Fantasticat lived up to excellent breeding and a lot of promise by winning Saturday's $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs and moved into the picture for next month's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park.
The Kentucky-bred colt is by super-sire Storm Cat out of the Alydar mare Lotta Dancing. Coming into Saturday's Grade II event he showed only two wins from 14 starts but had four seconds and five thirds with earnings of more than $123,000.
With Larry Melancon aboard, Fantasticat sat well behind the moderate pace, picked things up on the turn and then had to pick his way through rivals to get to contention in the stretch. He then held on to beat the late rush of Borrego by 1/2 length. Britt's Jules was third after prompting the early pace.
Fantasticat ran the 9 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:51.40. The favorite, Imperialism, finished fourth under Kent Desormeaux, who said he never got a good hold of the muddy surface.
In other weekend racing with potential bearing on the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park:
$2 million John Deere Turf
-- Sabiango rebounded from an 11th-place finish in last month's Arlington Million to win Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Handicap at Kentucky Downs by 3 lengths over Rochester. Gottabeachboy was third with a late run at huge odds. Only six started and five finished as Sharbayan took a bad step entering the stretch and was pulled up. Sabiango, a 6-year-old, German-bred son of Acatenango, ran 1 1/2 mile in 2:33.70 with Brice Blanc up. Before the bad show in the Million, Sabiango won the Grade I Charlie Whittingham at Hollywood Park in his 2004 debut. He also has raced in Germany, Canada and Hong Kong.
-- In Cologne, Germany, British-bred Albanova won a long stretch duel with locally bred Saldentigerin, capturing the Preis von Europa by 1/2 length at the wire. Darsalam shipped in from Czechoslovakia to take third. Albanova, a 5-year-old daughter of Alzao, finished the 2,400 meters in 2:36.12 over turf rated "soft." She is scheduled to race once more, likely in Italy, before being retired to the breeding shed.
$1.5 million NetJets Mile (turf)
-- Rakti got the jump on the field turning for home in Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in England and then held on to beat Lucky Story by 1/2 length. Refuse to Bend was third and the favorite, Soviet Song, the only filly in the field, got home sixth. Rakti is trained by Michael Jarvis for owner Gary Tanaka. Philip Robinson rode the colt, who now has won 10 of 19 starts including the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. Jarvis said he expects Tanaka will want to run Rakti back in the Breeders' Cup Mile but also is considering using the Japanese international races as a stepping stone to the year-ending Hong Kong international events. Rakti is a 4-year-old son of Polish Precedent.
-- Artie Schiller set a course record with a stunning performance in Sunday's $200,000 Jamaica Handicap for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park. After tracking pace-setter Icy Atlantic for a while, jockey Richard Migliore sent Artie Schiller after the lead. The El Prado colt took off, winning easily by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:45.50. Rousing Victory was second and Icy Atlantic held third. The old record for 1 1/8 mile on the inner turf was 1:45.69, set by Subordination in 1997. "We'd consider the Breeders' Cup," said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "But I'd have to say we'd probably pass. ... I like to stay home when I can."
-- Ocean Drive, with John Velazquez up, rallied from mid-pack to win Saturday's $150,000 Noble Damsel at Belmont Park in New York by 1 1/4 lengths over High Court. Hour of Justice was third. Ocean Drive, a 4-year-old daughter of Belong to Me, ran the 1 mile in 1:34.71 despite the outside post and highweight of 120 pounds. "She's just so good right now that she was able to overcome those things," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. He said he will consider the Violet on Oct. 22 at the Meadowlands, rather than the Breeders' Cup.
-- At Kentucky Downs, Missme got the first run in the stretch drive of Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Mile and drew off to beat the favorite, Gretchen's Star, by 3 1/2 lengths. Banned in Boston finished third. Gretchen's Star also was second in this event last year. Missme, a 5-year-old Belong To Me mare, was hand-timed in 1:37.13. Visiting her seventh track in her last eight starts, Missme picked up her fifth win in 11 tries on the grass for trainer Lynn Whiting.
-- Warleigh got the lead on the turn in Sunday's $150,000 Harrah's Louisiana Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap and held on to win by 1/2 length over Waupaca. Gentleman J J made a late run to snag third. Warleigh is a 6-year-old Lord at War gelding, bred in Kentucky. He ran the 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:43.50 for Donnie Meche.
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
-- Western Ransom, the favorite in a field of 12 3-year-old fillies, rallied from well back in the pack to win Saturday's $150,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup Stakes at Pimlico in Maryland by a head over Plenty. With Affection was just a neck farther back in third. Western Ransom, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Red Ransom, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.26 with Ryan Fogelsonger aboard for trainer Michael Dickinson. Fogelsonger said the filly overcame his efforts. "I had her too far back and took her too wide," he said. "She did the rest."
-- Merry Me in Spring rallied from fifth to win Saturday's $100,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Louisiana Downs by a head over Outright Back, with Key to the Cat just a nose farther back in third. Merry Me in Spring, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Wekiva Springs, ran 1 1/16 mile on yielding turf in 1:45.24 with Kent Desormeaux handling the reins.
-- Sand Springs dominated the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs, drawing clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Wildwood Royal. Omeya was third and the favorite, Academic Angel, flunked the course, finishing last of nine. Sand Springs, a 4-year-old Dynaformer filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.88. Mark Guidry rode for trainer Tony Reinstedler.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Major League upset Saturday's $75,000 Harrah's Juvenle Stakes at Louisiana Downs, racing from off the pace to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Zarb's Music Man. The favorite, Reno Bob, led into the stretch run, then faded to finish third. Major League, a Texas-bred son of Magic Cat, ran the 1 mile on the yielding turf in 1:39.82 with E.J. Perrodin in the irons. The colt is trained by Paul Murphy.
-- What's Up Dude, with blinkers added to his equipment, won Saturday's $125,000 Swynford Stakes at Woodbine by 4 3/4 lengths over The Finagler. Dr. Socrates was third. What's Up Dude, a bay son of Furiously, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.26 Trainer Mike Mareina said he will point the colt to the Oct. 11 Grey Breeders' Cup at Woodbine. "This horse can go on forever," he said.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
-- Dance Away Capote, the odds-on favorite, raced last of seven through the first half-mile of Saturday's $50,000 Irish Sonnet Stakes at Delaware Park. But when asked for her move turning into the stretch, the gray daughter of Capote accelerated nicely, winning by 12 lengths. Secrets Galore was second and Northern Babe third. Dance Away Capote ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.84.
In other weekend racing:
Battle Won drew clear in the long stretch run of the nation's most unusual racecourse to win Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash by 1 1/4 lengths over Draw Fire. Abderian was third, 4 lengths farther back. Battle Won is a 4-year-old gelding by Honour and Glory. He was sent off the favorite despite making just his second start on the grass. The other was in his last start, a "good try" fourth-place finish in a minor stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 3.
Semi Lost found running room on the outside turning for home in Saturday's $100,000 Pomona Derby, then drew off in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Cozy Guy with Lava Man third. Semi Lost, the pari-mutuel favorite, covered about 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.95 with Martin Pedroza up. He is a Florida-bred gelding by Lost Soldier.
Provincetown, with blinkers added, took a nearly lead in Saturday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Certifiably Crazy. Provincetown, a 4-year-old Crimson Guard gelding, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46 2/5, ending a four-race losing streak.
Sunday, Sugar Punch rallied through the stretch to win the $100,000 Schenectady Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares by 3 1/2 lengths. Cologny was second and Beautiful America was third. Sugar Punch, a 3-year-old daughter of K.O. Punch, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.46 for Edgar Prado.
It was a reunion of former winners in Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stakes. Private Horde led from gate to wire, winning the Marfa for the second year in a row. Mountain General, who won the 2002 renewal, challenged for the lead but could not get by Private Horde and settled for second. Sterling Gold was third and the 2000 winner, Sea of Tranquility, finished fourth. The 6 1/2 furlongs took 1:16.18.
Gamblin was a good wager in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby. The Florida-bred son of Family Calling, sent off at 10-1 odds, surged quickly to the fore, beat back a bid by Knox and then drew clear again to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Knox held second and the favorite, Thermostat, finished a luke-warm third. Gamblin ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:43.78. Heather Stark, assistant to trainer Niall O'Callaghan, said the barn is "hoping for Keeneland" for Gamblin. "He's just amazing."
Grand Prayer moved to the leaders on the turn in Saturday's $60,000 Without Feathers Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got the lead with a sixteenth to go and won off by 2 1/2 lengths. Emerald Earrings was second and From Away third. The favorite, A Lulu Ofa Menifee, finished fourth. Grand Prayer, by Grand Slam, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:42.77 for Eibar Coa.
Uraib came from last to win Saturday's $55,000 Hillsborough Handicap by a nose over Cat Alert. A B Noodle was third in the 1 1/16-mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies and mares, clocked in 1:42.33. Uraib is an Irish-bred daughter of Mark of Esteem.
Calder Race Course
Wire Bound moved outside for running room in the stretch in Saturday's $40,000 Sir Omni Stakes for 3-year-olds and won off by 4 3/4 lengths over Cervelo. Frolic for Joy was third. Wire Bound, a Florida-bred son of Hesabull, ran 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:45.76.