For the second straight year, the Arlington Million was decided by the stewards and, for the second straight year, it was an easy call.
Kicken Kris was making a strong move up the rail in Saturday's 22nd renewal of the Million when Powerscourt, on the outside, came in sharply under right-handed whipping by jockey Jamie Spencer. Powerscourt forced Epalo in, shutting off Kicken Kris, who was taken up and then hit the rail hard.
As they crossed the line, Powerscourt was 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Kicken Kris, with Magistretti third and the favorite, Epalo, fourth. The stewards had an easy time of it deciding that Powerscourt should be placed after Epalo in the revised order of finish.
"For a stride or two, I thought I was going through the fence," said Kent Desormeaux, who picked up the ride on Kicken Kris thanks to a disagreement between trainer Michael Matz and the agent for Edgar Prado, who rode the colt in his last race. "With all due respect to (Spencer), I think he knew I was coming."
Desormeaux and Spencer had words after the finish but Desormeaux said the conversation was private.
Desormeaux, who was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame Monday, said the incident showed the courage of his mount, a 4-year-old son of Kris S.
"He got slammed. Most horses would have said, 'Okay. That's enough. I quit,'" Desormeaux said.
Kicken Kris had been a model of consistency until he hit a two-race slump earlier this year, finishing sixth in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day and ninth in the Manhattan at Belmont a month later.
"I can't tell you what was wrong in those two races," Matz said. "I haven't trained him differently. Maybe John Velazquez (who rode in the Turf Classic and Manhattan) just didn't have enough confidence in the horse."
Asked whether Kicken Kris now is bound for the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, Matz said, "I'd like to say yes. But the horse has to tell us what he wants to do."
In last year's Million, Storming Home was swerving wildly in front of his rivals as he crossed the wire first. Jockey Gary Stevens barely averted serious injury in the incident, which caused Storming Home to be demoted from first to fourth.
In other potential preps for the Breeders' Cup Turf:
-- Kicken Kris's effort looked even better after Better Talk Now rallied from last to win Saturday's $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga. Kicken Kris defeated Better Talk Now by 1 1/2 lengths in the Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont last month - a race that begins to look like a key effort for the division. Dispatched at odds of nearly 8-1, Better Talk Now saved ground for more than a mile of the Sword Dancer, angled out and moved up on the final turn and closed well on the outside. Request for Parole was second and the favorite, Balto Star, faded to finish third after showing the way. Better Talk Now, a 5-year-old Talkin Man gelding, completed the 1 1/2 mile on yielding turf in 2:28.49 with Ramon Dominguez in the irons, picking up his first win in five starts this year. "I thought the pace was legitimate," said winning trainer H. Graham Motion. "I knew the ground had to be very soft. I could see how relaxed our horse was and I knew they wouldn't let Balto Star get away with an easy pace. I felt confident." He said the $500,000 Man o'War at Belmont on Sept. 11 is the likely next stop.
-- Kitten's Joy was a dominating winner in Saturday's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park. The El Prado colt, sent off the favorite, idled near the back of a seven-horse field until the turn, then hit the gas and won easily by 3 1/4 lengths over Greek Sun. Moscow Ballet was third. With Jerry Bailey up, Kitten's Joy finished the 1 1/4 mile on firm turf in 1:59.65 - a tad better than the 2:00.08 time of the Arlington Million two races earlier. "He settled back off a decent pace and just put them away at ease," said Bailey. "It was an amazing turn of foot." Trainer Dale Romans said he has been "pointing for this race since January. We never really had a plan for after this. We need to find just one race for him between now and the Breeders' Cup."
In other weekend racing with potential implications for the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park:
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
Before Saturday, jockey Frankie Dettori was four times a bridesmaid but never a bride at Arlington Park. All it took to break through was "something borrowed, something blue" -- a combination that clicked in the $750,000 Beverly D. Dettori's luggage was misdirected on his flight from England, so in addition to the Godolphin Racing blue silks, he was wearing borrowed pants and boots on Saturday. In the improvised get-up, he guided South African-bred Crimson Palace to a stretch-running upset victory in the Beverly D, beating Riskaverse by a well-timed 1/2 length. Necklace was third and the favorite, Musical Chimes, checked in fourth. Crimson Palace raced brilliantly in Dubai this spring but tossed in a disappointing performance in her last outing, finishing sixth as the favorite in the Windsor Forest at Ascot on June 16. "I think maybe the straight track at Ascot was a bit too much for her," Dettori said. "She handled the turns here very well. She was in control and showed a good kick." Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said while he was disappointed in the outcome of the Windsor Forest, "She showed she had the class to win a Group 1. We'll have to see how she comes back. But we'll consider the Breeders' Cup."
$1.5 million NetJets Mile
-- Blackdoun had to negotiate some serious traffic before winning Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds at Del Mar by 3/4 length over Semi Lost. With Corey Nakatani at the controls, the gray, French-bred colt came out from behind horses at the top of the stretch, was steadied behind a rival at mid-stretch and then had to come between rivals to get up for the win. He finished the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.03. "We were in close quarters all the way around," said Nakatani. "But he was relaxed for me....He's a special one." Added trainer Julio Canani: "This horse just ran a sixteenth of a mile today. If he comes back in good shape, we'll go in the (Sept. 6) Del Mar Derby and he'll win."
-- Whipper, a Kentucky-bred son of Miesque's Son, beat last year's Mile winner, Six Perfections, on soggy ground Sunday in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in France. Whipper and Six Perfections battled for the lead, with Whipper getting the better of the match by 1 length. My Risk was third. Whipper had finished second in the Prix Maurice de Gheest over the same turf just a week earlier. His owner, Robert Strauss, and trainer, Robert Collet, sent out 1986 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Last Tycoon.
$1 million Sprint
-- Speightstown won the pace battle and also won the war in Saturday's $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga. The 6-year-old son of Gone West disposed of longshot Mike's Classic as the field turned for home, then opened a nice lead and held on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Clock Stopper. Gators N Bears finished third. John Velazquez rode Speightstown 6 furlongs in 1:08.04 -- equaling a 32-year-old track record. "This horse has been perfect this year," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Speightstown, who, in fact, has won all four of his '04 starts, including the True North Breeders Cup Handicap last time out and the Churchill Downs Handicap the time before that. "He's just so good right now, it's scary." Echoed Velazquez: "He's done everything right and he's been perfect. You can't complain about that." Pletcher said he might start Speightstown in the Vosburgh on Oct. 2 or go straight to the Breeders' Cup.
-- Kela, a 6-year-old son of Numerous, scored a mild upset in Sunday's $200,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar. Coming from last in a field of five, Kela took command entering the stretch and stretched the lead to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Domestic Dispute was second and the odds-on favorite, Pico Central, faded to finish third after setting fractions of 21.98 and 43.92 seconds under David Flores. Tyler Baze rode the winner for trainer Mike Mitchell. "The acceleration this horse has is just unbelievable," Baze said. The feeling with him is ... oh, wow! I can't wait for the Breeders' Cup."
-- Krz Ruckus went straight to the lead in Saturday's $125,0000 (Canadian) Shepperton Stakes at Woodbine, was headed by Dillinger on the turn but came back to win by a nose. Dillinger was second and Mister Coop finished third. The favorite, Luke in My Pocket, finished sixth. Krz Ruckus is a 7-year-old Bold Ruckus gelding. Patrick Husbands was in the irons, taking 1:16.37 for the 6 1/2 furlongs. "He dug back in so hard," said Husbands. "He showed a lot of class coming to the wire."
$2 million Nextel Distaff
Capeside Lady led from gate to wire in Sunday's $200,000 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks at Monmouth Park, winning by 6 1/2 lengths over Hopelessly Devoted. Habiboo was third and the even-money favorite, Ender's Sister, finished fourth. Capeside Lady, a New York-bred daughter of Cape Town, ran 1 1/16 mile on a muddy track in 1:42.18. She is trained by Todd Pletcher.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Roman Ruler took the lead at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar, then ran off to win by 7 lengths over stablemate Actxecutive. Slewsbag was 10 lengths farther back in third. Roman Ruler, a first-crop son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.93 for Corey Nakatani. "I'm happy with both horses," said trainer Bob Baffert of Roman Ruler and Actxecutive. "I'll split them up now. Roman Ruler will stay here and I'll probably send Actecutive out of town."
-- B.B. Best, the odds-on favorite, ran to form in Saturday's $75,000 Dr. Fager Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes. After battling for the lead, the son of Yes It's True drew clear through the stretch to win by 3 lengths over stablemate Favre. Hostile Witness was third. The 6 furlongs took 1:11.93. B.B. Best now has won three of four starts and finished fourth in the Criterium Stakes last month in the other effort. "I can't explain the last one," said winning trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. He said both the top two will go on to the Affirmed Division on Sept. 4.
-- Moonshine Justice, a son of Whiskey Wisdom, won Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Vandal Stakes at Woodbine by 1 1/2 lengths with a good stretch move. The colt had tracked longshot Handlebar Hank until the stretch run. He finished in 1:12.73 over a muddy track. "He's a beautiful, big, long-striding horse," said trainer David Cotey. Moonshine Justice now has two wins, both in added-money events, from three starts.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
Aclassysassylassy stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Desert Vixen Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, then dominated the stretch run, winning off by 3 1/4 lengths. Cut the Mustard was second and Yes It's Gold finished third. Aclassysassylassy, with Manny Aguilar up, ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.37. The filly won her first start by 12 1/2 lengths in June. Then, she finished second behind Punch Appeal in the J j'sdream Stakes later that month. Punch Appeal is not eligible for the FSS. Winner trainer Dave Vivian said Aclassysassylassy "is small, but she can run." He said she will go on to the Susan's Girl Division on Sept. 4 "unless she's sold before then."
In other weekend racing:
Molto Vita fought for the early lead in Saturday's $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Stakes for fillies and mares, got clear and then held on to win by a neck over the favorite, Tina Bull. Smoke Chaser was home third. Molto Vita, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Carson City, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.18 with Larry Melancon up.
Golden Commander took command in the stretch run to win Sunday's $100,000 West Point Handicap for New York-breds by 1/2 length over the favorite, Foreverness. Irish Colonial finished third. Golden Commander, a son of Deputy Commander, found room on the inside for the winning move. He finished 9 furlongs on the "good" inner turf course in 1:48.85.
Inish Gloria rallied through the stretch to win Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoriana Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths over Heyahohowdy. Rosharon was third and Kabul fourth. Inish Gloria, a 6-year-old mare by Regal Classic, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.97 with Todd Kabel up. "Our main goal is to make the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade I, $750,000 on Oct. 24)," said trainer Mac Benson, "and to come into it a bit differently." The result of the Victoriana mirrored last year's outcome -- the same 1-2 finish by the same margin.
Pie N Burger shrugged off highweight of 124 pounds and toyed with eight rivals in Saturday's $100,000 Evangeline Downs Mile Handicap. Clearing an early pace challenge, the 6-year-old Twining gelding opened a clear lead heading into the backstretch and wasn't seriously challenged. At the wire, he was 3 lengths to the good of Meteor Impact. Akanti was third. Pie N Burger finished in 1:37.80 over a fast track.
Separato could still see 'em all halfway through Saturday's $100,000 Larry R. Riviello President's Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds. But, when asked to run, the Virginia-bred son of Victory Gallop blasted up the rail to enter contention, then swung out and drew off to win by 5 lengths over Gadace's Khamseh. Prince Joseph, the favorite, also put in a late move to get home third. Separato finished the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:41.93.
True Sensation had only three to beat after Saturday's $75,000 All Brandy Stakes came off the turf and three others were scratched. That proved no problem for the 5-year-old daughter of Itaka, who stalked the pace, rallied three-wide into the stretch and got home first, 1 1/2 lenghts better than River Cruise. Grace Bay was third as the favorite. True Sensation ran 9 furlongs on a good track in 1:53.01. "She likes an 'off' racetrack," said winning trainer Hamilton Smith. "She runs well over everything."
Questionable Past rallied from last in a field of five to win Saturday's $50,000 Smart Deb Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going away. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Petionville, with Carlos Marquez Jr. aboard, scored by 3 1/2 lenghts over Bad Kitty with the favorite, Silver Crown, fading from the lead to finish third. Questionable Past ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.00.
Nebraska Moon came four-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 Forward Pass Stakes for 3-year-olds and just held off Caiman to win by a neck. Elegant Fame was third and the favorite, Korbyn Gold, finished fourth. Nebraska Moon, a Florida-bred by Open Forum, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.51 for Eddie Martin Jr.
Silver Zipper zipped from last to first in Saturday's $50,000 Cigar Stakes. With Rene Douglas up, the 7-year-old son of Unzipped rallied six-wide into the stretch and beat Apt to Be by 1/2 length despite drifting out the late going. Discreet Hero was third. Apt to Be, the favorite, is owned by Arlington Chairman Richard L. Duchossois. Silver Zipper finished the 1 mile in 1:36.62.
Okie Dozer wore down pace-setting longshot Boxer in deep stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Iowa Stallion Futurity by 1/2 length. Nothing But Cat was third and the favorite, Mingo Mohawk, rallied from last to finish fourth. Okie Dozer is an Oklahoma-bred colt by Blumin Affair. With Tim Doocy up, he ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.67.
Sing Me Back Home drew clear in the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Decathlon Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths over Choctaw Ridge. Mr. Whitestone was third under the wire. Sing Me Back Home, a 6-year-old Homebuilder gelding, covered 5 furlongs on a fast track in 56.34 seconds.
Also Saturday, War's Prospect upset the $60,000 Rumson Stakes for 3-year-olds, leading most of the way to beat the favorite, Abbondanza, by 1/2 length. Gotaghostofachance finished third. War's Prospect is a Jersey-bred son of Lion Cavern. Jose Ferrer rode the gelding 6 furlongs in 1:08.67.
Cherylville Slew started near the back of a 10-horse field in Saturday's $50,000 Sangue Handicap and found a bit of a traffic jam at the top of the stretch. With jockey E.J. Perrodin picking the spots, the 5-year-old Evansville Slew mare rallied between rivals and got up in time to win by 3/4 length over Outright Buck. The favorite, Due to Win Again, was third. Cherylville Slew ran the "about" 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:30.44 over firm turf.