The excitement of weekend races like the $1 million Pacific Classic and the historic Alabama, pointing the way toward year-end honors in horse racing, was tempered by sobering news of career-ending injuries.
Roses in May, winner of the Dubai World Cup in his last outing and a prime contender for this fall's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge, has been retired by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey after tearing a tendon in his left front leg.
Roses in May ran second to the also-retired Ghostzapper in last year's Classic.
"He was special to us -- a real home run horse," Ramsey said.
Worse, What a Song, winner of the Best Pal Stakes last weekend at Del Mar, suffered a fractured right leg during a routine gallop Friday and was euthanized. Trainer Bob Baffert said What a Song reminded him of Silver Charm.
"For some reason, this is the worst one I've ever felt," Baffert told The Blood-Horse. "You lose horses. That's the worst part about this business. But this one is devastating."
Off his impressive victory in the Best Pal, What a Song was a likely contender for the $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Oct. 29 at Belmont Park.
In on-the-track action during the weekend that might impact the Breeders' Cup card:
$2 million Emirates Airlines Distaff
-- The patrons were sweet on Spun Sugar in Saturday's $750,000 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga but it was Sweet Symphony who played the right tune on the tote board. After saving ground through the early stages, jockey Jerry Bailey swung Sweet Symphony three-wide into the stretch, where Spun Sugar had just seized the lead. Blowing right by the favorite, Sweet Symphony drew away and won by 6 1/4 lengths. Spun Sugar held second and R Lady Joy completed the trifecta. Spun Sugar, a Kentucky-bred daughter of A.P. Indy owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, got the 1 1/4 mile on a "good" track in 2:04.45. "I think this puts her on the top of the heap as far as the 3-year-old filly division is concerned," said winning trainer Bill Mott. "The way she won today, I think we would consider the Breeders' Cup for her. I would like to get a race between now and then for her at Belmont."
-- Dream of Summer has her connections dreaming of fall at Belmont after a comfortable victory in Saturday's $150,000 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park in Kentucky. The 6-year-old, California-bred daughter of Siberian Summer settled in mid-pack early in the race, then came five-wide into the stretch and won by 4 1/2 lengths. Halory Leigh was second coming off a long layoff and Tempus Fugit finished third after showing the way. Dream of Summer ran 1 mile on a wet-fast track in 1:35.32 with Corey Nakatani on her back. Asked about the Distaff, winning trainer Juan Garcia said, "I think if nothing happens to her legs or something, she's going to be very tough." He said he may run her back in the Spinster at Keeneland.
-- Miss Matched was pretty well matched in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Oaks at Arlington Park. Overlooked a bit at odds of 6-1, the Formal Gold filly stalked the pace, jumped to the lead at the top of the stretch and won by 1 length over a late-closing Gallant Secret. Tappin for Gold was third. The favorite, Whimsy, got close with a late run on the rail but then faded to finish fifth. Miss Matched ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.39. "She did it on her own," said winning rider Shaun Bridgmohan. "You just have to let her think she's the boss." Miss Matched now has won four of her five starts this year and five of eight in her career.
$4 million Classic, Powered by Dodge
-- With some of the top names in the division retired, perennial bridesmaid Borrego stepped up to the altar in Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar. With Garrett Gomez up, the 4-year-old El Prado colt raced near the back of the 11-horse field early, swung six-wide around the final turn and beat Perfect Drift by 1/2 length after a stretch battle. The favorite, Lava Man, led early and was only a neck farther back in third at the end. Borrego got the 1 1/4 mile in 2:00.71. "I knew it was just a matter of time before he broke through and really put the icing on the cake for us," said Gomez. "I got the trip I wanted. He was running good for me all the way." Patrick Valenzuela, aboard Lava Man, said his mount "just fell apart in the last 20 yards" after being pressured on the lead. "I got off him after the race. I was concerned about him." Before Sunday's race, Borrego had three wins and six seconds from 17 starts. His seconds include the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Super Derby, the Arkansas Derby and the Louisiana Derby.
-- Suave stumbled slightly at the start of Sunday's $250,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap, recovered and went right to the lead. After 1 1/4 mile, the 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt was still there, winning by 2 3/4 lengths over Royal Assault with Tap Day third. The odds-on favorite, Offlee Wild, chased the leaders early, then faded to finish last of five. Suave finished in 2:03.38 over a track rated "fast" but drying out. This was Suave's second start and second win of 2005 after suffering medical issues. "He's had a quarter crack in the back of his foot that has been bugging him all year," said winning trainer Paul McGee. "As you can see, it is all fixed now." Jockey Edgar Prado was puzzled by Offlee Wild's misfire. "Once he got to the three-eighths pole, he spit up the bit and didn't want to run," Prado said.
-- Imperialism rallied from last of eight to win Sunday's $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar by 3/4 length over Gotaghostofachance. Taste of Paradise was third. The favorite, Unfurl the Flag, was home sixth. Imperialism, a 4-year-old son of Langfuhr, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.70 with Victor Espinoza aboard. Imperialism was making his first start since finishing seventh in the Santa Anita Handicap in March. He was third behind Smarty Jones in last year's Kentucky Derby and can be expected to return to distance racing. "If everything goes well," said winning trainer Kristin Mulhall, "we'll probably go to the Jockey Club Gold Cup and possibly the Breeders' Cup.
$1 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Singhalese took back through the early stages of Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, then came wide around the turn and into the stretch to win by 1/2 length over the favorite, Three Degrees. Dancing Edie was third. Singhalese, a British-bred daughter of Singspiel, got the 1 1/8 mile on firm turf in 1:46.29 with Mike Smith riding. "I was just fortunate to get outside at the right time," said Smith. "They were all getting bottled up there, down on the inside, and I got out and got to go. She was running when it counted and she got it done." Trainer James Cassidy said he wasn't so confident even when Singhalese got room. "You wonder just how wide she's going to have to go," he said. "But I'll tell you, I wouldn't want Mike Smith's job. I'd be a nervous wreck."
-- Shaconage broke a long losing streak with a dominating victory in Saturday's $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Turf. With Brice Blanc up, the 6-year-old El Prado mare tracked the pace, got the lead with a furlong to go and won off by 4 1/4 lengths over Sheer Luck. Victorie Bataille was third. Shaconage ran 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:45.12. "She had been running second," said winning trainer Mitch Shirota. "She just needed to win a race. She's run some winning races but she just never got her picture taken."
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- He's Got Grit led most of the way in Saturday's $150,000 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park and won off by 8 1/4 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Diabolical. Confront was third. He's Got Grit, with Aaron Gryder up, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.69, picking up his third straight win without a defeat. "He's got a great stride," Gryder said. "I was comfortable the entire race. ... When you have a nice colt like this, you just keep dreaming of bigger and bigger things." Ironically, the Florida-bred colt is by Songandaprayer, who also sired the late What a Song.
-- Red Raymond came from off the pace to post a mild upset in Saturday's $75,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park. After a wide trip, jockey Jon McKee took Red Raymond to the inside, where he drew clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Catcominatcha. Deputy G, the odds-on favorite, was home third after leading much of the way. Red Raymond is a Kentucky-bred son of Deputy Commander, trained by Bob Holthus.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
-- Knights Templar tracked pace-setting Truly Blushed until the eighth pole in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ontario Debutante at Woodbine, then went by and drew off to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Truly Blushed was second and Tasha's Delight finished third. The favorite, Sudsy Baby, was fifth of seven. Knights Templar, a Florida-bred daughter of Exploit, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.74 under Constant Montpellier despite losing ground on the turn. "We liked her all along," said winning trainer Dan Vella. "She had a few minor things go wrong. But we always knew she was pretty nice and she showed it today."
-- She Says It Best let her hooves do the talking in Saturday's $75,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park in Kentucky. Quickly in front, the Florida-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic extended her advantage to win by 7 lengths over Claremont. The odds-on favorite, Swept Gold, swept up third-place money. She Says It Best ran 7 furlongs under Eddie Martin Jr. in 1:23.97. Trainer Vickie Foley said the filly will run back in either the Pepsi Bassinet Stakes at River Downs on Sept. 3 or the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park on Sept. 17.
In other weekend racing:
No Giveaway, at 60-1 the longest shot on the board, rallied through the lane to win Sunday's $250,000 Longacres Mile by 3/4 length over 21-1 chance Quiet Cash. Desert Boom was third and the favorite, Adreamisborn, could do no better than fifth. No Giveaway, a 4-year-old, Washington-bred gelding by He's Tops, finished in 1:35 3/5.
Secret Corsage took over in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap, drawing clear to win by 2 lengths over Karis Makaw. Strollin Slew strolled home third, just beating Roanaway Bride. Secret Corsage, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Lost Soldier, ran the 1 mile in 1:36 4/5 for Russell Baze.
A Classic Life put up a classic performance in Saturday's $100,000 Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks, drawing clear in the stretch to win by 6 lengths over Gins Magesty. Gentle Flow was third and the odds-on choice, Cee's Irish, faded to finish fourth. A Classic Life, a Kentucky-bred daughter of the great turf runner Sky Classic, ran 1 1/8 mile on the fast main track in 1:49.60.
Spanish Decree scored a big upset in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoriana Stakes for fillies and mares. After stalking the pace set by favorite Top Ten List, the 6-year-old War Deputy mare put her head in front and then held off Bay Sweetie to win by 1/2 length. Top Ten List held on for third. Spanish Decree ran the 1 1/16 mile on yielding turf in 1:48.03.
Yankee Wildcat rallied in the late going to upset favorite Procreate in Saturday's $50,000 Mister Diz Stakes for Maryland-breds. Spring Kitten was third. Yankee Wildcat, a 7-year-old Forest Wildcat gelding, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.87 seconds.
Career Oriented sat right behind Lady Dynasty early in Saturday's $60,000 Miss Woodford Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got the lead in the stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Neverlacken was third and the favorite, Partners Due, finished fourth. Career Oriented is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Cat's Career. She ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.31, picking up her fifth win in six lifetime starts. "We'll give her a chance to get over it and see where we go from there," said winning trainer Joe Orseno.
Equestrian Girls came from next-last to win Saturday's $75,000 Elge Rasberry Stakes for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies. Taking the lead with an outside move at the top of the lane, Equestrian Girls drew off to win by 2 lengths over Leestown Fantasie. Zarba the Great was third. The winner, by Leestown, ran the "about" 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.01.
Chip Hunter settled in mid-pack through the early stages of Sunday's $75,000 A.L. (Red) Erwin Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, then came out to challenge for the lead, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Badtotheboneandrew. Z Storm was third. Chip Hunter, the mutuel favorite, finished the "about" 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.06.
Separato came from last in Saturday's $55,000 Gate Dancer Stakes and closed strongly to win by 1 length over Blue Finally. Major Mecke was third. Separato, a 4-year-old, Virginia-bred colt Victory Gallop, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast main track in 1:43.93 with Jeremy Rose aboard.
Voodoo Gold ran away with Saturday night's $75,000 John Franks Memorial Sales Stakes for 2-year-olds, besting stablemate Triple S Gold by 10 lengths under the wire. C S C Grand Slam was third. Voodoo Gold, a gelded son of Gold Tribute, ran 5 furlongs in 59.53 seconds. The third part of Cole Norman entry, Paddle Wheels, finished last of nine.