Next month's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic figures to attract some of the world's best horses. But the one who has beaten the best looks to be a no-show for the big show.
Perfect Drift completed a one-two punch against top rivals in the handicap division with a thoroughly impressive victory over Congaree in Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky. Back in June, Perfect Drift also beat Mineshaft fair and square in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.
Going into the weekend's action, Mineshaft was tied for No. 1 in the World Thoroughbred Rankings and Congaree was in a tie for No. 3. Perfect Drift, not rated in the top 10, is the only horse who has beaten both those rivals this year.
In Saturday's Effort, jockey Pat Day kept Perfect Drift right behind Congaree until the pair entered the far turn. Never once raising his whip, Day sent Perfect Drift past the pacesetter with no trouble and the 4-year-old son of Dynaformer won by 1 length in a hand ride.
"We tracked the leaders and since he has a tendency to hang, I wanted to run right by Congaree," said Day. "He was in hand to the wire. It was an awesome effort."
Despite his stellar record this year on the main track, trainer Murray Johnson is sticking to his guns that Perfect Drift won't be in the field for the Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
"We're probably going to miss this year," Johnson said, citing the entry fees for the Classic. He said that decision doesn't preclude sending Perfect Drift to the big dance in 2004, when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will be run at Lone Star Park in Texas.
In other weekend racing with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup WorldThoroughbred Championships:
$2 million Nextel Distaff
--Smok'n Frolic rebounded from a thrashing in her last outing at Saratoga to win Saturday's $175,000 Turfway Park Breeders' Cup impressively. After pressing the early pace, the 4-year-old Smoke Glacken filly drew off in the stretch, winning by -- lengths over Awesome Humor. So Much More was a non-threatening third. The Todd Pletcher trainee scored her third victory in nine outings this year.
--Trainer Bobby Frankel saddled Wild Spirit and You to a 1-2 finish in Saturday's $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park but didn't seem wildly spirited about sending either of the fillies on to the Breeders' Cup. You led the way in the Ruffian but surrendered to lead to her stablemate on the turn for home. Wild Spirit drew clear to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Passing Shot was well back in third. Wild Spirit, a 4-year-old Chilean-bred filly, finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.23. Frankel said Wild Spirit will go in the $750,000 Beldame on Oct. 4 and, if she wins that, "why would I need to go to the Breeders' Cup with her and put up all that money?" He said You may run in the $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on Breeders' Cup day.
$1 million Sprint
--Cajun Beat took over the lead turning for home in Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park, opening up a big advantage in the stretch and held on to beat Clock Stopper by 3/4 length. The favorite, Champali, was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third. Cajun Beat, a 3-year-old son of Grand Slam, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:09.54 after tracking a quick early pace. The gelding had not raced since July 12, when he finished second to Valid Video in the Carry Back Stakes at Calder. He now has won four of 10 lifetime starts, including three of eight this year.
--During came three-wide on the stretch turn in Saturday's $150,000 Jerome Handicap for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, got the lead and then held on gamely to beat Tafaseel by 3/4 length. The favorite, Pretty Wild, was third. During, a son of Cherokee Run, finished the one-turn mile in 1:36.32 under Jose Santos. Unraced as a 2-year-old, he has won four of his 11 starts this year, at distances from 6 to 11 furlongs, including the Grade II Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in July. Santos said the Bob Baffert-trained colt "fought the whole, entire stretch. Tafaseel put in a good run but my horse wouldn't let him by."
--Bauhauser got the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Floral Park Handicap for fillies and mares and wouldn't surrender it, upsetting odds-on favorite Shine Again by 3/4 length. Literary Light was third. Bauhauser, a 5-year-old, Argentine-bred mare, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.84. "She's been a nice surprise since the owners bought her," said Scott Blasi, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. Allen Jerkens, who trains Shine Again, the No. 9-rated sprinter in the world, said his filly "is probably better at 7 furlongs. I thought she would beat these horses today."
--On Thursday at Belmont, Shake You Down rolled to a 5 3/4-length victory in a confidence-building allowance race. Rated No. 2 in the Sprint division behind Aldebaran, Shake You Down ran 6 furlongs in 1:08 2/5. Trainer Scott Lake said Shake You Down will go directly to the Breeders' Cup.
$1 million NetJets Mile (turf)
--Touch of the Blues got a clean trip for a change in Sunday's $1 million (Canadian) Atto Mile. With Kent Desormeaux calling the shots, the 6-year-old son of Cadeaux Genereux came wide into the stretch to ensure running room, then outfinished Soaring Free to win by 1/2 length. Perfect Soul was third and the Canadian Triple Crown winner, Wando, finished fourth as the favorite. Touch of the Blues completed the mile in 1:33.39. "It's lovely to come up here and win," said trainer Neil Drysdale. "His schedule is the same as last year. He'll go in the Shadwell Mile (Oct. 4 at Keeneland) next and then we'll see. Maybe we'll go in the Breeders' Cup." In his last outing before the Atto Mile, Touch of the Blues set a track record at Del Mar in the Wickerr Stakes Aug. 2. In last year's Atto, however, he was blocked during the stretch run, finishing fifth.
--Della Francesca upset Saturday's $200,000 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap, racing from off the pace to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Rouvres. Volponi, the defending champ in the Breeders' Cup Classic - who had posted five straight second-place finishes since that massive upset - regressed in the change of racing surfaces, checking in third. Della Francesca, a 4-year-old son of Danzig out of an Affirmed mare, ran the 9 furlongs on the inner turf course in 1:47.48. Trainer Niall O'Callaghan said the Pennsylvania-bred "loves it when he runs at a horse. He thinks it's a game." He said he probably would need more graded stakes earnings to get into the Breeders' Cup and might race at Keeneland in search of that boost. Della Francesca is owned by University of Louisville basketball Coach Rick Pitino's Ol Memorial Stable.
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
--Aud upset Saturday's $175,000 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park, moving between horses and drawing off to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Hail Hillary. Julie's Prize was third and Hoh Buzzard, with Gary Stevens up, was fourth. It was Stevens' first appearance at Arlington since he was tossed and trampled at the finish of the Arlington Million a month earlier. "The idea," said winning rider Brian Peck, "was to make one last run and that's what happened. Everything worked out for us." Trainer Tony Reinstedler said he gave Aud a "little freshening" after her last race - a ninth-place finish in the Lake George Stakes at Saratoga.
--Mezzo Soprano, a full sister to Rahy and a half to Singspiel, won Sunday's Prix Vermeille for 3-year-old fillies at Longchamp in Paris by a head over Yesterday. Mezzo Soprano, from the Godolphin Racing stable, ran 1 1/2 mile on "good to soft" turf in 2:26 1/5 under Frankie Dettori. Godolphin Racing Manager Simon Crisford said no decision has been made on where to send the filly next.
--At Woodbine, Inish Glora recovered from a bobble at the start and went on to win Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Canadian Handicap by 1 3/4 length over Volga. Diadella was third. Inish Glora, a 5-year-old daughter of Regal Classic, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:44.56.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
--Marylebone, with Edgar Prado up, rallied four-wide into the stretch and was just up in time to win Sunday's $200,000 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park. Lokyoa, who battled for the lead down the stretch, was second, a nose behind. Eye Dazzler was a well-beaten third. Marylebone, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Unbridled's Song, ran the 1 mile in 1:38.02. Todd Pletcher trains both Marylebone and Lokoya. "I hate those situations," Pletcher said. "The fillies were separated by an inch. Unfortunately, it couldn't have been a dead heat." Marylebone now has won both her starts. "I really had to motivate her once we were outside," said Prado. "She's still got room for improvement."
--Class Above, making only her second career start, dominated the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies Saturday at Turfway Park. After a stalking trip, jockey Edgar Prado sent the daughter of Quiet American to the lead on the turn for home and she responded with a flourish, drawing clear quickly to win by 16 lengths. Class Above, owned by Satish Sanan's Padua Stables, ran the 1 mile in 1:39.04. "She's very special," said trainer Bob Baffert. "It was sort of any easy go today. We'll just keep her happy and hopefully she runs like this on Breeders' Cup day." Renaissance Lady was second in Saturday's race and Sweet Jo Jo was third.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
--Cuvee answered the initial question about his ability to get a distance of ground by winning Sunday's $200,000 Futurity at Belmont Park by 8 1/4 lengths over Value Plus. With Jerry Bailey asking him for run, the Carson City colt finished the one-turn mile in 1:35.75. The Futurity was Cuvee's first start beyond 6 1/2 furlongs and backed up his easy victory in the Saratoga Special last month. "It was a great effort," said Bailey. "Equally impressive was when he got to the leader, he put his ears up and waited for me to ask him to run. I'm impressed. He's a nice horse." Trainer Steve Asmussen said Cuvee will get a final few works in Kentucky before shipping to California for the Breeders' Cup.
--Pomeroy held on gamely through the final sixteenth of Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park and finished first, only to be set down by the stewards for interference at the top of the stretch. The decision awarded the victory to longshot Mr. Jester, a Louisiana invader. The Cliff's Edge finished third, then was moved up to second. Mr. Jester is a son of Silver Deputy, trained by Steve Wren. He came into the race with two wins and a second from three starts, all at Louisiana Downs and none longer than 5 1/2 furlongs. Pomeroy,
a son of Boundary, also had two wins from three previous starts, including a second-place finish in the Saratoga Special in his last outing.
--Siphonizer got to he lead inside the furlong pole in Wednesday's $250,000 Del Mar Futurity and held off Minister Eric to win by 1/2 length. Perfect Moon was third. Cooperation, the favorite, and Gulf of Mexico completed the order of finish. Siphonizer, a Kentucky-bred son of Siphon, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.10 under Julie Krone. Richard Mandella trains both ends of the exacta. "We'll look at the races at (Santa Anita's) Oak Tree," Mandella said of Siphonizer's future. "Right now, I'm pointing for the Norfolk and it'll either be that and the Breeders' Cup or just the Breeders' Cup."
--In Ireland, One Cool Cat drew off in the late going to score a 1-length victory in Sunday's National Stakes for 2-year-olds at The Curragh. Trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Mick Kinane, One Cool Cat ran the 7 furlongs on "good to firm" turf in 1:23 1/5. O'Brien said the Storm Cat colt will get the rest of the year off.
--Paddington rallied to challenge the leaders on the turn for home in Saturday's $55,000 Whirling Ash Stakes at Delaware Park, then accelerated through the stretch to win by 5 lengths over Capejinsky. Venizia was third. Paddington, a Kentucky-bred son of Saint Ballado, trained by Michael Dickinson, ran the 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:37.71.
--At Monmouth Park, Lissau spent most of Sunday's $50,000 Smoke Glacken Stakes holding off Boston Brahmin, finally winning by 1/2 length. Lissau, a Kentucky-bred son of Honour and Glory, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.90. The colt is trained by Linda Rice.
In other weekend racing:
Miss Crissy survived some tight quarters during Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) La Prevoyante Stakes at Woodbine and came away a 1 1/2-length winner over Kabul. My Sweet Tooch was third in the 1-mile turf test for 3-year-old, Ontario-bred fillies. Miss Crissy, a daughter of Bold n'Flashy, finished in 1:36.28.
Sunday, Bachelor Blues led all the way to an upset victory in the $250,000 (Canadian) Summer Stakes for 2-year-olds. With Todd Kabel in the irons, the Smoke Glacken colt led by as much as 3 lengths, then held on to beat Victory Light to the wire by a neck. Commendation finished third but was disqualified for interference in the turn, promoting America America to the show position. Bachelor Blues ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.95.
Wiggins let the early speed go in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby, then went to work when asked by jockey Eddie Razo Jr., got the lead and won by 2 1/2 lengths. Morning Merry was second and Rubianos Image finished third. Wiggins, an Illinois-bred son of Cartwright, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.35. "We didn't want him out on the lead," said winning owner Ronald Schwed. But we didn't want him too far back, either." Trainer Tony Granitz said he is pointing Wiggins to the Indiana Derby. "I thought this was the best place to come. It's under the lights and it would give us a shot at a mile and a sixteenth."
In Friday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks, Shot Gun Favorite came from off the pace and won a stretch battle with Leaseholders Dream to score a neck victory. Halory Leigh was a distant third. Shot Gun Favorite, a Florida-bred miss by Eltish, trained by Kenny McPeek, got the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.02. "When I asked her, she gave me a real nice punch," said winning jockey Terry Thompson, who turned down mounts at the Kentucky Cup to remain in Iowa. "I thought halfway down the stretch I had it won easy.
Calder Race Course
Formal Miss took back in the early going in Saturday's $75,000 Judy's Red Shoes, then rallied through the stretch and drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Dakota Light. Miss Tassy was third in the 1 1/16-mile turf test for 3-year-old fillies. Formal Miss, a Florida-bred daughter of Formal Dinner, was clocked in 1:45.36 on "good" going. "When you run that way, you don't always get through (traffic)," said winning trainer Paul Maxwell. "But this is the way she wants to be ridden." He said he will send Formal Miss to the Calder Oaks on Oct. 11.
Cellamare rallied from near the back of the pack to win Saturday's $60,000 Carmel Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by 1 length over Frisco Belle. Hippogator was third. Cellamare, a French-bred filly, finished the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:44.55. "I had a perfect trip," said winning rider Jose Valdivia Jr. "She was pulling at me and it was just a matter of when I wanted to let her go." Trainer Frank Monteleone said he will "look at a stakes at Oak Tree next" for the filly, who is owned in part by New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre.
Conservation got to the rail at mid-stretch in Saturday's $60,000 Humphrey Finney Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds and worked clear of pace-setting Cheverly Gold to win by 3 lengths. Foufa's Warrior, the odds-on favorite, finished third. Conservation, a son of Tamayaz, trained by Barclay Tagg, ran the 1 1/8 mile on a sloppy track in 1:51.78. The race came off the turf. Tagg said the victory was doubly impressive because of the conditions. "I shod him the turf yesterday," Tagg said, "and I didn't want to re-shoe him because his feet are a little brittle. The jock (Enrique Jurado) did a good job."
Jersey Giant came from last in a field of just four starters to win Saturday's $50,000 Skip Trial Stakes by a head over Abreeze. Seattle Glory was third and Roger E faded to finish last after leading through the early furlongs. Jersey Giant, a 4-year-old, New Jersey-bred son of Evening Kris, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.04.
Also Saturday, Impolite got the lead at the top of the stretch in the $50,000 Joseph Buckelew Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and won off by 1 3/4 lengths over Six Pack Sally. Glowing Breeze was third in the 5-furlong turf race, clocked in 56.23 seconds over a firm course. Impolite is a Maryland-bred daughter of Two Punch.
Al's Dearly Bred rallied from off the pace to win Sunday's $45,000 Golden Pheasant Stakes by a neck. The 6-year-old son of Waquoit was timed in 1:39.56 over "soft" turf, picking up his second overnight stakes victory of the meeting. Holy Conflict held second after leading in the stretch and Mercenary was third.
The favorites finished second in both ends of Saturday's Texas Stallion Stakes. In the $45,000 colts and geldings division, Fitzroyal led almost all the way and then pulled clear in the stretch to win by 7 3/4 lengths over the pari-mutuel favorite, Most Feared. Fitrzroyal, a 4-year-old son of Desert Royalty, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.07. In the $45,000 fillies and mares division, Lady Mallory came from well back to collar front-running favorite Eagle Lake in mid-stretch, then roared off to win by 10 3/4 lengths. Eagle Lake held second with Hay Allison third. Lady Mallory, a 3-year-old daughter of Leo Castilli, was clocked in 1:23.34.
Naraingang, a Brazilian-bred now in the care of Kenny McPeek, rallied strongly in the long stretch at the former Dueling Grounds to win Saturday's $40,000 Yaqthan Stakes by a neck over Bud's Magic. Wudantunoit was third. Naraingang ran the 1 mile on the up-and-down, undulating turf course in 1:39.42.
Also Saturday, Powderjay took over the lead entering the stretch in the $40,000 Pleasant Temper Stakes for fillies and mares and finished well to win by 2 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Manhattan Skyline. Cat and the Hat was third. Powderjay, a 5-year-old With Approval mare, finished the 1 mile in 1:38.73.
News and Notes
--Harold Rose, a fixture in South Florida racing for six decades, died Monday at age 92. Rose bought his first horse in 1951 and campaigned two Kentucky Derby starters - Rexson's Hope in 1984 and Hal's Hope in 2000 - among many stakes winners. Rose was inducted into the Calder Hall of Fame in 1997.
--The Emirates Racing Association Sunday announced a huge expansion of its international racing program for 2004. While the Dubai World Cup Day will continue to anchor the program, the new International Racing Carnival will run for two months and include 55 races with $21 million in prize money. ERA also will pick up transportation costs and offer trainers' bonuses and starter rebates for most races.