The $4 million Classic and the internationally flavored turf events usually steal the glamour at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. But most North American races are sprints over the main track and the best of those events usually produce a big and bettable field for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.
This weekend's racing indicates this year's showdown, Oct. 29 at Belmont Park in New York, will be no exception. Most of the action was centered in south Florida, where the Summit of Speed at Calder Race Course was delayed from Saturday to Sunday by the passing hurricane.
-- Lost in the Fog not only remained unbeaten in Sunday's $300,000 Carry Back Stakes at the Summit of Speed -- the 3-year-old sprint specialist also broke the stakes record by finishing in 1:09.30. Qureall was second and Hot Space third. "We'll stick to the plan and run him back in the King's Bishop at Saratoga," said winning trainer Greg Gilchrist. "That gives him seven weeks and then he'll only run once more this year. The Breeders' Cup is a good possibility but not necessarily. He's not Breeders' Cup eligible but I don't think that will be a problem if that's what we decide to do."
-- Madcap Escapade was upset in her last start in the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs. But she was back in the winner's circle after Sunday's $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder. With Jerry Bailey aboard, Madcap Escapade got the 6 furlongs in 1:09.93. Happy Ticket was second and Savorthetime was third. "I love racing," said winning owner Bruce Lunsford. "I want to give her every chance to be all she can be. A possibility in the fall could be the Spinster. She loves Keeneland." He said trainer Frankie Brothers will make the final decision.
-- Woke Up Dreamin came wide from off the pace to win Sunday's $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder's Summit of Speed, with Toscani second and Nightmare Affair third. Woke Up Dreamin, a Bob Baffert trainee, got home in 1:09.80 with Mike Smith aboard. "I don't know what's up next other than he's coming back to New York," said Baffert assistant Tonya Terranova. "With the Breeders' Cup at Belmont this year, maybe he'll stay up there and run in something at Saratoga."
-- In one of the neatest races of the year, That's the Problem shipped in briefly -- and ran briefly -- to win Sunday's $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes at the Summit of Speed. The race is only 2 furlongs and That's the Problem needed only 21.21 seconds to negotiate the distance. A much bigger name, Caller One, was second. "He was here for about five days," said winning trainer Frank Carlisi, "and then he'll leave tomorrow to go back to Fort Erie." Winning rider Abdiel Toribio said owner Albert Sanges "told he he doesn't have to be first leaving the gate. But when I said, 'It's only a quarter of a mile and we need to break sharp,' he told me not to worry because this horse was quick enough to get in gear right away."
-- Leave Me Alone was anything but alone during Sunday's $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup at Calder, fighting all the way to the win. Hide and Chic was second and Midtown Miss third. Leave Me Alone, with Kent Desormeaux up, finished in 1:10.32. "I was cruising down the racetrack but then got shuffled out off the rail and that was the beginning of the fight," Desormeaux said. "She had to work hard. They turned on the pressure at the half and she dragged me back to the front." Trainer Eric Kruljac said he "would be crazy not to keep her sprinting for now and we'll definitely nominate to the Test Stakes at Saratoga as one possibility."
-- Acey Deucy rallied from off the pace to upset Saturday's $250,000 Prioress Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park. With jockey Diane Nelson picking up her first Grade I win in 19 years of racing, the Abaginone filly scored by 1/2 length over Maddalena. Sense of Style was thirs and the favorite, Talented, didn't have enough and got home fourth. Acey Deucy, a New York-bred, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.37. "She will keep chugging along," said Nelson, "and then when you ask her, she will kick in. You just have to be patient." Trainer John Morrison said Acey Deucy likely is headed to the 7-furlong Test Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 6.
-- Alphabet Kisses went quickly to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 A Gleam Invitational at Hollywood Park and was completely in charge at the end, winning by 3 lengths over Valentine Dancer with Muir Beach third. Alphabet Kisses, a 4-year-old daughter of 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup, ran 7 furlongs in 1:21.67 with Gary Stevens riding.
-- At Woodbine in Canada, Judith's Wild Rush stalked the pace in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bold Venture Stakes, got to the front with a sixteenth left and worked clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over High Blitz. Minister's Wild Cat was third as the even-money favorite. Judith's Wild Rush is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Wild Rush out of the Black Tie Affair mare Tie Talk. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.41. "He's a nice horse, a lovely horse," said winning trainer Reade Baker. "Let's hope he continues."
In other weekend events that might impact the World Thoroughbred Championships:
$4 million Classic, powered by Dodge
-- Lava Man, a high-priced claimer just over two months ago, posted a dominating, 8 3/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park. The Slew City Slew gelding, with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, sat right behind the early pace set by Congrats, drove to the lead with a quarter mile to run and then hit the afterburners. Borrego made a late run to take second and Congrats held third. The favorite, Limehouse, was never in the mix, finishing fifth. Lava Man ran 1 1/4 mile in 1:59.63. Trainer Doug O'Neill said Lava Man likely will move on to the $1 million Pacific Classic. But he said it's unlikely his owners -- unaccustomed to the rarified air of Grade I stakes -- would put up the required $800,000 to supplement him to the Classic.
-- In Saturday's $400,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park, Surf Cat stalked the pace set by Dover Dere, got a head in front on the second turn and won off by 5 lengths. Dover Dere held second and Indian Ocean was third. Don't Get Mad, the favorite, showed little and finished fifth of six. Surf Cat, a Kentucky-bred son of Sir Cat, got the 9 furlongs with Alex Solis in the irons in 1:48.07.
$2 million Distaff
Capeside Lady had things all her own way in Saturday's $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handcap at Monmouth Park. The 4-year-old Cape Town filly set a brisk early pace, opened a comfortable lead and then extended it through the stretch to a 5-length final margin of victory. Bending Strings was second and Emerald Earings finished third. Capeside Lady ran 1 1/16 mile on a muddy track in 1:41.49.
$1.5 Million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Deputy G, with Gary Stevens up, remained undefeated in two starts by winning Sunday's $150,000 Bashford Manor Stakes on closing day at Churchill Downs. The son of Matty G ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.38 despite stumbling at the start, then survived a claim of foul by Rafael Bejarano, the rider of runnerup R Loyal Man before the race was declared official. "In the stretch, he started wandering around a little bit and that's what the inquiry was all about," Stevens said. "Maybe the Saratoga Special or the Arlington Washington Futurity" at Arlington Park will be the colt's next start, said trainer David Pate.
-- Vibank battled for the lead through most of Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Clarendon Stakes at Woodbine, then drove clear with a furlong to go and won off by 1 1/4 lengths over Moon Worship. Atlas Shrugs was third after contesting the early pace. Vibank, an Ontario-bred son of Silver Deputy, got 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.06. Vibank scored his third win from four starts and his third in a row. "I think he ran well and I think he showed the class that he's got," said cop-owner Jim Sapara.
-- Paltu and Fast Fashion fought for the lead through the early stages of Saturday's $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for state-breds at Lone Star Park. Paltu then edged clear and got home first, 2 1/4 lengths to the good of Gambling Wolfe. Fast Fashion held third. Paltu, a gelded son of Hadif, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.55.
$1 Million Juvenile Fillies
-- Effectual got off to a rocky start in Saturday's $100,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, breaking last of nine. But when jockey Robby Albarado got the Carson City filly straightened around, she quickly raced to the front along the inside and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Joint Effort, the favorite. Swept Gold finished third. Effectual, trained by Steve Asmussen for Gainsway Thoroughbreds, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.95. "She broke a little tardy," said Albarado. "But it didn't take her long to catch up and that shows a lot about her right there -- just doing that and still hanging on. If she'd have broke in order, there's no telling how easy she might have won. She's a great filly." Effectual now has won both her starts.
-- Final Trick raced near the back of the field in Saturday's $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for state-bred fillies at Lone Star Park, then angled out at the top of the stretch and ran on home to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Cats Legend. Sauternes was third and the favorite, Covered in Clover, faded to finish fifth after leading early. Final Trick, a daughter of Magic Cat, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.69. Trainer Bret Calhoun saddled five starters and swept the four top finishers. "They're all really nice fillies," he said. "I'm sure there are some happy owners. And there's probably some pretty upset ones, too. ... You're going to hear a lot from these four fillies."
In other weekend racing:
Lone Star Park
Goosey Moose tracked the pace in Saturday's $125,000 Assault Stakes for Texas-breds, surged four-wide to the lead with three-eighths of a mile to run and held on to win by 1 length over Agrivating General. Charming Socialite was third. Goosey Moose, a 4-year-old son of Shaquin, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.26.
In Saturday's $100,000 Allen Bogan Memorial Stakes for state-bred distaffers, Slewpy's Storm came from off the pace to take the lead with a half-mile left, then took charge and won by 5 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Sheza Lucky Son'so. This Man's Darling was third. Slewpy's Storm, a 4-year-old daughter of Storm Creek, got the 1 mile in 1:38.52.
Network came from last in a field of six to win Saturday's $60,000 Spend a Buck Stakes for 3-year-olds by 2 lengths over Alexandersrun. The favorite, Miracle Man, was home third. Network, a Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit, ran 1 1/16 mile on a muddy track with Joe Bravo aboard in 1:43.49.
Running Tide let Mt. Carson do the early running in Saturday's $60,000 Da Hoss Stakes, caught up in the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Foufa's Warrior was third. Running Tide, a 6-year-old gelding by Run Softly, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.85 with Ryan Folgelsonger aboard.
Latenite Special, the odds-on favorite, took the lead on the turn in Saturday's $57,200 New Mexico Distaff Handicap, then held on to win by 1/2 length over Mystic Melissa. Ruthless Kitten was third. Latenite Special, a 4-year-old daughter of Super Special, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18 4/5.
News and notes
Churchill Downs Inc. announced it will sell Hollywood Park to Bay Meadows Land Co. for $260 million in cash. Bay Meadows said it will operate the track for at least three years but will close it and redevelop the land near Los Angeles International Airport if financial returns from racing don't improve.