When trainer Bobby Frankel looks back at 2001 on New Year's Eve, he surely will have a smile on his face. It's already guaranteed to be a classic year for the conditioner.
When Super Quercus swept from last to first to win Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup, it was Frankel's 48th stakes win of 2001. Of those, 35 have been graded stakes. And 17 have been Grade I events -- including Squirtle Squirt's victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, which broke Frankel's long drought in those events.
Frankel easily could have 50 stakes winners by year's end. Next weekend, he sends out Euchre off a five-month layoff in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap. And a week later, he will have Labamta Babe in the $200,000 Hollywood Futurity and You for the $200,000 Hollywood Starlet. And Frankel said Super Quercus isn't done for the year. He is being pointed for the $150,000 McKnight Handicap at Calder on Dec. 29.
For all his success in 2001, Frankel knows the lows of racing are lower than the highs are high.
"You can imagine what happens next year when I don't' win any races," he said after the Hollywood Turf Cup. "I'll be depressed."
Super Quercus, a 5-year-old, French-bred son of Hero's Honor, ran last until the field hit the final turn of the 1 ½-mile event. Then, with Alex Solis calling he shots, Super Quercus went four-wide, surged to the front and won by 2 lengths over Bonapartiste, another French-bred. Blazing Fury was third. The race was over in 2:29.86.
"Coming from last, that's his style," said Solis. "He likes to sit back there and make a run."
Super Quercus has won two of his five starts this year. In his last previous outing, he won the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap.
In other weekend racing:
Men's Exclusive toted Laffit Pincay Jr. to another win in Sunday's $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes. The 8-year-old Exclusive Ribot gelding sat just off the pace set by Caller One, took charge at mid-stretch and won by ½ length over Tavasco. Caller One finished a neck farther back in third. The time was 1:09.04. "He's a tough old guy -- just an amazing horse," said Pincay. Winning trainer Wesley Ward said they were lucky to meet Caller One when they did. "He's had a couple of tough races back to back and we were just fortunate to catch him today," he said.
Jeremiah Jack stalked the early pace in Saturday's $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile, then drew off with authority down the stretch, winning by 5 lengths over French Assault. Private Emblem led but couldn't keep up and finished third. Jeremiah Jack, with Robby Albarado up, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.16 on a fast track. The bay colt is a Kentucky-bred son of Patton.
Calder Race Course
Political Attack led from gate to wire in Saturday's $100,000 Mecke Stakes, giving jockey Mark Guidry his fourth win on the card. The favorite, Finality, was second with Deeliteful Guy third. The 1 1/16 mile on the turf took 1:42 1/5. "I was able to take my time with him until around the quarter pole," said Guidry. "I just gathered him up a little bit and when I asked him down the lane, he exploded." Guidry, the long-time Chicago-area riding champ, recently moved from Kentucky to South Florida.
In the co-feature, August Storm led all the way in winning the $100,000 Hollywood Wildcat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Kathy K D was second, 1 ½ lengths back, and Piano Chimes was third. The favorite, Lujien Lujien, started from the outside and finished fifth, beaten less than 3 lengths. The 1 1/16 mile on the grass went in 1:43.13. "If somebody would have gone to the front, then I would have taken back," said winning rider Jose Ferrer. "She broke really, really well and came back to me great." Samantha Randazzo, assistant to trainer Linda Rice, said, "I would imagine that she'd come back for the Tropical Park Oaks" on Jan. 1.
Hawthorne Race Course
Out Of Options pulled off a mild upset in Saturday's $100,000 Little Sucker Stakes, coming from off the pace to catch Q.P. Cat in mid-stretch. Cottage Rose was third as the race went in 1:47.97 over a "good" track. "It was perfect," said winning rider Larry Sterling Jr. "It really went perfect. It set up for her, really." Owner/trainer Michael Reavis recently claimed Out Of Options for $14,000.
Queensgate upset heavily favorited A Fleets Dancer in Sunday's $100,000 Valdictory Stakes. Winning Skier was third. Queensgate, ridden by Gerry Olguin, ran the 1 ¾ mile in 2:57.37. A Fleets Dancer was 11th in the Breeders' Cup Classic in his last previous effort.
In the year's final stakes event at Woodbine, Barbeau Ruckus won the Kingarvie Stakes for 2-year-olds by ¾ length over Bravely. Streakin Rob was third. Barbeau Ruckus, a son of Barbeau, was running around two turns for the first time and making his first stakes appearance. He finished 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.78.
Saturday, Olympian scored a gate-to-wire victory in the $100,000 Kennedy Road Stakes. Todd Kabel, the meet's leading rider, took the 4-year-old right to the lead and won by a neck over a late-running Praise from Dixie. Wake At Noon was third. The 6 furlongs went in 1:09.77.
Hallowed Dreams picked up her 25th win in 27 starts by capturing Saturday's $60,000 Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial Handcap. The Louisiana-bred filly ducked in at the start, causing a chain-reaction of bumping, but the stewards let the results stand. At the wire, she was ½ length ahead of Repository. "She went perfect," said regular rider Sylvester Carmouche. "The 10 horse went to the front and I just sat there and when we hit the middle of the turn, she just went on." Trainer and part-owner Lloyd Romero said the filly will run back next week in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint.
Valhol came into Sunday's $75,000 Tenacious Handicap off a long layoff but had enough stuffing to run down pace-setting Dixieland Diamond in the stretch and win by 1 length. Rebridled was third and the odds-on favorite, E Z Glory, could do no better than fourth. Valhol, with Willie Martinez up, ran 1 /16 mile in 1:43.96. The 5-year-old son of Diazo had been off since a third-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap.
Your Out was safe at home in Saturay's $75,000 Twist Stakes. But it was a close call. In a three-horse sprint to the wire, Your Out finished a head in front of Polish Hostess, with Winter Leaf fading late to finish third, another length back. Your Out, with Ramon Dominguez picking up his 399th win of the year, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:52 4/5. "She was very relaxed behind horses," said Dominguez, who was caught in traffic in the early going. "I felt they were going slow. I knew when I got out, we were all going to pick it up to the finish because everybody had a lot of horse."
Lovely Amanda gave the shake to a half dozen rivals in the stretch run of Sunday's $75,000 Montauk Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares. At the wire, she was 7 ¾ lengths ahead of Too Scarlet. Then, Along Came Mary came along third. Lovely Amanda, a 4-year-old Belong to Me filly, raced 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.96. Said winning rider Javier Castellano: "My filly was in an easy gallop and I knew when I asked here to run, she'd explode. She was great today." Trainer Todd Pletcher said Lovely Amanda will stay in New York.
Saturday, Evening Attire caught Balto Star in deep stretch to upset the $100,000 Queens County Handicap. Evening Attire, a 3-year-old Black Tie Affair colt, went off at 10-1 odds and got a perfect trip under Shaun Bridgmohan. "I had no problem sitting off the pace....The trick was getting him to relax and he would do the rest. He gave he his all today," Bridgmohan said. Balto Star held second and Top Official finished third.
Alexine, benefiting by a well-timed ride by Brice Blanc, was just up at the wire to beat Miss Pixie in Saturday's $75,000 Queen of the Green Handicap. Deliciosa was third in the 1-mile test. Alexine started near the back of the field, then rallied seven-wide at the head of the stretch before launching the winning rally. The time was 1:36.69. Alexine is an Argentine-bred mare by Runaway Groom.
Golden Gate Fields
Lindsay Jean set the pace and got the prize in Sunday's $55,000 Moment To Buy Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. The Florida-bred daughter of St. Ballado rolled home 2 lengths ahead of Super Tuesdsay with Da Goddaughter third. The 1 1/16 mile took 1:41.78. "We were able to get the first quarter on our own," said winning jockey Chad Schvaneveldt. "We picked it up after the half and she finished game."
In Saturday's $55,000 Albany Handicap, Radar Contact was barely in contact with the leaders for much of the way. But the running started, the 5-year-old Flying Continental gelding made up the ground, winning by a head over Rio Oro. Radar Contact ran the 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:08.66.
The outside post position was no problem for Spanish Glitter in Saturday's $40,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes. The 3-year-old Glitterman filly shot right to the lead, dueled with Marquesa Jen, then opened up a nice lead before holding off City Fair in the late going. Spanish Glitter ran 6 furlongs on a "good" track in 1:10.57.
News and notes
Ramon Dominguez scored his 400th victory of the year Sunday at Laurel Park and holds a narrow lead over Russell Baze for the lead in races won. "I'm just trying to win as many races as I can because Russell Baze is continuing to put up big numbers on the West Coast....NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited handed over $2.25 million in contributions Thursday to charities helping in the New York relief effort. Much of the money was kicked in by the Godolphin Racing, which donated its purse earnings from the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.