Overshadowing on-track development during the week was the announcement that Kentucky Oaks and Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra will not contest Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
That decision leaves Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Mine That Bird as the favorite for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. And it clears the way for Calvin Borel to get back on Mine That Bird in an effort to become the first jockey to win all three Triple Crown races on different horses. Borel rode Mine That Bird in the Derby, switched to the filly for the Preakness and would have stayed with her had she run in the Belmont.
"All of us sincerely interested in the horse must agree that we only want to see her run when it is best for her," owner Jess Jackson said Friday. "While she is in great shape, having strong works, and recovering well from her amazing performances, we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation. Since March 14, Rachel has won four graded races with just two weeks rest between her last two victories. We will always put her long-term well-being first."
Likely to face the starter alongside Mine That Bird are Brave Victory, Charitable Man, Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk, Flying Private, Luv Gov, Miner's Escape, Mr. Hot Stuff, Summer Bird and possibly Nowhere To Hide.
Jackson did not specify a target race for Rachel Alexandra.
In weekend racing:
Magical Fantasy put her nose in front under the wire to win Saturday's $250,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes by a neck over Visit. Diamond Diva was another nose back in third with Black Mamba fourth. Magical Fantasy, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Diesis out of the Easy Goer mare Kissing Gate, finished the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.18 for jockey Alex Solis. Patrick Gallagher trains the winner, who now has won twice in four tries this year. She captured the Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita in her last outing, beating Black Mamba by a nose. "She's such a professional, you can do anything you want with her," Solis said. "She's really game and she's getting better and better. I was surprised to see her pay $14. She just beat the same kind. We had a great trip. At the top of the stretch I thought I had a good chance to win the race and I just wanted to make sure that I moved steadily and not make one strong move. I was afraid of Black Mamba coming late, but I never saw her."
Well Monied got the big money after Sunday's $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, rallying three-wide into the stretch and drawing clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Acting Lady was second and Lexlenos was third. Well Monied, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Maria's Mon, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.35. Joel Rosario rode for trainer Howard Zucker. The filly now has three straight wins, all on the green course. "After her last two wins I had a lot of confidence," Rosario said. "They were going fast up front and I could see everything from where I was. I had to ask her to run before the three-eighths pole so we wouldn't get caught too wide. She was running real comfortably at the top of the stretch and I had a lot of horse left." Zucker said he isn't sure he wants to see Well Monied in the American Oaks. "It's not so much who's going (opponents). But I have to see how my filly is," the trainer said. "She's kind of a thin type. She doesn't hold her weight in between. I've been running her once a month and if I have to, I'll fatten her up a little bit."
Rutherienne passed the $1 million mark in earnings with the winner's share of Saturday's $300,000 (Canadian) Nassau Stakes. Patiently handled by Alan Garcia, the 5-year-old Pulpit mare, a Virginia Kraft Payson homebred, took charge in the stretch, winning by 3 lengths over defending champ Callwood Dancer. Meadow Saffron was third. Rutherienne finished the 1 1/16 miles on "good" turf in 1:41.89. "On paper, there wasn't too much speed in the race," said Garcia. "My filly was comfortable where she was. I wanted to be patient until the top of the stretch. It's a long stretch and the last quarter, I was looking for room. Then it opened up a little bit and I had a small opening. I wanted to take advantage. She went in there and she kept on going."
Eye of the Leopard rallied five-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Plate Trial Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-olds and just got there in time to win by a neck over Southdale. Rapid Release was third and the favorite, El Brujo was ninth, lacking a rally in the stretch. Eye of the Leopard, a son of A.P. Indy, got the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:51.80. Eurico Da Silva rode the Sam Son Farms homebred for trainer Mark Frostad. "He's such a big animal," Frostad said. "He gets into stride and you don't want to do anything to discourage him. Fortunately, Eurico got him there in time. I hope he keeps getting better." Last year, Not Bourbon won the Plate Trial and then went on to win the Queen's Plate.
Gozzip Girl led all the way to a 1 1/2-lengths victory in Saturday's $150,000 Sands Point Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, setting a moderate pace over the yielding turf and then kicking well at the end. Warm Shower rallied to finish second and Bluegrass Princess was third. Gozzip Girl, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Dynaformer, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:51.24 with Kent Desormeaux riding for trainer Thomas Albertrani. "She was the best horse in the field and she got it done," Desormeaux said. "It was an enjoyable ride, too. She leads a little sluggish because she's so leggy … so I encouraged her to come away running and then see where we were going to be because I thought it was going to be a paceless race. I just let her find a rhythm and that rhythm was on the lead. She cornered for home full of run." Asked about next steps, Albertrani said, "Hopefully, we'll get invited to the American Oaks" at Hollywood Park on July 5.
Scolara caught Kristi With a K in the final jump to win Saturday's $65,000 Mckaymackenna Stakes for fillies and mares by a nose. Pastel Gal was well back in third. Scolara, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Quiet American, ran the 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:43.21 with Desormeaux up.
Cool Coal Man led all the way to a 5 1/2-lengths victory over just two rivals in Saturday's $65,000 Lord of the Night Stakes for 3-year-old and upward. Discreet Treasure and True Resurgence were second an third. Cool Coal Man, a refugee from the Triple Crown rigors, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.12 with John Velazquez riding for trainer Nick Zito.
Minnie Punt had to work through traffic to get to the front in Sunday's $75,000 Spectacular Bid division of the New York Stallion Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings, then drew off to post an upset by 2 1/4 lengths. The favorite, Uncle T Seven, was second and Strong Impact finished third. Minnie Punt, a Gold Fever gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:22.62 under John Velazquez.
Mother Russia took command in the stretch run in the Cupecoy's Joy division for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies, winning by 2 lengths over Wild Awake. Jet's Tradition was third. Mother Russia, a daughter of Mayakovsky, got the 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:23.86 under Ramon Dominguez.
Bold Start broke on top in Saturday's $100,000 Aristides Stakes, took back to stalk the pace, then drew off through the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Semaphore Man ran evenly to finish second and Knights Cross finished third at long odds. Bold Start, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Jump Start, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.04 with Robby Albarado up for trainer Kenny McPeek. "He deserves it," said McPeek. "He's been so solid for so long. It seems like he was always knocking on the door but hadn't quite gotten over it. I'm thrilled he did it here. He's still got plenty of good races left in him. He loves it here. He's just rock solid. He always does everything right. We've found a little niche with him sprinting. When he was younger I tried him a little long and a little on turf and even then he ran well. We have plenty of options."
Hightap took charge in the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, easily besting odds-on favorite Luster to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Perfect for You finished third. Hightap, a Kentucky-bred filly by Tapit, finished the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.78 with Shaun Bridgmohan up for trainer Steve Asmussen. "I had a good trip," Bridgmohan said. "It worked out very well. She was able to settle down … behind them. Around the middle of the turn I had a choice, and I saw the favorite in front of me and opted to follow her. When I was ready to move, we went ahead and she finished up really, really strong. She looked good."
Golden Gate Fields
Spring House saved ground early in Saturday's $100,000 Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes, found room along the rail on the final turn and got clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Sir Dave also rallied late to take second and Yacht Spotter led the way, then finished third. Spring House, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Chester House, ran the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:19.62 under Russell Baze. Julio Canani trains. "Going into the far turn the last time I had nowhere to go except for a small hole on the rail," Baze said. "I goosed him and he went right in there. He knows his business. He knows to relax early. It (his run) is right there on tap anytime you need it."
Logi Universe surged to the lead with about 400 meters to run in Sunday's $3 million Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby, and drew off smartly to win by 4 lengths. Reach the Crown, who led briefly before yielding to the winner, held on for second, a head over Antonio Barrows. Logi Universe, a son of Neo Universe, failed in the Japanese Two Thousand Guineas after winning four consecutive races prior to that effort.
Viva Pataca survived a traffic jam at the top of the stretch in Sunday's Citi Champions & Chater Cup, then got home first, a neck to the good of Thumbs Up. The 7-year-old picked up his seventh Grade 1 win, following up on his victory in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup in February. Trainer John Moore wasted no time beating the drums for Viva Pataca as Hong Kong "Horse of the Year." "The fact that he keeps winning these big races, season after season, has to be recognized," Moore said. He said he still plans to take Viva Pataca to Australia for the Cox Plate in October.
Lord Justice led all the way to a 1/2-length win over Santana Six in Saturday's $70,000 Spend a Buck Stakes for 3-year-olds. It Happened Again rallied to take third. Lord Justice, with Chris DeCarlo in the irons, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:39.85. The Kentucky-bred A.P. Indy colt is trained by Todd Pletcher for Stronach Stables.
Smart Enough also was fast enough in Saturday's $60,000 Wolf Hill Stakes, leading all the way to a 1 3/4-lengths victory over Atticus Kristy. Awakino Cat was third. Smart Enough, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Horse Chestnut gelding, ran "about" 5 1/2 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:01.18 with Eddie Castro riding.
Love That Dance led all the way to a 3 1/2-lengths win in Sunday's $60,000 Open Mind Handicap for Jersey-bred distaffers. Love for Not was second with Open Skies third. Love That Dance, a 3-year-old daughter of Not For Love, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.59 with Joe Bravo up.
Unreachable Star trailed all 11 rivals early in Saturday's $70,000 William Henry Harrison Stakes for Indiana-breds, advanced around the turn and came six-wide into the lane to pass the rest and win by 2 lengths. Liepers Fork was second and Oak Rich finished third. Unreachable Star, a 5-year-old Unloosened gelding, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.4 with Orlando Mojica riding.
Calder Race Course
Marina Ballerina stumbled at the start of Saturday's $55,000 Cool Air Stakes for fillies and mares. But with Eduardo Nunez handling the reins, the odds-on favorite overcame some traffic issues to get up in the final yards and win by 1/2 length over Bereba. Rate of Exchange finished third. Marina Ballerina, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred Outflanker mare, finished the 5 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 59.43 seconds. Three of the original starters scratched when the race came off the grass.
Nursery Rhyme got to the lead late in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 Fit for a Queen Stakes for fillies and mares and held on to win by a neck over Sly Storm. Dee's Rose was another neck back in third. Nursery Rhyme, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Tale of the Cat, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.08 with Jesse Campbell in the irons for trainer Ian Wilkes.
Canyon Yodler dueled for the lead most of the way through Saturday's $50,000 Aspen Cup Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, got a clear lead and then dug in gamely to win by 3/4 length over Collection Plate. Watsyonoboutme was third. Canyon Yodler, a California-bred daughter of Swiss Yodler, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.8 under Joe Martinez.
Elusive Sparkle rallied from last of six to win Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes for fillies and mares by a head over Wings of an Angel. Lindsey's Wish was another neck back in third as the favorite. Elusive Sparkle, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Elusive Quality, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.08 with Terry Thompson in the irons.
Native Ruler came from last of just four starters to win Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Express Stakes by 2 lengths over Celluloid Hero. The Big Wave was third and Eagle Storm was distanced in fourth. Coach Jimi Lee was scratched. Native Ruler is a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Elusive Quality. He got the 6 furlongs in 1:08.96 under Israel Ocampo.
Noosa Beach set a pressured pace in Sunday's $50,000 Pepsi Cola Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings, then was challenged again in the stretch by stablemate Winning Machine before prevailing by a head. Peaceful Reign was third. Noosa Beach, a Washington-bred Harbor the Gold gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15 with Juan Gutierrez riding.