With defending champion Ashado awaiting the Saratoga meeting, some big-money weekend races for fillies and mares were up for grabs.
In addition to the financial rewards, the races provided an opportunity for distaffers specializing in both grass and dirt to make a case for a position in the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park in New York.
Among the main-track runners seeking to dethrone Ashado:
-- Island Sand, with Jerry Bailey up, came three-wide into the stretch turn in Sunday's $1 million Delaware Handicap, challenged for the lead with a furlong left in the stretch run and then drew clear to win by 3 3/4 lengths over the pace-setter, Two Trail Sioux. Personal Legend was third and the favorite, Isola Piu Bella, faded badly in the late going to finish eighth. Island Sand, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Tabasco Cat, ran the 1 1/4 mile in 2:02.89. Bailey said the key to the race was getting Island Sand down to the rail on the first turn. "It looked like leaving the wire, I was going to be six or seven wide," he said. "Fifty or 60 yards before the turn, I was able to get her back enough to get in and only be three wide really most of the turn. ... She was really in hand and tugging me all the way. So I felt pretty confident most of the trip." Island Sand now has five wins in 17 starts.
-- R Lady Joy upset Saturday's $500,000 Delaware Oaks, outfinishing favorite Round Pond to win by a length. Dance Away Capote was third, another 1/2 length back. R Lady Joy, a 17-1 chance on the tote board, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a sloppy track in 1:43.25. She is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Vicar. R Lady Joy was second in her last start -- the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico, two months ago. "We had a plan," said trainer Kirk Ziadie. "I needed two months with her and I got her where I wanted her. ... There are no plans right now. We're just going to take it one step at a time." The filly now has three wins, two seconds and two thirds from seven career starts.
In other weekend races that could impact the championship card in a little more than three months:
$1 million Emirates Airlines Filly & Mare Turf
-- Noble Stella, a German-bred filly, came from off the pace to win Saturday's $300,000 Dance Smartly Handicap at Woodbine in Canada. With Emile Ramsammy aboard, the 4-year-old sat near the back of the seven-horse field, made a quick move four-wide around the turn and had enough left to hold off the late challenge of Classic Stamp by 1 length. Juliet's Kiss was third and the favorite, Mona Rose, finished fifth. Noble Stella ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.95. "She's a very narrow, slim filly," said winning trainer Roger Attfield. "It took us all winter to get her the way we wanted her to look."
-- Honey Ryder drew off nicely in the stretch to win Saturday's $300,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap at Delaware Park by 5 1/4 lengths over Sweet Science. Natalie Beach was third. Honey Ryder, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Lasting Appeal, ran the 1 3/8 mile on yielding turf in 2:20.58 with Edgar Prado aboard. The filly is named for the first James Bond movie heroine, played in "Dr. No" by Ursala Andress.
-- My Typhoon, an Irish-bred daughter of the great Giant's Causeway, got the lead in the stretch drive of Saturday's $200,000 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs and then held on to win by a neck over Masseuse. The favorite, Rich in Spirit, took third. My Typhoon, with Jerry Bailey up, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.63.
-- Stupendous Miss jetted out to a stupendous lead in Saturday's $200,000 Mede Cahaba All Along Breeders' Cup at Colonial Downs, was headed at the quarter pole and still had enough to retake the lead and win by 1 length. Humoristic was second and Dynamia was third. Stupendous Miss, a 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer, ran 9 furlongs on "yielding" turf in 1:51.10.
-- At the Curragh in Ireland, Shawanda came from France to win Sunday's Darley Irish Oaks by 5 lengths over Playful Act, with Mona Lisa third and Right Key fourth. Owned by The Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, the filly was ridden by Christophe Soumillion. "The obvious plan, said the trainer, "would be to go for the Prix Vermeille and the Arc de Triomphe."
$4 million Classic, powered by Dodge
Sun King led from gate to wire in Sunday's $300,000 Leonard Richards Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park, winning by a convincing 5 3/4 lengths over Golden Man with odds-on favorite High Limit a non-threatening third. Sun King, a Kentucky-bred son of Charismatic, got the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.33.
$2 million John Deere Turf
-- English Channel stalked the pace in Saturday's $750,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, went to the lead when asked by jockey John Velazquez and won by a handy 3 1/4 lengths over Chattahoochie War. Rebel Rebel was third. English Channel, a Kentucky-bred son of Smart Strike, completed the 1 1/4 mile over "yielding" turf in 2:02.57. "When I asked him, he was there for me," Velazquez said." English Channel also won the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup earlier in the meet and stands to earn a $3 million bonus if he can complete the new "Grand Slam of Grass" with victories in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park next month and the John Deere Turf. "Can he do it?" Velazquez mused. "Yes, he can do it. There's no doubt in my mind. But he's going to have to really step up to the plate."
-- Always First lived up to his name in Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park, rallying from last to win by 3/4 length. The favorite, Runaway Dancer, dead-heated with T.H. Approval for second. Always First, with Victor Espinoza up, ran 1 1/2 mile on firm turf in 2:27.00. Always First is a British-bred gelding by Barathea. "We'd been training for this for a long time," said winning trainer Neil Drysdale, "and we just sent him along. Sometimes getting these European horses is a little like Christmas. You're not quite sure what's in the package.
-- Cacht Wells stayed close to the front in Saturday's $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park, got to the front in the stretch drive and held off Relaxed Gesture, the favorite, by a head at the wire. Dreadnaught was third. Cacht Wells, an Argentine-bred 5-year-old by Poliglote, got the 1 3/8 mile on a firm inner turf course in 2:15.49 with Eibar Coa riding.
$1 million TVG Sprint
Smokume sat right behind the pace through the first half mile of Sunday's $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park, then moved to the front when asked and went on to win by 1 length over Willy o'the Valley. Clever Electrician was third and the favorite, Swingforthefences, was home fourth. Smokeume, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred son of Smoke Glacken, ran 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:21.92.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- What a Song, a Florida-bred son of Songandaprayer, ran down pace-setting Bashert in the late going to win Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile by a neck. Stevie Wonderboy was third. What a Song, a Bob Baffert trainee with Victor Espinoza calling the shots, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.55 after chasing a smart pace. The colt is owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis. What a Song now has won both his starts. "He got an education out of it today," said Baffert. "Got dirt in his face and he handled it well. Made his move around the turn." Added two-time Kentucky Derby winning owner Bob Lewis, "We have 27 2-year-olds. I'm caught up with 2-year-olds at the moment." Lewis caught up with What a Song for $1.9 million at the Barretts 2-year-olds in training sale in March.
-- Premier Dance bobbled at the start in Saturday's $75,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park, recovered and stayed close to the pace. Coming four-wide into the stretch, the Florida-bred son of Premiership closed well and went on to win by 1 length over Don't Tell Mommy. Out Our Way was third. Premier Dance ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.96.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
-- Wannatalkaboutme went to the post as the favorite in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Shady Well Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies at Woodbine and justified the public confidence with a 3 1/4-length, off-the-pace victory. Moving between horses on the turn, the Bold Executive filly got to the front at the sixteenth pole and finished 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.52. Queen's College was second and Seductively third in the field of six.
-- Hosanna Hit hit the wire just right in the $75,000 Silver Spur Breeders' cup Stakes at Lone Star Park, catching favorite Yaddo Cat in the final strides to win by a neck. Slewpy's Star was third and Sweet Paprika completed the short order of finish. Hosanna Hit, an Oklahoma-bred daughter of Formal Gold, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.96.
In other weekend racing:
Lil Red dueled for the lead in the 13th race at the Cincinnati oval late Saturday afternoon, got to the front as the 10-horse field neared the stretch and drew clear to score his first career victory by 3 1/2 lengths. The 4-year-old Tinner's Way colt, out of the Black Tie Affair mare Black Tie Dinner, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06 3/5 on a "good" track under Lori Wydick.
Ablo upset Sunday's $500,000 (Canadian) Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, leading most of the way to a neck victory over Autumn Snow. Wild Desert was third as the favorite. Ablo, a bay son of Lite the Fuse, ran 1 3/16 mile, under pressure most of the way, in 1:56.90.
Devilment took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Stakes for 3-year-olds and went on to win by 2 lengths over the favorite, Real Dandy, whose rally from the back fell short. High Expectations was another 1 1/4 length back in third. Devilment, a Kentucky-bred son of Peaks and Valleys, ran 1 1/8 mile in 1:47.73 for Carlos Marquez Jr. Marquez said he took Devilment outside because "he was starting to run up into horses ... and I didn't want to get his momentum stopped. I lost a little ground but I think it was the right move to make."
Accountforthegold led all the way to a 3-length, upset victory in Saturday's $150,000 New York Derby for state-breds. The Successful Appeal colt, with R.B. Sabourin up, set a sensible pace off the rail and wasn't challenged in the late going. Gold and Roses finished second and Naughty New Yorker, the favorite, rallied from well back to finish third, 6 1/2 lengths farther behind.
T.D. Vance rallied to the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Toronto Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds and held on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Bestowed. Bestowed then was set down to third for interference in the stretch, promoting Area Limits to place money. T.D. Vance, a Kentucky-bred son of Rahy, ran 1 1/8 mile on firm turf in 1:51.39 with Todd Kabel in the irons.
Umpateedle came from off the pace to reach contention in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000 Light Hearted Handicap for fillies and mares, then needed everything she had to catch favorite Storm Minstrel and win by 3/4 length. Schedule was third. Umpateedle, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Suave Prospect, ran furlongs in 1:09.85.
Saturday, Royal Assault was along in the late going to win the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial by 1 length over Trapped Again, with Super Frolic third. Royal Assault, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Kris S., ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.53.
Calder Race Course
American Miss led all the way to a 1 1/2-length upset win in Saturday's $75,000 Nancy's Glitter Handicap. Pampered Princess, at odds of 1-9, was second and Gentille Alouette was third. American Miss, getting eight pounds from the favorite, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:47.44.
Kaylan's Rose rallied from near last to win Saturday's $75,000 HBPA Handicap by 1/2 length over fellow longshot Strike Me Lucky. The favorite, May Gator, completed a $3,208.80 trifecta. Kaylan's Rose, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Jambalaya Jazz, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:39.05.
Lone Star Park
Shaky Town stalked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 Bob Johnson Memorial Stakes, went to the front in the final furlong and got home first, 2 1/4 lengths better than Majestic Thief. Runaway Choice was third and the odds-on favorite, High Strike Zone, finished a well-beaten fifth and last. Shaky Town, a 5-year-old Peaks and Valleys gelding, got the 1 mile in 1:36.32.
Girlish Giggle came from well back to win Saturday's $75,000 Rose DeBartolo Memorial for Ohio-bred fillies and mares by 3 lengths over the favorite, Barnsy. Golden Tour was third. Girlish Giggle, a 4-year-old daughter of Evansville Slew, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:52.76.
J.D.'s Blue Bayou rallied nicely through the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Airline Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 3/4 lengths over Logan's Draw. Dreamsandvisions finished third. J.D.'s Blue Bayou, a Louisiana-bred son of Placid Fund, finished 6 furlongs in 1:10.17.
The Claiming Crown hit the Twin Cities amid a heat wave this year and the action was as hot as the temperatures. With entries from all around the country, three of the seven favorites won -- but the rest were nowhere to be found on the payoff lines.
Desert Bloom led all the way to win the day's feature, the $150,000 Claming Crown Jewel, by 2 3/4 lengths as the favorite. The California-bred son of Boomerang ran 9 furlongs in 1:47.32. Lord of the Game was second and Habaneros was third.
Mr. Mabee, also the favorite, rallied from just off the pace and went on to win the $125,000 Claming Crown Emerald by 5 1/4 lengths over Sigfreto. Rockhurst was third. Mr. Mabee, a Kentucky-bred son of Storm Cat, got the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.77.
Procreate scored a mild upset in the $100,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit, leading most of the way to a 1 1/2-length victory over The Student. Crafty Player was third. Procreate is a 7-year-old, Maryland-bred son of Mt. Livermore. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.54.
Inhonorofjohnnie, a 10-1 longshot, led down the backstretch in the $100,000 Claiming Crown Tiara, shook free on the turn and held on to win by 2 lengths over O.K. Corral. Secret Lies was third and the favorite, Out of Pride, was out of the money, finishing fifth. Inhonorofjohnnie, a Florida-bred daughter of Double Honor, ran 1 1/16 mile on the turf in 1:43.51.
Ells Editor caught I Will Survive in the final yards to win the $75,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper by a neck. Peekaboo Cat, who contested the lead, finished third while the favorite, Unforgettable Gal, finished a forgettable sixth. Ells Editor, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Editor's Note, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.31.
Onlynurimagination dueled with Cicero Grimes through the early stages of the $50,000 Claiming Crown Express, then drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths over that rival. Landler was third. Onlynurimagination, the odds-on favorite, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.04.
In the $50,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse, My Extolled Honor came from 11th of 12 starters to win by 1/2 length over King of Chicago, with Sacsahuaman third. The favorite, R. Little Redhead, went to the lead and quit after a half mile. My Extolled Honor, a 7-year-old son of My Mike, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.91.