Monday's $600,000 Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park provided a potential early preview of the new $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile to be run for the first time this fall at Monmouth Park.
However, the winner remains in a bit of a comeback mode after a career marred by setbacks, so the advance look might remain a bit cloudy.
In the "Met Mile," Corinthian displayed none of the emotional shenanigans that have helped do him in some past race. Instead, the 4-year-old Pulpit colt stayed close to the pace, came around the leaders to the lead as the field turned for home and held well to win by 3/4 length over longshot rival Political Force. Lawyer Ron, the favorite, had a chance at mid-stretch but hung and finished third.
Corinthian, with Kent Desormeaux up for trainer James Jerkens, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.77.
"From what I know of this horse, he's come full circle," said Desormeaux. "You couldn't have planted me at the half-mile pole and asked for better position. More than the position was the way he was carrying me. ... He was really determined."
"He was just strong all the way," Jerkens added. "He was terrific all week. I thought if he didn't run good today, he just wasn't good enough."
In other weekend racing:
A filly won the Japanese Derby (Tokyo Yushun) for only the third time as Vodka took Sunday's edition, finishing 3 lengths to the good of longshot Asakusa Kings. The only other female winners of the race were Hisatomo in 1937 and Kurifuji in 1943. Winning trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said he was confident of victory and now is considering sending his filly, a daughter of Tanino Gimlet, to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris this fall.
The Tin Man, 9 years old and idle for eight months, rallied in the stretch to win Monday's $300,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile by 3/4 length over Get Funky. Willow O Wisp finished third and the favorite, Kip Deville, struggled throughout, finishing sixth. The Tin Man, a gelded son of Affirmed, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.34 with Victor Espinoza up for trainer Richard Mandella. Mandella decided not to run his aging charge in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile after he finished second in the Dubai Duty Free, than won all four of his U.S. starts. "He's better now than he's ever been," Mandella said Monday. "Loves what he's doing. He's confident and luckily he's healthy and sound. ... Anything this horse does is extra satisfactory right now." The Tin Man now has 13 wins from 28 starts and has earned more than $3.3 million.
In Monday's $300,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes, Citronnade led from the early going and held on to win by 3/4 length over Price Tag. Vacare finished third, well back of the first two. Three Degrees finished fourth but broke down just before the wire and later was euthanized. Citronnade, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Lemon Drop Kid, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:45.73. David Flores rode for trainer Bobby Frankel. "She just kept giving me another gear every time," Flores said. "In the middle of the turn, she really picked it up."
Awesome Gambler came from near the back of the field in Saturday's $97,500 Alydar Stakes for 3-year-olds, swung four-wide around rivals on the turn and drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Cobalt Blue, who led early in the stretch run. Freesgood finished third. Awesome Gambler, a Kentucky-bred colt by Coronado's Quest, got the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:50.25 with Joseph Talamo aboard for trainer Caesar Dominguez. Dominguez said he stopped on the colt last year because of shin problems but now will aim him for the Haskell at Monmouth. "This horse is unreal," he said, "by far the best 3-year-old I've ever had. Like his dad, he's got a mind of his own. But he can run." Cobalt Blue was coming back from a poor effort in the Illinois Derby, which cost him a chance to start in the Kentucky Derby, and tired in the final furlong.
Lone Star Park
Bob and John surged to the lead on the turn for home in Monday's $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, then just held on in a long stretch battle to beat Sweetnorthernsaint by a neck at the wire. Jonesboro, the early leader, held on for third and Real Dandy, the only other starter, trailed throughout. Bob and John, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Seeking the Gold, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.02 on a sloppy track. Garrett Gomez rode for trainer Bob Baffert, Lone Star's most frequently successful visitor. "Both horses were fighting really hard through the stretch," Gomez said, "and this little horse does everything so well. He's got a big heart and he tries hard." Baffert indicated he now will point Bob and John to the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Embossed rallied from well back in Monday's $200,000 Dallas Turf Handicap to win by 3/4 length over Crested, with pace-setting Waupaca third. Embossed, an Irish-bred 5-year-old by Mark of Esteem, ran 9 furlongs on "soft" turf in 1:52.68. Garrett Gomez rode for trainer Niall O'Callaghan. Gomez said he had to work hard on Embossed to stay in touch with the leaders. "But when it came time for the real running, he hit another gear. He's a horse that finishes well."
Lady of Venice, with Gomez riding his third stakes winner of the day for as many trainers, came from last of eight to capture Monday's $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths over Brownie Points. Rich Fantasy finished third. Lady of Venice, a 4-year-old, French-bred filly by Loup Solitaire, got the 1 mile on the "soft" turf course in 1:38.32. The filly is trained by Patrick Biancone. "I was trying to weave my way through traffic," Gomez said. "But it didn't pan out so I just wheeled her out at the quarter pole because I didn't want her to have too much to do over this soft ground."
Atlanta Highway left seven rivals in the slop in Monday's $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. After hitting the gate at the start, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Chief Seattle sat behind the pace until the turn, came six wide and went on to win by 6 1/2 lengths over Gallant Dreamer. She's Outrageous finished third. Atlanta Highway ran 7 furlongs on the sloppy main track in 1:24.55 with Richard Eramia up.
Cintarosa rallied four-wide into the stretch in Monday's $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes for fillies and mares and drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Moroccan Rose. Yo Fanci finished third. Cintarosa, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Grand Slam, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:12 for Luis Quinonez.
Going Ballistic came from well back to win Monday's $100,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1/2 length over Later Gater. Beta Capo finished third. Going Ballistic, a Florida-bred colt by Lite the Fuse, got the 1 1/16 mile on soft turf in 1:45.28 with M. Berry up.
Drilling for Oil moved to the leaders early in Saturday's $150,000 Louisville Handicap, dueled several rivals into submission and got clear in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Always First started nearly last but put in a nice run to finish a gaining second. Ramazutti finished third and the favorite, Hotstuffanthensome, raced evenly to finish fifth. Drilling for Oil, a Kentucky-bred son of Giant's Causeway, finished the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:28.35. Kent Desormeaux rode the winner for trainer Kenny McPeek. McPeek said Desormeaux discussed making an early move as the horse was being saddled. "He thought the horse needed a 'momentum move' because he's such a galloper," McPeek said. "So I said. 'If you get the shot, do it.'" "He just doesn't focus," Desormeaux said. "I had to help him focus."
In Monday's $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes for fillies and mares, Miss Macy Sue rallied from off the pace, got the lead with a furlong to go and then ran on to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Cuaba. Morethanaprincess finished third. Miss Macy Sue, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Trippi, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.68. Eusebio Razo Jr. rode for trainer Kelly Von Hemel.
Honey Ryder, back from an unsuccessful trip to Dubai, returned to success with an off-the-pace victory in Saturday's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap. After tracking the pace, the 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Lasting Approval circled the field and went on to win by 1 length over stablemate Safari Queen. Hostess finished third. Honey Ryder, named for the heroine of the first James Bond movie, ran the 1 3/8 mile on firm turf in 2:13 with Garrett Gomez up for trainer Todd Pletcher. "The main concern," said Gomez, "was if she would come back from Dubai," where she finished 11th in the Sheema Classic. "A lot of times, the Dubai trip takes a lot out of them -- especially a mare. She bounced back in good shape." Pletcher disagreed. "I've always thought the shipping back from Dubai thing has always been overrated," he said.
Ecclesiastic, at odds of 24-1, used a late, three-wide move to win Sunday's $100,000 Jaipur Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Salute the Count. The odds-on favorite, Weigelia, faded from the lead to finish third. Ecclesiastic, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit, ran the 6 furlongs on the inner turf course in 1:07.64 with Javier Castellano in the irons. The horse also won the race in 2005, when it was a furlong longer. "My horse just gave me a great kick in the end," said Castellano.
Golden Gate Fields
Fantastic Spain, with Chad Schvaneveldt up for trainer Neil Drysdale, had some traffic problems in the stretch run of Monday's $200,000 Golden Gate Fields Breeders' Cup Stakes but still managed to get up to win by a neck over the odds-on favorite, Notable Guest. Macduff finished third. Fantastic Spain, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred horse by Fantastic Fellow, ran the 1 3/8 mile on firm turf in 2:17.64. Neil Drysdale trains the winner.
Into Reality ran her way into the winner's circle with a nice stretch move in Saturday's $50,000 Dipsea Trail Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. After stalking the pace, jockey Juan Ochoa sent Into Reality to challenge for the lead on the turn and she drew clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Hot Spell. Dixie Crisp led and then held on for third. Into Reality, a Florida-bred daughter of Untuttable, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.67.
Spotsgone shipped in from Kentucky to win Saturday's $100,000 Hanshin Cup with a front-running effort. With Earlie Fires up, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Bright Launch dueled with Purim through the early going, then held well and drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Lewis Michael, the favorite, was always close and held on for second, 2 lengths to the good of Gouldings Green. Spotsgone ran the 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:33.72. "We thought he'd run well, but he's never been on the Polytrack, so we were a little skeptical about that," said winning trainer William "Jinks" Fires. "He doesn't like horses on the outside of him, and Earlie didn't let that happen." Rene Douglas, who rode Lewis Michael, said: "I don't know what to say. I thought I rode a perfect race but, of course, I'm not happy with the result."
Monday, Tom Archdeacon rallied between horses from well back to take a clear lead in the $45,000 Awad Stakes for 3-year-olds, then held on to win by 3/4 length over Pirate Saint. Lovango finished third with the odds-on favorite, Bullara, finishing eighth after a wide trip. Tom Archdeacon, an Ohio-bred colt by Aljabr, ran 1 mile on a yielding turf course in 1:37.52 under Larry Sterling Jr. The race is named for one of the most underrated turf runners in recent U.S. racing history.
You Will Love Me swung out for running room at mid-stretch in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Lady Angela Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies and went on to a 1 1/4-length, upset victory. Bellicose Belle was second and Boldly Seductive finished third. The favorite, Siwa, led briefly, then faded to finish fourth. You Will Love Me, a daughter of One Way Love, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:24.50. Eurico Da Silva rode for trainer Robert Barnett. "She was behind other horses, and when I asked her, she was there for me," Da Silva said.
Sunday, Eccentric rallied four-wide at the top of the stretch and came on strongly to win the $150,000 (Canadian) Connaught Cup Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths over As Expected. Shoal Water finished third and the favorite, French Beret, surrendered early and faded to finish sixth. Eccentric is a 6-year-old, British-bred gelding by Most Welcome. David Clark rode him 1 1/16 mile on yielding turf in 1:45.05.
Calder Race Course
Dry Martini, the odds-on favorite, rallied to the lead with a furlong to run in Monday's $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap and held off a late run by Rehoboth to win by 1 length. Too Many was third. Dry Martini, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Slew Gin Fizz, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:48.41. Elvis Trujillo rode for trainer Harry Benson.
Cat Can Do drew into Saturday's $50,000 Sara's Success Stakes for fillies and mares when the race came off the turf and six rivals were scratched. The 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Adcat made the best of the chance, rallying from well back to draw clear and win by 3 1/2 lengths over the pace-setter, Silversider. A Sea Trippi finished third. Cat Can Do ran the 1 mile on a main track rated "good" in 1:41.06 with Manoel Cruz up.
Smart and Fancy took charge in the stretch run of Monday's $100,000 Turf Amazon Handicap, drawing off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Cajun Mistress. Truly Blushed finished third. Smart and Fancy, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred filly by Not for Love, ran the 5 furlongs in firm turf in 57 seconds with Harry Vega up for trainer Anthony Dutrow.
Bold Passage moved off the rail to find running room in Monday's $75,000 Decoration Day Handicap for fillies and mares, caught pace-setting Afleet Angel at mid-stretch and ran clear to win by 1 length. Afleet Angel held second, clear of Water Gap by 1 1/4 lengths. Bold Passage is a 5-year-old, Ohio-bred mare by Stormy Atlantic. She finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.29 with Huber Villa-Gomez riding.
In Monday's co-featured $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap, Puppeteer overcame a wide trip to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Muqbil, with Otis Ridge third and the favorite, Cherokee Prince, fading from the pace to finish fifth. Puppeteer, a 7-year-old, British-bred son of Singspiel, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.11 with Jason Lumpkins aboard.
Host came from last in a field of seven to win Saturday's $60,000 Elkwood Stakes by 3/4 length over Bestowed. Ballonenostrikes finished third. Host, a 7-year-old, Chilean-bred horse, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.99. Christopher DeCarlo rode for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Hey Club upset odds-on favorite Who's the Cowboy in Saturday's $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds. The pair dueled through most of the 6 furlongs before Hey Club, a 7-year-old son of Carson City, stuck a neck in front under the wire. With Joanne McDaid in the irons, Hey Club ran the 6 furlongs in 1:08.78.
Jersey Gia stalked the pace in Sunday's $60,000 Open Mind Handicap for Jersey-bred fillies and mares, then surged ahead in the final yards to win by a neck over the favorite and pace-setter, Pure Disco. Midnight Mile finished third as the 6 furlongs went in 1:09.10. Jersey Gia is a 6-year-old Carr de Naskra mare.
In Sunday's feature, the $60,000 Politely Stakes, Redaspen rallied from last of nine to win by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot A Different Tune, with Somethinaboutbetty third. Redaspen, a 5-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred mare by Bianconi, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.24 with Victor Molina up.
Monday, Indy Wind, sent off at 11-1 despite the 500 reasons he was a good hunch bet, rallied through the stretch to win the $55,000 Frisk Me Now Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Gotcha Gold. Accountforthegold finished third Indy Wind, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on the fast track in 1:39.54.
And in Monday's $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds, Top Cross surged to the front three-wide on the final turn and won off by 3 1/4 lengths over Chaluiwitcane. Encaustic was third. Top Cross, a Kentucky-bred colt by Gone West, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.15 with Christopher DeCarlo up again for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Wood Be Willing got through along the rail with a furlong to go in Saturday's $55,000 Eight Thirty Stakes and went on to win by 2 lengths over the early leader, Tune of the Spirit. The odds-on favorite, Salinja, was always in the mix but could do no better than third, another 1/2 length back. Wood Be Willing, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.40 with Jose Caraballo in the irons.
Monday, Miss Tizzynow started last of seven in the $55,000 St. Georges Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, came around rivals on the turn and was just up in the final yards to win by a nose over New Edition. Eurydice was third. Miss Tizzynow, a Florida-bred filly by Tiznow, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.31 under Jeremy Rose.
Irish Party, the heavy, odds-on favorite, took command as expected in the stretch drive of Saturday's $55,000 Bob Bryant Stakes for Iowa-bred 3-year-old fillies and won off by a convincing 6 lengths. Des Moines was second and Tejano's Oasis finished third. Irish Party, a Kelly Von Hemel-trained daughter of Twining, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.97 with Richard Monterrey up.
Monday, Crimson King Cat got to the lead in the stretch run of the $55,000 Gray's Lake Stakes for 3-year-old, Iowa-bred colts and geldings and held on to win by a head over Red Hot N Gold. Tomcat Row finished third. Crimson King Cat, a son of Catienus, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.85 for Perry Compton.
Heezafrequentflyer was bounded around at the break, then survived a three-way battle for the lead before pulling away to win Saturday's $50,000 Jiva Coolit Stakes for 3-year-olds by 2 lengths. No Lac O Zip held second, a neck better than Georgenator. Heezafrequentflyer, a Maryland-bred gelding by Aaron's Concorde, ran the 4 1/2-furlong dash in 52.77 seconds under David Cora.
Sadly, Lil Red threw in another clunker on Thursday, attending the pace in a salty starter allowance before fading in the stretch to finish sixth of eight. The valiant warrior is likely to surface next at Thistledown and still shows plenty of upside potential.
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