Arlington Park's International Festival of Racing lived up to its name this year. Foreign invaders not only finished 1-2-3 in the marquee event, the Arlington Million, but also finished first and second in the Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds and took third in the Beverly D for fillies and mares.
The results served notice for the grass races in the Breeders' Cup World Championships in October at Santa Anita.
The 26th running of the Million went to pace-setting Spirit One, a French-bred and French-raced 4-year-old. Under Basque-born rider Ioritz Mendizabal, the bay son of Anabaa Blue galloped evenly and without pressure into the final turn, then raced willingly to the wire to win by 3/4 length over the favorite, Archipenko. Mount Nelson was third.
Spirit One finished the 1 1/4 mile on firm turf in 2:02.17. The colt had run second in the La Coupe at Longchamp in his last outing and in his race before that was a close-up fourth behind winner Duke of Marmalade in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. The win, however, was only his fifth from 18 lifetime starts.
"I took the lead because I wanted to run my race and he responded very well for me," Mendizabal said. "I never saw what was happening behind me."
He referred to the battle between globetrotting superstar Archipenko and British-based Mount Nelson. Archipenko's rider, Kevin Shea, complained bitterly after the race that Johnny Murtagh, up on Mount Nelson, cost him the race. Murtagh, Shea said, "had me in all the way around. When it was time to go, I begged him to let me go and he wouldn't let me through."
The victory earned Spirit One an automatic berth in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf Oct. 25 at Santa Anita should trainer Phillippe Demercastel elect to return. "Why not on to the Breeders' Cup?" Demercastel asked. "We'll take him home, give him time off, and definitely come back to the U.S. for racing. I've been tempted for a while, especially with this horse, to try American racing."
In the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares, Mauralakana rated behind the leading pack under Kent Desormeaux, charged to the lead three-wide on the turn and ran on to win by 1 1/4 length over Communique. Another French raider, Toque de Queda, finished third after an eventful trip.
Mauralakana, a 5-year-old Muhtathir mare, also was bred in France but has been racing in the United States under the tutelage of Christophe Clement. She came into the race off three straight wins and earned an automatic berth in the $2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf.
"I was pretty confident in her turn of foot," Desormeaux said. "So I wasn't worried about the ones in front of me. I just didn't want anyone coming from behind to get me."
In the day's third Grade I event, the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds, Irish import Winchester surged to the lead at the top of the stretch and destroyed eight rivals, drawing off to win by 7 1/4 lengths. Another Irish invader, Plan, was second and the favorite, Tizdejavu, faded from the pace to finish third.
Winchester, a Virginia-bred son of Theatrical, ran the 1 1/4 mile on firm turf in 2:01.76 under Rene Douglas. Dermot Weld trains for Bertram Firestone and his wife.
"I put the blinkers on him and that helped," Weld said. "Rene has beaten me a couple of times in other races so when I had the chance to get him on this horse, I took it. Don't be surprised if you see (Winchester) back for the Breeders' Cup Turf. The horse will be going back to Ireland and will have a race there before going to Santa Anita."
Other events with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Championships:
$5 million Classic
If all roads converge as planned on Arcadia, Calif., on Oct. 25, this could be a race for the ages. Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown is back on track with hopes of a career-capping run in the Classic. Curlin, the defending champion, reigning Horse of the Year and Dubai World Cup victor, will run Aug. 30 in the Woodward, pointing toward the Classic. And Henry the Navigator, winner of four consecutive Group 1 races in England, also is being considered for the Classic, trainer Aidan O'Brien said.
$2 million Ladies Classic
Maren's Meadow led all the way to a convincing 4 1/2-lengths win in Saturday's $150,000 Monmouth Oaks at Monmouth Park. Acoma was second and Whirlie Bertie finished third. Maren's Meadow, an Ontario-bred daughter of Meadowlake, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.05. In her last outing, the filly set the pace for stablemate and eventual winner Proud Spell in the Delaware Oaks. "She's gotten to the point where she can handle the distance a little better," said trainer J. Larry Jones. "We thought we had that Delaware race pretty well covered with this filly going to the front and Proud Spell coming from off of it. Turning for home, I thought this filly had a big chance to beat Proud Spell."
$2 million Mile (turf)
Sky Cape stalked a quick pace in Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds at Del Mar, took the lead at midstretch and blazed home through a final sixteenth in 5.3 seconds to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Tangled Tango was second and Liberian Freighter third. The favorite, Tiz West, was never in the mix and finished last. Sky Cape, a Kentucky-bred colt by Najran, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.92 under Joel Rosario. Trainer Kristin Muhall had pointed the colt for the Oceanside Stakes on opening day but he took sick and missed a week of training. "He needed this race," she said. "Now, we'll look ahead to the Del Mar Derby (9 furlongs on Aug. 31)."
$2 million Sentient Flight Group Sprint
In Saturday's $100,000 James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga, named for the early 1800s manager of the United States Hotel in Saratoga Springs, Eternal Star was quickly on the lead and prevailed by a neck over Bold Start. Brilliant Son finished third. Eternal Star, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Five Star Day, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.79 for Ramon Dominguez. "I think he is deserving of a shot in the Forego," Trombetta said. "I can relax a little bit at seven-eighths; but obviously, that is a super test for him; it's a different kind of horse. Now that we've run over the track, and if he's well, we'll be there."
$2 million Besemer Trust Juvenile
Kelly Leak crossed the wire first in Sunday's $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar but was disqualified to third for stretch interference. That promoted Azul Leon to the victory, with Coronet of a Baron second and Charlie's Moment third. Azul Leon, a Kentucky-bred colt by Lion Heart out of the Cure the Blues mare Quick Blue, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:16.73.Victor Espinoza rode for trainer Doug O'Neill. "We love to win, but I hate to win under these circumstances," O'Neill said. "It was tough for the horses, too. There were four gutsy 2-year-olds going for the wire." Azul Leon won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship in early July at Hollywood Park after a maiden win at the Inglewood, Calif., track. The Best Pal Stakes is the final local steppingstone to the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity at 7 furlongs Sept. 3.
It wasn't one of those "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup races but that didn't stop Win and Reign from reigning supreme in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Vandal Stakes at Woodbine. The Ontario-bred Tomahawk colt jumped right to the lead, dueled throughout the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track and prevailed by a neck over El Brujo. Silver Rocket was home third. Win and Reign, with David Clark up, got the 6 furlongs in 1:10.88. "His first start he ran a little green and got a little tired. Today he was much more professional," Clark said. "We didn't plan on going to the lead, but nobody else wanted it. So we kind of ended up there."
I Vow to Win made good on the promise in Saturday's $60,000 Iowa Stallion Futurity at Prairie Meadows. Rallying from next-last in a field of 11, the Broken Vow colt came six-wide around the turn to take a big lead and held on despite drifting in through the stretch. At the wire, he was 3 1/4 lengths the best. Watomgo was second and Ainsley D finished third. I Vow to Win, with Pedro Monterrey up, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.22.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile Fillies
Evita Argentina had nothing to cry about after Wednesday's $150,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. After racing in mid-pack, the Kentucky-bred Candy Ride filly swept five-wide around the turn and accelerated to win by 1 length over the favorite, Stardom Bound. Emmy Darling finished fourth but was elevated to third on a DQ, completing the show biz-themed trifecta. Evita Argentina, trained by John Sadler and ridden by Tyler Baze, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:17.51. Sadler said both Evita Argentina and Emmy Darling will go to the Del Mar Debutante Sept. 1.
In other weekend racing:
Banrock rallied nicely in the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 West Point Handicap for New York-breds by 2 lengths over Classic Pack. My Man Lars finished third. Banrock, a 5-year-old Go for Gin gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on "soft" turf in 1:51.41 under Kent Desormeaux. Thomas Bush trains Banrock.
Latitude Forty stalked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Yaddo Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares, took the lead in the stretch and held on gamely to best You Go West Girl by a neck. The favorite, Rewrite, was third. Latitude Forty, a 5-year-old Chester House mare, ran 1 1/8 miles on the yielding inner turf course in 1:55.16. Javier Castellano had the mount for trainer John Hertler. The race originally had been carded for Saturday.
With the Yado Stakes postponed for a day, the Spa featured four overnight stakes on Saturday's card -- each named for an historic personality at the track or in Saratoga Springs.
The $100,000 Duke of Magenta Stakes was named for the winner of the 1878 Preakness, Withers, Belmont Stakes and Travers. Man o'War and Native Dancer are the only other horses to accomplish that string of successes. Fairbanks ended an eight-race losing streak with a front-running win, finishing 5 3/4 lengths to the good of Angliana. Magna Graduate finished third. Fairbanks, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, finished 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:55.45 under Richard Migliore. However, trainer Todd Pletcher said he still isn't ready to face reigning Horse of the Year Curlin in his next start. "I don't think we will be coming back to the Woodward," Pletcher said. "We'll have to see our options. It was just good to get a win under his belt."
The $100,000 Madame Jumel Stakes was named for one of the Spa's first "grand dames," and an eccentric one at that. Ariege came from off the pace to win the 1-mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/4 lengths over Closeout with Lickety Lemon third. Ariege, ridden by Alan Garcia and trained by Bobby Frankel, finished in 1:38.87 on yielding going. The Doneraille Court filly won her third consecutive race after winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and Keeneland's Grade 2 Beaumont on all-weather surfaces. "The pace was so slow that my filly was a little rough," Garcia. "When I put her behind Coa (jockey Eibar Coa on Remarkable Remy), she relaxed a little bit. And then, at the top of the stretch, I said, 'Let's move,' and then she ran good to the end."
The $100,000 Solomon Northrup Stakes, named for a black man kidnapped into slavery from Saratoga Springs before the Civil War, went to Dr. D. F. C., who rallied from last to upset favorite Stud Muffin by 1 length. Tommasi finished third. Dr. D.F.C., a 5-year-old son of Personal Flag, ran the 9-furlong test for New York-breds in 1:50.57 under Aldo Arboleda.
Ice Bear dueled to the lead on the turn in Sunday's $100,000 With Approval Stakes, put away pace-setter Mike Fox, then held on to win by a nose over onrushing Marchfield. Awesome Action finished third. Ice Bear, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred gelding by Maria's Mon, ran the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:50.44 under Chantal Sutherland. The race originally was scheduled for the grass. Winning trainer MacDonald Benson said the switch was of little concern. "He's trained and run good on the Poly. I just thought he was more comfortable on the turf," he said "Let's hope he keeps improving the way he's improved this year."
Benson and Sutherland also teamed up to win Saturday's feature as Sugar Bay caught Verdana Bold in the final jumps to win the $150,000 (Canadian) Duchess Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a nose. Gloriously finished third. Sugar Bay, an Ontario-bred daughter of Syncline, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.38. "I was lucky to sneak through on the rail when I did. It just all worked out," said Sutherland. "The two times I've ridden her, she's given me great (late) run."
Lecturing Lynn stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Sonoma Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, got the lead at the top of the stretch and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Testy Hussy. Broken Hearted completed the soap opera trifecta. Lecturing Lynn, a Kentucky-bred filly by Pulpit, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46 2/5 for Quincy Welch.
In Sunday's $50,000 Mademoiselle Stakes for fillies and mares, Tanika pressed the pace, moved to contention on the backstretch and then battled to the wire with Fox On a Ridge before winning by a neck. Bear's Swan led early and held on for third while Crystal Kiss completed the order of finish. Tanika, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Orientate, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.6.
M J's Enchanteur made the pace in Saturday's $70,000 Select Stakes for 3-year-olds and prevailed at the end by 3/4 length over Fujita. Indy Joe finished third. M J's Enchanteur, a Florida-bred Metfield gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.26 with Eddie Castro up.
Amazing Results came from last to win Saturday's $50,000 Forward Pass Stakes for 3-year-olds by 3 lengths over In Nike's Honor. Coach Ryan finished third. Amazing Results, an Illinois-bred colt by Grand Slam, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.3. Rafael Bejarano rode for trainer Chris Block and owners Team Block.
Return to Paradise rallied from a pace-stalking trip to win Saturday's $50,000 first half of the Hatoof Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. At the wire, the Kentucky-bred El Prado filly was in front by 2 1/4 lengths. South Beach Luv was second, a nose in front of Chantilly Lady. Return to Paradise ran the "about" 1 1/16 miles on "good" turf in 1:45.53 under John Velazquez.
In the $50,000 second half, Lucky Copy led all the way easily, then coasted home 2 3/4 lengths in front. Tight Precision was second and Miami Ali finished third. Lucky Copy, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Unbridled's Song, finished the "about" 1 1/16 miles on turf upgraded to firm in 1:41.67. Garrett Gomeze rode.
Jonesboro took command in the stretch run to win Saturday's $50,000 Governor's Handicap by 3 1/4 lengths over Save Big Money. Officer Rocket finished third. Jonesboro, a 6-year-old son of Sefapiano, got the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.86. Tracy Hebert rode for trainer Randy Morse.
Calder Race Course
Lettie's Relic rallied from last of six to win Saturday's $55,000 Hooting Star Stakes by 1 length over pace-setting favorite Blue Pepsi Lodge. Mr. Silver got the bronze. Lettie's Relic, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Relic Relic Relic, finished the 5 furlongs on a fast track in 58.37 seconds with Eduardo Nunez in the irons.
Yesbyjimminy, the odds-on favorite, acted the part in the stretch run of Sunday's $55,000 Major Moran Stakes, drawing off to win by 4 lengths over Dukes Flying Tiger. Machismo was third. Yesbyjimminy, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred son of Yes It's True, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.39 under Pascacio Lopez.