When the favorite, Thorn Song, faded from the lead in Saturday's $100,000 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs, it appeared Karelian would go on to post a minor upset -- until Demarcation came along.
After rallying six-wide, Demarcation closed with a rush and caught Karelian at the wire for a dead-heat. Telling also ran well late to finish third, 1 1/2 lengths back. The 9-furlong turf event, run on firm going, went in 1:50.06.
Thorn Song faded to finish eighth.
Karelian, a 6-year-old son of Bertrando, came into the race off a close-up fifth-place finish behind Thorn Song in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. Demarcation, a 4-year-old Gulch gelding, had won only once previously this year, that in a minor stake at Kentucky Downs.
William Troilo, who rode Karelian, said the defeat was a matter of timing.
"I think if that horse (Demarcation) would have come to me sooner, I think he would have drawn back away from him. It was just unfortunate that he caught me right at the wire," Troilo said.
In other weekend racing:
Shadowless shadowed the leaders in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Kennedy Road Stakes, moved to a short lead at the top of the stretch and held well to win by 1/2 length over Rouse the Cat. The favorite, Storm Treasure, was only a nose farther back in third with a belated bid. Shadowless, a 3-year-old, Ontario-bred Stormy Atlantic gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.08 with Justin Stein in the irons for trainer David Bell. Stein said his only issue was finding room for Shadowless to get to the lead. "He almost ran over the two horses in front of him," Stein said. "I just had to wait a little longer. I pulled the trigger and away he went." Shadowless finished 11th in this year's Queen's Plate, won by Not Bourbon.
Smart Surprise posted a minor upset in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Bessarabian Stakes for fillies and mares, charging into competition in the final furlong before edging clear to win by 1/2 length over Saskawea. Arden Belle finished third and the favorite, Lucas Street, got home fifth after encountering traffic at the top of the lane. Smart Surprise, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Smart Strike, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.14 with Robert Landry up.
Wishful Tomcat led almost the entire way to upset Saturday's $100,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over That'srightofficer. Ready Set was third and the favorite, Lieutenant Ron, finished fifth after a wide trip. Wishful Tomcat, a New York-bred Tactical Cat ridgling, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.28 under Ramon Dominguez. "I found myself in front and just let him roll," Dominguez said. "I didn't know how much horse I was going to have turning for home, but when I asked him, he re-broke all over again and finished up full of run." Winning trainer Gary Contessa said he hopes the race is a good sign for Wishful Tomcat for the long winter at Big A. "All I can say is, 'Watch out, New York-breds!'" Contessa said. "I would like to see him dominate stakes races here this winter. It's extra cold today. Maybe it will push out the Florida trainers sooner."
Love Abroad opened up a big lead at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $65,000 Itaka Stakes for New York-breds, then held on well to post the 16-1 upset, beating Icabad Crane by 1 3/4 lengths. Gold and Roses was third. Love Abroad, a 5-year-old Not For Love gelding, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.41 with Jose Lezcano handling the reins.
Johnny Eves rallied three-wide into the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes, got the lead with a sixteenth to run and held on to win by 1 length. A pair of noses defined Northern Soldier and Noble Court in second and third. Johnny Eves, a 4-year-old, California-bred gelding by Skimming, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:07.9 under Garrett Gomez. The victory snapped a seven-race winless streak for Johnny Eves. "My main concern," Gomez said, "was that when I saw him in the paddock he was really on the muscle. He's a horse who's his own worst enemy because he's over aggressive and wants to do too much early. Being on the outside my main concern was just trying to get him to shut off somewhere and listen to me just for a little ways, and he did, and it helped him get there today."
Jack o'Lantern rallied from the back of a six-horse field to upset Sunday's $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes for 2-year-olds, winning by 1/2 length over favorite Azul Leon Ventana and Arashi Cat dead-heated for third and fourth. Jack o'Lantern, a Kentucky-bred son of Flatter, got the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.89. Isaias Enriquez rode for trainer Richard Matlow. "I liked this horse because he was a big lanky horse," Matlow said of Jack o'Lantern, who won for the second time in three career starts. "He had a good walk on him and he had good dimension. Those other horses are seasoned horses and I just took a shot because he's eligible. I knew this horse was going to route, so I figured to take a shot and maybe get part of it."
Golden Gate Fields
Siren Lure rallied from last to win Saturday's $75,000 Sausalito Stakes, edging by odds-on favorite Indyanne in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 lengths. A Cat Named Stripe finished third despite the cute name. Siren Lure, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Joyeux Danseur out of the Gulch mare Cantamar, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.4 for jockey Frank Alvarado. Steve Sherman is the winning trainer.
The early local preps for the Louisiana Derby are under way -- and Foreign Production was the upset winner in Saturday's $60,000 Old Hickory Stakes for 2-year-olds. After stalking the pace set by odds-on favorite Forty Thieves, Foreign Production blew by without much problem and won off by 2 3/4 lengths over Bertsgoldenmissile. Screen Your Friend was third while the favorite faded to finish fifth. Foreign Production, a Louisiana-bred colt by Run Production, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.84. Lonnie Meche rode for trainer James Hodges. "I took off the horse that finished second today to ride this one," said Meche. "And that's not to take anything away from Bertsgoldenmissile." Hodges said Foreign Production is pointed for the $100,000 Juvenile on Louisiana Champions Day Dec. 13. "He'd never been tested before today and we wanted to make sure he was as good as we thought he was," the conditioner said.
On the juvenile filly front, C Karma came from last down the middle of the track to win Saturday's $60,000 Pontalba Stakes by 3/4 length over A Day for Dancing. Catarnia Ranch was third. C Karma, a Florida-bred Exchange Rate miss, got the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.7 with Brian Hernandez Jr. riding for trainer Pamela Edel. "I was nervous the early part of the race," Hernandez said. "Once she switched leads, she just took off."
Native Ruler rallied to the lead on the turn in Saturday's $56,000 Bet On Sunshine Handicap and drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Vicarian was second and Success Success finished third. Native Ruler, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Elusive Quality, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.91 with Jamie Theriot in the irons. Ben On Sunshine, a successful sprinter at the highest level until age 10, was trained by Paul McGee, who also conditions Success Success.
Linda's Lace determinedly ran down the leaders in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Frances Slocum Stakes for Indiana-bred fillies and mares, then got clear at the end to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Heart Tee was second after leading most of the way and the favorite, Easy Tee, settled for third. Linda's Lace, a 5-year-old Is Sveikatas mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.2 with Leandro Goncalves in the irons.
Nightly Ritual, the odds-on favorite, showed why in the stretch run of Saturdays' $100,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes for juvenile fillies, drawing off smartly to win by 7 1/4 lengths. Grandma Syl was second and Mor Newtons Please finished third. Nightly Ritual, a daughter of Crown Ambassador, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:09.8 with Rafael Hernandez riding.
In Sunday's $100,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes for colts and geldings, Check in Advance stalked the pace, went to the lead in the stretch and won off by 2 3/4 lengths over Lana's Dream. Dixiessaltshaker ran third and the odds-on choice, Geordie, was fourth. Check in Advance, a chestnut son of Fast Ferdie, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.4 for Fernando De La Cruz.
Calder Race Course
How's Your Halo dueled for the early lead in Saturday's $55,000 Radar Love Stakes, shook clear and got home first, 3 1/4 lengths better than the favorite, Golden Spikes. Lettie's Relic finished third. How's Your Halo, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred son of Halo's Image, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.42 with Juan Leyva up.
Sarasponda was up in the final yards to win Saturday's $50,000 Bobby Bricker Memorial Handicap for Ohio-bred fillies and mares by a neck over Money Card. Baby Back Rib was a tasty third. Sarasponda, a 3-year-old daughter of Yeti, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.47. Christian Pilares had the mount.
Donald's Pride moved to contention on the third turn in Saturday night's $50,000 A Huevo Stakes for West Virginia-breds, then proved best in the stretch run, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Gold Standard. Eastern Delite was third. Donald's Pride, an 8-year-old Deputed Testamony gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.93 with Larry Reynolds at the controls.
News and notes
Trainer Steve Asmussen broke his own North American record for win in a year as Prophesy captured the first race on Sunday's card at Remington Park in Oklahoma, where he is leading trainer. The win was Asmussen's 556th of 2008. He won 555 four years ago. His horses, led by Horse of the Year Curlin, have won nearly $22 million this year
Meetingwithdestiny was back on the turf Saturday at Hollywood Park in an $80,000 optional claimer. The Belong to Me gelding improved on his penultimate finish on the Santa Anita main track on Breeders' Cup Friday, racing up close to the lead until midway through the turn, then fading to finish seventh of 12. Perhaps his third race back from his freshening will be the breakthrough. Meanwhile, Lil Red is entered in a main-track route race on Thanksgiving eve at Hawthorne Race Course, where he will test trainer Jan Ely's prediction that he will produce "Christmas money" for his owners and backers.