The eight rich races that make up the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are so richly varied that it's hard to focus on one at a time. As a result, some excellent events can get lost in the shuffle.
Often, the spotlight is elsewhere than the $1.5 million NetJets Mile, a turf race that usually features a competitive and international cast. The "middle" distance and the unfamiliarity of the contestants make it easy for fans to look to the $4 million Classic, Powered by Dodge, or the $2 million Emirates Airlines Distaff as more familiar races.
This year, it might be different. If they can pronounce the name, fans at Belmont Park on Oct. 29 might be waiting for the Mile as a chance to "single" Leroidesanimaux on their Pick Six tickets -- especially after his performance in Sunday's $1 million (Canadian) Atto Mile at Woodbine, near Toronto.
The Brazilian-bred, 5-year-old son of Candy Stripes dominated eight good rivals, taking the lead as he pleased and winning the same way. With John Velazquez aboard, Leroidesanimaux won by 7 3/4 lengths, finishing in 1:35.08 over "yielding" turf. Mobil was second and Le Cinquieme Essai was third.
Leroidesanimaux, whose name means "King of the Animals" in French, has won eight consecutive races going back to March 2004. The last six wins have been in graded stakes.
"It's a million dollars," said winning trainer Bobby Frankel, explaining why he shipped Leroidesanimaux to Canada. "It was good timing for the other race (Breeders' Cup). I had this race in mind or the Shadwell Mile (at Keeneland on Oct. 8) and I chose this race. It gives us plenty of time if we're going to go to the Breeders' Cup."
Frankel said the trip over soft turf also is good experience since the New York grass often is moist in late fall.
-- On Saturday at Woodbine, Top Ten List was No. 1 in the $125,000 (Canadian) La Prevoyante Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies, leading most of the way to an odds-on, 1 3/4-length win over Simply Lovely. Wisdomisgold was third, another neck back. Top Ten List, a daughter of Bold Executive, ran the 1 mile on soft going in 1:40.55.
In other races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships:
$4 million Classic, Powered by Dodge
-- Shaniko, the even-money favorite, stalked the pace in Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park, got to the lead with three-sixteenths to go and won off by 4 1/2 lengths over Ball Four. Silver Axe was third. Shaniko, with Rafael Bejarano riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, got the nine furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:49.74. He is a Kentucky-bred, 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy, owned by Aaron and Marie Jones. "Everything unfolded perfectly," said Pletcher. "We got exactly the trip we wanted to get. He punched when the time came."
$2 million Emirates Airlines Distaff
-- Miss Fortunate sat well back of the leaders in Saturday's $175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup Stakes, joined the fray at mid-stretch and won a three-way sprint to the wire by 1/2 length. Sheer Luck was second and Whoopi Cat finished third. The favorite, Bohemian Lady, had nothing when the real running started. Miss Fortunate, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Deputy Minister, ran the 1 1/16 mile under Larry Melancon in 1:44.48. Bill Mott is the winning trainer. "I knew I had horse all the way," said Melancon. "When I called on her, she was there."
$1 million TVG Sprint
-- Estate Collection sprinted to the front and collected the winner's share in Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint, defeating Humor At Last by 3/4 length. Going Wild was third. Estate Collection, a Kentucky-bred, 3-year-old gelding by Souvenir Copy, got 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.75 with Patrick Valenzuela riding for trainer Doug O'Neill. "He ran a great race," said Valenzuela. "He's a perfect 3-for-3 and getting better and better."
-- Smokey Glacken went quickly to the lead under John Velazquez and went on to win Saturday's $100,000 Floral Park Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park by two lengths over Areek. Baldomera was third. Smokey Glacken, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Forestry, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.26 on a "good" track. The filly is trained by Jimmy Jerkens. Jerkens said the filly likely will continue to compete against distaffers, citing the Grade II First Flight at Belmont on Oct. 30 as a likely spot for her next start. "I'd like to try her on the turf at some point in her career," he added.
$2 million John Deere Turf
-- Collier Hill upset Vinnie Roe in Saturday's Group 1 Irish St. Leger at the Curragh. Collier Hill, a former jumper, caught Vinnie Roe in the final jumps, denying the latter his fifth straight win. The Whistling Teal was along for third, just beating Vinnie Roe. The 1 3/4 mile took 3:01.20 on a "yielding" course. Bill Haigh, assistant to winning trainer Alan Swinbank, said Collier Hill may try the Melbourne Cup on Nov. 1 at Flemington.
$2 million Emirates Airlines Filly & Mare Turf
-- Royal Copenhagen rallied from near the back of the 11-horse field to upset Saturday's $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Arlington Park, winning by 1/2 length over the odds-on favorite, Singhalese. Isla Cozzene was home third. Royal Copenhagen, a French-bred daughter of Inchinor, ran 9 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:48.76 with Shaun Bridgmohan up for trainer Laura De Seroux and owner Richard L. Duchossois. "The race I'd really like to win is the Beverly D.," said Duchossois, chairman of Arlington Park, referring to the Grade I event run during each summer's International Festival of Racing and named for his late wife.
-- Classic Stamp rallied from well back to upset Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian) Bell Canadian Handicap at Woodbine. Closing along the rail, the 5-year-old, Ontario-bred daughter of Regal Classic worked clear and won off by 1 1/4 length over Ambitious Cat. Mona Rose was third and the favorite, Shaconage, struggled home a tired last in the nine-horse field. The 9 furlongs went in 1:47.25.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Private Vow stuck right with the sprinting leaders in Saturday's $300,000 Futurity at Belmont Park, then took command when asked by jockey Jerry Bailey and won off by a convincing nine lengths. Changing Weather was second and Dixiewink third. Private Vow, a Kentucky-bred colt by Broken Vow, finished the 7 furlongs in 1:24.05. Steve Asmussen trains Private Vow for Mike McCarty. The colt now has won three straight after a career-opening loss to Sorcerer's Stone at Churchill Downs in July. "You know why we're here," Asmussen said. "We brought him to Belmont because if he belonged in the Breeders' Cup, I didn't want him to go anywhere else first. That's where we're trying to get to."
-- Sorcerer's Stone dominated Sunday's $200,000 Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Futurity at Arlington Park, running away from eight rivals to win by 8 1/2 lengths. Charley Tango was second, Red Raymond third and the favorite, Grand Survival, seventh. Sorcerer's Stone, a Kentucky-bred son of Gulch, ran 1 mile on a fast track in stakes-record time of 1:35.16. "It sets up perfectly this year with the Breeders' Cup being at Belmont where its' a one-turn mile and a 16th," said winning trainer Patrick Byrne. "We didn't feel any rush to go two turns with him, though I think he'll be a better two-turn horse."
-- Stream Cat, with Gary Stevens aboard, rallied from dead last to win Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park. Closing on the leaders at mid-stretch, the Kentucky-bred son of Black Minnaloushe drew clear in the final sixteenth to win by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Rungius. Cab, the favorite, finished third. Stream Cat, from the barn of Patrick Biancone, ran the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:46.42. "Last time he was a turf horse," said Biancone. "This time he was a Polytrack horse. Next time, hopefully, he'll be a dirt horse. ... He ran super. Winning rider Gary Stevens said the Polytrack surface "is not just for turf horses, although it does give turf horses the ability to show their best."
-- Direct Connect had a little trouble keeping a straight course down the stretch in Sunday's $120,000 Barrett's Juvenile at Fairplex Park, but still managed to catch odds-on favorite Bengal Love in the final strides and win by 1/2 length. Bengal Love held second by just a nose over Seven Nation Army. Direct Connect, a California-bred son of General Meeting, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.85. Garret Gomez had the mount for trainer Paul Aguirre.
-- It was on the grass but impressive anyway as Bear's Kid upset Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Summer Stakes at Woodbine by 1 3/4 lengths over Badge of Truth. Wedding Singer was third and the favorite, Baur Au Lac, was last of seven. Bear's Kid, a Kentucky-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid, pressed the pace and got to the front on the turn, then had things his own way. He finished 1 mile on "soft" turf in 1:40.35.
-- It's hard to know if it matters for the Breeders' Cup but George Washington showed again Sunday that he's the best 2-year-old on the European scene. The Danehill colt won the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland by two lengths. That victory backed up an 8-lengths triumph in the Phoenix Stakes in his last outing. Golden Arrow was second in Sunday's event, with Heatseeker third. Trainer Aiden O'Brien noted George Washington stumbled at the start in the National and still made up the needed ground easily. "It's possible he might have one more run this season," O'Brien said without noting where that race might be run.
$1 million Alberto VO5 Juvenile Fillies
-- Folklore turned in a legendary performance in Saturday's $300,000 Matron at Belmont Park. After taking back early under Edgar Prado, the Tiznow filly went to the lead after a half mile and hit the afterburners, winning off by 14 lengths. Miss Norman was best of the rest, a head in front of Along the Sea. The favorite, India, broke through the gate before the start, sprinted to the lead and then faded quickly, finishing last of seven. Folklore ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.70. D. Wayne Lukas trains the filly for Bob and Beverly Lewis. "She was jumping out of her skin in the post parade," Prado said. "She was ready to run today." Lukas assistant Peter Hutton said the trainer will talk to the owners. "They may decide to go straight to the Breeders' Cup or maybe get another race in between," he said, narrowing the options.
-- Original Spin rallied in the stretch run of Sunday's $150,000 Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Lassie at Arlington Park, then got clear late to win by 4 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Ex Caelis. Coolwind was third. Original Spin, with Jesse Campbell in the irons, ran 1 mile on a fast track in stakes-record time of 1:34.93. She is an Illinois-bred daughter of Distorted Humor. "I've had a little luck with Illinois-bred horses in open company," said winning trainer Tony Mitchell. "Keeneland certainly has to be a possibility and if she does well down there, who knows? Maybe Belmont."
-- Beau Dare, with Jon McKee up, sprinted clear in Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park and extended the lead easily through the stretch, winning by 6 1/4 lengths over Delicate Dynamite. Joint Effort was third and the favorite, Fast Deal, faded in the late going to finished fourth. Beau Dare, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Military, ran the 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:38.93 under Jon McKee. The filly is trained by Bob Holthus. "She is bred to run on the turf," said Holthus, "and we ran in this spot because we heard that there are a lot of turf horses having success on the Polytrack. ... We will most likely run back on the grass."
-- Catch my Fancy caught the fancy of the fans before Saturday's $120,000 Barretts Debutante Stakes at Fairplex Park, going to the post as the odds-on favorite, in a field of eight. She also caught the eye of the winner's circle crowd after winning by an easy 6 1/2 lengths over Acceleration. Itty Bitty Pretty was third. Catch My Fancy, a Florida-bred daughter of Yes It's True, ran 6 1/2 furlongs under Garrett Gomez in 1:17.01.
In other weekend racing:
Battle Chant took charge at the top of the stretch and drew off to win Saturday's $150,000 John D. Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap by 4 3/4 lengths over Dr. Kashnikow. Proud Man finished third. Battle Chant, a 5-year-old son of Coronado's Quest, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.00 for Ryan Fogelsonger.
Tappin for Gold found some at the finish line in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks. After tracking the pace set by Patricia's Secret, Tappin for Gold went to the front early in the stretch run and drew clear, winning by 2 lengths over Dearest Queen. The odds-on choice, Whimsy, was much farther back in third. Tappin for Gold is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Pleasant Tap. She got the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:44.07. "She's got a lot of talent and we're really looking forward to bigger and brighter things," said winning owner Doug Cox.
Calder Race Course
Wild Speed made a reasonable pace early in Saturday's $75,000 U Can Do It Handicap for fillies and mares, opened up a substantial lead and held on to win by 3/4 length over Midtown Miss. Tigi finished third. Wild Speed, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Forest Wildcat, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.43 on a fast track.
Somethinaboutlaura pressed the early pace in Saturday's $60,000 Palo Alto Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, got to the lead at the top of the lane and held off favorite Conveyor's Angel by 3/4 length at the wire. Apology Accepted was third. Somethinaboutlaura is a California-bred daughter of Dance Floor. With Russell Baze in the irons, she ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.30.
Travelator rallied through the stretch in Sunday's $100,000 Schenectady Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares and just caught pace-setting High Peaks at the wire, winning by a neck. Royal Fudge was third. Travelator, a 5-year-old mare by A.P. Jet, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.96 under Rafael Bejarano.
Certifiably Crazy moved to the leaders on the second turn in Sunday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds, took command and won by 4 1/4 lengths over Continental Reins. Gryffindor was third. Certifiably Crazy is a 5-year-old son of Fit to Fight. With Cornelio Velasquez riding, he ran 9 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:48.78.
Joey P., with Joe B. aboard, rallied from just off the pace to win Saturday's $100,000 Friendly Lover Handicap for Jersey-breds by 1 1/4 lengths over War's Prospect. Second Collection was third and the favorite, the venerable Gators N Bears, struggled home fifth of six after stumbling badly at the start. Joey P., a 3-year-old Close Up gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.59.
Picnic Theme got the picture-perfect trip in Saturday's $100,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares. After stalking the leaders, the 7-year-old Northern Idol mare came three-wide on the turn and got home 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Final Assault. The favorite, I'mtoogoodtobetrue, was third. Picnic Theme finished the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:42.62.
Totally Precious had to search for running room before getting clear to win Saturday's $100,000 Eleven North Handicap for fillies and mares by 3/4 length over the favorite and early leader, Summer Sting. Eastern Gale finished third. Totally Precious, a 6-year-old daughter of Northern Idol, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.89.
In the day's fourth stakes event, Carrots Only rallied nicely in the stretch to win the $100,000 Jersey Breeders' Turf Highweight Handicap by 3/4 length over Upturn. Cuba was third. Carrots Only got the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.72 on a fast main track. The 4-year-old gelding is by Defrere out of the Brocco mare Veggie.