Dr. Kashnikow came with a rush down the center of the course to win the $150,000 River City Handicap by 1 ½ lengths over Tijiyr. Pace-setter Strategic Mission held on for third-place money. Dr. Kashnikow, a 4-year-old El Gran Senor gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on the turf in 1:47.90 -- a stakes record. "I settled him early and knew that he could get there when I asked him," said winning rider Robby Albarado. "Today he was just a rocket."
Win City rallied from off the pace to win Saturday's $150,000 Autumn Stakes by ¾ length over Wicklow Highlands -- picking up his sixth stakes win of the year and beating older rivals for the first time. "You just saw the (Canadian) Horse of the Year in my eyes," trainer Robert Tiller said after the race. "Not the 3-year-old of the year. He's a cinch for that. He's the Horse of the Year." Win City, by Slew City Slew, has seven wins from 11 career starts and Tiller said he will be back for more as a 4-year-old.
Sunday, Boston Twist won an early pace duel in the $100,000 Glorious Song for 2-year-old fillies, then held on to beat Platel by 2 lengths. Estrada was third. Boston Twist, who ran ninth in the Alcibiades at Keeneland, finished the 7 furlongs of the Glorious Song in 1:25.04.
Queue, who shipped in from Laurel Friday night for the race, lined up near the back of the field in the early stages of Saturday's $150,000 Long Island Handicap, came four-wide around the turn for home and drew off to win by 2 ½ lengths over Sweetest Thing. Lady Dora was third in the 1 ½-mile turf event for fillies and mares. The time was 2:29.36. "She's got a strong finishing kick," winning rider Jose Espinoza said of Queue, a 4-year-old daughter of French Deputy. "She kept inching her way up and just exploded."
In Sunday's New York Stallion Stakes events:
--Princess Dixie took command in the stretch to win the $100,000 Fifth Avenue Division for 2-year-old fillies by 2 lengths over Sunday Driver. Princess Dixie, by Dixie Brass, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.39.
White Ibis battled Marine Salute into submission by ½ length in the $100,000 Great White Way Division. The pair dueled through most of the 6 furlongs. White Ibis, by Distinctive Pro, was clocked in 1:10.98.
--Union One ran by Jini's Jet on the rail in the $100,000 Cormorant and went on to win by 1 ¼ length. The 4-year-old Missionary Ridge gelding negotiated the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.51.
--Wake Up Kiss was just up at the wire in the $100,000 Perfect Arc to nip Lovely Amanada by a head. Wake Up Kiss, a 3-year-old daughter of Cure The Blues, needed 1:37.12 for the 1 mile on the lawn.
Another stakes win for trainer Bobby Frankel: Heads Will Roll was up in the late going to win Saturday's $100,000 Matiara Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by ½ length over Live Your Dreams. Waki Music was third. Heads Will Roll, a British-bred daughter of Efisio, ran 1 1/8 mile on firm turf in 1:47.75. Jockey Alex Solis said he was confident a furlong out that that Heads Will Roll could catch Live Your Dreams. "At that point, I was concerned with somebody coming from behind," he said. Frankel wasn't so sure. "I didn't think she was going to get her at the eighth pole," he said. "I couldn't tell if Alex was riding her with confidence or if she just came and got her."
Sunday, Lonesome Dude scored a minor upset in the $70,000 Steinlen Handicap, edging clear in the stretch to win by ¾ length over Kudos. Agol Lack was third while the favorite, Fighting Falcon, never got flying and finished fifth. Lonesome Dude, a 6-year-old son of With Approval, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:40.61.
Ghost Queen swept to contention on the turn for home in Saturday night's $100,000 Hoosier Debutante and drew off to win by 4 lengths over Tejano Honey. Lead Story was third and Spanish Hound, the favorite, faced badly to finish sixth after leading. Ghost Queen, by Silver Ghost, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.79 under Tony D'Amico. Said winning trainer Mike Lauer: "I just thought she'd run well off the pace with all the speed in the race." Lauer said the filly will get a break now "and see what happens."
Hawthorne Race Course
Magic Doe started Saturday's Phil Georgeff Festival of (Illinois) Racing off with a gate-to-wire victory in the Lightning Jet Stakes. When California invader Star Chief stumbled leaving the gate, jockey Randy Meier got Magic Doe to the front and "I used that to my advantage....He's a Chicago horse." Manitowish was second and Tic N Tin third.
Meier also got the lead and the win aboard Capitol View in the Powerless Stakes for fillies and mares. "I was a bit surprised at how easily we got the lead," Meier said after that race. Lil Bobbie Too was second and Darling L third.
Chicago Six, true to his name, won off by 6 lengths over favorite San Pedro in the Illinois Coronet. "He was the best horse in the race," said winning rider Alfredo Juarez Jr. "His race was perfect." Not Happening was third.
In the day's stakes finale, the Illini Princess Handicap, Shemya led by as much as 12 lengths but was nipped at the wire by Tap Your Feet. "I thought we would get there even though that one filly had a pretty easy lead," said winning rider Eduardo Perez. "I'm very happy with her effort." Magic Motel was third.
Calder Race Course
Mountain Forum caught Out of Nickles at the furlong marker in Saturday's $60,000 Fabulous Frolic Stakes for 2-year-olds, then held on to beat Breakfast in Maui by a neck. Out of Nickles held third in the 1-mile turf test, clocked in 1:39.22. Mountain Forum, a Florida-bred son of Open Forum, was making his first start on the green course. "I think he will do better on grass," said trainer Ron Spatz, who said the Mecke Stakes on Dec. 1 and the Tropical Park Derby on New Year's Day will be on the schedule.
The $60,000 Lulu's Ransom for 2-year-old fillies was less of a cliffhanger, with August Storm drawing off in the stretch to win by 3 lengths over Social Place. Whitewashed was third. August Storm, a daughter of Storm Creek, was clocked in 1:38.93. "This was a test for her today, going a distance for the first time, and I'd say she passed with flying colors," said co-owner Bob Francello.
Urban Dancer went to the lead as the field moved down the backstretch in Saturday's $60,000 Politely Stakes, then held on for the win. Polish Hostess crossed the line second but was demoted to fourth for interference, promoting Your Out to second and Winter Leaf third. Urban Dancer, with Jeremy Rose aboard, ran the 7 furlongs for state-bred fillies in 1:24 1/5. "We went in front and that's it," said Rose, an apprentice who has 280 wins this year. "My agent has put me on a lot of live horses," he said. "If you have the horse, you win."
Golden Gate Fields
Aviate caught pace-setting Shericaine turning for home in Saturday's $55,000 Star Ball Handicap and edged clear to win by 1 length. Slow Down was last early but speeded up to finish third. Aviate, a 5-year-old Lord Avie mare, ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:44.14. "She responded when I asked her and gave me a great, long, sustained run," said winning jockey Ron Warren Jr.