Upsets were the order of the day in the weekend's two biggest races for older horses.
With Heatseeker and Lava Man taking a pass, Saturday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup lacked some of its potential star power. That didn't detract from the upset victory posted by Mast Track.
Mast Track, sporting blinkers for the first time, went right to the lead in the 1 1/4-mile event, typically a defining race for West Coast distance horses and an early prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic.
With Tyler Blaze nursing his speed, the 4-year-old Mizzen Mast colt maintained a clear advantage and increased the margin in the final furlong, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Go Between. Student Council finished third. The final time was a respectable 2:01.37.
Mast Track came into the race off a fifth-place finish in the Shoemaker Mile. He won for the fifth time in 10 starts and the first time in a graded stakes.
"Everything worked out just right," said winning rider Tyler Baze. "We knew there was no speed in the race. They put blinkers on hi because they wanted him to make the lead. I just let him get comfortable by himself and find his own stride."
Humberto Asciano, assistant to winning trainer Bobby Frankel, said Frankel "has a lot of confidence in this horse. After Heatseeker scratched, it was anybody'a race, I guess.
In Saturday's $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in New York, Frost Giant, at 40-1 odds, battled much of the way with Solar Flare before edging clear in the final sixteenth to win by 1/2 length. Rising Moon was third, 3 lengths farther back. A.P. Arrow, making his first start since running fourth in the Dubai World Cup two months ago, never got going and finished sixth of eight.
Frost Giant, owned and trained by the same team that handles Triple Crown flop Big Brown, picked up just his fourth win in 13 lifetime starts. His best previous finish in a graded stakes was a victory in the Group 1 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown in Ireland in October of 2006. The 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.58 with Rudy Rodriguez up.
"For the last two or three weeks, this horse settled down in the mornings," said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "This was mostly Rudy -- not just today but in the mornings. You could see it happening. The owners paid a lot of money for this horse and it worked out great."
Other races potentially impacting the Classic Division:
-- Wayzatta Bay posted an equally stunning upset in Saturday night's $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, stalking the pace and then taking charge in the stretch run to win by 3 1/2 lengths -- at odds of 38-1. Another longshot, Sumac, finished second with Temporary Saint third. The favorite, Zanjero, had no late rally and finished fourth. Wayzatta Bay, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Roar, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.47. Israel Ocampo had the mount for trainer Judi Hicklin.
-- Tiz Now Tiz upset Friday's $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, rallying five-wide into the stretch and drawing off to score by 2 1/4 lengths over Maya's Storm. The latter then was set down to fifth for interference in the stretch, advancing Repenting to second and Day of Victory to third. The favorite, Z Fortune, was caught in traffic under restraint and faded in the late going to finish seventh, beating only an eased horse. Tiz Now Tiz, a Kentucky-bred colt by Tiznow, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.69. Coming into the race off an allowance victory at Churchill Downs, Tiz Now Tiz picked up his third straight win. Miguel Mena rode the winner for trainer Eoin Harty.
Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park was an odd affair. First, only four faced the starter. Then, three of the four, including odds-on favorite and Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell, stumbled badly out of the gate, causing traffic problems despite the compact field. Then, when Proud Spell tried to make a move, she again had traffic issues. Finally, after finishing second behind Music Note, Proud Spell was disqualified to third for veering out sharply in the stretch. Music Note completed the 9 furlongs in 1:49.75 on a fast track under Javier Castellano. "I had a beautiful trip, even though she stumbled at the start," Castellano said. "I tried to position myself. I did not want to be on the lead … She galloped out good and I don't think she will have a problem going farther." Music Note is owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Surror. Proud Spell's owner, Larry Jones, was philosophical. "From the beginning, it didn't look like it was going to be our day," he said. "When we needed somewhere to go, we had nowhere to go. And when it was time to go, we weren't going."
Other races potentially impacting the Distaff Division:
-- Nicki Knew rallied from last of seven to win Sunday's $350,000 (Canadian) Bison City Stakes for 3-year-old, Ontario-bred fillies at Woodbine. The Daughter of GTethra, under James McAlenney, came five-wide into the stretch and drew clear late, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Authenticat. Victory Romance finished third. Nicki Knew, trained by Kevin Attard, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.82.
-- Storm Mesa, the even-money favorite, led all the way to a 1-length victory in Friday's $200,000 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows. Sky Mom made a late run to finish second, 1 length ahead of Alina. Storm Mesa, a Kentucky-bred filly by Sky Mesa, got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.89 with Eddie Martin Jr. up. Storm Mesa now has won four straight races at three different tracks for trainer Bret Calhoun.
-- Fancy Fusaichi came three-wide into the stretch in Saturday night's $125,000 Iowa Distaff Stakes at Prairie Meadows, opened up and won off by 8 3/4 lengths over Miss Atlantic. The odds-on favorite, Rolling Sea, finished third, unable to compete in the final furlong after a stalking trip. Fancy Fusaichi, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus out of the Rahy mare Fancy Clancy, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.91 with Julien Leparoux in the irons for trainer Bill Mott. George Steinbrenner owns the winner.
-- Royal Oath caught pace-setting longshot Ice Bear at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $300,000 (Canadian) King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine, the pair bumped repeatedly through the stretch run and Royal Oath finally prevailed by 1/2 length. Seaside Retreat ran late to finish third, another 1/2 length back. Royal Oath, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Kingmambo, finished the 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:49.87. Patrick Husbands rode for trainer Mark Casse. In his last race and North American debut, Royal Oath finished a disappointing fifth in the Connaught Cup. "Last time, he had a nice trip but he didn't fire down the lane," Husbands said. "In his last work, he was a different horse. I don't think it was the track last time. He just wasn't happy. Right now, he's a good horse." Before shipping over, Royal Oath raced in Dubai and England, winning the Royal Hunt Cup last June at Ascot.
-- Whatsthescript split rivals at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $250,000 American Handicap at Hollywood Park and went to post a major upset, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Storm Military at odds of nearly 30-1. Hyperbaric finished third and the odds-on favorite, Daytona, faded throughout, finishing sixth of seven. Whatsthescript, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred colt by Royal Applause, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.34 under Isaias Enriquez. "He's been a nice horse for everybody who's had him," said winning trainer John Sadler. "He's won with whoever he was with in England and with two trainers here so my job was just to see if I could top him off a little." He said he will look at the Eddie Read and the Arlington Million as targets for Whatsthescript.
-- Black Mamba rallied from far back to win Sunday's $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park by 1 1/4 lengths over Solva, with Green Lyons third. Black Mamba, a 5-year-old, New Zealand-bred daughter of Black Minnaloushe, ran the 10 furlongs on firm turf in 2:01.25. Garrett Gomez rode for trainer John Sadler, who dominated the weekend's stakes in Southern California. "We wanted to have a good clean trip," Sadler said. "She had a lot of trouble in the last one, so we were more concerned that she got a smooth trip today. I told Garrett that she's very steady and not hard to ride."
-- My Princess Jess got a big lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 Boiling Springs Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park, then held on to win by a neck over Much Obliged. Forest Trail finished third. My Princess Jess, a Florida-bred Stormy Atlantic filly out of the Pleasant Colony mare Jewell of Jewels, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:39.81. Joe Bravo rode for trainer Barclay Tagg.
-- Eternal Star rallied four-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $200,000 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park and was just up in time to win by a nose over Xchanger. Spirit of Gulch finished third at long odds while the favorite, Lord Snowdon, settled for fourth after a slow start. Eternal Star, a 4-year-old Five Star Day colt, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:20.53. Julien Pimentel rode for trainer Michael Trombetta.
-- Native Ruler found a big lane between the leaders at the top of the stretch in Saturday night's $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows, drove through and went on to win by 3/4 length over Sing Baby Sing. The odds-on favorite, Noonmark, made a belated run to finish third, another 1 length back. Native Ruler, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Elusive Quality, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.98 with Israel Ocampo up for trainer Chris Richard.
-- Leah's Secret saved ground into the turn in Saturday's $150,000 Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park, waited for room at the top of the stretch and then outfinished Tequilas Dayjur to win by 3/4 length. Dhanyata finished third. Leah's Secret, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Tiger Ridge, finished the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.17 under Rene Douglas. "She likes this seven-furlong distance but she can go farther," Douglas said. "I decided to let her sit and get herself together and everything went perfect after that when I asked her."
-- Dearest Trickski powered to the lead from the outside post position in Saturday's $150,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park, led all the way and won by 2 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Magnificence. Romance is Diane finished third. Dearest Trickski, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Proudest Romeo, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.55 with Mike Smith up for trainer John Sadler. "It was all about getting her into a rhythm," Smith said. "When she breathes, she keeps running … She got her air and she ran very well."
-- Miss Macy Sue, the odds-on mutuel choice, dueled for the early lead in Friday's $100,000 Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows, then easily dispatched a half-dozen rivals, drawing off to win by 6 lengths. Stealth Cat was the best of the rest, with Sole of the City third. Miss Macy Sue, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred Trippi mare, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.03 on a fast track. Eusebio Razo Jr. rode for trainer Kelly Von Hemel.
Dagnabit sat behind the leaders early in Sunday's $100,000 Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park, moved up on the turn and got past the leader, Regardlessofoutcome, in the final yards despite being carried wide by that rival. Essenceofthemoon finished third and the odds-on favorite, Mr Mistoffelees got home last after stumbling badly out of the gate. Dagnabit, a New York-bred son of Freud, got the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.68. Cornelio Velasquez rode for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "It wasn't that much of a surprise because he ran well the first time out," said Dutrow assistant Michelle Nevin. "And he's been training well up to this point. I don't know what's next for him."
-- Garden District stumbled out of the gate in Saturday's $100,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs but recovered to first stalk the pace and then win by 1/2 length over Rachael Alexandra. Simplify finished third. Garden District, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Dixie Union out of the Unbridled's Song mare Brisquette, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.07 with Robby Albarado aboard. Todd Pletcher trains.
-- Emmy Darling stalked a fast pace in Saturday's $100,000 Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park, took the lead on the inside with a furlong to run and went on to win by 2 lengths over Glitter City. The even-money favorite, Cosmic Queen, ran evenly after a troubled start and finished third, another neck back. Emmy Darling, a Florida-bred Graeme Hall filly, finished the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.52. David Flores rode for trainer John Sadler.
-- Bold Union seized a pressured lead in Sunday's $100,000 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park, gradually drew clear and then dominated the stretch run, winning by 9 3/4 lengths over Girlfriendontheside. Golden Artemis finished third. Bold Union, a Kentucky-bred Dixie Union filly, finished the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.92 under Stewart Elliott. Kelly Breen trains.
In other weekend racing:
Leonides stalked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 Captain Squire Handicap for 3-year-olds, came to challenge in the stretch, exchanged bumps with White Spar down the lane and prevailed by a neck over that rival. The early leader, Sea of Pleasure, held on for third. Leonides, a Kentucky-bred Richter Scale colt, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:15.81.
I Lost My Choo not only held onto her shoes but was light on her toes in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Elmont Stakes for New York-bred, 3-year-old fillies. After running in mid-pack, I Lost My Choo advance on the inside, was caught in traffic on the turn, finally got out and was just up in time to win by a head over Blitzen Too. Ambidaxtrous finished third. I Lost My Choo, a daughter of Western Expression, ran the 1 mile of firm turf in 1:34.26 for jockey Edgar Prado.
Marble Cliff sat comfortably at mid-pack early in Saturday's $100,000 Cleveland Gold Cup for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds, took the lead easily on the second turn and hit another gear in the stretch, winning off by 13 lengths without much encouragement from jockey Luis Martinez Jr. Formal Arrangement was second, 6 1/2 lengths in front of Allsarott as the photo-finish camera took a break. Marble Cliff, a Jump Start gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:52.16.
Devil House led all the way to a handy, 10 1/4-lengths runaway in Sunday's $70,000 Lighthouse Stakes for fillies and mares. Sent off as the longest shot in the six-horse field, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Chester House finished the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:42.04 on a fast track for Daniel Centeno. For Kisses was second and Prop Me Up finished third while the favorite, Debbie Got Even, faded to finish fifth.
Lone Star Park
Real Appeal got a wide trip in Saturday's $75,000 Alysheba Stakes for 3-year-olds but still ran well enough to get up in the stretch and win by 1 1/2 lengths over Turnleftatthelight. Numismatist finished third. Real Appeal, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Successful Appeal, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.13. Tom Amoss trains and Cliff Berry had the winning ride.
Populist set the pace through much of Saturday's $55,000 St. Georges Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and held well at the end to win by 1 3/4 lengths over My Main Starr. Fareena was third. Populist, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.16 with Travis Dunkelberger in the irons.
Calder Race Course
Saint Knows rallied in the final yards to win Saturday's $36,000 Liberada Stakes for fillies and mares by a neck over Silversider. Private Betty was another head back in third, beating Marista by a nose. Saint Knows, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred Sweetsouthernsaint mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.79 under Carlos Olivero.
Dukes Flying Tiger flew down the stretch past the leaders and won Saturday's $36,000 Heckofaralph Stakes by 1 length over the favorite, Winnies Tigger Too. Magazine Lane finished third. Dukes Flying Tiger, a Florida-bred Tiger Ridge gelding, ran the 5 furlongs on the firm turf in 55.38 seconds, also with Olivero up.
Gallon lunged at the start of Sunday's $50,000 Tacoma Handicap for 3-year-olds, leaving himself plenty to do. But the Kentucky-bred son of Victory Gallop was up to the task, catching pace-setting Fear No Evil in the closing strides to win by a neck. Margo's Gift finished third. Ridden by Juan Gutierrez, Gallon ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36 3/5.
Sun Ray Park
Mr Charliepotatoes stalked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 San Juan County Commissioners Handicap, got the lead at the eighth pole and held on despite a 40 mph headwind down the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Taziano. Mr Charliepotatoes, a 4-year-old Dayjur colt, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.24 under Ricardo Jaime.