Indian Vale went into Sunday's $1 million Delaware Handicap as the odds-on favorite, thanks to a string of successes in big races over the past year. But when the dust settled, it was her stablemate, unheralded Unbridled Belle, who visited the winner's circle with a boost into the top circle of filly and mare racing.
Unbridled Belle, with Ramon Dominguez up, raced behind the leaders and in traffic as the field moved down the backstretch. Dominguez moved the 4-year-old Broken Vow filly out for racing room, surged to the lead and kept on surging until she had nailed down a 7 3/4-lengths victory. Lila Paige came from well back to take second and Prominade Girl was third. The 1 1/4 miles on a fast track took 2:01.16
Indian Vale, meanwhile, sat just behind the pace, launched a bid on the turn for home but then hung and settled for a fifth-place finish. Todd Pletcher trains both Indian Vale and Unbridled Belle.
"Going into the race, I really had a world of confidence in her," Dominguez said of Unbridled Belle. "I think this filly was made for this distance ... She has always run very well over this track."
Unbridled Bell now is 3-for-4 at Delaware, with a second in her other start at the oval. She finished six in the Coaching Club American Oaks earlier this year, followed by well-beaten fourth-place showings in the Alabama and the Mother Goose. Overall, she now has four wins from 11 starts.
John Velazquez, who rode the favorite, said, "That is horse racing. She just did not go anywhere."
The race could be a step toward the $2 million Emirates Airlines Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park this fall.
In another race that could impact the year-end championship, Moon Catcher battled for the lead until the top of the stretch in Saturday's $500,000 Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park, opened up a good advantage and held on to win by a head over Winning Point. The favorite, Cotton Blossom, finished third, 6 3/4 lengths farther back with a listless effort.
"When I asked her, she kicked," Marquez said. "She was just waiting for horses because that's what she does in the morning. She just likes to loaf a little bit. But she showed her class today."
John Velazquez, who rode Cotton Blossom, said his mount "just did not have it today. She ran okay but she was not herself."
In other races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships:
There was a slew of races during the weekend featuring 3-year-olds either regrouping after a tough Triple Crown campaign or edging their way belatedly into the top ranks. Any of the races could have a bearing on the $5 million Classic, Powered by Dodge. Among them:
-- Xchanger stalked the pace in Sunday's $300,000 Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park, was sent to the lead after 6 furlongs by jockey Edgar Prado and went on to win by 1 length over the odds-on favorite King of the Roxy. Phone Home was third. Xchanger, a Florida-bred son of Exchange Rate, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.40. Mark Shuman trains the colt. Xchanger now has four wins from 10 starts.
-- Windward Islands rallied three-wide late on the turn for home in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Toronto Cup for 3-year-olds at Woodbine, seized the lead with a furlong to run and drew off to a 1 1/4-lengths victory. Angel of the House finished second and Skip Code was third. The favorite, Approval Rating, checked in sixth. Windward Islands, a Kentucky-bred Cozzene gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.58 under Todd Kabel.
-- First Defence ran his way into the 3-year-old picture with a front-running, 2 1/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $150,000 Long Branch Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park. With Javier Castellano up for trainer Bobby Frankel, the Kentucky-bred Unbridled's Song colt set an honest pace and was never seriously challenged. Get Serious was second under the wire with Saratoga Lullaby finishing third. First Defence got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.30. Castellanlo said he hadn't planned to take the lead but, "as soon as the gates opened -- boom! -- I was in front. After that, I was just letting him go along and make sure he was comfortable." The winner of the Long Branch traditionally is invited to the Haskell, run this year on Aug. 5.
-- Tiago, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and a brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, got through a tight opening on the rail late in Saturday's $350,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park and charged down the lane to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Albertus Magnus. Souvenir Slew was third. Tiago, a son of Pleasant Tap, finished the 9-furlong event for 3-year-olds in 1:48.76 on the all-weather track. Trainer John Sheriffs said he knew jockey Mike Smith "had a choice of whether to go inside or outside but he got through on the rail to get the win." He said the Travers at Saratoga may now be on the agenda for Tiago, who finished third in the Belmont Stakes after a seventh-place adventure in the Run for the Roses. The Swaps was only his third official win and the second time he has finished first in a race, being advanced through disqualification in breaking his maiden in January.
-- Imawildandcrazyguy, fourth in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Belmont Stakes, returned to the races with a victory in an allowance event Saturday at Calder Race Course. "This race really was a prep for him," said trainer Bill Kaplan. "He's been invited to the Haskell and there's a strong possibility that's where we'll go."
$3 million John Deere Turf
-- Runaway Dancer ran away from five rivals in the stretch run of Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park, winning off by 2 1/4 lengths over Fitz Flag. Spring House finished third and the favorite, Stormin Away, faded to finish fifth of six. Runaway Dancer, an 8-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Runaway Groom, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.68. Alex Solis rode for trainer Dan Hendricks.
-- Sunriver got the jump on seven rivals in Sunday's $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park and never looked back. At the wire, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Saint Ballado colt was first, 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Trippi's Storm, with Silver Whistle third. Sunriver, under Garrett Gomez, ran the 1 3/8 miles on the firm inner turf course in 2:12.68. The colt is trained by Todd Pletcher.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
Rosinka held on gamely in the final yards to win Saturday's $300,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap by a neck over even-money favorite Royal Highness. Humoristic finished third. Roskina, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred filly by Soviet Star, ran the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:16.56. Jeremy Rose rode for trainer H. Graham Motion.
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
Art Master got running room with a wide move on the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Poker Handicap at Belmont Park and, once on the lead, drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Woodlander finished second with the favorite, Host, finishing third. Art Master, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Royal Academy, finished in 1:33.21 under Garrett Gomez. The horse is trained by Bobby Frankel. "Garrett said he definitely could go longer," said Scott Hansen, assistant to Frankel. "The time was fast for him. I imagine they want to keep him at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth."
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Preachin Man led all the way to a 3/4 length win over Mr Bubba in Saturday's $50,000 Minstrel Stakes at Louisiana Downs. With Donnie Meche in the irons for trainer Ronny Wermer, the Florida-bred Songandaprayer colt ran 5 furlongs on a sloppy and sealed track in 59.37 seconds.
$2 million Gray Goose Juvenile Fillies
-- Shedoesrock rallied four-wide down the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Princess Stakes at Louisiana Downs by 3/4 lengths over American Prize. Top Story finished third. Shedoesrock, a Texas-bred Storm Boot filly, got the 5 furlongs under Jeremy Collier in 59.19.
-- Alvena pressed the pace in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Shady Well Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Woodbine near Toronto, got clear in the stretch and ran away to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Executrix. Mrs. Began began poorly and advance to finish third. Alvena, an Ontario-bred daughter of Seeking the Gold, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.09 under Patrick Husbands.
In other weekend racing:
Alezzandro held on to the lead this time, winning Sunday's $500,000 (Canadian) Prince of Wales Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Jiggs Coz. Daaher was third and Mike Fox finished fourth. In last month's Queen's Plate, Mike Fox was along in the final strides to catch Alezzandro for the victory. Sunday, there was not doubt. Jockey Todd Kabel kept Alezzandro, a son of High Yield, well in front of five rivals and never faced a serious challenge. He finished the 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:55.04.
Honour Colony led from the early going and went on to win Saturday's $100,000 Lady Canterbury Breeders' Cup Stakes by 6 lengths over fellow longshot On Safari. Best Mom completed a $3,681.90 (for $1) trifecta as the favorite, Rich Fantasy, finished fourth. Honour Colony, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Honour and Glory, ran the "about" 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.85 under Jesse Garcia. "I was surprised," said winning rider Jesse Garcia. "I think the other riders thought she'd just come back."
Silent Pleasure stalked the pace in Saturday's $125,000 Tiznow Breeders' Cup Stakes, surged to the lead on the turn and finished well to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Super Frolic. Cozy Time was third. Silent Pleasure, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Real Quiet, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:45.97 for jockey Tracy Hebert.
Ruby's Grand Slam battled for the lead early in Saturday's $125,000 Hallowed Dreams Stakes for fillies and mares, shook free on the turn to take a daylight lead and held on to win by 1 length over Star of Idabel. Cintarosa was third. Ruby's Grand Slam, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Grand Slam, got the 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:12.56 under Donald Simington.
Smart and Fancy rallied from a pace-pressing position to win Sunday's $100,000 Light Hearted Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over Truly Blushed. Spanish Lullaby finished third. Smart and Fancy, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred filly by Not for Love, ran the 5-furlong turf dash in 56.08 seconds under Ramon Dominguez.
Silver Tree came from off the pace to win Sunday's $200,000 Caesar Rodney Stakes by 1 length over Ballast. Silent Roar was third. Silver Tree, a 7-year-old, Florida-bred son of Hennessey, ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.62.
Barcola was out quickly in Saturday's $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial Handicap, turned back a challenge from Better Than Bonds a furlong from home and went on to win by 1 length over that rival. Awfully Smart was third and Like Now completed the short order of finish. Barcola, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Old Trieste, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.88.
Pavarotti set all the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Stakes on Saturday, was headed in the stretch and then fought back to win by a neck over Time Squared. Dominican, previously undefeated on the all-weather surface, settled for third. With Rene Douglas riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, Pavarotti ran the 9 furlongs on the Polytrack in 1:49.75. "This horse is a soldier," Douglas said. "That was a battle, a good race."
Berry Bound beat Chief's Lake to the wire by a nose in Saturday's $150,000 New York Derby but was disqualified for bumping with that rival in the stretch, resulting in a reversal of the order of finish. Stunt Man was third. Chief's Lake, a Yonaguska gelding, is trained by Michael Gorham and was ridden by Joe Rocco. The 1 1/16 miles went in 1:44.54 on a track rated fast.
Barbette beat odds-on favorite Honey Rose by a nose in Saturday's $50,000 HBPA Handicap for fillies and mares, then was set down to second for interference near the sixteenth pole. Tiz Nik finished third. Honey Rose, a 6-year-old, Argentine-bred mare, was ridden by Orlando Mojica. The 1 mile on firm turf took 1:36.39.