After losing Street Cry to a career-ending injury, Godolphin was left with a handful of longshot contenders for the big event during the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.
That might have changed in Saturday's $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs as Essence of Dubai went quickly to the front and cruised home a 3 ½-lengths winner. Walk in the Snow was a longshot second and A.P. Five Hundred was third.
The Super Derby won't be mistaken for the Classic in terms of competition or challenge. But it was enough to encourage Godolphin's assistant trainer, Tom Albertrani.
"He washed out badly in the Jim Dandy (at Saratoga) and we were thinking then that we might just give him the rest of the year off and then start again next year," Albertrani said. "But we decided to give him one more chance in the Penn Derby and he actually showed some enthusiasm in that race. So we decided to give him a shot here."
Essence of Dubai finished second to Harlan's Holiday in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 2.
The 3-year-old Pulpit colt won the UAE 2000 Guineas and the UAE Derby on Godolphin's home court this spring. He had no success in the U.S. classic races and was a distant fourth in the Jim Dandy before his turnaround in Philadelphia.
Godolphin also has E Dubai in contention for the Classic. Last year, E Dubai finished second in the Super Derby after leading much of the way. He did not start in the 2001 Classic as Sakhee carried the Godolphin blue in that event, finishing second to Tiznow.
$4 million Classic
$2 million Turf
Rochester stole the show in Sunday's $300,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Handicap at Kentucky Downs. With Eddie Martin Jr. at the controls, the 6-year-old Green Dancer horse took charge a furlong out and won by 2 ½ lengths over Nowrass. Continental Red was third while the favorite, Cetewayo, struggled home fourth. Rochester, a Pennsylvania-bred George Strawbridge product, finished the 1 ½ mile in 2:38.28.
$1 million Mile (turf)
--David Copperfield kicked home first in a charge to the wire in Saturday's $200,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap. The photo found the 5-year-old son of Halo a neck in front of Ninebanks, with Little Ghazi a head farther back in third. The 9 furlongs on firm turf went in 1:48.95. "I saw Jerry Bailey rate him in his Keeneland race and I figured I could do the same," said winning jockey Jason Lumpkins. Added trainer John Sherreffs, "We've been concentrating on getting him to finish. We want the horse to have a little extra at the finish." Footnote to history: In a 1999 maiden race at Hollywood Park, David Copperfield beat 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
--Tates Creek eased back off the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Noble Damsel Handcap at Belmont Park, came four-wide into the stretch and was up in time to win by 1 length over Amonita. Dat You Miz Blue was third. Tates Creek, a 4-year-old Rahy filly, ran the mile in 1:32.79 under Jerry Bailey. "She breaks so well that it affords you the chance to get a good position," Bailey said. Trainer Bobby Frankel said he probably will ship the filly back to California.
--Jake the Flake won a stretch duel with Glick in Sunday's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Mile Stakes at Kentucky Downs. The 6-year-old son of Gold Spring, with Calvin Borel in the irons, came from last in the field of eight and got the last run down the long stretch. He was clocked in 1:40.86 over the undulating, asymmetrical course.
--At Belmont Park on Sunday, Finality got up in the final yards to win the $200,000 Jamaica Handicap for 3-year-olds by 1 length over Union Place. The favorite, Chiselling, was third. Finality, a New York-bred son of Dehere, ran the 9 furlongs on the inner turf in 1:44.66. "The turf is real firm today and I think he likes that the best," said winning rider John Velazquez.
$1 million Penske Auto Centers Sprint
Bonapaw ran away from five rivals in Saturday's $300,000 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park, winning by 2 ½ lengths over the favorite, Aldebaran. At the wire, the 6-year-old Sabona gelding was in front by 2 ½ lengths. Trainer Norman Miller III brought Bonapaw to New York off back-to-back sprint wins at Arlington Park, site of the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred championships. However, Bonapaw would have be supplemented to that race. Will owners Dennis and James Richard put up the dough? Sadid Miller: "Whatever my owners tell me to do, I do. They tell me to go to Dubai, I go to Dubai. They tell me to go to Des Moines, I go to Des Moines. They tell me to go home, I go home." Those trips haven't been too successful, by the way. Bonapaw was sixth in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai and fourth in the Iowa Sprint Handicap.
$1 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
--Super Frolic remained undefeated with a 4 ¼-length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Race Course. The Pine Bluff colt, a late April foal, rallied three-wide into the turn and drew off easily underAbel Casstellano Jr. Trust N Luck, the odds-on favorite, was second and Unbridles King was third. Trainer Milton Wolfson was in Louisiana for the Super Derby but Super Frolic's owner, Steve Friedberg, noted his colt "is not eligible for the Stallion Stakes....I guess Milt will have to look for something out of town next."
--Added Edge scored his third straight win -- two of them stakes -- with an easy victory in Sunday's $125,000 Swynford Stakes at Woodbine in Canada. The Smart Strike colt romped by 4 ¾ lengths over Canasta, finishing 7 furlongs in 1:23.33. Co-owned by Team Valor and Robert Wilson, plans for the colt remain up in the air. "I'm not sure," trainer Mark Casse said of a potential Breeders' Cup start. "Barry, Mr. Wilson and I will talk about it. I'd say probably not."
$1 million Long John Silver's Juvenile Fillies
--Ivanavinalot is proving aptly named. The daughter of West Acre picked up her fourth win in Saturday's $100,000 Brave Raj Stakes at Calder Race Course, leading throughout and drawing clear late to finish 5 lengths ahead of Dakota Light. Stretching out for the first time past 7 furlongs, Ivanavinalot ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:45.04. "I really had no questions about her going a distance," said winning trainer Kathleen O'Connell. "But you always worry about racing luck." O'Connell said Ivanavinalot will move along to the third leg of the Florida Stallion Series on Oct. 12.
--Brusque easily defeated seven rivals in Saturday's $250,000 Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes at Woodbine near Toronto but trainer Ronald Woods said that race will be the final effort of the year for the Canaveral filly. "She's very difficult to train. She's very difficult to gallop. I don't want to run her into the ground. She's a pretty nice filly," said Woods. Handpainted, previously undefeated, chased Brusque home with Mountain Dawn finishing third.
In other weekend racing:
With Duckhorn a late scratch, Docent went to the post as the favorite in Saturday's $200,000 Maryland Million Classic and proved the punters right. With Jeremy Rose up, the son of Waquoit split horses a half mile from home and reached the wire 2 lengths ahead of Hay Getoutofmyway. Concerned Minister was third. "I knew he could handle this field once Duckhorn was out," said Rose. Trainer Tim Ritchey said Docent will get a little break and then may point for the Discovery at Aqueduct.
Deer Run, with Mario Pino up, got to the fore in the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint and held on to the advantage, winning by 1 length over Smile My Lord in 1:10 3/5. Blinded By Love took the Maryland Million Distaff by 3 ½ lengths over Case Of The Blues in 1:11 1/5. LaReine's Terms caught pace-setting Elberton in the final strides of the $100,000 Maryland Million Turf, winning by a neck after finishing seventh in the same race last year.
Undercover took charge in the stretch run of the $100,000 Maryland Million Oaks and won by 6 ½ lengths over Tamayo in 1:43 4/5. Shopping For Love won the $100,000 Maryland Million Ladies by 7 ¼ lengths, running 9 furlongs in 1:48 3/5 and giving sire Not For Love his second win on the card. In the juvenile races, Object Of Virtue was just up at the wire to win the $100,000 Maryland Million Lassie over Rachelle's Numbers and Cherokee's Boy scored by 1 length over Irontron in the $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery.
In Sunday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash, Red Lightning took full advantage of the long stretch at the old Dueling Grounds course. Racing from near the back of the eight-horse field, Red Lightning swung to the outside, wore down the leaders and drew off to win by 2 ½ lengths over the favorite, Aloha Bold. Mighty Beau was third.
San Dare used similar tactics to win the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf Stakes, angling out in the stretch when asked by jockey Willie Martinez to overtake Doubly Fun and win by 1 ½ lengths. Sluice was third while the favorite, Solvig, never fired and finished second-last of 10.
Cruising Kat came five-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $200,000 British Columbia Derby, wore down the lead pack and got home first, ¾ length ahead of Blowin in the Wind. Silver Donn was third. Cruising Kat, a BC-bred gelded son of Katahaula County, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.49.
Katzen upset Saturday's $100,000 Christiana Stakes , winning by 2 ¼ lengths over favorite Affirmed Dancer. Katzen, with Oliver Castillo up, ran 9 furlongs on the lawn in 1:50.31. The 3-year-old daughter of Furiously is trained by Steve Klesaris.
Robin Zee tracked pace-setting Cowboy Stuff through the early going in Saturday's $75,000 Iowa Derby, then went on by and won off by 4 lengths. Windward Passage was third. Robin Zee, a son of Robin des Pins, completed the 9 furlongs in 1:48 2/5. Trainer Jimmy Zook said he decided against sending the colt to the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs because, "We didn't think he was that caliber yet. We're going to gradually step him up." He said the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park might be the next jump.
Mountain General battled to a short lead at the sixteenth pole in Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stakes, then just held off Sea of Tranquility at the wire to win by a nose. Slider was third. Mountain General, a 4-year-old son of Mountain Cat, got the 6 ½ furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.75 after pressing the early pace.
I'm All Yours rallied from well back in the pack to win Saturday's $75,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds by a neck over Haggs Castle. Celtic Sky was third. I'm All Yours, a 5-year-old Belong to Me gelding, ran 9 furlongs on the inner turf in 1:49.13 under Jerry Bailey. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the gelding will move along to the Mohawk on New York Showcase Day Oct. 19.
Sunday, Maddie May rolled from off the pace in the $75,000 Schenectady for state-breds, then drew off in the stretch to win by 3 ¾ lengths over We'll See Ya. Shawklit Mint was third. Maddie May, with John Velazquez aboard, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.01.
World Light was supposed to run with the leaders in Sunday's $60,000 Half Moon Bay Handicap. But when he was shut off at the start, jockey Ron Warren Jr. took him back, bided his time and got home first with an outside move in the stretch. Aly Bubba was second and Surprized was third. "It worked out perfectly," Warren said of his enforced "Plan B."
Big Hubie went after the leaders at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap, took the lead and then held off Dynameaux in the late going to win by a head. Rebridled was third with a late run. The 1 1/16 mile on the grass took 1:42.21. Big Hubie, a 4-year-old son of Boone's Mill, scored his seventh win from 17 career starts.
Bedanken got a good trip in Saturday's $50,000 Marie DeBartolo Oaks. Making her turf debut, the Geri filly sat behind pace-setting Sheza Nasty Lady, went for the lead when asked and won by 2 lengths over late-closing Chula. The 1 1/16 mile took 1:42.39. Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Bedanken had worked well on the Remington Park turf. "The courses are similar so the only concern was her being off since April," he said. "But she showed some real class today."
August Storm had to work through traffic from the back of the big field in Saturday's $50,000 Egret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Succeeding in that task, the Florida-bred daughter of Storm Creek won by ¾ length over a late-closing Dovetail. The 5 furlongs on firm turf went in 57.36 seconds.
Tarnished Lady blasted clear in the final furlong of Saturday's $50,000 Summit Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 6 ¼ lengths over Cat Rocket. Whoop's Ah Daisy was third. Tarnished Lady, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Lord Avie, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:42.37.