The Classic, officially the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge -- until recently looked like the province of older horses. Three-year-olds who fought it out in the Triple Crown events either had fallen by the wayside or seemed knocked out by their springtime exertions.
But Saturday at Louisiana Downs, Ten Most Wanted served notice he is back on his game and a force to be reckoned with in the Classic. Winner of the Illinois Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes, Ten Most Wanted let his rivals do most of the running in the $500,000 Super Derby. Then as the field straightened out into the stretch, Ten Most Wanted edged to the lead and scored by 1/2 length over previously undefeated Soto. The son of Deputy Commander finished in 1:50.77.
Meanwhile, Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker worked 5 furlongs Saturday in 1:12 3/5. Trainer Bobby Frankel is trying to get the colt to next Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. "I just want to have a good week with him. That's all," Frankel said. "He looks good and it seems like everything's okay. He's sharp."
Among the older horses, Daily Racing Form reported that Candy Ride, the impressive winner of last month's Pacific Classic at Del Mar, is likely to sit out the rest of the year. The DRF quoted trainer Ron McAnally as saying he would rather have the colt strong for next year than have owners Sid and Jenny Craig put up the $800,000 supplement to get Candy Ride into the Classic.
McAnally also reportedly said the Craigs had inquired about buying Perfect Drift, who beat Classic contender Congaree last weekend in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park and also defeated Mineshaft in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs earlier in the year.
Trainer Murray Johnson has said repeatedly Perfect Drift will not run in the Classic this year and also is not for sale. Perfect Drift is slated to run in the Hawthorne Gold Cup next weekend.
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 25 at Santa Anita:
$2 million John Deere Turf
Art Variety crossed the finish line first in Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Handicap at Kentucky Downs, only to be set down to third by the stewards for drifting out and bumping in deep stretch. Rochester was elevated to the win and Quest Star to place money. Rochester is a 7-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred gelding by Green Dancer. The 1 1/2 mile on the European-style turf course went in 2:31.39.
$1 million NetJets Mile (turf)
--Wonder Again saved ground into the turn in Saturday's $150,000 Noble Damsel Handicap at Belmont Park, swung wide into the stretch and prevailed in a three-horse dash to the wire by 1/4 length over Dancal. Something ventured was another 1/4 length back in third and the favorite, Dedication, finished fourth. "She was in the back for the first part, but I was able to save ground," said winning rider Edgar Prado. "She split horses, she was very brave. She's a nice filly and she's back to her form." Wonder Again is a 4-year-old daughter of Silver Hawk.
--Apasionata Sonata rallied from last in a field of 10 to upset Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs. The 5-year-old Affirmed mare rallied up the rail to beat Curious Conundrum by 2 lengths with Big Spur third. The favorite, Voodoo Lady, faded badly to finish seventh. Apasionata Sonata ran the 1 mile in 1:37.84.
--Hard Buck battled with Gretchen's Star through the final furlong of Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Mile before prevailing by a neck. Last Stand was third. Hard Buck, a 4-year-old, Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck, was clocked in 1:37.81.
--Stroll sat behind pace-setting Sharp Impact early in Sunday's $200,000 Jamaica Handicdap at Belmont Park, the found running room on the inside in the stretch run and went on to win. Kicken Kris and Joe Bear finished 2-3. That duo finished 1-2 last month in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. "I was hoping something would open up at the top of the stretch," said Stroll's rider, Jerry Bailey. "Not many horses would have gone through that hole. The hedge was scraping my boot. You need the horse to get through a hole like that. If you don't, you can look pretty stupid." Stroll is a 3-year-old son of Pulpit. He finished the 9-furlong turf event in 1:46.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
--Stolen Time stalked the early pace in Saturday's $100,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Race Course, then took the lead on the turn and went on to win by 3/4 length over Second of June. Imperialism was third. Stolen Time, a Florida-bred son of Time Bandit, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:40.46 for Gary Boulanger. "He's lightly trained up to this point and I think there is room for improvement," said winning trainer Bill White. The colt is not eligible for the Florida Stallion Stakes and he said he has not picked out a next race for Stolen Time.
--Winter Whiskey wasn't even supposed to start in Sunday's $125,000 Swynford Stakes at Woodbine, much less win it. Yet that's just what the overachieving colt did, coming from off the pace to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Organ Grinder. "Originally our plan was to go in an allowance race but it didn't fill," said winning trainer Catherine Day Phillips. "We went into this stakes race, hoping maybe for a third or a good closing finish." She said Winter Whiskey will make his next start on the turf in the Cup And Saucer Stakes on Oct. 11.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
--Marina de Chavon finished second in Saturday's $100,000 Brave Raj Stakes at Calder but was promoted to first by the stewards when first-place finisher Ride Her out was ruled to have swerved out late in the strech run. Horah for Bailey finished third. Marina de Chavon, is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Exploit. She ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:46.37. "We backed into one," said winning trainer Joe Catanese III. "That doesn't happen too often to me." Since Marina de Chavon is not eligible for the Florida Stallion Stakes series, he added, "We'll just have to see what comes up for her after I talk to the owners."
--Dream About won Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian) Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes at Woodbine in Canada by 8 1/4 lengths over America America after leading from the start. Dream About, a daughter of Cherokee Run, was under restraint at the wire or the margin of victory could have been greater. "She ran a fantastic race," said winning rider Patrick Husbands.
In other weekend racing:
Running back only eight days after winning an allowance race, Quantum Merit drew off in the late going to win Saturday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole by 3 3/4 lengths over World of Wonder. Robbie's Rockin was third. "You always worry when you're coming back on eight days," said winning trainer Del Carroll. "But he did everything right this week. He didn't miss an oat."
Sunday, Travelator stalked the pace set by Self Rising in the $100,000 Schenectady Handicap, then charged to the lead in the stretch and won off by 2 1/2 lengths. Grab Bag caught Self Rising at the wire to take second. Travelator, a year-old A.P. Jet filly, ran the 6 furlongs under Aaron Gryder in 1:10 2/5. "She's quick," Gryder said of his mount.
Fredericktown led all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash, just holding off Abderian by a nose at the wire. Callthesheriff was third. Fredericktown, a 4-year-old son of Williamstown, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:12.59.
Private Horde stalked the pace-setters in Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stakes, came five-wide into the stretch turn and won by 1 length over Deer Lake. Paging was third. Private Horde, a 4-year-old Brunswick colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.17 as the pari-mutuel favorite in a field of nine.
Dyna De Wyna, with Pat Day up, won Saturday's $75,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Oaks by a head over Tiva's Little Sis. Tincan Too was third. Dyna De Wyna ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.33.
In the third stakes event on Super Derby day, Waupaca beat Gentlemen J J by a neck in the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial Handicap. Jockey Pat Day won all three of the days' stakes events.
Ilha Grande took back through the early furlongs of Saturday's $60,000 Hillsborough Handicap for fillies and mares, circled four-wide into the stretch and just got up in the final strides to beat Lindsay Jean by a head. Milligram was third. Ilha Grande, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Spinning World, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:45.15. "They said ride her down the lane and she'll give you everything she has," said winning jockey Francisco Duran. "Whew! It was close."
Delmonico Cat caught You Glitter Girl in the last few yards to win Saturday's $45,000 Flawlessly Stakes by a neck. Naturally Wild was third, another 1/2 length back. Delmonico Cat, a 4-year-old Storm Cat filly, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.48 under Rene Douglas. The filly is trained by Bill Mott.
Docent took charge in the stretch and won Saturday's $50,000 Charles Hadry Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths over Jorgie Stover. Jim's Thirds Bolero was third. Docent, with Clifton Potts in the irons, ran 9 furlongs in 1:50. "This was definitely my Maryland Million prep," said winning trainer Tim Ritchey.