Some top-notch speed and some promising youth highlighted the weekend's racing agenda.
Heading the speed department was the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Saturday at Pimlico in Baltimore. Featuring a stellar cast including four Breeders' Cup Sprint starters, the race went to a 16-1 long shot, Wildcat Heir.
With Stewart Elliott up for trainer Ben Perkins Jr., Wildcat Heir tracked the pacesetters, put in a bit at the top of the lane and opened up a 2-length lead. He then held on to beat Midas Eyes by a neck, with Clock Stopper third. Wildcat Heir, a 4-year-old son of Forest Wildcat, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.45.
"He's never run against these horses too much," Perkins said of Wildcat Heir, who bypassed the Breeders' Cup. "Our plan was to let this kind go to the Breeders' Cup and just wait for them here."
Perkins said his colt would be back for the General George.
In the youth department, the weekend featured a bevy of races for 2-year-olds. Perhaps none was more important than Saturday's Hollywood Prevue at Hollywood Park in California. Declan's Moon, proving his victory in the Del Mar Futurity was no fluke, came from off the pace to win the Prevue by 2 lengths over Bushwacker. Seize the Day was third. Declan's Moon, a Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon, is scheduled to go next in the Dec. 18 Hollywood Futurity against the likes of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Wilco and Champagne Stakes winner Proud Accolade. "The next race is a big one for us," said winning trainer Ron Ellis.
-- In Maryland, Defer stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Futurity at Pimlico, then got the lead and won by 2 lengths over Funk. Woody's Apache was third. Defer, the odds-on favorite, is a Kentucky-bred son of Danzig, out of the Mr. Prospector mare Hidden Reserve. He is trained by Shug McGaughey for Ogden Mills Phipps. Jerry Bailey rode the colt over 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.48. "Shug will see how he comes out of the race and go from there," said assistant Graham Wolfram.
-- In New Mexico, Sandias Peppermint went right to the front in Sunday's $125,000 Red Hedeman Mile Handicap and stayed there, winning by an easy 5 lengths over Mojo Mundo. Smooth Ghost was third. Sandias Peppermint, a son of Sandia Slew, ran the 1 mile in 1:42.20.
-- In Oklahoma, Smooth Bid came from a pace-stalking position to win Sunday's Remington MEC Mile Stakes by 1/2 length over Silver Haze, with City Code another head back in third. Smooth Bid, a Maryland-bred son of Rubiano, ran 1 mile on a muddy track in 1:39.69.
-- In Texas, Boggy Creek came from last, circled five wide and drew clear to win Saturday's $150,00 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile by 3 lengths over Major League. The favorite, Leaving On My Mind, finished third. Boggy Creek, a Kentucky-bred son of Kentucky Derby runner-up Menifee, ran 1 1/16 mile on a muddy track in 1:44.99.
-- At Philadelphia Park in Pennsylvania, United drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes for state-breds by 5 1/2 lengths. Bigboydancing was second and No Passing Zone third. United, a son of Dixie Union ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.42.
In races for 2-year-old fillies:
-- Shout to the North came from nearly last to win Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine in Canada. Canadian Gem was second, a neck back, with Roving Angel third. Shout to the North, a California-bred daughter of Old Topper, ran 7 furlongs in 1:25.65. "I always had a bit of horse," said winning rider Emile Ramsammy. "I cut the turn a bit sharp, but she regrouped and ran home well."
-- At Pimlico in Maryland, Hear Us Roar held on to win Saturday's $100,000 Selima Stakes by a head over Take a Check. Gotta Rush was third. Hear Us Roar, a Maryland-bred daughter of Lion Hearted, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:46.24.
-- At Aqueduct in New York, Megascape, with John Velazquez in the irons, cleared from the inside and went on to win Sunday's $100,000 Valley Stream Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Alfonsina. More Moonlight was third. Megascape, a New York-bred daughter of Cape Canaveral, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.38.
In other weekend racing:
-- At Sha Tin in Hong Kong, a favorite and a long shot won Sunday's rich trial races for the Dec. 12 Cathay Pacific International Races. Horse of the Year Silent Witness, running for the first time in seven months, got home first by 1 length in the HK$3 million Sprint Trial. With Felix Coetzee up, Silent Witness caught pace-setter Able Prince with about 100 meters to run and won comfortably. Scintillation was third. "I think we're on the right track now," said winning trainer Tony Cruz. In the HK$3 million Mile Trial, The Duke won a six-horse scramble to the finish at odds of nearly 20-1. Meridian Star was a head off the lead, with another head back to Elegant Fashion. Still, winning trainer Caspar Fownes said his other runner, Perfect Partner, may be the better candidate on Dec. 12 despite a fifth-place finish Sunday. Of The Duke, he said, "I guess things went his way while Perfect Partner was unlucky and caught in a pocket and was unable to get out." The Duke is a 5-year-old son of Danehill.
-- In Japan, local favorite Durandal won the Mile Championship by 2 lengths over Ticker Tape, with Telegnosis third. Rakti, winner of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot during the fall, missed the break and finished 14th. Durandal, a 5-year-old son of Sunday Silence, has won eight of 15 starts, including last year's Mile Championship.
Aud came from last in a field of 11 to win Saturday's $150,000 Cardinal Handicap for fillies and mares by a neck over May Gator, with Angela's Love only a head farther back in third. Aud, a 4-year-old daughter of Wild Again, wove through traffic to get to the lead and completed 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:53.94. "She sure is brave," said winning rider Brice Blanc, "coming from so far out of that kind of race and the divots were coming back. It was very nasty out there and she still showed how much heart she's got."
Sunday, G P Fleet upset the $150,000 River City Handicap, rallying from mid-pack to win by 1/2 length over Cloudy's Knight. Ay Caramba was third and the favorite, Warleigh, was home seventh. G P Fleet, a former claimer, ran 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:51.26 for jockey Jose Martinez Jr. "It's hard to win a graded stake with a claiming horse," said winning trainer Bernie Flint. "Not many guys do that." G P Fleet is a 4-year-old Northern Afleet gelding. Flint took him last year for $80,000. He has won three of 10 starts this year.
Wally's Choice, at 34-1, wasn't exactly the people's choice in Sunday's $150,000 Oklahoma Derby. But that didn't keep the Minnesota-bred son of Quick Cut from the winner's circle. After lagging in last, Wally's Choice moved to the outside on the turn for home and won by 1 length over Golden Glen. The favorite, Cryptograph, finished third. Wally's Choice ran 9 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:50.26.
Also Sunday, Zee Oh Six upset the $50,000 Remington Green Stakes, beating George Taylor by 4 3/4 lengths. No More Chads was third while the favorite, Maysville Slew, finished seventh. Zee Oh Six, a 5-year-old son of Alphabet Soup, ran 1 1/16 mile in the mud in 1:43.95.
Essence led most of the way in Saturday's $100,000 Anne Arundel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by a neck over Rare Gift. Family Business was third and the favorite, He Loves Me, finished fourth. Essence, a Virginia-bred Gulch filly, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.37.
Also Saturday, Irish Colony upset the $100,000 Charles Hadry Stakes at odds of 13-1. Coming on from mid-pack, the 4-year-old son of Laruppin' closed three-wide to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Bowman's Band, with Last Intention third. The favorite, Gygistar, could do no better than fifth. Irish Colony ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.30.
Dreadnaught battled down the lane with Certifiably Crazy in Saturday's $150,000 Red Smith Handicap before winning by a nose. Alost was third. Dreadnaught, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Lac Ouimet, ran 11 furlongs on "good" turf in 2:18.84.
Mark One stalked the early pace in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Woodbine Slots Cup Handicap, then used a three-wide bid to gain the lead and win by a head over A Bit O'Gold. The favorite, Norfolk Knight, was third while Open Lock was fourth and last. Mark One, a 5-year-old gelding by Alphabet Soup, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.00 for Robert Landry.
Calder Race Course
Honey Ryder won a narrow victory in a four-filly blanket finish in Saturday's $40,000 Princess Mora Stakes. Path of Thunder was second and Spring Season third. Manoel Cruz guided Honey Ryder over 9 furlongs in 1:48 1/5. Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress, was the first James Bond movie heroine, in the 1962 release of "Dr. No."