Add another name -- Evening Attire -- to the jumbled list of contenders for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
The 4-year-old son of 1991 Classic winner Black Tie Affair surged from well back in the field to win Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, beating several of the division leaders in the process.
With Shaun Bridgmohan riding, Evening Attire drew clear in the stretch to get home 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Lido Palace. Harlan's Holiday was third. Major disappointments included Milwaukee Brew, who ran sixth, and Repent, who finished seventh.
Evening Attire appears to be peaking at the right time. The colt was fourth in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont back in July. He came back to win the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Aug. 17 and advanced from that effort in the Gold Cup victory.
"He has a nice kick when he settles and strikes out," said winning trainer Patrick Kelly. "We'll make sure he comes out fine but the Breeders' Cup is the next logical step."
Lido Palace and Harlan's Holiday also are likely to move along from the Gold Cup to the Classic. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Lido Palace "might have been a little wide" but ran well. And trainer Ken McPeek said Harlan's Holiday "ran a big race...accomplished a lot of things we wanted to accomplish."
--In the weekend's other potential Classic prep, Tenpins posted a gutsy victory in Sunday's $400,000 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park. The son of Smart Strike rallied on the inside to catch pace-setting Generous Rosi and win by a neck in track-record time of 1:55.07 for 1 3/16 mile. Bonus Pack was third. Despite the impressive victory, trainer Donald Winfree said Tenpins is not a lock to run in the Classic. "We'd love to but I don't want to do it at my horse's expense," he said. "If ever a race is going to tell on a horse, this is the one," he said of Tenpins' effort Sunday. The favorite in the Washington Park Handicap, Macho Uno, folded in the stretch run and finished last of five.
--With Harlan's Holiday out, Friday night's $350,000 Pegasus Handicap for 3-year-olds at Meadowlands became an end unto itself, rather than a Breeders' Cup prep. Still, owners Susan and John Moore won't turn back the $350,000 they get for sending out Regal Sanction to win by a head over No Parole after a long stretch duel. This Guns for Hire was third and the favorite, Trump Marina, fourth. Regal Sanction, a Kentucky-bred son of Regal Classic, ran the 9 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:49.87.
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at beautiful Arlington Park:
$2 million John Deere Turf
--Ballingarry raced just off the pace in Sunday's $1.5 million Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine, caught pace-setting longshot Yavana's Place on the second turn, then held off Falcon Flight to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Yavana's Place held third. Ballingarry, a 3-year-old, Irish-bred son of Sadler's Wells, finished the 1 ½ mile on yielding ground in 2:31.68. Mick Kinane was up for trainer Aiden O'Brien. The win was only the second in six starts this year for Ballingarry. He was third in the Irish St. Leger in his last start and third in the Irish Derby in the outing before that. "He was full of himself today," said Kinane. "He enjoyed himself. He loved the experience and was at the top of his game." Pat Valenzuela, who rode Falcon Flight, said he was squeezed into the rail at the three-eighths pole. "Me and my horse dropped back at that point and we hit the rail. He has a pretty good white mark on him. He ran a good race, considering all that happened," Valenzuela said. The Interational is the eighth leg of the World Series Racing Championship, which continues with the Breeders' Cup Classic and Turf and ends at the Hong Kong Cup in December.
--At Belmont Park, Denon scored a mild upset in Sunday's $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational. Racing from off the pace, the 4-year-old son of Pleasant Colony scored by ½ length, running the 1 ½ mile in 2:28 2/5 over yielding turf. Blazing Fury just got the nod for second over Delta Form. "I was a little concerned that he might not be tight enough," trainer Bobby Frankel said of Denon. "But I think now he'll be perfect for the Breeders' Cup with four weeks (in between). I don't think he ran too hard today. If I can get a little bit of cut in the ground, I would be very confident with him."
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
--Kazzia turned back challenges at the beginning the end of Saturday's $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park, holding on to win by ¼ length. The German-bred filly from Godolphin Racing first dueled favorite England's Legend into submission, then held held off longshot rival Turtle Bow at the wire. Mot Justice was third, 1 ¼ lengths farther back. Assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said Kazzia will be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup -- at a cost of $90,000 -- as a result of her performance in the Flower Bowl. "She proved today she can handle older fillies," he said. "She doesn't always have to be in the front. Everything worked out perfect today." Bank's Hill, the defending champ in the Filly & Mare Turf, was scratched from the Flower Bowl because of the soft going at Belmont and will run next weekend in the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita.
--Fraulein moved to challenge the leaders on the stretch turn in Sunday's $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, then edged clear down the stretch to win by 1 length over Alasha. Volga, the even-money favorite, was another 1 length back in third. Fraulein, a British-bred, 3-year-old daughter of Acatenango, raced 1 ¼ mile on yielding turf in 2:10.03.
$1 million Mile (Turf)
--Hawk Wing finished second as the favorite in Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in England -- the fourth time he has done that in five starts this year. In Saturday's bridesmaid performance, Hawk Wing led the field with a furlong to go but was unable to hold off Where or When, who won by 2 lengths at the wire. Tillerman was third. Trainer Aiden O'Brien said Hawk Wing didn't like the going and said he will have to consider the colt's next start.
--At Arlington, Mystery Giver rallied smartly in the final furlong to win Sunday's $150,000 Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile Handicap. But trainer Chris Block said no thought is being given to sending the Illinois-bred son of Dynaformer on to the Breeders' Cup. Instead, he said, Mystery Giver may contest the John Henry during Breeders' Cup week or wait for the Carey Memorial at Hawthorne on Nov. 2. "I was so proud the way he ran today," Block said of Mystery Giver. "He just hung in there. He kept grinding it out. That's his game." Buenos Dias was second and Al's Dearly Bred was third.
$1 million Sprint
Wake At Noon took the scenic view in Sunday's $150,000 Highlander Handicap at Woodbine but survived the four-wide tour to win by 1 length over Cheap Talk. Krz Ruckus was third. Wake At Noon, a 5-year-old son of Cure the Blues, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.72.
$1 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Most Feared rolled from well back in the field in Saturday's $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park, worked through traffic to get the lead and then drew off to win by 3 lengths over Anasheed. Unleash the Power was third. Most Feared, a Texas-bred son of Commanchero (also a classic Western starring John Wayne and Lee Marvin), ran 1 mile in 1:37.52 under Mark Guidry. Asked Sunday if Most Feared will be back for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, trainer Ronny Werner said, "I sure hope so. Assuming that nothing blows up on us, that's where we're headed." He said the colt showed no ill effects from the Futurity. Most Feared won the Continental Mile at Monmouth by 9 ¼ lengths in his last previous start.
$1 million Long John Silver's Juvenile Fillies
Moonlight Sonata was music to the ears of her few supporters in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie. The Carson City filly entered the race a maiden and was dispatched at 60-1 odds. Unable to read the tote board's discouraging message, Moonlight Sonata rallied five-wide through the stretch and won by 1 ¾ lengths over Parting. Souris was third. The favorite, Ashraaf, struggled home seventh. Moonlight Sonata, toting Shane Laviolette, ran 1 mile in 1:37.82. Winning trainer Bill Helmbrecht said Sunday a step up to the Breeders' Cup "would be a dream." He said he and owner William Geist will "take a long look at it....For a little guy like me from Antigo, Wis., to win a Breeders' Cup race would be the ultimate dream." Another trainer from Antigo, D. Wayne Lukas, has won 16 Breeders' Cup races from 135 starts.
In other weekend racing:
Funny Cide ran away with Sunday's $75,000 Bertram F. Bongard for state-bred, 2-year-olds. The son of Distorted Humor led most of the way and won by 9 lengths. In his only previous start, the Barclay Tagg trainee won a maiden special weight by 14 ¾ lengths. "That's the way you like to see them win," said Tagg, adding that Funny Cide will stay in state-bred company until he starts his winter campaign in Florida.
In the companion Joseph A. Gimma, Beautiful American won easily, scoring by 2 ½ lengths. The Dixie Brass filly also is slated to stay with the New Yorkers for the time being.
Bien Nicole went for the lead on the run down the backstretch in Sunday's $150,000 Edward J. DeBartolo Se. Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap, then led all the way home. At the line, the 4-year-old Bien Bien filly was 3 ¼ lengths to the good of Candid Glen, with Maysville Slew another length back in third. Bien Nicole, with Don Pettinger in the irons, negotiated the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.42.
Mulrainy caught favorite Winning Chance at the wire to win Saturday's $125,000 La Lorgnette Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Lady Shari was third. Mulrainy, a daughter of Star de Naskra, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.04. "You couldn't get a nicer filly," said winning trainer Tommy O'Keefe. She's just all heart."
In Sunday's $100,000 Chief Bearheart Stakes, Kimberlite Pipe opened up a big lead down the backstretch but couldn't hold on. Stage Classic, who ran second most of the way, surged to the front turning for home and held off Queensgate to win by ¾ length. Sky Chariot was third and Kimberlite Pipe got fourth. Stage Classic, a 4-year-old Sky Classic gelding, ran 1 ¼ mile on yielding turf in 2:06.08.
Crafty Shaw had the goods in the final furlong in Saturday's $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes, drawing clear of Rock Slide and winning off by 3 lengths. Deferred Comp was third. The favorite, First Lieutenant, never got involved and finished fifth. Crafty Shaw, a 4-year-old Crafty Prospector colt, raced 9 furlongs in 1:52.29.
I'm the Business just caught Crazy Ensign at the wire in Saturday's $60,000 Hillsborough Handicap after working through traffic to reach contention on the turn for home. Reine de Romance was third. I'm the Business, a New Zealand-bred 5-year-old, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.05.
Sunday, Only the Best drew off in the stretch to win the $60,000 Malcolm Anderson Stakes for 2-year-olds by 4 lengths over Gray Jag. Tactical Strike was third. Only the Best, a Cal-bred son of Smokester, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:09.01.
Calder Race Course
Stay Forever split horses in the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 Noble Royalty Handicap, then left them in her dust, drawing off to win by 3 lengths over Pembroke Place. Abuela Esther was third. Manoel Cruz rode Stay Forever, getting the 1 1/16 mile on a "good" turf course in 1:44 3/5. Cruz said he had a little trouble finding running room, but added, "I had a lot of horse at the finish." Trainer Marty Wolfson said Stay Forever will point for the Dec. 7 My Charmer.
Moe's Mon finished with a rush in Saturday's $50,000 Sonny Hine Stakes, catching Outstander in the final jumps. Private Opening was third. Moe's Mon, under apprentice Ryan Fogelsonger, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11 2/5. Fogelsonger said he and trainer Eddie Gaudet figured the speed horses would burn out. "I took him outside, let him roll and he got there in time," the jockey said.
Tulupai shot past the fading pace-setters in the stretch run of Friday's Prairie Meadows Debutante and went on to win by more than 6 lengths. Onda Ray survived the early pace pressure to hold second and Coding was third. Tulupai, a daughter of Coordinator, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10 3/5.
Brucker's Brother led all the way in Saturday night's $50,000 Escaped Handicap, winning by 4 ½ lengths over odds-on favorite Horrible Evening. Beknown to Me was third. Brucker's Brother ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:40 4/5, picking up his fifth lifetime win.