Some old warriors popped up to win important races during the weekend, promising to intensify the competition for year-end honors.
Among them, 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide returned to the winner's circle in a new country. And 8-year-old The Tin Man won a repeat victory in a race he first captured in 2004.
Grouped by their potential to impact the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, the weekend's major racing:
$5 million Classic, powered by Dodge
--Invasor stumbled at the start of Saturday's $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, recovered to race just behind the pace and then took charge in the stretch, racing off to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Wild Desert. Andromeda's Hero finished third, 1 length farther back. Invasor, a 4-year-old, Argentine-bred colt by Candy Stripes, ran 1 1/4 mile in 2:01.23 with Fernando Jara in the irons for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Invasor is a globe-trotter, having won three races in Uruguay, placing fourth behind Discreet Cat in the March 25 UAE Derby in Dubai and then shipping to the United States, where he won the Pimlico Special. "He's the real deal," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "I don't know how I got him beat (in Dubai). "Maybe we don't want to see Discreet Cat anywhere."
--Funny Cide hasn't had an easy time of it since his 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness triumphs but you wouldn't have known it by his performance in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian) Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine. Jumping out to the lead under Richard Migliore, the 6-year-old Distorted Humor gelding set a reasonable but unchallenged pace and held on to win easily, by 1 1/2 lengths over Nolan's Cat. Cryptograph finished third. Funny Cide became the first Kentucky Derby winner to win a stakes at Woodbine since Secretariat as he finished the Dominion Day's 1 1/4 mile in 2:02.41. "We've been all over the country (U.S.) and now we've been international with him," said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, which owns Funny Cide. "He's taken us places we never thought we'd go."
--And speaking of "where have they been," Henny Hughes finally resurfaced in the Monmouth Park winner's circle after Saturday's $150,000 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup for 3-year-olds. Absent since finishing second to Stevie Wonderboy in last year's Juvenile, Henny Hughes seemed to have lost nothing. He tracked the early pace set by He's Got Grit but when jockey Joe Bravo gave him free rein, the Hennessy colt sprinted clear to win by 10 lengths. Saint Daimon beat He's Got Grit by 3/4 length for the place. Henny Hughes ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.26 and won in a hand ride. "I didn't want to use him early on and I just let him do what he wanted," Bravo said. "By the time we reached the top of the stretch, he was well within himself and, after that, he just drew off." Henny Hughes broke his maiden at Monmouth last year, then won the Tremont and Saratoga Special before being sold to Zabeel Racing International before the Breeders' Cup.
--Siphon City set a blistering pace in Saturday's $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup and just kept going, posting a big upset as he crossed the wire 6 lengths ahead of Three Hour Nap. Gouldings Green was third and the favorite, Master Command, could do no better than sixth. Siphon City, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Siphon, ran 9 furlongs in 1:47.76 with Elvis Trujillo up for trainer Daniel Hurtak. Hurtak said he told Trujillo, "If he makes the lead, we have a good chance of winning this thing....He's a tough horse. He's a big, mean horse and he was really good. He must like Iowa." Siphon City won his last two races at Calder -- the Sumter and the Memorial Day Handicap. He now has seven wins from 17 lifetime starts.
--More Than Regal upset Friday's $250,000 Iowa Derby, saving ground to the stretch and then swinging out to catch pace-setting Blazing Sunset in the final sixteenth. At the wire More Than Ready was 1/2 length in front, with Wait in Line third. More Than Regal, a Kentucky-bred son of More Than Ready, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:42.74 for Shaun Bridgmohan. The race was a bit of a breakthrough for More Than Regal, who has been fourth in the Lanes End at Turfway Park, fifth in the Lexington at Keeneland and fourth in the USA at Lone Star Park. "He was just more responsive today," said Bridgmohan. "He was there for me and gave me what I needed."
$2 million Emirates Airline Distaff
--Bushfire took back through the early furlongs of Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, regained the lead when asked by jockey Edgar Prado and went on to win by 3/4 length over Pine Island. Ready to Please finished third and Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever was fourth. Bushfire, a Florida-bred daughter of Louis Quatorze, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.86. Bushfire, third in the Kentucky Oaks although disqualified and placed fifth, since won the Acorn at Belmont Park. She also won the Ashland at Keeneland this spring. She is trained by Eddie Kenneally. "I think we're going to back off now and shoot for the fall," said Kenneally of Bushfire's future. "She likes Churchill Downs and we'd like to point her to the Breeders' Cup there." He said the Aug. 19 Alabama at Saratoga might be an intermediate stop.
--Baghdaria stalked the pace in Friday's $200,000 Iowa Oaks, got by the leaders in deep stretch and won by 1/2 length over Maggie Slew. Brownie Points finished third. Baghdaria, a Kentucky-bred Royal Academy filly, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.12 under Rafael Bejarano. In her last race, Baghdaria ran third in the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico in a rough trip. "The Iowa Oaks has been a stepping stone for some other fillies," said winning trainer Tom Amoss. "Why, yes. I was thinking of Unbridled Elaine."
--No Sleep was plenty alert for Saturday's $125,000 Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup at Praire Meadows, racing to the lead , turning back a challenge from favorite Capeside Lady when she was headed midway on the stretch turn and then holding on to win by a neck over that rival. Platinum Ballet finished third. No Sleep, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Robyn Dancer, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:42.35 with Michael Luzzi aboard. Winning trainer Gary Contessa said No Sleep may get some time off and come back at Aqueduct. "If I can give her two months off now, I would say she could likely kill every stake race at Aqueduct this winter."
--Hollywood Story got the lead turning into the stretch run in Sunday's $300,000 Vanity Invitational Handicap at Hollywood Park, then held on despite wandering down the lane to win by a 1/2 length over Healthy Addiction. Sharp Lisa was third and the favorite, Proposed, got home fourth. Hollywood Story, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Wild Rush, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:48.55. Star Parade, the post-time favorite, was scratched after injuring herself in the gate.
--At Fort Erie in Canada, Kimchi tracked the early pace in Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Labatt Bison City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, went by pace-setting Essential Edge at mid-stretch and won off by 1 1/4 lengths. Sweet Breanna was up for second over Essential Edge. Kimchi, a Manitoba-bred filly by Langfuhr, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:42.92 with Patrick Husbands up.
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- Saturday, Coach Jimi Lee made short work of favored Bishop Court Hill in the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap. After pressing the pace set by the favorite, Coach Jimi Lee came up on his outside midway through the turn, ran by and went on to win by 4 3/4 lengths in 1:08.29. Bishop Court Hill held on for second and Brooker was third. Eduardo Perez applied the winning ride for co-owner and trainer Jimmy DiVito. "He beat a Grade I horse," said DiVito. "That's nothing to sneeze at." Asked about the Breeders' Cup, he added, "The way he ran today, maybe we will. We'll see how he comes back and how everything goes." Coach Jimi Lee now has won the Iowa Sprint three straight years.
--Siren Lure rallied from far back to win Sunday's $300,000 Triple Bend Invitational at Hollywood Park by 1 1/2 lengths over Battle Won, who finished last in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Unfurl the Flag was a hunch-bet third. Siren Lure, claimed for $50,000 last fall, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:21.29 with Alex Solis in the irons for trainer Art Sherman. Sherman said he thinks he may be able to stretch Siren Lure out to a flat mile.
--Somethinaboutlaura battled down the stretch outside Maryfield in Saturday's $150,000 A Gleem Invitational Handicap for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park before prevailing by a nose. Allwellthatnswell finished third. Somethinaboutlaura, a 4-year-old, Cal-bred daughter of Dance Floor, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:20.88 for jockey Victor Espinoza. The filly is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
$3 million John Deere Turf
--He may be old but he's still good when trainer Richard Mandella trots him out to the gate. The Tin Man, now 8 years old, led virtually all the way to a 3/4-length victory over Hendrix in Sunday's $250,000 American Invitational Handicap at Hollywood Park -- a race he first won four years ago. Fourty Niners Sun was third. The Tin Man, a Kentucky-bred gelding by Affirmed, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.24 for Victor Espinoza. "The old man, he just likes to run. He has such a big heart," Espinoza said. In his last well-spaced start, The Tin Man finished second behind David Junior in the Dubai Duty Free on March 25.
--Dylan Thomas raced just behind the pace in Sunday's Irish Derby at the Curragh, came out under urging from jockey Kieren Fallon and surged to the lead. At the wire, the Danehill colt was 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Gentlewave, with Best Alibi third. Dylan Thomas was third in the Epsom Derby a month ago and trainer Aidan O'Brien said the mid-summer's classic stakes in England and Ireland are under consideration for his charge. The colt finished the 2,400 meters Sunday in 2:29.77.
--Major Rhythm scored a major upset (at odds of 35-1) in Sunday's $200,000 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Handicap at Arlington Park near Chicago. Racing just behind the leaders and off the hedge, Major Rhythm got the "go" signal from jockey Earlie Fires in deep stretch and responded , winning in the final strides -- and in the middle of the course -- from Come On Jazz. Ascertain completed the trifecta with even-money favorite Silver Whistle fourth. Major Rhythm, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Rhythm, ran 1 1/2 mile on firm turf in 2:29.93. "I was out there pretty wide and I wasn't sure if we got there," Fires said. And Francisco Torrez, who rode Come On Jazz, said his mount "never saw the other horse coming on the outside until it was too late."
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
--Alexander Goldrun took the lead from Chelsea Rose in the final yards in Saturday's Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland and won by a neck. Red Bloom, the early leader, settled for third. Alexander Goldrun, an intercontinental winner, finished the 1 1/4 mile on "good" turf in 2:04.83 under Kevin Manning. Trainer Jim Bolger said the 5-year-old mare, by Gold Away, will visit England, Ireland, France and Hong Kong later in the year if all goes well.
--Wait a While took the lead and drew clear when asked by jockey Garrett Gomez and won Sunday's $750,000 American Oaks Invitational at Hollywood Park by an easy 4 1/2 lengths over Japanese-bred Asahi Rising. Arravale was third. Wait a While, a Kentucky-bred filly by Maria's Mon, ran 1 1/4 mile in 1:59.38 on firm turf. Cody Richardson, who manages the ownership of the winner, called Wait a While "a great filly ... . She's obviously competitive on dirt as well. But after a performance like this, you'd have to think she'll be on the grass for a while."
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
--Dance in the Mood rallied wide from the back of the field in Saturday's $750,000 CashCall Invitational Stakes at Hollywood Park and drew clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Sweet Talker. Luas Line was third. Dance in the Mood, a 5-year-old, Japanese-bred mare by Sunday Silence, ran 1 mile on the firm turf in 1:33.33 for Victor Espinoza and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. The mare was second in this race two years ago, a defeat blamed in part on a bad ride by her Japanese rider. "She was much better than two years ago," Fujisawa said. "She is completely different. She has matured and I've given her a lot of time. I was quietly confident she would win." H. Graham Motion, trainer of Sweet Talker, said, "The winner is obviously a brilliant filly."
--Miesque's Approval didn't get the cleanest of trips in Saturday's $250,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs but when all was said and done, jockey Eddie Castro found room to get her through and to the wire first, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Free Thinking. Therecomesatiger finished third. Miesque's Approval, a 7-year-old, Florida-bred son of Miesque's Son, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.52. Miesque's Approval, who ran for a tag last November, is on a roll, after beating 2005 Mile champion Artie Schiller in March in the Maker's Mark at Keeneland. With the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup in mind, trainer Marty Wolfson said he wants to "space his races as much as I can ... .With a horse this age, and this was another race that I'm sure was tough on him because he had to overcome a lot, I'll just have to go one day at a time."
--Kingship raced quickly to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park and was never caught, holding on to win by a nose over Proudinsky. Arbuckle Bandit was up for third as the longest shot in the eight-horse field. Kingship, a Kentucky-bred colt by King Cougat, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.57 with Robby Albarado in the irons for trainer Ronny Werner. After struggling on the main track, Kingship broke his maiden in his first try on the green -- by 8 lengths at Churchill Downs last time out. "He ran to our expectations that day," said Albarado. "But today, he exceeded our expectations."
--Rebel Rebel rallied from well back to win Sunday's $100,000 Poker Handicap at Belmont Park by 2 1/4 lengths from Remarkable News. Vicarage was third. Rebel Rebel, an Irish-bred colt by Revoque, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.34 under Edgar Prado. The colt is trained by Richard Dutrow.
--In Sunday's $100,000 Flawlessly Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park on Sunday, Charming N Loveable came wide into the lane after weaving through traffic and drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Soothsay. Tasha's Delight was third. Charming N Loveable, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Horse Chestnut, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.68 with Alex Solis up.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Woozy broke last of 11 in Saturday night's $150,000 D.S. "Shine" Young Memorial Futurity for Louisiana-breds at Evangeline Downs. But, after working through horses, the Ide Out gelding got clear and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Princess Deelite. The even-money favorite, Margarita Man, finished third. Woozy, with Wilfredo Lozano Jr. up, ran 5 furlongs in 59.71 seconds.
$2 million Juvenile Fillies
--Desire to Excel, apparently aptly named, drew off when asked to win Sunday's $100,000 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park by a handy 5 lengths from the odds-on favorite, Octave. She's Roughin It was third. Desire to Excel, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Mt. Livermore, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.33 with Mike Smith up for trainer Kelly Breen. The filly now is 2-for-2. "We'll probably look at some races at Saratoga for her," Breen said.
--Pinata got a wide trip throughout Saturday's $100,000 Landluce Stakes at Hollywood Park but still got up just in time to win by a neck over the favorite, Holly Torque. Swiss Rose finished third. Pinata, a Kentucky-bred filly by Vision and Verse, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.89 for Martin Pedroza. Bill Miller trains the filly.
--Lottacosta led from gate to wire in Sunday's $125,000 My Dear Stakes at Woodbine in Canada, winning by a neck over Coy Coyote, with My List another neck back in third. Lottacosta, a Kentucky-bred filly by Cat Thief, ran 5 furlongs in 57.38 seconds for Raymond Sabourin.
In other weekend racing:
-- In Friday's $100,000 Saylorville Stakes for distaffers, Hot Storm went right to the lead and held it, winning off by 1 1/2 lengths. Miss Macy Sue dueled with the winner and then held on for second. Katy Smiles was third. Hot Storm is a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic. With Julian Leparoux up, she ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.11.
Pommes Frites opened up a big lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 James Penny Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares, then held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Sabellina, with Buck Trout's Niece third. Pommes Frites, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Dynaformer, ran the 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:44.93 under Jose Santos. The Bill Mott-trained filly went to the post as the odds-on favorite in a field of seven.
Tothemoonandback pressed the pace right from the gate in Saturday's $150,000 Achievement Stakes for 3-year-olds, took the lead on the turn and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Bad Hat with Fantom Executive third. Tothemoonandback, an Ontario-bred gelding by Perigee Moon, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.33 for jockey James McAleney.
Sunday, Financingavailable was sent quickly to the lead in the $100,000 Sweet Briar Too Stakes for fillies and mares and led to the wire, winning by 1/2 length over Miss Concerto. Tamara was third. Financingavailable, a 5-year-old, Ontario-bred mare by Kiridashi, ran 7 furlongs in 1:20.49 with James McAleney in the irons.
Lone Star Park
His Eyes never saw a competitor in Saturday's $100,000 Alysheba Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds as the Kentucky-bred son of Gold Case shot right to the lead and never looked back. At the wire, His Eyes was 3 1/2 lengths a winner, with Mr. Pursuit pursuing all the way in second position. Almost Certain was third. His Eyes, with M. Berry up, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.71.
Aly's Vow came from near the back of the pack to win Saturday's $60,000 Lone Star Oaks by a head over Sweet Idea, with Betty Garr third. Aly's Vow, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Broken Vow, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:44.31 with Glen Murphy in the irons.
Miss Savannah Rose got to the lead at mid-stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Denise Rhudy Memorial for 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by a comfortable 2 lengths over Lady of Clare. The favorite, Christmas Stocking, got third. Miss Savannah Rose, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Strategic Mission, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:45.03 with Rosie Napravnik in the irons.
Tri Uimet sprinted to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Cleveland Gold Cup for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds, galloped along unchallenged and won by 5 3/4 lengths in a minor upset. Not Broke Yet was second and the favorite, Dooze, finished third. Tri Uimet, a Lac Ouimet colt, ran 9 furlongs in 1:52.34 with Scott Spieth up.
Spaghetti Mouse saved ground in a stalking position through the early part of Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Lieutenant Governor's Handicap, came wide into the stretch and was up in time to win by 1/2 length over the favorite, Quiet Cash. Bull Ranch was third. Spaghetti Mouse, a 4-year-old, British Columbia-bred gelding by Archers Bay, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.68.
Livinonlovanadime stalked the pace outside the leaders in Sunday's $65,000 Tacoma Handicap for 3-year-olds, moved to the front when asked in the drive and edged clear, winning by 1/2 length over pace-setting Courting Seattle. Ragin Nonno was third. Livinonlovanadime, a Kentucky-bred colt by Devil's Bag, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35 3/5 for jockey Ben Russell.
Run the Light ran the table in Sunday's $60,000 Daniel Van Clief Stakes for Virginia-breds, passing virtually the entire field through the turn and into the stretch and drawing off to win by 5 lengths. Navesink was second as the favorite and Love Conquers conquered the rest. Run the Light, a 5-year-old son of Tabasco Cat, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.11 for Luis Garcia.
Midnite Prospector came from second-last in a field of 10 to win Sunday's $61,000 New Mexico Breeders' Association Handicap by 2 lengths over Tu Tone Devil. Romeos Wilson was third. Midnite Prospector, a 5-year-old gelding by Corwyn Bay, ran 1 mile in 1:36 3/5 with Miguel Perez up.