The "Summit of Speed" at Calder Race Course is probably the speediest day in Florida sports that doesn't require earplugs in the pits. And Saturday's renewal points the way directly to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint this fall at Santa Anita.
The five-race sprint festival was highlighted by the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, with favorite Shake You Down shaking off a dozen rivals on the stretch turn and running away to win by 8 1/4 lengths. Private Horde was second, followed by My Cousin Matt. Shake You Down, a 5-year-old son of Montbrook, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.03 despite starting from the outside post.
"I didn't mind drawing the 13 post at all, said winning trainer Scott Lake. "I really saw it as an advantage because he doesn't have to be in front early so he could just sit outside the speed and come over as much as he could when he wanted....The goal now will be to get him to the Breeders' Cup but how we get there is open."
Shake You Down has won five straight races since Lake claimed him for owner Robert Cole Jr. for $65,000 on March 12.
Other races with potential bearing on the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 25:
--Gold Mover had to work a little harder to win her race at Calder, the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap for fillies and mares. But the 5-year-old daughter of Gold Fever got the job done, taking the lead inside the eighth pole and barely holding off Vision in Flight to win by a nose. Harmony Lodge was third. The 6 furlongs took 1:11.31. "She's just never done a thing wrong in her life," said trainer Mark Hennig. "We'll probably run her next in the Ballerina at Saratoga" on Aug. 24.
--Valid Video drew clear in the final furlong to win Saturday's $300,000 Carry Back Stakes for 3-year-olds at Calder by 2 1/2 lengths over Cajun Beat. Super Fuse was third and the favorite, Halo Homewrecker, finished seventh. Valid Video, a son of Valid Wager, was clocked in 1:10.15. "He ran 1:10 flat. I guess that's pretty fast for Calder, no?" said trainer Dennis Manning. "We'll look at the Amsterdam at Saratoga now for his next."
--Ebony Breeze breezed home first by 4 1/4 lengths in the $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Calder on Saturday. The Belong to Me filly, with Cornelio Velazquez up, was clocked in 1:10.82. Storm Flag was second and Crafty Brat third as the favorite, Buffythecenterfold, finished sixth. Mark Shriver, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott, said Ebony Breeze, who shipped in from Kentucky, may go on to Saratoga.
--Sunday at Hollywood Park, Cee's Elegance upset the $250,000 A Gleam Handicap for fillies and mares. After tracking the early pace, the 6-year-old mare went to the front at the top of the lane and won off by 1 1/2 lengths over You. Affluent was third. The 7 furlongs took 1:21.47.
--And while it's unlikely to impact the Breeders' Cup Championships, the $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes on Calder's "Summit of Speed" program is always interesting. A 2-furlong dash for 2-year-olds and up doesn't come along every day. In Saturday's running, 5-year-old Baby Shark got by Love My Mountain in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 length as the heavy favorite. The race took 21.15 seconds. "He wasn't even going full tilt," said winning rider Travis Dunkelberger.
There is no turf sprint on the Breeders' Cup Championship card. Maybe it's just as well because the best turf sprinter in the world appears to be headed off to Australia for stud duty this fall, anyway. Choisir, who won both the King's Stand and the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot, was second behind Oasis Dream in Thursday's July Cup at Newmarket in England. Choisir, sent to England when Singapore's international races were canceled, led most of the way but couldn't hold off the winner in the final yards. Airwave was third after experiencing traffic problems. "The winner was a fresh horse, trained for the race," said Choisir's trainer, Paul Perry. "My horse, you might say, is on the way down a bit." Perry said Choisir would not race again until the Hong Kong International Races in December. But, shortly after Thursday's race, the Australian superstar was sold to Coolmore Stud and is expected to enter the breeding shed this fall in his native island continent.
In other weekend turf sprinting, for those keeping score:
--Joe's Son Joey took the lead a furlong from home in Saturday's $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint Handicap and drew clear to win by 1 1/4 length over Callthesheriff. Abderian was third and the favorite, Testify, showed little, finishing ninth. Joe's Son Joey, a 5-year-old by Fast Play, ran the 5 furlongs of firm turf in 55.63 seconds. "We'll take him back to New Jersey and look for races up to a mile, which I think he can handle," said winning trainer Tim Hills. "Maybe in Canada. I think they owe us one up there." Joe's Son Joey finished second in the Nearctic Handicap at Woodbine last year after leading most of the way.
--Full Moon Madness went to the lead at midstretch in Saturday's $75,000 Robert K. Kerlan Handicap at Hollywood Park and won by 1/2 length over Sea to See. Ecstatic was third. Full Moon Madness, a 7-year-old gelding, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.19. (For those keeping track of lunar cycles, the moon was full on Sunday).
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships:
$4 million Classic
--If anyone had any doubts about Congaree's ability to go a mile and a quarter, they can rest assured after Sunday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup. The Bob Baffert trainee, a 5-year-old son of Arazi, took back to third place turning onto the backstretch, went to the lead with Harlan's Holiday as the field approached the far turn, then drew clear to win by 2 lengths with jockey Jerry Bailey calling the shots. Harlan's Holiday held second and Kudos ran from nearly 20 lengths off the pace to take third. Congaree, a disappointing sixth in the Met Mile last time out, finished the Gold Cup in an impressive 2:00.48 and now has won four of six starts this year. "He looked like Seabiscuit making his move around the turn there," Baffert said. "I haven't seen a move like that since I saw the movie 'Seabiscuit' the other night." Baffert said Congaree will get a rest. "The main thing is to have him ready for the Breeders' Cup," he added.
--Baffert and Bailey also won Sunday's $400,000 Swaps Stakes for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park, with During providing the front-running upset. Despite being headed by Ten Most Wanted in mid-stretch, During used a live rail to battle back in the final sixteenth and win by a head. Eye of the Tiger, who disputed the early pace, held on for third. During, a son of Cherokee Run, picked up his first stakes win, running 9 furlongs in 1:49.38. Baffert said he hasn't selected During's next race.
--In Saturday's $350,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap, Tenpins raced from a stalking position behind the early leaders until late in the run down the backstretch, challenged for the lead on the turn and drew clear to win by lengths over Bowman's Band. Woodmoon was along for third. Tenpins, a 5-year-old, Michigan-bred son of Smart Strike, ran the 1 1/8 mile in 1:48.39. (Saturday)
$2 million John Deere Turf
--Silver Tree led from gate to wire, winning Saturday's $500,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs by 1 1/2 lengths. The Hennessy colt, with Edgar Prado up, set moderate fractions and found no challengers when he hit the stretch run. The odds-on favorite, Senor Swinger, did not fire, finishing fourth. "I was looking for anything coming," said Prado. "I noticed no one was really catching up to me." Silver Tree finished the 1 1/4 mile in 2:01.11. His full brother, Orchard Park, won the same race last year.
--Whitmore's Conn pulled the upset in Saturday's $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park, racing from last in a field of nine under Jean-Luc Samyn to beat Quest Star by 1/2 length with a late surge. Macaw was third while the favorite, State Shinto, faded after setting a pressured pace to finish fifth. Whitmore's Conn, a 5-year-old son of Kris S., ran 11 furlongs on "good" turf in 2:15.92. "This was the race we were pointing for," said winning trainer Randy Schulhofer. He said he will "take a look at" the Sword Dancer on Aug. 9 at Saratoga. State Shinto's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, said he had hoped for a better pace scenario, adding his charge "is a much better horse when he's covered up. That's the way it goes."
-- In Sunday's $150,000 Lexington Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, Sharp Impact turned in a sharp effort, leading from gate to wire and winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Hidden Truth. The favorite, Urban King, was home third. Sharp Impact, a son of Siphon, ran the 1 1/4 mile on the inner turf course in 2:02.62. "The grass was a question mark," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "But all of these Siphons seem to move up on the turf."
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
--Dress To Thrill, the odds-on favorite in Saturday's $200,000 All Along Breeders' Cup at Colonial Downs, almost ran the race twice. The 4-year-old filly, making her first start of the year, broke through the gate before the start and ran the length of the stretch before being collared and reloaded. She went to the lead again when the whole field started, then turned back first Golden Corona and Lady Linda in the stretch, despite drifting out. She finished the 1 1/8 mile in 1:49.16.
--Vintage Tipple, a 12-1 chance, upset Sunday's $500,000 Irish Oaks at The Curragh. With Frankie Dettori up, the Daughter of Entrepreneur wore down pace-setting L'Ancresse in the late going for the victory. Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look finished third. Vintage Tipple ran the 1 1/2 mile in 2:28 3/5.
$1 million Distaff
--Lead Story picked up her first stakes win in Saturday's $100,000 HBPA Handicap at Ellis Park and now trainer Carl Nafzger is looking for more from the 3-year-old filly. Lead Story, with Calvin Borel up, raced last for the first half mile of the 1-mile event, then came wide turning into the stretch and blew by the rest of the field to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Born to Dance. "The Gardenia is the next logical step," said Nafzger assistant Ian Wilkes. "We accomplished what we wanted. That was to make her a stakes winner. The next step is a graded race."
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
--Korbyn Gold won Sunday's $75,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park in Texas, racing from behind the pace. Afternoon Charlie was second, 2 lengths back, and the favorite, Beau's County, faded badly to finish a distant third. Korbyn Gold, a Kentucky-bred son of Gold Case, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.56. "It couldn't have worked out any better," winning jockey Jeremy Beasley said of the pace situation.
--At The Curragh in Ireland, One Cool Cat captured the Group III Dubai Duty Free Anglessey Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over Leicester. The Kentucky-bred colt, sold to Mrs. John Magnier at the 2002 Keeneland sale for $3.1 million, picked up his first stakes victory for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
--At Woodbine in Canada, San Diego Blowout surged through the stretch run to win Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Colin Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths over Gemini Dream. San Diego Blowout, a Kentucky-bred son of Confide, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.47. San Diego Blowout now is undefeated in two starts.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
Bluegrass Sara scored a 6-length victory over Royal Pet in Saturday's $75,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park, site of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Championships. The Tabasco Cat filly ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.06, backing up her earlier victory in the TTA Sales Futurity lat month.
In other weekend racing:
Mobil finished second in the Queen's Plate last month in an uncharacteristically dull effort. Saturday, the Langfuhr colt gained a measure of redemption, winning the $150,000 (Canadian) Toronto Cup Handicap by 1 length over Strizzi. Moonshine Hall was third. "I'm just thankful he came back and ran a big race today," said winning rider Todd Kabel. Kabel chose to ride Mobil in the Queen's Plate over Wando. Wando won the race. "In the Plate," Kabel said, "he just wasn't himself."
Max Forever won a stretch battle with Christine's Outlaw in Saturday's $100,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds. At the line, it was Max Forever by a head, with Chilly Rooster comfortably back in third. Max Forever, a Florida-bred son of Montbrook, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.56.
Sunday, Follow Me Home proved aptly named, leading six rivals across the finish line in the $50,000 Candy Éclair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Cobra King led from gate to wire and finished the 6 furlongs in 1:09.69.
Also Sunday, Sir Brian's Sword ran from off the pace to win the $50,000 Elkwood Stakes by 1 length over Autonomy. American Freedom was third. Sir Brian's Sword, with Joe Bravo up, finished the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:39.86.
Lone Star Park
Pie N Burger seized the lead with a quarter mile to run in Sunday's $60,000 Bob Johnson Memorial Stakes and drew clear to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Agrivating General. Compendium was third. Pie N Burger, a 5-year-old son of Twining, ran 1 mile in 1:35.67 and clinched "Horse of the Meet" honors with the victory. "This is how he likes to run," winning rider Jamie Theriot said.
Spin Control spun through traffic in the last few furlongs of Saturday's $55,000 Julie Snellings Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and then went on to win by 1 length over Little Miss Pamela. Feisty Bull was third and the favorite, Bella Tusa, faded to finish fifth. Spin Control is a daughter of A.P. Indy, from the Mr. Prospector mare Prospinsky. She ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.26.
They really do spell it "Suthern Accent Stakes" and Distinctive Code won the $50,000 event Saturday. After dueling through most of the way with favorite Southern Tour, Distinctive Code edged clear in the final furlong to win by 3/4 length. Out Here Tiz was third. Distinctive Code, a 4-year-old daughter of Lost Code, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.16.