A quartet of turf races on two continents during the weekend started to put some definition to the events that will cap this racing season, including next month's Arlington Million and the Oct. 26 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf.
Top-ranked Beat Hollow -- an early favorite for both championship events -- got trapped and got beat in Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar.
While Alex Solis was looking for running room on Beat Hollow with a furlong to go, Corey Nakatani had Sarafan running on the outside. By the time Beat Hollow got loose, Sarafan was gone and won by 1 ¼ lengths. Beat Hollow held second and Redattore was third.
"It was bad luck," said Solis. "I didn't want to be in that pocket but the way the race came up, I didn't have much choice. Those horses fanned out in front of me and I had nowhere to go. Stuff happens sometimes." Sarafan also beat Beat Hollow in the Explosive Bid Handicap at Fair Grounds in March.
At Ascot in England, Golan defeated Nayef by a head in Sunday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes -- the English leg of the World Series Racing Championship. With Kieren Fallon up, Golan moved from the back of the field entering the home straight and engaged Nayef in a two-horse duel for the final furlong.
"I thought Kieren was brilliant," said winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute. "It wasn't the plan to be so far back. He was cool and went the inside route and rode a great race." Golan had not won since last September, when he captured the Prix Niel at Longchamp. He now has won half his eight lifetime starts and could go next in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 6.
Marcus Tregonig, trainer of Nayef, said he would "love to run him in the Breeders' Cup in Chicago." He said the 4-year-old son of Gulch could go in either the $2 million Turf or the $4 million Classic on the main track.
Grandera finished fifth and remains the World Series leader. Godolphin's other Series participant, Sakhee, also was to have started in the King George but was withdrawn because of the hard going.
Del Mar Show tracked Volponi around the Saratoga inner turf course through the first mile of Friday's $150,000 Bernard Baruch. Then Jerry Bailey sent the 5-year-old Theatrical horse to the lead and he managed to get home a neck in front after a prolonged duel. Forbidden Apple, meanwhile, closed smartly in the final sixteenth and also just missed, finishing a nose farther back. The 9 furlongs took 1:48.51.
"The stretch seemed like the longest stretch I've ever seen at Saratoga," said winning trainer Bill Mott. Mott said Del Mar Show may run back in the 1 1/16-mile Fourstardave on Travers Day.
Trainer Bobby Frankel said Sunday that Forbidden Apple came out of the Baruch "in good shape.We'll train him toward the Arlington Million and see how he does in the next couple weeks. If he trains well, he's going."
Falcon Flight returned from a 10-month vacation to win Saturday's $225,000 Arlington Handicap -- the local prep for the Aug. 17 Arlington Million. The 6-year-old French-bred ran a crusty race under Rene Douglas, saving ground near the back of the pack before Douglas found him running room on the turn for home. Accelerating past rivals, he was along just in time to score by a neck over Kappa King. Longshot Gretchen's Star finished third. The time was 2:03.13 over a course rated "yielding."
Said winning trainer Donald Burke II: "If he comes out of this race good and thrives -- and underscores thrives -- I'll consider the Million. But there are going to be some really good horses in that race like Beat Hollow. He will have to come out of this race better than he went into it."
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 26 at beautiful Arlington Park:
$4 million Classic
The trainers of top 3-year-olds were playing chess games during the week, with the stakes including next Sunday's Haskell at Monmouth, the Aug. 24 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga and the Aug. 25 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Early in the week, it appeared that Came Home would headline a small field for the Haskell, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner War Emblem staying in California to prepare for the Del Mar showpiece.
But on Friday, Came Home came out of the Haskell, pointing for the King's Bishop. That led War Emblem's trainer, Bob Baffert, to reconsider sending his colt to New Jersey for the $1 million Monmouth event. Even that plan, however, is contingent on War Emblem's mid-week workout at Del Mar, Baffert said.
Repent, who won the Louisiana Derby and finished second to War Emblem in the Illinois Derby, is recovering quickly from bone chip surgery and trainer Ken McPeek said he may be able to get him to the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 24. "He's a talented horse and he's been doing well," McPeek said Sunday.
$1 million Filly and Mare Turf
Tate's Creek saved ground close to the leaders through most of Saturday's $500,000 Diana Handicap at Saratoga, then went to the front turning for home and outfought Voodoo Dancer to the wire, winning by a nose. Snow Dance was third and Babae was fourth after leading much of the way. Tate's Creek, with Jerry Bailey riding for trainer Bobby Frankel, ran the 9 furlongs over the inner turf in 1:48.00. "I didn't know if I had it," said Bailey. "It was so close. We had a good trip. She has a few different gears, which helped. She really dug in." Frankel said the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Aug. 17 "might be a little long for Tate's Creek." He suggested he instead might send Beefeater Baby, who ran second in the Diana. "She had every right to get tired and she had nowhere to run when she wanted to run," Frankel said of the 4-year-old daughter of Thunder Gulch, who had been off since April 11.
Affluent finished second to Azeri in her last three races on the main course. So trainer Ron McAnally switched the 4-year-old daughter of Affirmed to the green course for Saturday's $400,000 Ramona Handicap at Del Mar, with pleasant results. After stalking the early pace set by Janet, jockey Eddie Delahoussaye sent Affluent to the front early in the stretch run, then held off a late effort by Golden Apples to win by ½ length. Janet held third. The 9 furlongs over firm turf took 1:48 2/5. "We would consider the Beverly D. (Aug. 17 at Arlington)," McAnally said. "But, of course, we have to hook Astra." Jockey Garrett Gomez said he believes Golden Apples also will move along to the Arlington event.
Last year's winner of the Beverly D. -- England's Legend -- returned from a 10-month layoff to win Saturday's $150,000 Modesty Handicap at Arlington. The 5-year-old daughter of Lure was sent right to the front by jockey Rene Douglas and loped along until she needed to put in a run. At the end, she was 2 lengths to the good of Quick Tip, finishing the 1 3/16 over yielding turf in 1:55.69. Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to trainer Christope Clement, said England's Legend "likes this course and this was a good place to get her ready for the Beverly D. She'll go back to Saratoga but I know he (Clement) wants to bring her back for the Beverly D. and the Breeders' Cup." England's Legend finished 11th in the Filly and Mare Turf last year at Belmont Park.
Saturday's $150,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup at Laurel was washed off the turf and scratched down to four starters. Of those, Martha's Music was clearly the best, winning off by 10 ½ lengths over Bells For Martin. Winning jockey Harry Vega said trainer John Servis "told me, 'Just don't fall off.' It all worked out." Servis said his filly "took a major step forward today," adding he expected her to run well if the race had stayed on the turf.
$2 million Distaff
You, the favorite, broke slowly in Saturday's $250,000 Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, got trapped among rivals on the turn and then had to slip through a small hole to find running room on the outside. Despite all that, the daughter of You and I puta nose in front at the wire to hand Carson Hollow her first career defeat. Spring Meadow was third, 4 lengths back. Jerry Bailey guided You over 7 furlongs in 1:22.84. "She couldn't keep up with them early," Bailey said. "She's not a sprinter-sprinter like them." But he said You appeared to gain resolve when she was in tight quarters. Added winning trainer Bobby Frankel: "We had to get lucky to get through and that's what happened. I'm a lucky guy. I'm blessed right now. God bless Jerry Bailey." Frankel said he will consider the 1 ¼-mile Alabama on Aug. 17 and the 7-furlong Ballerina. Sunday, he added You's third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks might have been a distance problem, since resolved. "She only got beat 3 lengths in the Kentucky Oaks and the competition isn't as good now," he said. "If you want to run in the Breeders' Cup, you've got to test her at a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter."
Sunday, Dancethruthedawn dominated a half dozen rivals in the $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap for older females at the Spa. The Canadian filly, a 4-year-old daughter of Mr. Prospector, rated on the inside under Jerry Bailey, came out for room and drew off to win by 3 ¾ lengths over Transcendental. Too Scarlet was third. The 9 furlongs took 1:50.21. "She needs a nice pace to run at," said trainer Mark Frostad. "He (Bailey) had her back far enough that it wasn't taking too much out of her. Everything went well. She'll get a mile and a quarter." He said the Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 23 might be the next race for Dancethruthedawn.
$1 million Penske Auto Centers Sprint
Disturbingthepeace, a 4-year-old Bold Badgtett gelding, won Saturday's $150,000 Bing Crosby Handicap by ¾ length over Freespool, with Mellow Fellow third. Kona Gold was scratched before post time. With Victor Espinosa in the irons, Disturbingthepeace ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09 1/5. "I think he ran okay," said winning trainer Darrell Vienna. "I don't think that was his best race. But I think he ran okay." Vienna said Disturbingthepeace is not nominated to the Breeders Cup, but added, "That can be taken care of."
Carson Hollow, whose undefeated record came to an end in Saturday's Test Stakes at Saratoga at the hands of You, is headed for sprinting. "I don't know where we're going from here," said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "But our ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Sprint." Historically, 3-year-old fillies have run well in the Sprint, especially on the pace.
$1 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Whywhywhy was pinched back at the break in Thursday's $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga but, helped by a quick pace, was able to run from behind and still win. The Mr. Greeley colt, with Edgar Prado riding, blew by the leaders at mid-stretch and won by 2 ¾ lengths. "I noticed last year," said winning trainer Patrick Biancone, "that if you want to have a very good horse at 3, you have to be able to perform well at 2. Each time he's run, he's been tough to pull up after the race."
Sometimes those high-priced yearlings run to their price tag. So it was Saturday at Del Mar for Vindication, a Seattle Slew colt who cost Padua Stable $2,150,000 last year. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, Vindication strolled home a 5-length winner in a 6-furlong maiden event, finishing in 1:10 3/5.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
Freedom's Daughter started from the rail in Wednesday's $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga and rode the lead to a 1 1/4-length victory over Miss Mary Apples. Mymich was third. Freedom's Daughter, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Saint Ballado, ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.12. "I don't know what we'll do with her next," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "She had a lot of time from her first start to this race. We'll play it by ear."
In other weekend racing:
An Iowa-bred speedster, Cowboy Stuff, led eight rivals around the track in Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Stakes for 3-year-olds and had plenty in reserve to hold on for a 2-length victory over Pass Rush. A.P. Five Hundred, bet down to the favorite's role off a maiden win, was 4 lengths farther back in third. Cowboy Stuff, with Patrick Valenzuela up, ran 9 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:48.98. "I thought we'd be on the lead," said winning trainer Don Von Hemel, who also bred the colt and is the co-owner, "but Pat really rode a masterful race. We've had the leading Iowa-bred for the last four years now."
Sunday, Transition Time won the $60,000 Office Wife Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over Attico. Bee My Honey was third. Transition Time, a daughter of Dynaformer, won her third straight race, following victories at Gulfstream and Ellis Park. She ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:42.89.
Sea of Tranquility crossed the finish line second in Saturday's $100,000 Salvator Mile but was placed first when First Lieutenant was disqualified. First Lieutenant bumped with Free of Love while making a move to the lead. Free of Love finished third and was elevated to second-place money. Sea of Tranquility also won the Salvator last year. "I hate to win races like that," said Sea of Tranquility's trainer, Richard Paulus. "But I've been waiting for the Salvator all meet. It's my favorite race. He was a little wide. But if he'd stayed down on the inside, he would have been in that mess." The mile went in 1:36 on a fast track.
Also Saturday, Tangier Sound got home a neck in front of Melody of Colors in the $50,000 Candy Éclair Stakes. Tangier Sound, a 3-year-old Rahy filly, broke her maiden a month ago in her first race on the grass. She ran 5 furlongs on the firm greensward Saturday in 56 2/5 seconds. Libby's Halo was third as the favorite.
Biddy's Lad fought for the lead most of the way in Sunday's $135,000 Bull Page Stakes before finally shaking loose and going on to win by 2 ¼ lengths over Magic Jack.Godin was third with a late rush. Biddy's Lad finished the 6 furlongs in 1:11.25 as jockey Chantal Sutherland posted her first career stakes win. "My horse ran really well and I didn't have to worry about anybody," said the apprentice, who loses her "bug" status next week. Ironically, she was unseated from her mount in the second race on Sunday's card.
Moonlight Meeting sat in third position in Sunday's $100,000 Mt. Ranier Breeders' Cup until the field hit the stretch turn. Then, with Ricky Frazier calling the shots, the 7-year-old General Meeting gelding got to the front a furlong out and cruised home, winning by 5 ¾ lengths in track-record time of 1:47. "He's been training really sharp," said winning trainer Sharon Ross. "He's definitely on top of his game." The race is a prep for the Aug. 25 Longacres Mile.
Bear Fan drew off in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes, winning the restricted event for 3-year-old fillies by 7 ½ lengths over Nicole's Pursuit. The Parties Over was third. Bear Fan, a daughter of Pine Bluff, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:22.72 under Mike Smith.
Calder Race Course
Banderia drew off in the final sixteenth to win Saturday's $75,000 Aspidistra Handicap by 2 lengths over Bay Street Gal. Bail Money was third. Banderia, an Argentine-bred, 5-year-old mare by Big Play, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.00. "She can run on turf or dirt but is better on grass," said winning trainer Marty Wolfson. "We'll keep her right here and see what comes up next for her."
Mujado came from well back in the field to win Saturday's $55,000 Local Thriller Stakes for fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs on the grass. Mujado got home 1 ½ length ahead of Oh Say Vicki. The fave, Merry Princess, was third. Mjuado, an Irish-bred lass by Mujadil, split horses a furlong out to find running room.
Fager's Island made a move on the leaders turning for home in Sunday's $50,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes, then dueled with Fashion Award before getting to the line a neck in front. Boca Flyer was third. Fager's Island ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.03.
Trial Prep battled down the lane with Private Emblem before winning Saturday's $125,000 New York Derby by ¾ length. No Parole was third. Trial Prep, a son of Ormsby, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.18.
Kind of Fun was placed first in Saturday's $100,000 Queen City Oaks when the judges ruled that first-finishing Crypto's Twinjet interfered with her while bumping in the stretch run. Come Hither was third in the 9-furlong event for Ohio-bred fillies. Kind of Fun, a daughter of Wekiva Springs, was clocked in 1:55.40.
Dash for Daylight won Saturday's $60,000 Don Bernhardt Memorial by ½ length over Better Road -- an exact replay of last year's finish in the same race. This year, Bet on Sunshine was third, ¾ length farther back. Dash for Daylight, trained by Elliott Walden and ridden by Tony D'Amico, ran the 6 ½ furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.97. D'Amico now has won the Bernhardt three straight years. "And it's a nice habit to get into," he allowed. Dash for Daylight is a 5-year-old son of Cherokee Run.
Just Scarlett caught pace-setting Distinctive Code in the final jumps to win Saturday's $50,000 Chapel Belle by a head. Sheza Nasty Lady was third. Winning Rider Russell Woolsey said he planned to keep Just Scarlett off the pace. But he added, "We got shuffled back to last and we really didn't get going down the backside." He said a quick pace helped the cause.