The last rival to beat Azeri before the reigning Horse of the Year began her current 10-race winning streak? Summer Colony. And Summer Colony is back, with hopes she eventually can repeat the beat after disappointing her fans in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Saturday, Summer Colony, with Gary Stevens up, finished strongly through the stretch to win the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap at Monmouth Park. She's Got the Beat was second, 3 lengths in arrears, with Call an Audible third. Summer Colony, a 5-year-old Summer Squall mare, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.83.
It was the second start of the year for Summer Colony. She finished second in the Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff last month. Trainer Mark Hennig said he is pointing Summer Colony to the Delaware Handicap on July 20 and the Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 22. Both races are at a mile and a quarter.
"That's her best distance," he said. "We've rested her for this year's campaign and she should be even fresher than last year."
Summer Colony beat Azeri in the LaCanada at Santa Anita on Feb. 9, 2002. She went on to win last year's Delaware Handicap and Personal Ensign but then finished third in the Beldame at Belmont Park and then struggled home last of eight in the Distaff.
In other weekend races with implications for the Oct. 25 Distaff at Santa Anita:
--Spoken Fur got position on Yell in Saturday's $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, then got the lead and made the advantage stand up, winning by a comfortable 5 1/4 lengths. Final Round made a late move from the back of the pack to take third. Spoken Fur, a gray daughter of Notebook, ran 9 furlongs in 1:50.41. "I was the beneficiary of a good trip," said winning jockey Jerry Bailey. " Turning for home, I saw I had Johnny (Velazquez, aboard Yell) pinned and figured that was a good time to open up. She has a tremendous turn of foot. I'm pretty impressed." Trainer Bobby Frankel said he will consider the July 19 Coaching Club American Oaks for Spoken Fur but first will talk to Bailey about the mile-and-a-half distance.
--Hennie's Song, an undefeated daughter of Unbridled's Song, led throughout Saturday's $175,000 Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup Stakes at Delaware Park, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Ladyecho. Coquettish was third in a field scratched down to five starters. Hennie's Song, with Anthony Black aboard, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.52, running her winning streak to five. "She has been far from extended," Black said of the winning streak. Added trainer Steve Klesaris, "I thought she was stepping up against a better grade. There was not a horse in this who did not have credentials." Klesaris said the Delaware Oaks on July 19 will be Hennie's Song's next target.
--Storm Flag Flying, the undefeated 2-year-old filly champ last year, has been diagnosed with a minor fracture of her right hind leg and will miss about two months' training. "We're hoping to have her ready for late fall or for next year," said trainer Shug McGaughey.
In other weekend races with implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships:
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
--How international is racing these days? Ipi Tombe, bred in Zimbabwe, raced primarily in South Africa, a winner in Dubai, scored her first North American victory Saturday in the $150,000 Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The 5-year-old mare, toting Pat Day, caught Kiss the Devil in the stretch and worked clear to win by 1/2 length. Quick Tip was third. The 9 furlongs on firm turf took 1:47.70. "I was really looking forward to riding her," Day said. Trainer Elliott Walden said Ipi Tombe likely will run in the Diana at Saratoga and then in either the Beverly D, for fillies and mares, or the Arlington Million, against males, on Aug. 16 at Arlington Park. "I'm not sure yet (which one)," he said. "We'll see how she runs in the Diana and we'll go from there. She'll run Arlington Festival Day as long as she does well. She's such a classy filly."
--Voodoo Dancer wore down Dublino in the stretch run of Saturday's $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park, then edged clear to win by 3/4 length. Megahertz was third. The 1 1/4 mile took 2:00.80 on a firm turf course. "She loves California," said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to winning trainer Christophe Clement. "She loves Hollywood Park, too, and obviously she loves firm turf. That's why we came over here." Jockey Corey Nakatani said Clement told him to ride Voodoo Dancer, a 5-year-old daughter of Kingmambo, "with patience and to try to make sure she got the mile and a quarter. I rode her with a lot of patience."
$1 million Mile (turf)
--Lismore Knight swung wide into the stretch in Saturday's $175,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds and drove to a 3/4-length victory over Remind. Good Day Too was third. Winning rider Rene Douglas said he knew he was tracking a slow pace. "When we turned for home, the horse outside of me kind of died and that gave me a chance to get my horse to the outside," he said. "I was running as hard as I could because I knew the horses up front had plenty left." The Classic is the first leg of Arlington Park's Mid-America Triple, which also includes the American Derby on July 20 and the Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 16.
--Another possible starter for the Secretariat is Just Wonder, victor in Sunday's $200,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park. The British-bred colt, by Hernando, surged from last of eight to win by 3/4 length over Bis Repetitas. Slew City Citadel was third and the favorite, Private Chef, finished fourth. "This horse is so relaxed," said wining trainer Laura de Seroux. "He's a total pro. You can just wait and wait and wait and then he's got a huge kick....We're looking at the Secretariat. He's the kind of horse that I can space his races." Kent Desormeaux had the winning ride.
$1.5 million Juvenile
Heckle gave his backers something to crow about in Saturday's $100,000 Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park, surging quickly to the lead under John Velazquez, opening up a daylight lead and coasting home to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Adage. Hasslefree was third and the favorite, Best to be King, faded badly to finish sixth of seven. Heckle, a gray son of Hennessy, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.70. "It's great when you have Chapel Royal in the barn and Heckle over here winning the Tremont," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Right now the plan is for Chapel Royal to run in the Sanford (July 24 at Saratoga) and Heckle is a possibility." Heckle won his first start but then finished fourth in the Three Chimneys Stakes on Derby Day after getting a bad break.
$1.5 million Juvenile Fillies
--For All Who Dream, with Rosemary Homeister Jr. in the irons, tracked pace-setting Usual Manner until the final furlong of Saturday's $100,000 J J'sdream Stakes at Calder, then opened up and won by 5 lengths. Prohibido Olividar was third. For All Who Dream, a Florida-bred daughter of Eltish, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.35. Homeister said she and trainer Gerald Procino decided to let the pace develop and make a late move. "It set up just like he thought," she said. Procino said he will point For All Who Dream to the Florida Stallion Stakes series for fillies.
--Maple Syrup became the first filly to win Woodbine's Clarendon Stakes for 2-year-olds, taking Saturday's edition by 3 1/2 lengths over the next-best of six male rivals. The American Chance filly now is undefeated in two starts. "She's winning on pure ability right now," said winning trainer Mark Casse. Jockey Patrick Husbands said Maple Syrup "doesn't break that quickly. But once she gets her legs underneath her, she'll take you to the front."
--Feline Story upset odds-on favorite Unbridled Beauty in Sunday's $100,000 Astorita Stakes at Belmont Park, jetting off to win by 4 lengths and finishing the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.15. The Kentucky-bred filly, a daughter of Tale of the Cat, was ridden by Jorge Chavez. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Unbridled Beauty "didn't handle the track....This wasn't her." Both of the top two are pointing for the Schuylerville at Saratoga.
In other racing:
Alamshar caught favorite Dalakhani in the last 200 yards to win Sunday's Irish Derby. Dalakhani, undefeated and the winner of the French Derby, went off as the 4-7 favorite. But he could not hold the lead after going to the front with 2 furlongs left. Trainer John Oxx told the Racing Post Alamshar likely will go next in the King George. The Aga Khan owns both the top two finishers and now has won the race five times.
Lone Star Park
Rare Cure bounced back from a trouncing a week earlier in the Dallas Turf Cup to win Saturday's $100,000 Assault Stakes by 3/4 length over Agrivating General. The Assault was one of six races for Texas-breds comprising the third annual Stars of Texas Day. "Some people questioned us running back that fast," said owner/breeder Larry Dyson. "But in the Dallas Turf Cup, he just didn't fire at all."
There Goes Rocket, making just his second start, overcame some green running and a wide trip to win the $122,500 Texas Stallion Stakes by 1/2 length over Iron Expectations. There Goes Rocket is "running so green, we don't really know how good he could be," said winning rider E.J. Perrodin. In $122,500 filly division, Hay Lauren was best in the stretch, closing strongly to post her third win in four starts. Clever Melody was second, 2 lengths back.
Eagle Lake won the $75,000 Allen Bogan Memorial Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths over Costalota, backing up her victory a month earlier in the $200,000 WinStar Distaff. Herve, the lesser-regarded part of an entry, won the $50,000 Harold V. Goodman Stakes in a close battle with Call Me Lefty. And Expectant won the $52,500 Texas Stallion Consolation Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Tizzy Boy.
Bossanova led from gate to wire in winning Saturday's $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds. The Pine Bluff colt, with Edgar Prado riding, ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.93. "We'll have some fun in Saratoga with this horse," said winning trainer H. James Bond. "The King's Bishop is very possible," he added, referring to the 7-furlong, $200,000 Grade I event on Aug. 23.
See How She Runs ran just fine, thank you, in Saturday's $100,000 Saylorville Stakes for fillies and mares. Lagging well back in the five-horse field, the 4-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon surged to the lead inside the sixteenth pole and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Don't Countess Out. Miss Guts was third. The 6 furlongs went in 1:09.21. "The filly has a lot of confidence going right now," said winning trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. "There were decent fillies in there. We were lucky. We found room and she was eagerto do her job at that point."
Also Saturday, Sharky's Review tracked the early pace in the $70,000 Hawkeyes Handicap for Iowa-bred fillies and mares, then won off by 4 3/4 lengths when asked for her best. One Fine Shweetie was second and Pj's Halo finished third. Sharky's Review ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.55. "Amazing," said winning trainer Mark Bader. "She's doing really super and strong as ever. She's a racehorse - few and far between."
Dressed For Action went to the lead early in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Ontario Damsel Stakes, dueled Elusive Thought into submission, then just hung on to beat favored Miss Crissy by a nose. The 6 1/2 furlongs over firm turf took 1:16.75. "She dug down deep," said winning rider Robert Landry. "(Miss Crissy) got by her but she's a trier and she came back. You can't say anything more than that."
Better Talk Now took the lead on the backstretch in Sunday's $55,000 Eight Thirty Stakes and then dueled with Pickupspeed through the stretch before winning by a neck. Rochester was third. Better Talk Now, a 4-year-old son of Talkin Man, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:50.64.
Apt to Be, owned by Arlington Chairman Richard L. Duchossois, scored a 7-length victory in Sunday's $100,000 Hanshin Cup. With Eusebio Razo up, the 6-year-old Rahy gelding ran the one-turn mile in 1:34.40, best time of the current meeting. There's Zealous was second and San Pedro finished third. "He loves the one-turn mile here at Arlington," said winning trainer Chris Block. "I'm not afraid of anybody out of the chute here because he loves it." Apt to Be has eight wins from 23 starts and has hit the board in 19 of those 23 tries.
Desert Gold shipped in from Churchill Downs to capture Saturday's $45,000 Mariah's Storm Stakes. With Cornelio Velasquez in the irons, the 4-year-old daughter of Seeking the Gold won a stretch battle with Happily Unbridled before prevailing by a neck. Desert Gold, trained by Pat Byrne, ran the 1 1/8 mile in 1:51.25.
Bien Nicole raced with the pace until the stretch run of Saturday's $50,000 Honeymoon Stakes, opened up a lead at the top of the stretch and held off Naturally Wild to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Due to Win Again battled for the lead, then faded to finish third. Bien Nicole, a 5-year-old daughter of Bien Bien, ran the about 1 mile on the green course in 1:34.53.
Tam's Terms clipped heels, nearly unseating his rider, shortly after the start of Saturday's $50,000 Da Hoss Stakes. The 5-year-old gelding then recovered, saved ground into the stretch turn and then wore down the leaders to win by 1 length over Union One. Coco's Madness finished third. The 1 mile on the inner turf was clocked in 1:37.95.
Morning Merry dropped to the rear of the field in Saturday's $40,000 Canterbury Park Derby, slowly moved into contention on the turn and picked off tiring leaders in the stretch until he cross the finish line first, 3 lengths to the good of Hero's Pleasure. Giant Slam held on for third. Morning Merry, with Cindy Noll up, ran the 1 mile in 1:39 2/5 over a muddy track. The race was switched from the turf after an intense downpour shortly before post time. "I handicapped the race and knew there was a lot of speed," Noll said. "Everything opened up just perfectly."
Brave Miss won Sunday's $40,000 Irish Day Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by 3 3/4 lengths after reeling in loose-on-the-lead Top Penny in the stretch run. Bisbee's Prospect was third. Brave Miss, a daughter of Delineator, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.