History tells us next year's Kentucky Derby winner probably hasn't yet achieved wide public recognition. So, we pay attention to races like Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Park Prevue Stakes.
In that Grade III event, a prep for the Hollywood Futurity, Belgravia remained undefeated in two starts with a nicely timed rally that got him to the front just in time.
Belgravia, a Kentucky-bred son of Mr. Greeley, stalked the early pace under Julien Leparoux, came three-wide into the stretch to take the lead and then held on to win by a nose over Dilemma. The favorite, Notional, finished third after leading briefly.
Belgravia, a $2 million purchase earlier this year, is trained by Patrick Biancone. He ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.42. His earlier win was on the Keeneland artificial surface.
"I was pretty much alone at the top of the stretch," said Leparoux. "When that other horse (Dilemma) came up to him, he really dug in and took off again. He has speed, but he seems like he really wants to go on. I thought I won, but I was just hoping I did."
On Sunday, it was the 2-year-old fillies turn and the result was an upset as Quick Little Miss, last seen finishing 10th in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, pulled a big upset.
Rallying from last in a field of seven in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Freud came out for room on the turn and got home 1/2 length ahead of the odds-on favorite, Jump On In. High Cholesterol finished third. Quick Little Miss ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.13 under Jon Court.
"I wasted a little money going back east (to Churchill Downs for the Breeders' Cup," said winning trainer Mel Stute. "I really thought she was good enough. I'm hoping it was just the post position. I believe she's something special. I really do."
In fact, he said, he believes Quick Little Miss is better than the 1986 Juvenile Fillies winner he trained -- Brave Raj. "She's much bigger, much better looking and much sounder," Stute said.
At Woodbine in Canada, Sealy Hill won easily as the favorite in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Glorious Song Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. After tracking the pace, the Ontario-bred daughter of Point Given came wide around the field on the turn and drew off easily, winning by 8 1/4 lengths over Saskawea. Bear Now finished third. Sealy Hill, with Patrick Husbands up, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.88.
Sealy Hill now has two wins from three starts. "She's really just learning," said winning trainer Mark Casse. "She doesn't have a clue yet."
In other weekend racing:
Armada won Sunday's final trial for the Dec. 10 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile. "He has run quite well and has proven that he is up to the company he will meet in the Mile," said winning trainer John Size after the 3/4-length victory. Among the notable also-rans, Vengeance of Rain finished fifth, just 1 3/4 lengths off the winner, and Asian Mile champion Bullish Luck, coming off an injury layoff, finished sixth with room to improve in three weeks' time.
In Sunday's trial for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint, Able Prince, also coming off an injury, remained on the inside rail as Down Town stayed outside. At the wire, Able Prince held onto a neck margin. "If he can do this off such a light amount of trackwork," said winning trainer John Moore, "he has every chance of doing it again in the international sprint next month. He was third in the race last year, so there's no reason he can't do as well again."
Precious Kitten stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got to the front at the top of the stretch and then held on to win by a neck over J'ray. The favorite, Quite a Bride, led most of the way and held on for third, another 1 length back. Precious Kitten, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Catienus, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:45.65 with Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Bobby Frankel. Bejarano said he could tell with a furlong to run that J'ray was coming from behind really strong "but I had a lot of horse and I saved a little bit. When that horse came to her, she came again. She ran a good race." Owner Ken Ramsey said Precious Kitten will ship to Florida "and maybe on to bigger and better things."
True Metropolitan came into Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Woodbine Slots Cup Stakes riding a four-race winning streak in western Canada. He proved he was just as good in the east, drawing off to win by 4 lengths over Edenwold. Eccentric finished third in the 1 1/16-mile event, timed in 1:44.88 on the all-weather track. True Metropolitan, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Proud and True, was ridden to victory by Todd Kabel. "He beat the best horses and he did it with authority," said Kabel, lobbying for a Sovereign Award for his mount. "He's for real. I think the voters are really going to have a good look at this horse."
Sunday, Main Executive led most of the way to a 1 1/2-length victory over Gangster in the $125,000 (Canadian) Kennedy Road Stakes. Judiths Wild Rush finished third. Main Executive, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred gelding by Bold Executive, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.02 with Todd Kabel aboard.
Accountforthegold led all the way to a 1-length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Stuyvesant Handicap. With Mike Luzzi in the irons, the 4-year-old, New York-bred son of Successful Appeal cruised the first half in 47.65 seconds and controlled the entire running of the race. At the wire, the colt had done 9 furlongs in 1:48.96. Carminooch was second and Organizer third. "You could see in the paddock, his eyeballs were popping out," said winning trainer Gary Contessa. "He's always been a good horse and he's just matured at 4."
Forty Crowns was in front at every call in Saturday's $75,000 Northern Dancer Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds, extending his margin to 9 1/2 lengths at the finish. Rhythmn Master was second, 14 3/4 lengths ahead of Belongs to Me in third. The well-spaced parade then went back another 17 lengths to Lycurgus, with the odds-on favorite, Ah Day, last, 15 1/4 lengths farther back. Altogether, the five-horse field was strung out over 56 1/4 lengths at the finish. Forty Crowns, a gelded son of Not for Love, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:51.89 under Rosie Napravnik. "I didn't think I'd get away as easy," Napravnik said. Mario Pino, who rode Ah Day, said it "just wasn't his day. At least he came back good." So did the show payoffs, as bridge jumpers took a bath on the favorite's misfire.
Smart Growth raced last for much of Saturday's $54,000 Stymie Stakes, then circled all five rivals and drew off in the stretch, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over Confucius Say. Diamond David finished third. Smart Growth, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Gone West, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.30 with Ramon Dominguez aboard.
In Sunday's $54,000 Justakiss Stakes for fillies and mares, Lexi Star dominated the stretch run, running by the competition to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Katie's Love finished second and Dance Fee was third. Lexi Star, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred filly by Crypto
Star, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.61 with Ryan Fogelsonger in the irons.
Somethinaboutlaura came from just off the pace to score an easy victory over Royal Kleven in Saturday's $55,000 Autumn Leaves Handicap for fillies and mares. Taking command in the stretch, Somethinaboutlaura drew clear and won by 4 lengths. Russell Baze rode the 4-year-old, California-bred daughter of Dance Floor over 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.90.