Saturday's $500,000 Lone Star Derby played out a lot like the Kentucky Derby did just a week earlier: A horse who had shown he can win on the lead didn't get much pace pressure and coasted on home at a big price.
Wiseman's Ferry, a castoff from Coolmore Stud's Irish contingent, crossed over from his No. 14 starting position to lead the field into the first turn. Cappuchino stalked the pace but didn't push it through a half mile in 46.22 seconds.
When the field turned for home, Cappuchino threw in the towel and Wiseman's Ferry kept going to win by 2 ¾ lengths. Tracemark was second and Peekskill was third.
"Down the backside, he relaxed a little bit," said winning rider Jorge Chavez. "Around the second, he picked it up. At the top of the stretch, I still had a lot of horse. It was amazing. I knew I was going to win in the stretch."
Smoked Em, front-running winner of the Federico Tessio at Pimlico, had been expected to apply more pressure. "It didn't go according to plan," said jockey Chris McCarron. "My colt didn't want to show any speed."
And Rene Douglas, aboard Cappuchino, said at the top of the lane his horse "raised his head up and that's sometimes a sign of bleeding." He faded to finish seventh.
Winning trainer Niall O'Callaghan pointed out Wiseman's Ferry, a son of Hennessy, was second to Johannesburg as a 2-year-old in Ireland but he "wasn't good enough for (Coolmore) because they have so many 2-year-olds." He said he thought the colt would do better in the United States on the main track.
World Series Racing Championship
It appears Godolphin Racing has another international powerhouse in Grandera, a 4-year-old son of Grand Lodge. The colt, who finished fifth in the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong just three weeks earlier, moved to the front in the stretch and went on to win Saturday's Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji Racecourse in Singapore.
The victory pushed Grandera into the lead in the World Series Racing Championship, with 14 points. Street Cry, winner of the Dubai World Cup, and Eishin Preston, victor in the QE II Cup, are tied for second with 12. Godolphin, jockey Frankie Dettori and trainer Saeed bin Suroor all lead in their respective Series rankings.
"That was great," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford after the Singapore Cup. "He's come on from Hong Kong and will be a very nice international horse for us. I am not sure of his next run. But he could well be aimed for the Arlington Million. The Million on Aug. 17 is the fifth leg of the series. The next one is King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot on July 27.
Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem could face 12 rivals in Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Among them are Derby runner-up Proud Citizen and fourth- and seventh-place finishers Medaglia d'Oro and Harlan's Holiday.
Also expected is Booklet, a confirmed front-runner who is likely to provide some pace pressure. "With Booklet, it's going to be an honest pace," War Emblem's trainer, Bob Baffert, said Saturday at Churchill Downs. "He's fast and that's all he knows. I've studied the horse. I've seen him run in Florida. He's fast."
But Baffert said War Emblem, sluggish immediately after the Derby, looked "awesome" in a 1 ½-mile gallop on Saturday. "He's back. It took him a week, but he's back," Baffert said.
In other weekend racing:
Hawthorne Race Course
Flying Dash didn't have much trouble winning Saturday's $250,000 Hawthorne Derby. It was just a matter of waiting to make his run, then finding a place to make it. The German-bred colt is owned by Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi, trained by Englishman Neil Drysdale and was ridden by Mexico-born Victor Espinoza, who won the Kentucky Derby a week earlier. Espinoza let Scooter Roach and Quest Star do the early work on a turf course made "soft" by soaking, day-long rain. At the top of the lane, as those tiring leaders drifted out, "We ran through a little hole on the inside," Espinoza said. "I let him go and he just ran through." He won by 3 easy lengths. Scooter Roach held on to finish second and Quest Star was third. The 9 furlongs took 1:58.88.
Flying Dash won the Transylvania at Keeneland in his first U.S. start and Drysdale said he hopes to go next in the Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs on June 8.
Apparently the Dubai trip didn't take too much out of Xtra Heat. The 4-year-old Dixieland Heat filly took right off in Sunday's $150,000 Genuine Risk Handicap, blazed through fractions of 22.27 and 45.13, then still had plenty left to win by 1 length over Shine Again. Le Galerie was third. "She is just phenomenal," said jockey Harry Vega. "It takes her three strides and she'd gone." Trainer John Salzman said Xtra Heat "can handle everything. Nothing bothers her. I knew she didn't run her race in Dubai because she didn't switch leads and she had allergies and she still only got beat 3 ½ lengths (finishing third in the Golden Shaheen)." He said the filly may run back in the July 13 Princess Rooney at Calder or the Charles Town Dash on July 4. "We'll see. Maybe she'll run in June," he added.
Nonsuch Bay roared from well back of the leaders in the stretch drive of Saturday's $200,000 Nassau County Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, found room between horses in the final sixteenth and was just up to win by a nose over Wopping. Wilzada was third. The favorite, Infinite Spirit, raced evenly to finish fifth. The 7 furlongs went in 1:23.90. "I was very impressed with her," said winning rider Javier Castellano, "because there aren't many horses that want to finish as well as she did when you put them between horses." Trainer Frank Alexander said Mr. Greeley filly might contest the Acorn on June 7.
Also Saturday, Left Bank got a nice workout for the Met Mile while also winning the $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap by 1 length over Silky Sweep. The 5-year-old son of French Deputy stayed with the early pace and worked clear in the final furlong under John Velazquez. Say Florida Sandy was third and Wrangler fourth and last. "I told Johnny in the paddock," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher, "that the first priority is to win and the second is to save me something for 16 days (for the Met Mile on May 27)."
On Wednesday, Free of Love rolled down the stretch to win the $100,000 Westchester Handicap by 1 ¼ lengths over Dayton Flyer, with Country Be Gold third. Free of Love, a 4-year-old son of Meadow Flight, got the 1 mile in 1:35.56 under Jerry Bailey. "We're going to nominate to the Met Mile but I'm not sure if he would run in it," said winning trainer Richard Violette Jr.
Mellow Fellow took charge in the stretch run in Saturday's $200,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap, drawing off to win by 1 ¼ length over Explicit. The favorite, Swept Overboard, rallied from last in the field of six to finish third. Final time for the 6 furlongs on a fast track was 1:08.35. Winning rider Russell Baze said he made sure rival Eddie Delahoussaye was pinned inside as long as possible aboard Mellow Fellow. "I had a perfect trip and all the horse I needed," he said. Delahoussaye said the positioning shouldn't have been a problem. "If he had been beaten a length, then I would say the trouble cost him. But that wasn't the case. He just didn't kick today," Delahoussaye said. Winning trainer Bill Morey Jr. said he hasn't picked out a next race for Mellow Fellow. "But he is Breeders' Cup eligible," he added.
Sunday, Van Rouge went right to the lead in the $100,000 Ascot Handicap and increased his advantage throughout the 1 1/16-mile turf event for 3-year-olds. At the line, he was 4 ½ lengths ahead of his closest rival, Doc Holiday. Hecandigit was third. The time was 1:41.78. Winning jockey Jason Lumpkins said he might have slowed things down, "but my saddle started slipping on the backstretch and I couldn't do much to slow him down." Van Rouge is a son of Red Ransom. "We look forward to great things for him," said winning trainer John Shirreffs.
Sky Jack hijacked Sunday's $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Stakes in the stretch run. After leading all the way, the 6-year-old Jaklin Klugman gelding took off on his own in the lane, winning off by 5 ½ lengths. Bosque Redondo was second and Devine Wind third all the way and neither could keep up in the final furlong. Sky Jack finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.36. Winning rider Laffit Pincay Jr. said he was happy to see Sky Jack back from a 2001 injury. "Last year when he got hurt, I was really, really disappointed. I thought I had the best horse in the country," Pincay said. Trainer Doug O'Neill said the Hollywood Gold Cup would be a logical next race for his horse.
Global Finance kicked in as the field turned for home in Saturday's $65,000 Nursery Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and won by 4 lengths over Magic Smoke. Forthelifeofme was third. Global Finance, a Cal-bred daughter of End Sweep, ran 5 furlongs in 58.78 seconds under David Flores. "The farther she goes, she's even better," predicted Flores. But trainer Jerry Dutton said he will go slow with the filly. "We'll pet her a while and feed her some licorice," he said.
Calder Race Course
Coolbythepool waited behind the pace, took over the lead a furlong out in Saturday's $75,000 Nancy's Glitter Handicap, then edged clear to win by 1 ¾ lengths over Bay Street Gal. Castlebrook was third and the favorite, Sara's Success, faded to finish last of five after stumbling at the start and rushing into contention. "I waited to put her outside because that's where my filly likes it," said winning rider Julio Garcia. "When I asked her, she ran great but close to the end she was getting a little tired." The 1 1/16 mile took 1:41.00.
Day Trader came around the speedy leaders on the turn for home and drew off in the stretch run to win the $100,000 inaugural running of the Matt Winn Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 ¾ lengths over Medlin Road. Still Be Smokin' was third. Day Trader, a son of Phone Trick, got the 6 furlongs in 1:09.43 under Calvin Borel. "From about the half-mile pole, I had a lot of horse," Borel said. "When I called on him, he just sprinted away." The Overbrook Farm colt is trained by D. Wayne Lukas.
Lil Personalitee used a pace-stalking trip to post a major upset in Saturday's $150,000 Eclipse Stakes. With Patrick Husbands in the irons, the 5-year-old son of Personal Flag took control on the turn and held off A Fleets Dancer in the late going to win by 1 ¼ lengths. Dream Launcher was third and Win City, the 2001 Canadian Horse of the Year, struggled home fourth. "I just tried to get the jump on (Dream Launcher) at the top of the lane," said Husbands. "I did and my horse kept on going." The 1 1/16 mile went in 1:44.45.
Sunday, El Prado Essence came from behind the early leaders to win the $150,000 George C. Hendrie Stakes by 4 lengths over Feathers. Quiet was third. El Prado Essence, a 5-year-old mare by El Prado, did just what jockey Todd Kabel and trainer Audre Cappuccitti planned. "We were hoping that we would see an early speed battle and we would sit off of it," Cappuccitti said.
Stormin Oedy rallied from last to win Saturday's $75,000 Demitirus Stakes by 4 ¼ lengths over Wild Current. Chief J. Strongbow was third, a neck farther back. Stormin Oedy, with Jeremy Rose up, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.51.
Ntombi bided her time in Saturday's $60,000 Hilltop Stakes, took charge in the lane and won going away, by 3 ¾ lengths over Smart Grace. Restraining Order was third. "I just let her pick it up on her own and when she changed leads, we just opened up," said winning rider Mario Pino, who visited the winner's circle six times on the card. "This is a nice filly." Ntombi is trained by Michael Dickinson.
Gov. James E. McGreevey was among 18,067 attending Saturday's Opening Day at Monmouth and presented the trophy after the first race. In the featured $50,000 Open Mind Handicap for state-bred distaffers, Silent Serenade led from gate to wire, scoring by 4 ¼ lengths over Misspent. The winner, a 6-year-old daughter of Blare of Trumpets, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10 3/5.
Trisha Runs lived up to her name in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes for fillies and mares, leading almost all the way to a 3 ½-length victory. Princess Jen was second and Soul Onarazorsedge was third as the favorite. Trisha Runs ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:09.54. The winner, a 5-year-old Iowa-bred, has battled back from physical problems. Trainer Mark Bader said he told jockey Perry Compton, "go ahead and gun her as far as you can go. Maybe we can get lucky."
The Downs at Albuquerque
Mon Ouimet stalked the early pace in Saturday's $30,000 Charlie Iles Thoroughbred Derby, challenged for the lead after a half mile and got home a clear winner, 2 ½ lengths ahead of Royal de Hope. Always in Action was third. Mon Ouimet, a Kentucky-bred son of Lac Ouimet, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.59.