Shakespeare authored a bit of a tragedy in his last Breeders' Cup appearance but, if Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile is any indication, he may write a happier ending in this year's World Championships.
The 6-year-old son of Theatrical suffered the only defeat of his seven-race career in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf. Diagnosed after that race with a tendon injury, he was out of action for nearly two years before winning his comeback effort -- an allowance event on Aug. 2 at Saratoga.
Off that effort, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee went to the post as the favorite in a field of 14 Sunday -- and justified the support. After saving ground into the stretch turn, jockey Garrett Gomez sent Shakespeare toward the leaders. Closing rapidly, he got to the front late in the stretch drive, besting Kip Deville by 1 length. Galantas was third.
Shakespeare ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.58.
"Throughout the whole trip," said Gomez, "I was very satisfied with what was going on underneath me. I was very impressed with him the first time I was able to sit on his back ... . Once he saw the daylight, he got us home. He ran a really good race. I thought the mile might be a little short for him but he proved me wrong."
That newfound versatility gives McLaughlin the option of sending Shakespeare out for a new ending in either of two Breeders' Cup races on Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park -- the $3 million John Deere Turf or the $2 million NetJets Mile, also on the grass.
In other weekend racing with potential implications for next month's Breeders' Cup races:
$2 million Emirates Airline Distaff
Rags to Riches not only lost a hard-fought stretch battle to Lear's Princess in Saturday's $250,000 Gazelle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park but also sustained a hairline fracture in her right front pastern that will end her season. Rags to Riches, winner of the Belmont Stakes back in June, actually had the lead at the top of the stretch. But she was unable to cope with the outside challenge from Lear's Princess, with 1/2 length the final margin. Tough Tiz's Sis was third, another 2 lengths in arrears. The 9 furlongs on a fast track took 1:47.86. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin put blinkers on Lear's Princess after the filly lost the Coaching Club American Oaks by 1/2 length to Octave and the Alabama to Lady Joanne by a neck. "It worked out. Eibar (Coa) is riding with a lot of confidence. I didn't think we would ever be outside of Rags to Riches but we were and it worked out great." Rags to Riches' trainer Todd Pletcher, said the injury was discovered Sunday morning. "The injury is not career-ending," he said, "and she is expected to make a full recovery … . She will not race again until 2008."
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Tale of Ekati got through along the inside to take the lead at mid-stretch in Saturday's $250,000 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park, then held on to win by 1 length over the odds-on favorite, Kodiak Kowboy. Mythical Pegasus, the early leader, held on for second, just another neck back. Tale of Ekati, a Kentucky-bred son of Tale of the Cat, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.33. Eibar Coa rode for trainer Barclay Tagg. "I was in trouble the whole race, being trapped inside," Coa said. "He was patient with me and didn't get stupid. As soon as he came through, I knew he had it." Tagg said Tale of Ekati will go straight to the Breeders' Cup. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Kodiak Kowboy will, too. "He ran well," Asmussen said of the beaten favorite.
-- Prussian, the odds-on favorite, stalked the early pace in Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Summer Stakes at Woodbine, took over when asked by jockey Kent Desormeaux and won in a drive by 1 1/4 lengths over Briarwood Circle. Your Round finished third. Prussian, a Kentucky-bred son of Danzig from the Alleged mare Crystal Downs, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.26 and trainer Bill Mott may consider him for the new $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
-- Turf War stalked the pace three-wide early in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Swynford Stakes at Woodbine, got to the lead with a sixteenth to run and won by 1 length over Storm Code. Soca Tempo finished third. Turf War, a Kentucky-bred colt by Dixie Union, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.02 with Patrick Husbands aboard for trainer Mark Casse.
-- Sierra Sunset ran away from a trio of rivals in the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Bay Meadows Juvenile by 8 lengths. The even-money favorite, Fort Funston, was best of the rest with Thundering Justice and Orientate Me completing the order of finish. Sierra Sunset, a California-bred colt by Bertrando, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.99 under Carlos "Hi Ho" Silva.
$2 million Emirates Airline Juvenile Fillies
-- Proud Spell, making her first start outside Delaware, came from well back to win Saturday's $250,000 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park by 4 1/4 lengths over Armonk. Dagger finished third. Proud Spell, a Kentucky-bred filly by Proud Citizen, finished the 7 furlongs in 1:24.2. Gabriel Saez rode for trainer Larry Jones. Proud Spell remains undefeated, heading into the Breeder's Cup. "With her running style," Jones said, "we're not expecting two turns to be a major problem. She's come home quick in every race and most of the time, under a hand ride. We haven't asked her to do a whole lot."
-- P.S.U. Grad took charge in the stretch run to win Saturday's $150,000 Barretts Debutante Stakes by 4 lengths over Ididntmeantoo. Salt Castle finished third. The race was restricted to fillies sold at Barretts sales. P.S.U. Grad, a Kentucky-bred filly by Harlan's Holiday, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.52. Michael Baze rode for trainer Craig Dollase.
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
-- Interpatation was last of nine in the early stages of Saturday's $200,000 Larry R. Rivello President's Cup Stakes at Philadelphia Park, worked his way first into and then out of traffic on the turn for home and came on to win by 1 length over Giant Wrecker. Ballonenostrikes finished third. Interpatation, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Langfuhr, negotiated the "about" 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:51.45. Jose Espinoza rode for trainer Robert Barbara.
-- Dance Away Capote rallied from near the back of the 10-horse field to win Saturday's $100,000 Noble Damsel Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park by 4 1/2 lengths over Fantastic Shirl. Pommes Frites was third. Dance Away Capote, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Capote, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.82. Alan Garcia rode for trainer Barclay Tagg. "She has to have things go her own way. She got that today," Tagg said. "I thought she would have plenty left at the top of the stretch." He said he's not sure where Dance Away Capote will run next.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
Essential Edge got the edge right from the start in Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian) Canadian Stakes at Woodbine, roaring out to a 5-lengths advantage as the field ran down the backstretch. Turning for home, jockey Jono Jones put the 4-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of Storm Cat into overdrive and she just held on to win by a neck over Sealy Hill. The favorite, Meribel, rallied from last to finish a non-threatening third. Essential Edge ran the "about" 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:45.62.
$2 million TVG Sprint
Indian Chant drew off to a big lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $175,000 Karl Boyes Memorial Northwestern Pennsylvania Stakes at Presque Isle Downs, then held on to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Santana Strings. Connections finished third. Indian Chant, a 4-year-old, California-bred gelding by Suggest, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:02.51 under Corey Lanerie. Trainer Tom Amoss said he doesn't yet know where Indian Chant will start next.
$1 million Filly & Mare Sprint (new race)
-- Miss Macy Sue rallied to the lead turning for home in Saturday's $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes for fillies and mares and drew off to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Wild Gams finished second and Smart and Fancy was third. The favorite, Shaggy Mane, led early but faded to finish last. Miss Macy Sue, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Trippi, finished the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in a zippy 1:08.21 with Eusibio Razo Jr. up for trainer Kelly Von Hemel. Miss Macy Sue was unbeatable this spring and summer at Oaklawn Park and Prairie Meadows, then finished fourth in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga last month. She now is 9-for17 in her career.
-- Miss Tizzy set the pace in Sunday's $75,000 Dream Supreme Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, was kept to her task by jockey Jose Lezcano, and came away with a 1 3/4-lengths upset win. Quota was second, Control System third and the favorite, Featherbed, last of six. Miss Tizzy, a Florida-bred daughter of Cee's Tizzy, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.83.
$1 million Dirt Mile (new race)
Independent stalked the pace early in Saturday's $175,000 Presque Isle Mile, dueled for the lead around the turn and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over a late-running Bestowed. Real Dandy also came along late to take third. The favorite, Super Frolic, was pulled up after a half mile and vanned off. Independent, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Cozzene, finished the 1 mile in 1:38.14 on a fast track with Cornelio Velasquez in the irons.
In other weekend racing:
Several weekend races helped sort out -- after a fashion -- the potential lineup for the Oct. 7 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris.
In perhaps the most dramatic development, Manduro appeared to have the advantage in the final round of preps after winning Sunday's Prix Foy over the Longchamp ground. But later, trainer Andre Fabre announced his talented runner had come down lame in the right hind, apparently the result of a small fracture.
Manduro's injury advanced the cause of Soldier of Fortune, winner of the Prix Niel -- recently the top stepping-stone to the Arc. Winner earlier of the Irish Derby, Soldier of Fortune likely will improve off his weekend effort, said trainer Johnny Murtaugh.
A third weekend trial -- the Prix Vermeille, restricted to distaffers -- went to Mrs. Lindsay, a Pennsylvania-bred filly. Mrs. Lindsay held off Godolphin Racing's best hope, West Wind, in the late going. The result was the reverse of the Prix de Diane in June, when West Wind led all the way and beat Mrs. Lindsay by 1 1/2 lengths.
In other weekend races:
-- Lucarno, a son of Dynaformer, won Sunday's Ladbrokes St. Leger at Doncaster in England, finishing 1 length ahead of Mahler. The favorite, Honolulu, was third. Lucarno has five wins from eight starts and trainer John Gosden said he now will save him for next year's English classic races.
-- Yeats failed in his two previous tries in the Irish St. Leger but turned things around in Saturday's third attempt. Chasing his pace-setting stablemate, Scorpion, Yeats was just able to get up at the end and win by 1/2 length for jockey Kieren Fallon and trainer Aidan O'Brien. Mores Wells was a distant third. Scorpion and Yeats both are possible contenders for the Emirates Melbourne Cup in November.
-- New Approach got the best of some of Europe's top 2-year-olds in Sunday's Bank of Scotland National Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland. Remaining undefeated in four starts, New Approach bested Godolphin Racing's Rio de La Plata by 1 3/4 lengths. Myboycharlie, previously undefeated and the winner of the Darley Prix Morny, finished third.
Siwa took the early lead in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) La Prevoyante Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies and held sway throughout, winning by 1/2 length over Galipette. The favorite, You Will Love Me, was only a neck farther back in third. Siwa, a daughter of Alydeed, ran the 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:36.17 under Jono Jones. Kevin Attard trains the filly.
Love Handles rallied from last of five to win Saturday's $100,000 Ada L. Rice Illinois Owners Stakes for fillies and mares by 1/2 length over Jennie R. Honour Colony finished third. Love Handles, a 4-year-old, Illinois-bred filly by Sahm, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.32. Diego Sanchez rode for trainer Brian Williamson.
Sunday, Purim took command in the stretch to win the $45,000 John Henry Stakes by 1 length over Prospective Kiss, with Rey Del Sol third. Purim, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Dynaformer, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.32 under Jamie Theriot as the suburban Chicago oval closed out its first season on Polytrack. Purim is trained by Tom Proctor.
Dave came from far back to win Sunday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds by a nose over Al Basha. Spurred was another head back in third and just a head in front of Red Zipper. Dave, a 6-year-old Commadore's Gold gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:48.9 under Alan Garcia.
Calder Race Course
Rgirldoesn'tbluff didn't need to in Saturday's $100,000 U Can Do It Handicap for fillies and mares. Charging right to the lead under Jose Rivera, the 4-year-old, Virginia-bred Pine Bluff filly coasted home first, 3 1/2 lengths to the good of the favorite, Stolen Prayer. Annabill finished third. Rgirldoesn'tbluff finished the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.25. Kirk Ziadie trains the winner.
West Coast Swing swung three-wide into the turn in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks, got past pace-setter Tessa Blue at mid-stretch and won by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Celeritas wasn't fast enough to do better than third. West Coast Swing, a Kentucky-bred Gone West filly, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a good track in 1:41.19 under James Graham. "We're going to Keeneland," said winning trainer Shannon Miller, a former winning jockey at the Iowa oval. "Hopefully she likes the poly and we'll look for something for her over there."
James the Greater led all the way in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Red Hot N Gold. The odds-on favorite, Western Prize, settled for third with a belated bid. James the Greater, a Nebraska-bred gelding by Temujin, finished the 1 1/16 mile on a good track in 1:42.48. Ken Shino had the winning ride. "We're going to go to Chicago once and see what we can come up with there," winning trainer Doug Anderson said. "We might try him on the grass once."
Adorable Jane was adorable enough to be the favorite and good enough to be the winner in Saturday's $75,000 Delaware Certified Distaff Stakes, leading most of the way to a 7 1/4-lengths win. Carolina Fuego was second all the way and Kittery Point finished third. Adorable Jane, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Tale of the Cat, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.15 with Kendrick Carmouche aboard.
Secretintelligence battled for the early lead in Saturday's $75,000 Delaware Certified Stakes, got control at the top of the stretch and went on to win by 2 lengths over Cayman Condo. Just Don finished third. Secretintelligence, the odds-on favorite, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.31 under Carlos Marquez Jr. The 4-year-old colt is a Pennsylvania-bred son of Smart Guy.
Off Duty set a pressured pace in Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stakes, edged clear at mid-stretch and went on to win by 1 length over Reigning Court. Cowboy Hardware rallied six-wide on the turn to finish third with a late run. Off Duty, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Yes It's True, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.82 on the all-weather track. Larry Melancon was on board Off Duty.
Prop Me Up rallied smartly down the lane to win Saturday's $60,000 Long Look Stakes for fillies and mares by 5 lengths. Tap Gold was second and the favorite, Peak Maria's Way, finished third. Lila Paige completed the order of finish. Prop Me Up, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Reparations, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.49 with Stewart Elliott up.
Five Steps dueled down the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Formal Gold Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Indian War Dance, with Sleek John third. Five Steps, a 6-year-old, Maryland-bred son of Yarrow Brae, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.62 under Charles Lopez.
Absolutely True closed with a late rush to win Saturday's $50,000 Sandia Sprint Handicap by 1 length over Tough Pilgrim. Artesian was a nose farther back in third and just a nose in front of Excess Summer, who was a nose in front of Pressthepace. Absolutely True, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Is It True, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 56.53 seconds. Ken Tohill rode.
Crypts Seeker came around the leaders on the turn in Sunday's $50,000 Albuquerque Derby and drove home first, 2 lengths to the good of Preferred Yield. Devil Red finished third. Crypts Seeker, an Idaho-bred gelding by Suave Prospect, negotiated the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.15 under Miguel Perez.