The California-bred son of Benchmark, with Alex Solis up, broke a bit awkwardly, but quickly straightened course. Brother Derek then tracked the early leader, Old Thunder, until the second turn, took charge and easily held off Your Tent or Mine by 1 length under the wire, finishing the 1 1/16 mile in 1:42.02.
"The Breeders' Cup, there was so much pressure up front," said winning trainer Dan Hendricks. "He broke on top and ran a very, very good race. But there was a lot of pressure, shipping and everything. For some reason, he just matured from then until now. We're just starting to see him ripple and grow up a little more in a short period of time."
Brother Derek won the Norfolk at Santa Anita before shipping east for the Breeders' Cup and has three wins in five starts.
Sunday, Diplomat Lady got an easy lead in the $456,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and held on to post a huge upset over Balance. Diplomat Lady, with Tyler Baze aboard, led through fractions of 23.38, 46.63 and 1:36.94. Put to the drive, Diplomat Lady finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.89, returning an even $80 for a $2 win ticket. Sabatini was third. Owned by Charles Cono and trained by Christopher Paasch, Diplomat Lady is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Forestry and has won three of five starts.
"Honestly, I'm not surprised at all," Baze said. "Really. Nobody thought anything about her but I knew she had a great chance. The last time I rode her, I never even asked her to run."
In other weekend racing:
Calder Race Course
Meteor Storm rallied to the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap, highlight of Grand Slam II, then held on to win by a neck over Revved Up. Scooter Roach finished an even third. Meteor Storm, a 6-year-old, British-bred son of Bigstone, got the 1 1/2 mile on firm turf in 2:25.91 with Javier Castellano in the irons. It was the horse's first win since it upset the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in June of 2004. It had been winless in nine starts since then. "He's had a good year but it was disappointing not to win one until today," said winning trainer Wally Dollase. He said options include a trip to Dubai or another chance in the San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita.
In the companion $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap for fillies and mares, Film Maker sat near the back of the pack until the field turned for home. Then, the 5-year-old Dynaformer mare hit the gas, came wide and jetted off to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Kate Winslet was second in a hunch motion picture exacta paying $53.80 and Noble Stella completed a show biz tri worth $265.60. Film Maker, with Edgar Prado riding, got the 1 1/2 mile on the green course in 2:27.75. Trainer Graham Motion said Film Maker will race as a 6-year-old and he will "plan a schedule similar to this year, leading to another chance in the Breeders's Cup." Film Maker finished second in the Filly & Mare Turf in 2004; third this year.
Andromeda's Hero rallied from mid-pack to win the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap by 1 3/4 length over entrymate Seek Gold. Whos Crying Now finished third. Andromeda's Hero, a 3-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus who finished second to Afleet Alex in this year's Belmont Stakes, came four-wide into the lane and wore down Seek Gold for the win. It finished the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.46 under Rafael Bejarano. The top two finishers are trained by Nick Zito. "There was no Afleet Alex in there today," Zito quipped. "We won this race last year (with Pies Prospect). Hopefully, this will lead to good things for both horses this year."
In the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap, Mister Fotis jumped right to the lead and extended the advantage at each pole, winning by 6 3/4 lengths over Storm Surge. The odds-on favorite, Silver Wagon, finished well to take third. Mister Fotis, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred son of Diligence, ran 7 furlongs under Jorge Chavez in 1:22.97. Trainer Marty Wolfson said Mister Fotis has benefited from throat surgery. "I have no doubt he'll go a distance now that he can breathe," Wolfson said. "But I've been pointing him to that sprint race at Gulfstream (the Jan. 28 Sunshine Millions Sprint) for some time so that's the next target."
Banjo Picker and Pioneer Empire were overlooked before Sunday's $100,000 Gravesend Handicap but hard to miss afterwards. A look at the flashing toteboard found them 1-2 under the wire at odds of 47-1 and 46-1, respectively, and the $2 exacta paying a mathematical progression of $1,234. Banjo Picker, under Tara Hemmings, led most of the way and finished just a head in front of Pioneer Empire. Saay Mi Name was third, a neck farther back. Banjo Picker, a 5-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred son of Swear by Dixie, got 6 furlongs in 1:10.17.
India Halo caught odds-on favorite Bohemian Lady in the final yards of Saturday's $75,000 Ladies Handicap to win by a head. Taittinger Rose finished third. India Halo, a 5-year-old Argentine-bred, ran 1 1/4 mile on the fast inner track in 2:05.26 with Jose Espinoza in the irons.
Hawthorne Race Course
Creative Force rallied from last to win Saturday's $100,000 Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity for state-bred 2-year-olds. The Red Ransom colt race wide behind the leaders into the stretch, then easily outfinished favorite Last Gran Standing, winning by 2 lengths. Princeton Hills was third. Creative Force ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:46.75 for jockey Eduardo Perez. Chris Block trains the colt for Team Block.
Latenite Band pressed the pace in Sunday's $125,000 Red Hedeman Mile Handicap for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds, went to the front with a 16th to go and held off Matchstick Man to win by a head. Manolito, the early leader, held on for third and the favorite, In Unity, finished eighth of nine. Latenite Band, a chestnut gelding by Chimes Band, finished in 1:39.05 under Joe Martinez.
Saturday, Hollywood Gone won a three-way sprint to the wire in the $125,000 La Coneja Handicap for state-bred, 2-year-old fillies. The daughter of Gone Hollywood survived some bumping in the turn as she got by La Marmie, who finished second. Windy Storm'n Rose was third. The 5 1/2 furlongs took 1:05.27.
Fair Grounds at Louisiana Downs
Onthedeanslist got an "A" in Sunday's $75,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap, leading all the way to a 3/4-length victory over odds-on favorite Fort Prado. Middleweight was third home. Onthedeanslist, with Corie Lanerie up, rated patiently on the lead, built up a 2-length margin and then had plenty left at the end. The 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Honor Grades finished the 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:44.17.
Saturday, Culinary took charge in the stretch run of the $75,0000 Furl Sail Handicap for fillies and mares, running off to a 4-length victory over Glitteration. Go Girlfriend Go finished third. Culinary, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of El Amante, stalked the early pace while staying well off the rail, then went to the lead turning for home. She got the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.69.
Brass Hat, winner of last year's Ohio and Indiana Derbies, completed his comeback from a fractured ankle by winning Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths over On the Border. Paging and Discrete Hero dead-heated for third. Brass Hat, a Kentucky-bred gelding by Prized, tracked the pace in third place, came wide into the stretch and finished well for jockey Willie Martinez. He completed 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:52.50. "I had tears in my eyes, watching him come back," said winning trainer William "Buff" Bradley, whose father, bred and owns Brass Hat.
Magical Broad rallied five-wide down the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Squan Song Stakes for Maryland-bred distaffers by 3 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Starleena. Experts Only was third. Magical Broad, a 3-year-old daughter of Broad Brush, ran the 7 furlongs under Horacio Karamanos in 1:26.55.
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