Birdbirdistheword muscled into the 2007 Kentucky Derby picture by picking up his second stakes victory -- and $600,000 in purse money -- as the winner of Friday night's $1 million Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in Louisiana.
The Florida-bred colt, a son of Pure Prize, came out of the gate second-last of 10 2-year-olds. But by the stretch turn, jockey Robby Albarado had him in position to make a run and he responded, driving clear and holding off a late challenge from the favorite, the Bob Baffert-trained Pirates Deputy.
At the wire, the margin was 3/4 length, with Xchanger 3 lengths farther back in third. The 1 1/16 mile took 1:45.42 over a track rated fast.
Albarado said his colt "ran a big race" and trainer Ken McPeek said he will ship Birdbirdistheword to Florida for the winter. The colt earlier won the $100,000 Louisiana Juvenile at Louisiana Downs.
In Friday night's $300,000 Boyd Gaming's Delta Princess Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Miss Atlantic City posted another mild upset, racing from a stalking position to catch pace-setting favorite Appealing Zophie and win by 2 3/4 lengths. Stage Stop finished third.
Miss Atlantic City, trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by brother Kent Desormeaux, ran the 1 mile in 1:40.20. She is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic, out of the Carson City mare Fat City. The victory was her second in five career starts.
Also on Friday night's card at Delta:
-- Jonesboro led all the way to a 7 1/4-length victory over High Strike Zone in the $100,000 Sam's Town Stakes, covering the 1 mile in 1:39.34 under Donnie Meche. Jonesboro is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Sefapiano.
-- Bailey's Affair, sent off at 35-1 odds in the $100,000 Treasure Chest Stakes for fillies and mares, sat well off the pace before coming around rivals on the turn and charging to the lead. She won by 1 1/2 lengths over the odds-on favorite, No Sleep, with Space Cruise third. Bailey's Affair, a 6-year-old, Cal-bred daughter of Mister Baileys, got the 1 mile in 1:40.14 with Rico Flores aboard.
Elsewhere in weekend racing:
Calder Race Course
In Saturday's four Grand Slam I events, each worth $100,000:
Meditations dawdled early in the Three Ring Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. But once jockey Rene Douglas turned the Kentucky-bred, Out of Place filly loose, her six rivals were no match. Accelerating through the stretch under a hand ride, Meditations got home first, 10 3/4 lengths ahead of Post Invader, with Secretsoftheheart third. The 1 1/16 mile went in 1:47.63. It was the second straight win for Meditations and both came by more than 10 lengths. "She won't run again until next year at Gulfstream," said winning trainer Ralph Ziadie.
The favorite, Green Vegas, rallied to the lead early in the stretch run of the What a Pleasure Stakes for 2-year-olds and appeared the winner -- until Drums of Thunder came running in the final sixteenth to snatch up a 1 3/4-lengths upset win. Green Vegas held second with Wonderous Glory third. Drums of Thunder, a Florida-bred son of Concerto, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:48.08 for jockey Manoel Cruz despite an extremely rough trip. "What would he have done with a clean trip?" asked trainer Bill Kaplan. "He'll be a dangerous horse in the future." He said the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park -- an early Triple Crown prep "looks interesting."
Amorama was just up in the final strides to win the My Charmer Handicap for fillies and mares by 1 length over Bayou's Lassie. The early leader, Rutledge Ballado, held on for third while the favorite, Dream Lady, was never in the mix and finished seventh. Amorama, a 5-year-old, French-bred mare by Sri Pekan, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.51 under Manoel Cruz. "She might be retired now," said winning trainer Bobby Frankel by phone from California. "I don't know yet. If I can run her once more before the breeding season starts, we might do that."
Ballast stalked the early pace in the Tropical Turf Handicap, took the lead entering the stretch and drew clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Bob's Proud Moment was up late to take second and Drum Major ran third. Ballast, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred gelding by Desert Prince, got the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.54 with Rafael Bejarano in the irons. "We'll keep him going now," said winning trainer Graham Motion. "He didn't get started this year until May, so he's a relatively fresh horse."
Foxysox broke last of 12 in Sunday's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap for fillies and mares, came five-wide around the field on the second turn and into the stretch and was just up in time to win by a neck over Round Heels. Dona Amelia was third. Foxysox, a 3-year-old, British-bred filly by Foxhound, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.84 with Victor Espinoza aboard. "We got smashed a little bit at the start but it was a great trip," Espinoza said. Foxysox, a turf specialist, seemed to have no trouble with the new artificial surface.
On Saturday, Sailors Sunset led all the way to a 1 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes. Siren Lure was second and Declan's Moon third. Sailors Sunset, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Petionville, ran 6 furlongs in 1:07.79 for jockey Jon Court. "I was just hoping I could be close to the lead," Court said.
Tax Refund split horses at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes for fillies and mares, surged to the lead and won off by 3 1/4 lengths over Beautiful Bets. Bluesbdancing finished third. Tax Refund, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Artax, finished the 6 furlongs over the all-weather track in 1:08.73 with John McKee in the irons. "I had a lot of horse and I just waited for her to tell me to go," said McKee. Tax Refund picked up her seventh win from 21 career starts.
Adore the Gold, bumped at the start of Saturday's $60,000 Steward Mitchell Stakes for 2-year-olds, rallied quickly to the lead and was never challenged, winning off by 4 lengths over Cahill's Touch. Crafty Bear finished third. Adore the Gold, a Kentucky-bred colt by Formal Gold, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.59 with Joe Rocco up. Rocco said Adore the Gold is one to watch. "I couldn't believe he was a baby. He is very impressive," the jockey said.
Magnolia Jackson had things all her own way in Saturday's $65,000 Garland of Roses Handicap, leading from start to wire and winning by 2 lengths over long shot Pleasant Laughter. Stormy Kiss and Notimetoquit completed the order of finish. Magnolia Jackson, a 4-year-old, New York-bred daughter of Cape Canaveral, ran 6 furlongs on the fast inner track in 1:11.85.
Also Saturday, Successful Affair came from a pace-stalking position to win the $65,000 Coyote Lakes Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Angelic Aura. Win with Beck finished third and the favorite, Colita, finished sixth. Successful Affair, a 4-year-old, New York-bred son of Successful Appeal, ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:32.88 with Ramon Dominguez in the irons.
Sunday, My Kitty rallied to win a three-filly photo in the $65,000 East View Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies. The picture showed My Kitty, a daughter of Catienus, a head in front of Laurentide Ice, with Visual Candy just a nose farther back in third. My Kitty, with John Velazquez up, ran 1 1/16 mile on the fast inner track in1:46.03.
Palace Pier was quickly in front in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Ontario Lassie for 2-year-old fillies and held on at the end to beat odds-on favorite Catch the Thrill by 3/4 length. Love You Crazy was home third. Palace Pier, an Ontario-bred daughter of Out of Place, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:46.69 for jockey Todd Kabel. "The more I looked at the race," said Kabel, "I said, 'I'm going to jump her out of there, put her there and try to steal it.' That's exactly what we did today." Palace Pier now has won two straight after losing her career bow on the grass.
In Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Kingarvie Stakes for 2-year-olds, Dancer's Bajan rallied from well off the pace and was just up in time to score by a nose over D Bold Ruler. The even-money favorite, Legal Move, led most of the way and held on for third, another 1/2 length back. Dancer's Bajan, an Ontario-bred gelding by Trajectory, got the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather surface in 1:48.35 with Corey Fraser riding. The win was his third. "This horse has a lot of heart and desire," said winning trainer Robert Tiller.
In Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Sir Barton Stakes, Arch Hall came from last of six with a four-wide move in the lane and was just up to win by a neck over Exclusive Choice. Soul Rebel was just another neck further behind in third. Arch Hall, a 5-year-old, Ontario-bred son of Archers Bay, got the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:45.89 with Patrick Husbands in the irons.
Kid Grindstone stalked the early pace in Saturday's $75,000 Tenacious Handicap, moved by pace-setting Tepexpan to take the lead nearing the second turn and then just did hold on to win by a neck over the late-running Patriot Act. Tepexpan held third. Kid Grindstone, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Grindstone, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.20 with Jesse Campbell aboard.
News and Notes:
Russell Baze steered Butterfly Belle to the rail at mid-stretch in Friday's fourth race at Bay Meadows, gave her the boot and rolled home first, becoming the winningest jockey in the history of Thoroughbred racing, with 9,531 victories. That left Laffit Pincay Jr. in second place. Baze seemed as much relieved as pleased. "There was elation that I had won the race and become the world's winningest rider," he said, "and relief that everyone who had been coming out here could finally go home." He especially thanked Pincay for being present for the milestone. "There's not a greater rider or better sportsman in horse racing," Baze said of Pincay.