A pair of $1 million races highlighted weekend racing in North America while the week's Royal Ascot meeting in England started to sort out the Euro runners for the big events looming on the mid-summer horizon.
Showing Up has shown up in the winner's circle after each of his races except the Kentucky Derby, where he ran a credible sixth. His victories included the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland and he had never run on the green course until Saturday's $1 million Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs in Virginia.
No matter. In an oddly run race, Showing Up and jockey Cornelio Velasquez allowed Kip Deville to jet out to a lead of something like 20 lengths down the backstretch and didn't start the counterattack until the field approached the second turn.
But as the wire came into sight, Showing Up took charge, ran by Kip Deville and won by 3 1/4 lengths. Kip Deville held on gamely for second with Go Between third. Showing Up, a Kentucky-bred son of Strategic Mission, ran 1 3/16 mile on firm going in 1:52.98.
Now a stakes winner on both dirt and grass, Showing Up provides lots of options for trainer Barclay Tagg. Among them is continuing on toward a sweep of the $5 million Grand Slam of Grass -- requiring victory in the Virginia Derby at Colonial on July 15, the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington on Aug. 12 and the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
The weekend's other $1 million event (plus 50 guineas as a gift of the Queen of England) was the Queen's Plate at Woodbine, the oldest continuously run stakes event in North America. Michael Pegram's Wanna Runner, shipped in from California by trainer Bob Baffert, went off as the favorite but was never a serious factor.
Instead, it was locally based Edenwold that stayed close to the pace, found room on the inside on the turn and went through, winning by 3/4 length over Sterwins. Malakoff was third. Edenwold, a son of Southern Halo, ran the 1 1/4 mile in 2:05.30 with Emile Ramsammy aboard.
The colt, last year's Canadian 2-year-old champion, had been third in the Plate Trial and second in the Queenston in his last two starts for trainer Josie Carroll, who became the first female trainer to win the event, now in its 147th running.
"The fractions were so fast, I was getting concerned," said Carroll. "But the horse looked comfortable all the way. When they turned for home and he picked it up, I said, 'You know what? We're going all the way.'"
Baffert said the sour effort was the first Wanna Runner has ever thrown, adding that jockey Victor Espinoza "said at the five-eighths pole he acted like a horse that might have bled. We're going to scope him."
In other races this week with potential impact on the grass races at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4:
$3 million John Deere Turf
-- Fort Prado returned from an injury layoff to post a hard-fought victory in Saturday's $75,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington Park, the highlight of a six-race "festival" for Illinois-breds. The 5-year-old son of El Prado, owned and trained by Team Block, ran in the middle of the 10-horse field early and was all-out to beat Majestic Zeal at the wire. "This is the race I found for him," said trainer Chris Block, who sounded happy to have his star performer back in racing form. Fort Prado had been away since winning the John Connolly Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston in early April. Before that, he won the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup and the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup. This was his second straight victory in the Black Tie Affair. "I think we'll keep him here," Block said after the race. "I'd like to keep him at home." The "home" schedule includes the Arlington Million on Aug. 12.
-- Yates scored by 4 lengths over Reefscape in Thursday's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, with Distinction third. Stretching out to 2 1/2 miles, the 5-year-old Sadler's Wells horse finished in 4:20.45 on going rated "good to firm." Trainer Aidan O'Brien has had trouble keeping Yates healthy since he won the Coronation Cup at Epsom a year ago, with also-ran results in France, Ireland and Canada. The Gold Cup win, he said, shows the horse is back in fine fettle.
-- At Kyoto Racecourse in Japan, Deep Impact was the popular winner of Sunday's Group I Takarazuka Kinen. After settling near the back of the pack under Yutaka Take, the 4-year-old son of Sunday Silence blew down the stretch, passing his rivals to win by 4 lengths over Narita Century. Balance of Game set the pace and held on for third in a 13-horse field which included no foreign starters. Deep Impact now has won 10 of his 11 starts and is ticketed for France and a start in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 1.
-- On Sunday at Hollywood Park, Genre rallied from near the back of the field to win the $150,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds by 1/2 length over Niagra Causeway. Film Fortune, the obvious hunch bet, finished third. Genre, a British-bred son of Orpen, saved ground early, split horses turning for home and finished the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.73 under Martin Pedroza.
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
-- Ad Valorem, running on good ground for a change, showed what he is capable of in Tuesday's Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. The 4-year-old son of Danzig, ninth in last year's Mile at Belmont Park, finished sixth in his only previous start this year -- the Gladness Stakes on April 9 at the Curragh over yielding ground. Tuesday, he powered to a 1 1/2-length victory over Court Masterpiece, with Proclamation third, finishing in 1:40 with Kieren Fallon up. Trainer Aidan O'Brien said the footing was the difference.
-- Araafa scored a 2-length victory in Tuesday's St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, firmly establishing himself as the top 3-year-old miler in Britain. The son of Mull of Kintyre also won his last start, the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, defeating George Washington. In Tuesday's event, Araafa stalked the pace, went to the lead when asked and easily held off Stormy River. Ivan Denisovich was third. "I think it will take a mighty good one to beat him," trainer Jeremy Noseda told the Press Association.
-- Nannina got to the front with a quarter-mile to run in Friday's Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Royal Ascot and went on to win by 2 lengths over Flashy Wings. Nasheej was third. Nannina ran the 1 mile on good turf in 1:39.14 with Jimmy Fortune in the irons. Nannina, a daughter of Medicean, was a dismal 12th in her seasonal debut in the One Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, a defeat that trainer John Gosden blamed on soft ground.
-- At Woodbine in Canada, Seaside Retreat closed between horses on the turn for home and went on to win Friday's $100,000 Charley Barley Stakes for 3-year-olds by 4 1/2 lengths over French Beret. Moka Jumble finished third. Seaside Retreat, a Kentucky-bred colt by King Cougat, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.21 with Patrick Husbands up.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Ouija Board, second to Intercontinental in last year's Filly & Mare Turf, continued her intercontinental winning ways with a smashing triumph in Wednesday's Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot. Among others, the Cape Cross mare left in her wake the winners of both the Dubai World Cup and the Dubai Duty Free -- Electrocutionist and David Junior. Ouija also defeated males in the Hong Kong Vase last December. She won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2004 at Lone Star Park in Texas. Trainer Ed Dunlop said he will consult with owner Lord Derby but expects Ouija Board to get a short break in preparation for a third try at the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs.
-- Noble Stella led the field around the "soft" inner turf course at Belmont Park in Saturday's $250,000 New York Breeders' Cup Handicap, then held on to win by a neck over late-running Angara. The favorite, Argentina, finished third with an even effort over the difficult going. Noble Stella, a German-bred, 5-year-old daughter of Monsun, ran 1 1/4 mile in 2:08.26 for jockey Mike Smith. Noble Stella was second to Honey Ryder in her last outing, the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont. Before that, she won the Bewitch at Keeneland. "She's really doing well," Smith said. "She handled the going really, really well. Every time I got after her, she just kept pushing herself forward and just stayed there." Trainer Rodger Attfield said he might bring Noble Stella to Woodbine for the Dance Smartly on July 15.
-- Film Maker surged to the front with a 16th of a mile to run in Saturday's $200,000 All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs in Virginia, then easily drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Latice. Art Fan was third and the favorite, Wend, finished fifth, showing little spark. Film Maker, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Dynaformer, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.58 for Ramon Dominguez and trainer H. Graham Motion. Film Maker now has won her last two starts, following a third-place finish in last year's Filly & Mare Turf at Belmont Park behind Intercontinental and Ouija Board.
-- In Saturday's $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park, Memorette sat behind the early pace, came three-wide into the turn and was along in time to pick off Live Life and win by 3/4 lengths. The favorite, Moscow Burning, was third, lacking a late kick. Memorette, a 4-year-old, California-bred daughter of Memo, ran 1 1/4 mile on firm turf in 2:00.16 for jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer William Currin. "They went a little bit fast in the front, but that's what I wanted," said Espinoza. "I was worried that they might not go quick enough in the front. ... I had to ride her hard but, hey, that's my job." Currin said Memorette "has the best kick and, when she's right, she'd dead right." He said he hasn't planned a next start for the filly.
In weekend races with potential impact on the other Breeders' Cup events:
$5 million Classic, Powered by Dodge
-- Flower Alley, runner up to Horse of the Year Saint Liam in last year's Classic, looked like the favorite before Saturday's $150,000 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park and ran like it when the gate opened. After tracking the pace, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor got to the leaders three-wide on the turn and had much the best of it in the stretch, drawing off to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Park Avenue Ball was second and Network finished third. Flower Alley, ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, ran the 1 mile on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:35.87. "It was exactly what we were looking for, with the exception of the track condition," Pletcher said. He said his schedule for Flower Alley includes the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga, with another try in the Classic as the ultimate goal.
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- It would be unusual for a European to move to the United States and to the main track for a big race but you never know. So it's worth noting that Les Arcs was the upset winner in Saturday's Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, taking the lead with a furlong to go and winning by a neck over extreme long shot Balthazaar's Gift. Australian favorite Takeover Target finished third. Winning trainer Tim Pitt said Les Arc, a Maryland-bred gelding, likely will be in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Bastille Day.
In other weekend racing:
Marco Be Good ran by the leaders at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakes, opened up a daylight advantage and then held off the late rally of Atticus Kristy to win by 1/2 length. Sophia's Prince was third, another 1/2 length back. Marco Be Good, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred son of Bold n'Flashy, ran 6 furlongs in 1:07.87 for jockey Justin Stein.
Also on Sunday's Queen's Plate undercard, Jambalaya came from the back of the pack to win the $100,000 Sinngspiel Stakes by a neck over Last Answer, with Diplomatic Agent third. The even-money favorite, Pellegrino, finished fourth. Jambalaya is a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred gelding by Langfuhr. He ran 1 1/2 mile on firm turf in 2:27.15 under Jono Jones.
Play Bingo rallied past pace setter Pocomoonshine and went on to win Saturday's $100,000 Sussex Stakes by 2 lengths, with favorite Angelic Aura third. Play Bingo, a 5-year-old, Maryland-bred son of Polish Numbers, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.63 for jockey Rodrigo Madrigal Jr.
Notimetoquit came around rivals on the turn and drew clear to win Saturday's $100,000 My Juliet Stakes by 1 3/4 length over Trickle of Gold. Baldomera finished third. Notimetoquit, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Toolighttoquit, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.89 with Harry Vega in the irons.
Saturday's Black Tie Affair, won by Fort Prado, was only the culmination of a six-race stakes day for Illinois-breds, each worth $75,000. The others:
-- In the White Oak Handicap for 3-year-olds at 6 furlongs, High Expectations was last as the field hit the stretch but jockey Francisco Torrez wove through traffic until he got to the front and won by 1 length over Iron Rogue in a smart 1:08.89.
-- Ms. Lydonia was just up in the final jumps to win the Lincoln Heritage by a neck over You Dancing Devil. The winner's stablemate, Modjadji, was third. Ms. Lydonia got 1 1/16 mile on the firm turf course in 1:42.99.
-- Bluesbdancing and Pretty Jenny have hooked up several times in recent months with split decisions. In Saturday's Isaac Murphy Handicap, it was Bluesbdancing hanging on at the wire to win by a neck over her familiar rival with Denoun N Deverb third. Neither of the first two got a particularly clean trip and the 6 furlongs went in 1:10.26.
-- In the Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds going the one-turn mile, Tally Up tallied up the victory, rallying through the stretch to beat Barely Union Scale by 1/2 length. Wildwood Hat Trick was third. Tally up finished in 1:36.59.
-- In the Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile, Rolling Sea stalked the pace, got to the front in the stretch and held off Rich Fantasy to win by 1 length. Unreal Rocket was third. Rolling Sea got the 1 mile in 1:36.41.
Ferocious Won saved ground early in Sunday's $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds, came wide to the lead on the turn and held on to beat Classic Pack by a neck. Fire One Up was third and the favorite, Baby Rusch, faded to finish sixth. Ferocious Won, a son of Lite the Fuse ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.84
Switch Lanes didn't have to do much switching in Saturday's $70,000 Hawkeye Handicap for fillies and mares since she led from the first jumps all the way to the wire. At the end, the 7-year-old daughter of Deerhound was 4 1/2 lengths ahead of the closest competition, Camela Carson, with Queansco 1 3/4 lengths farther back in third. Switch Lanes, with Glenn Corbett up, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.91.
Latenite Special led from the git-go and drew off late to win Saturday's $60,000 New Mexico Distaff Handicap for state-breds by 3 1/2 lengths over Runaway Coach. Skirt Alert was third. Latenite Special, a 5-year-old daughter of Super Special, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.20 for jockey Ken Tohill.
Bright Gold dueled for the lead at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $60,000 Buckland Stakes for fillies and mares before drawing off to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Beautiful Bets. Halloween Fun was third. Bright Gold, a 6-year-old, Virginia-bred mare by Hold for Gold, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the firm turf in 1:01.95 with Horacio Karamanos in the irons.
In Saturday's $50,000 Red Legend Stakes for 3-year-olds, Ah Day dueled for the final 16th with Vikrant, exchanged some mild bumps and then edged to the front, winning by 3/4 length. Tactical Brush was third. Ah Day, a Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon, ran 7 furlongs in 1:25.25 with Jonathan Joyce aboard.
Lone Star Park
Magic Power was bumped at the start in Saturday's $40,000 Miller Lite Stakes, dueled for the lead and then drew off late and hung on to win by 1 length over Seneca Song. Comalagold was third as the favorite. Magic Power, a 4-year-old, Texas-bred daughter of Magic Cat, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.14 with Richard Eramia aboard for his first North American stakes win.
True Tails, the odds-on favorite, led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 Suthern Accent Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Picata. Space Cruise was third. True Tales, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Yes It's True, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.71 with Carlos Gonzales up.
Smudgeledo led from the start in winning Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Journal Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths over Beau Brass, with Hot Talk third. Smudgeledo, a 4-year-old, Washington-bred gelding by Slewdledo, got the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17 1/5 under Real Simard.