Big Brown continued the comeback from his Belmont Stakes disaster with an impressive victory over some talented rivals in Saturday's $500,000 Monmouth Stakes over the grass.
Leading all the way under Kent Desormeaux, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner set a comfortable pace down the backstretch and into the final turn on the Monmouth Park green.
As the field straightened out for the stretch run, multiple graded stakes winner Proudinsk ranged up alongside to challenge. But he could never get past the leader and Big Brown, under a confident ride, won by a neck. Proudinsky was second and Shakis was another 1/2 length back in third.
"I think he showed you what kind of heart he's got," Desormeaux said. "When Proudinsky did get to his neck, I knew we had him. My horse just resurged and kept digging all the way to the wire."
The riders of both Proudinsky and Shakis said they thought they had Big Brown measured early in the stretch run. Both said they were impressed with his determination. "I underestimated Big Brown," said Joe Bravo, who rode Shakis, "until today, when he showed what kind of horse he is."
After showing the way through a half mile in 46.83 seconds and a mile in 1:35.39, Big Brown finished the 9 furlongs on a course rated "good" in 1:47.41. The victory keeps the bay son of Boundary on course for a career finale in the $5 million Breeder's Cup Classic on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. Big Brown's chances for Horse of the Year honors probably hinge on his beating Curlin in that race -- and Curlin is not a lock to defend his title.
Either way, Saturday's victory and a good showing in the Classic will validate Big Brown's career at stud at Three Chimneys farm starting next spring.
"This race was not the end of the world for us," said winning trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. "But we needed it for timing to the next race. To win it was great. Now we can go to the next race with confidence. All he needs to do is like that track." Dutrow referred to Santa Anita's new synthetic surface.
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Championships on Oct. 24 and 25 at Santa Anita:
$2 million Ladies Classic
Music Note easily defeated a trio of outclassed rivals in Saturday's $250,000 Gazelle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, taking the lead when asked by jockey Javier Castellano and cruising home first by 8 1/2 lengths without any encouragement. The A.P. Indy filly's job was made a little easier when her toughest competitor, Country Star, flipped in the starting gate and was scratched. Neither Country Star nor jockey John Velazquez appeared to have suffered serious injury. Music Note ran the 1 1/8 miles on a track rated "good" in 1:50.2. Hamsa was second, Awesome I Am third and Mega completed the order of finish. Music Note now has won five of seven starts. One of the losses was by a head to Proud Spell in the Alabama at Saratoga. Winning trainer Saeed bin Surror said Music Note will start next in the Breeders' Cup. "It was a brilliant result," bin Suroor said of Saturday's race. "It was an easy, impressive win. She's a tough filly, one of the best two or three in the country."
$3 million Emirates Airline Turf
Soldier's Dancer waltzed from last to first in the stretch run in Saturday's $250,000 PTHA President's Cup Stakes at Philadelphia Park, drawing off handily at the end to win by 2 lengths over Ballonenostrikes. Interpatation was third, a nose back and the favorite, Drum Major, finished fourth by another head. Soldier's Dancer, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Lost Soldier gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:54.69. Manoel Cruz had the mount for trainer David Vivian.
Rumor Has It, the longest shot on the board, led all the way in Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs, holding on at the end to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Stream of Gold. My Happiness was third and the favorite, Silverfoot, finished fourth. Rumor Has It, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Awesome Again, ran the 1 1/2 miles on the undulating turf in 2:28.27 with Eduardo Perez up. It was his fourth win in 23 lifetime starts. He last won nearly three years ago.
Zarkava moved another step along the way toward the goal of becoming the first filly in 15 years to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, remaining undefeated in winning Sunday's Qatar Prix Vermeille at Longchamp. Zarkava, bred and owned by the Aga Khan, circled the field in the final 2 furlongs under Christophe Soumillon to pick up her sixth win without a defeat. Her owner, however, cautioned that soft going at Longchamp next month might prevent Zarkava, a 3-year-old daughter of Zamindar, from contesting the Arc.
Also Sunday at Longchamp, Vision d'Etat came off a mid-season vacation to win the Qatar Prix Niel for 3-year-olds -- another Arc prep. Vision d'Etat, also undefeated, came from off the pace and won by a nose over Ideal World.
In the Qatar Prix Foy, Zambezi Sun won a stretch duel with Schiaparelli by 1/2 length in the Arc prep for older horses. Zambezi Sun, a 4-year-old son of Dansili, got the 2,400 meters in 2:28.8.
At Doncaster in England, Conduit posted a mild upset for trainer Michael Stoute and jockey Frankie Dettori in Saturday's English St. Leger. Putting in his bid in the final sixteenth, Conduit finished 3 lengths to the good of Unsung Heroine with Look Here third. The favorite, Frozen Fire, from the Aidan O'Brien stable, got home seventh. Conduit, a Ballymacoll homebred, is by Dalakhani out of the Sadler's Wells mare Well Head.
Mastercraftsman remained undefeated and pointed to a supporting race on Arc day at Longchamp with a victory in Sunday's Bank of Scotland National Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland. Mastercraftsman, a son of Danehill Dancer, sat third behind Sea of Marmara and Shaweel through the early furlongs under John Murtagh. When Mastercraftsman challenged the leaders, Shaweel responded and the two battled to the line, with Mastercraftsman the winner by a nose. Mastercraftsman is out of the Black Tie Affair mare Starlight Dreams. Trainer Aidan O'Brien said the colt will be considered for the Grand Criterium at Longchamp Oct. 5.
And on Sunday at Curragh, Septimus justified his status as heavy favorite in Saturday's Irish St. Leger, winning by 13 lengths to salvage the day for O'Brien's barn. The 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells raced in third until about 3 furlongs out. Then, jockey Seamus Heffernan gave him the go and he drew off easily. New Zealand was second, a head better than Red Moloney.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
Royal Pleasure was up in the final strides to win Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs, scoring by a head over the dead-heat pair of Meribel and Katerbug. Platinee was fourth. Royal Pleasure, a 5-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred mare by Royal Academy, ran the 1 mile on the European-style turf course in 1:37.23. Rosemary Homeister Jr. had the mount. Jonathan Sheppard trains Royal Pleasure for Augustin Stable.
$2 million Mile (turf)
Criminologist raced off the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Noble Damsel Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, moved toward pace-setting Waquoit's Love through the stretch run and prevailed by a head. Sefroua finished third with a late move. Criminologist, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Maria's Mon, ran 1 mile on "soft" turf in 1:37.91 under Edgar Prado. She is owned by the Phipps Stable and Stuart S. Janney III and trained by Shug McGaughey. "The turf course is pretty grueling," McGaughey said. "She relaxed good today, which had been a problem in a couple of her other races. So, hopefully, we're back on track."
Tenjectory rallied from far back to catch and beat the favorite, Authenticat, in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) La Prevoyante Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine. The Ontario-bred daughter of Trajectory ran the 1mile on yielding turf in 1:37.91 with Eurico Da Silva riding for trainer Michael De Paulo. Night Fever finished third.
Kiss to Heaven won an all-Japan running of the Autumn Handicap on Sunday at Nakayama Race Course, defeating Let's Go Kirishima by 1 1/4 lengths. Suteki Shinsukekun was third. Kiss to Heaven, a son of Admire Vega, ran the 1,600 meters on firm turf in 1:32.1 with Shinji Fujita up.
$1 million Turf Sprint
Hold the Salt proved plenty salty in Saturday's $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash at Kentucky Downs, rallying to the lead in the long, long stretch run and then holding off Fort Prado in the closing strides to win by a neck. Kingship was another neck back in third, a head in front of Atticus Kristy. Hold the Salt, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Salt Lake, ran the 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:09.15. Rosemary Homeister Jr. rode for trainer James Dodgen.
Kanoya Zakura, with Futoshi Komaki aboard, scored her fifth career win in Sunday's Centaur Stakes at Hanshin Racecourse in Japan. The 4-year-old filly held off Symboli Gran to win by 1 1/4 lengths with Spring Song third. Futoshi Komaki rode the winner over 1,200 meters in 1:07.3. The race is part of the Global Sprint Challenge and Kanoya Zakura, earning 10 points for Sunday's win, moved to within 6 points of series leader Takeover Target. The series moves on to the Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes on Oct. 5 at Nakayama Racecourse.
$1 million Sentient Filly & Mare Sprint
Wild Gams rallied down the middle of the track to catch Miss Macy Sue and win Saturday's $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes by 1/2 length. Dream Rush led into the stretch and held on for third. Wild Gams, a 5-year-old, New Jersey-bred mare by Forest Wildcat, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:07.95. Miguel Mena rode for trainer Ben Perkins Jr.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Charitable Man is 2-for-2 after winning Saturday's $250,000 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park and jockey Alan Garcia boldly predicted, "He's going to the Kentucky Derby." First things first -- trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the Champagne Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 4 is a logical stepping stone to the Breeders' Cup. Saturday, the Virginia-bred Lemon Drop Kid colt raced wide to get the lead and Garcia used a hand ride to bring him home first, 1 length ahead of the redundantly named Flying Pegasus. Friesan Fire was third. Charitable Man ran the 7 furlongs on a "good" track in 1:24.3.
The stretch run of Saturday's $200,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park resulted in a double disqualification and the third-place finisher being moved up to the win. Jose Adan and Advice led the way toward the wire but Jose Adan veered over sharply at mid-stretch and Advice also lugged out. Both were judged to have interfered with Terrain, who finished third. After multiple inquiries and objections, the judges listed the order of finish as Terrain, Jose Adan and Advice. Terrain is a Kentucky-bred gelding by Sky Mesa. Jamie Theriot had the mount. "My horse had a really, really horrible trip," said Theriot. "I thought he was the best horse in the race. I think they made the right decision. I did get bothered by (Advice) the first bump, and then (Jose Adan) came over. The stewards made an honest decision." Terrain's record now shows three wins from three starts.
Mine That Bird launched an all-out drive at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Swynford Stakes at Woodbine and just got to the front a neck in front of pace-setting longshot Win and Reign. El Brujo was another neck back in third. Mine That Bird, a Kentucky-bred Birdstone gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.52. Chantal Sutherland rode. "That was too close," said winning trainer Dave Cotey. "The race didn't set up at all the way we thought. You think there is going to be a lot of speed. All of sudden we're up there just behind them. But Chantal did the right thing. She set him down right and moved at the right time and won the race for us. It was a real ride." He said he hopes to stretch the gelding out to a mile and a sixteenth for the Grey on Oct. 5.
Triumphant Fight, loser by a nose in the Del Mar Graduation Stakes, redeemed himself with a 3-lengths win Sunday in the $130,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fairplex -- an event restricted to horses offered at Barretts' sales. With Victor Espinoza up, the Cal-bred son of Chullo set a pressured pace and then drew clear at the end to win by 3 lengths over Mr. Rod, who remains a maiden. Danny Q finished third. Triumphant Fight ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.48.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile Fillies
Doremifasolatido -- and track announcer Tom Durkin sang it as she crossed the finish line -- drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $250,000 Matron Stakes at Belmont Park by 2 lengths over Persistently. Argyle Pink finished third. Doremifasolatido, a New York-bred daughter of Bernstein, got the 7 furlongs on a "good" track in 1:24.74 with Eibar Coa in the irons. "In her last race, she got into contending position while she was losing ground and got tired late," said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "But she hung on game for second. That was a big effort. I told Eibar today, 'Hopefully she will break good and we can sit there for awhile.'" He said the filly will go on to the Breeders' Cup where Trevor Denman will have the option of singing her praises.
Miss Dixie Dancer stayed close to the pace in Saturday's $130,000 Barretts Debutante at Fairplex in California, came to the lead in the deep stretch and won by 1 length over odds-on favorite Speedin Excess. Malusita was third. Miss Dixie Dancer, a Kentucky-bred Olmodavor filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:19.72 with Clinton Potts aboard.
$1 million Grey Goose Juvenile Turf
Bunker Hill dueled down the lane with Aspiring Nick in Saturday's $100,000 Go for the Green Stakes at Delaware Park, won by a head and then survived an objection for drifting out into this rival during the final furlong. Silent Shot was 12 1/4 lengths back in third. The race, moved off the turf, was run at 1 1/16 miles on the wet-fast main track and timed in 1:48.36. Rafael Mojica Jr. rode the winner.
$1 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies Turf
C Karma rated off the pace in Sunday's $150,000 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, began a run leaving the turn and got home first, a neck in front of Freyga. Koonunga Hill was third and the favorite, Lady Shakespeare, finished a dull sixth. C Karma, a Florida-bred daughter of Exchange Rate, finished the 1 mile on "soft" turf in 1:40.74 with Jono Jones in the irons. "For all of those listening from Three Chimneys, Exchange Rate is most definitely my favorite stallion," said owner Gregory De Gannes. C Karma was sired by Exchange Rate, who stands at Three Chimneys in Midway, Ky., and who also sired De Gannes stable star Southern Exchange, a recent fourth-place finisher in the Del Mar Futurity and a Breeders' Cup Juvenile hopeful. As a "Win and You're In" event, the Natalma victory qualified C Karma for a starting gate in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Bon Jovi Girl, the odds-on favorite, stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Fairway Stakes at Delaware Park, got the lead on the turn and won off by 9 3/4 lengths, ridden out. Freedom Rings was second and Spine was third. Bon Jovi Girl, a Kentucky-bred filly by Malibu Moon, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the wet-fast main track in 1:47.53 under Jose Caraballo. The race was moved off the turf, with two resulting scratches.
In other weekend racing:
Pascal dueled with That'srightofficer through most of Saturday's $100,000 Allied Forces Stakes for 3-year-olds, got clear in the stretch and won by 1 3/4 length over that rival. Slambino was third. Pascal, a Kentucky-bred colt by Menifee, ran the 1 1/8 miles on a "good" main track in 1:50.79 under Cornelio Velasquez. The race was moved off the inner turf course.
Benrock led all the way in Sunday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds, battling the final quarter mile with Classic Pack. At the end, Benrock was a nose better, with My Man Lars third. Benrock, a Go for Gin gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on the inner turf in 1:52.89 with Kent Desormeaux riding for trainer Thomas Bush.
Famous Patriot battled with Tin Cup Chalice through the final furlong of Sunday's $75,000 Step Nicely Stakes for 3-year-olds before prevailing by a neck. Check It Twice finished third. Famous Patriot, a Florida-bred colt by Repent, got the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.45 under Javier Castellano.
Off Duty was on duty in Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stakes, tracking the pace and then winning a long stretch duel by a neck over Nakayama Arashi. The early leader, Native Ruler, held third, well back. Off Duty, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred son of Yes It's True, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:16.08 with Larry Melancon up.
Flirtatious Smile let seven rivals chase him through the full 1 1/16 miles of Saturday's $60,000 New Jersey Breeders' Handiccap for state-breds. At the wire, the 5-year-old son of Not For Love was 1 length to the good of Rough Road Ahead, with Trueamericanspirit third. Felix Ortiz rode Flirtatious Smile, finishing in 1:44.18 on a fast track.
Sunday's Revidere Stakes for fillies and mares was run in $70,000 divisions. Cozzi Capital won the first heat by a nose over Oh Deanne O, finishing the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.56 under Carlos Marquez Jr. Cozzi Capital is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Cozzene filly. Paris Winds came from off the pace to win the second division by 2 1/2 lengths over Audacious Chloe. Paris Winds, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Galileo, got the trip in 1:41.29 under Joe Bravo.
J Z Warrior won Sunday's $60,000 Light Hearted Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 9 lengths over Lucky Mama. Picturemewithroses was third. J Z Warrior, a Kentucky-bred filly by Harlan's Holiday, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.93 with Joe Bravo up.
Goat Cheese came from a pace-pressing position in Saturday's $50,000 Claire Marine Stakes for fillies and mares, battled down the stretch and won by a neck over Caprice. Queendom finished third. Goat Cheese, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Cozzene, ran the 1 1/2 miles on the all-weather track in 2:32.4 with Jamie Theriot in the irons for trainer Tom Proctor.
Quota rallied from 10th of 12 to win Sunday's $50,000 Safely Kept Stakes for fillies and mares by 1/2 length over pace-setter Magnetic Miss. Dhanyata was third. Quota, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Seeking the Gold, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.65. Junior Alvarado had the mount for trainer Al Stall Jr.
Jumpifyoudare got free from the competition in the final furlong of Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Meadows Freshman Stakes for 2-year-olds and won by 3 1/2 lengths over A Steel Trap. Thats a Good Thing finished third. Jumpifyoudare, an Iowa-bred Jump Start colt, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.2 under Perry Compton. Kelly Von Hemel trains the colt.
A Day for Dancing gained the lead with a furlong to run in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Meadows Debutante Stakes for juvenile fillies, then held on to win by a nose over Phoenician Moon. Scoring Chick was third. A Day for Dancing, a Florida-bred daughter of Dance Master, got the 6 furlongs in 1:09.72 with Joe Campbell handling the reins. Steve Asmussen trains.
Prairie Charm took charge in the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 Fair Queen Handicap for 3-year-old fillies and won off by 2 1/4 lengths over Dubit. Heavens Gold was third. Prairie Charm, a Kentucky-bred Silver Charm filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.11 under Joe Martinez.
Poni Colada rallied from last of seven to win Sunday's $50,000 Albuquerque Derby by 2 1/4 lengths over Youarefun. Awesome Launch was third, a neck farther back. Poni Colada, a Kentucky-bred Volponi colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.45 with Duane Sterling in the irons.
Mr. Keeper drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Oliver's Twist Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds by 3 lengths over Stone in Love. Essenceofthemoon finished third. Mr. Keeper, a son of Lionhearted out of the Cryptoclearance mare Talent, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:03.56 with Malcolm Franklin up.
High Resolve led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 Sweepida Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 4 3/4 lengths over Joyful Me. Mission Viejo Halo finished third. High Resolve, a Florida-bred daughter of Put It Back, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.61. Russell Baze rode for trainer Greg Gilchrist.
In Sunday's $50,000 Forrest White Stakes for 3-year-olds, Kool Comic drew off in the stretch to win by 7 lengths over Ican'tremember. You're My Boy Blue was third and the only other starter, My Little Pigeon, lost his rider at the start. Kool Comic, a California-bred son of Comic Strip, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.76 under Frank Alvarado.