The field for Saturday's $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational was replete with talent, including a couple of previous winners of the event. But it was Telling, shipped in from Chicago for the event, who got through at mid-stretch and went on for the win, adding his name to list of contenders for the Breeders' Cup Turf this fall.
Telling, a 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy, was winless in five starts this year entering the Sword Dancer at Sartoga. But in his last outing, Telling made a big late run to finish fifth, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths, in the Grade III Arlington Handicap -- apparently a tipoff he was ready for a big effort.
Saturday, jockey Javier Castellano kept Telling a little closer to the lead as the early pace was unusually quick. When the running started, Castellano found room between horses at the quarter pole and Telling responded, drawing off to win by 2 lengths over the 10-year-old veteran, Better Talk Now, who also was second in last year's Sword Dancer.
Brass Hat was third and the favorite, Grand Couturier, who won the last two runnings, finished fourth. Telling got the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:25.43.
Telling originally was not even invited to compete in the Sword Dancer and was included only after trainer Steve Hobby asked Saratoga officials for a spot. "We thought about this race last year," he said, "but he wasn't doing well at the time so we skipped it. This year, he was training well and he really moved up at the mile and a half."
In other weekend racing that might have a bearing on the $3 million, 1 1/2-mile Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 7 at Santa Anita:
Courageous Cat pressed the pace in Friday's $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, got to the lead with a quarter mile to run and went on to score by 1 3/4 lengths over Sal the Barber. Al Khali finished third. Courageous Cat, a Kentucky-bred Storm Cat colt, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:45.9. Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux rode for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. "The sky's the limit for this horse the way carried me today," said Courageous Cat's Hall of Fame jockey, Kent Desormeaux. "He's a very nice horse. He'll win a Grade 1. He's come around -- three in a row now. He's going to be something special. I was looking forward to winning it." Mott now has saddled the winner of the Grade II fixture six times.
Wiener Walzer dueled down the stretch with stablemate Getaway before winning Sunday's Group 1 Rheinland-Pokal at Cologne in Germany by a nose. With Fredrik Johansson up, Wiener Walzer, a 3-year-old son of Dynaformer, ran the 2,400 meters in 2:29.89 over "good" turf. He has won all four of his starts this year and came into the race off a victory in the Deutsches Derby at Hamburg on July 5. Trainer Jens Hirschberger said his 1-2 finishers likely will both run again in the Mercedes-Benz Grosser Preis von Baden on Sept. 6. Despite his odd name, Wiener Walzer is quite well-bred. Dynaformer, who stands at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., has become one of the top U.S.stallions. Wiener Waltzer's dam is Walzerkoenigin, a daughter of Kingmambo.
In other weekend racing with potential implication for the $25.5 million Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 6-7 at Santa Anita:
$5 million Classic
Uno Mas rallied to the lead midway down the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Super Derby Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs and held on gamely to win by a neck over Electric Alphabet and another nose over Red Lead. The early leader, Face Off, was far back in fourth. Uno Mas, a Kentucky-bred Macho Uno colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.64. Shane Sellers had the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen.
$2 million Ladies Classic
Ginger Brew, under mild pressure most of the way, led from gate to wire in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Belle Mahone Stakes at Woodbine, then held on at the end to win by 1/2 length. Simply Splendid was simply second and Smart Surprise, the favorite, was a surprising third. Ginger Brew, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred Milwaukee Brew filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.55. Todd Kabel rode for trainer Brian Lynch. Ginger Brew won two of three starts in Florida during the winter, then finished second in the Dance Smartly Stakes over Woodbine's E.P. Taylor turf course in July. "I'm happy to see her back off the freshening," Lynch said, adding Ginger Brew has "good things ahead. She's developed into a lovely mare. She's very versatile. She can go to the lead if there's no pace, or she can sit off of it."
Just Jenda stalked the pace in Saturday's $200,000 Monmouth Oaks, surged to the lead on the turn and drew off easily to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Malibu Prayer led the way and finished second with Hightap third. Just Jenda, a Kentucky-bred Menifee filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.69 under Gabriel Saez. She now has won four of seven starts this year, including the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn. "She's an excellent filly," said winning trainer Larry Jones. "This race was our main goal, so from here I don't know where we'll go." He said Just Jenda will race next year if all goes well.
Whirlie Bertie set a brisk pace in Saturday's $100,000 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park, drew off turning for home and won by 3 1/2 lengths over Abby's Angel. Lady's Laughter was third and the favorite, Unforgotten, finished sixth, showing little. Whirlie Bertie, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Stormin Fever, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.8 for jockey Larry Melancon.
Elusive Horizon jumped quickly to the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Emerald Distaff Handicap at Emerald Downs, set a brisk pace and just held on at the end to win by a neck over Gadget Queen. Christmas Ship finished third. Elusive Horizon, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Elusive Quality filly, got the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:47. Juan Gutierrez had the mount for trainer Doris Harwood.
$2 million TVG Turf Mile
Goldikova not only won Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, she won by 6 lengths in stakes record time. With Olivier Peslier in the irons for trainer Freddie Head, Goldikova got home in 1:33.5, shaving a full second off the stakes record, and won by the biggest margin in the history of the race. In fact, her only issue was a reluctance to enter the gate. Aqlaam finished second and Virtual was third. Head said Goldikova now will have a brief rest before her fall campaign. "I think the Moulin is unlikely," he told the Racing Post. "The Breeders' Cup Mile is her main aim and she could go for the Prix de la Foret (on Oct. 3) before that." Peslier said he believes Goldikova "is superior to Miesque, as she is better in the head. She has always been a little naughty at the stalls and that is the only fault she has." Miesque won the Mile in 1987 at Hollywood Park and in 1988 at Churchill Downs. Goldikova won the Prix du Moulin last year en route to victory in the Mile at Santa Anita. Angus Gold, racing manager for Sheik Hamdan al-Maktoum, said Aqlaam ran well "and now we will think about the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot or the Breeders' Cup Mile.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
Magical Fantasy saved ground until the stretch turn in Sunday's $350,000 John C. Mabee Stakes for fillies and mares at Del Mar, then rallied to the lead in deep stretch and went on to win by 1 length over Gotta Have Her. Patricia's Gem made all the pace and held on for third, another 1/2 length back. Magical Fantasy, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Diesis out of the Easy Goer mare Kissing Gate, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.17 under Alex Solis. She came into the race off a short layoff. Prior to that, she won the Santa Barbara at Santa Anita and the Gamely at Hollywood Park. She now has five wins from 16 career starts. "She looks like she's improving a little bit at a time. She has a lot of enthusiasm and she looks really good," said winning trainer Patrick Gallagher. Reminded the victory gives Magical Fantasy an automatic bid to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, he said, "That would be something nice to think about. To go and have a good time with that kind of race."
$1 million Sentient Filly & Mare Sprint
Four Gifts pressed the pace in Saturday's $250,000 Charles Town Oaks, surged to a lead at the top of the stretch and held on to win by 1/2 length over Royal Card. Love That Dance, always close, finished third. Four Gifts, a Kentucky-bred Even the Score filly, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.82 with Robby Albarado aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen. Four Gifts won the Delta Princess at Delta Downs last December, then captured the Eight Belles at Churchill Downs in May.
$1 million Dirt Mile
Assessment took the lead in Sunday's $300,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs and made the advantage stand up, staving off the favorite, Awesome Gem, to win by 3/4 length. Teide also ran well late to finish third, just a nose back. Assessment, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Jump Start gelding, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:33.4. Gallyn Mitchell had the mount for trainer Howard Belvoir.
Anyone seeking a hunch bet in the wake of Les Paul's death had the winner of Saturday night's Evangeline Mile at Evangeline Downs. Star Guitar, a 4-year-old, Louisiana-bred colt by Quiet American, raced in mid-pack until the turn, moved up entering the stretch and ran by the leaders on the outside, winning by 2 1/4 lengths. King Dan was second was second and Ide Like a Double finished third. Curt Bourque rode Star Guitar for trainer Al Stall Jr.
$2 million Grey Goose Juvenile
Western Smoke turned Saturday's $100,000 Charles Town Juvenile into a paid workout, leading all the way and winning by 12 1/2 lengths. Kratisto was second and Belissima Luna finished third. Western Smoke, a Kentucky-bred Smoke Glacken colt, finished 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.99. Robby Albarado rode for trainer Steve Asmussen. The victory was a copy of last month's domination of the Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.
$1 million Juvenile Turf
Two Notch Road, sent off at odds of better than 100-1 in Saturday's $60,000 Continental Mile at Monmouth Park, found running room on the rail, got through and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The favorite, Mississippi Hippie, led briefly before Two Notch Road sprung his surprise and held on for second. Work for a Cure finished third. Two Notch Road, a Virginia-bred Partner's Hero gelding, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.62 under Shannon Uske. It was his first win in his fourth start. "I'm always a shoot-for-the-moon type of guy," said winning trainer Glenn Thompson. "This horse was entered last week for a $25,000 tag and threw the rider before the race. I wanted to try him on the turf and this was the next logical spot."
Forestry Steel rallied down the lane to just catch Prince Eddington on the wire in Saturday's $50,000 Sunny's Halo Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Nocknonheavensgate was third. Forestry Steel, under Eddie Martin Jr., ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.93. The Florida-bred Forestry colt is trained by Kenneth Marshall.
$2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies
Franny Freud stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Ontario Debutante at Woodbine, took a narrow lead in the turn and then held longshot Negligee safe to win by 1/2 length. The favorite, Maritime Passion, finished third. Franny Freud, a New York-bred daughter of Freud, got the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.29 with Patrick Husbands aboard for trainer John Terranova II.
Kinsolving stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Shenandoah Stakes at Charles Town, swept to the lead when asked by jockey Robby Albarado and without much effort won by 1 1/4 lengths. Down Town Allen was second after making the early pace and Richiesgirlgotgame finished third. Kinsolving, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Posse, trained by Steve Asmussen, ran the 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 52.08 seconds. She won her first career start, then failed in three subsequent efforts before Saturday night's win.
Unbridled Meeting dueled for the lead in Saturday's $70,000 CARF Debutante Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, drew clear at the top of the stretch and held Got an Itch safe at the end, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Skirt and a Tie finished third. Unbridled Meeting, a California-bred daughter of Red Bullet, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:13.15 with William Antongeorgi III in the irons.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf
Rich Pearl got to the lead in the run down the backstretch in Saturday's $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial Handicap at Louisiana Downs, got well clear and finished first, 1 length to the good of Miss Afleet Alex. Lemondropsmypop finished third as the favorite. Rich Pearl, a Kentucky-bred Monashee Mountain filly, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.97 under Sidney LeJeune Jr.
In other weekend racing:
Ju Jitsu Jax stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 West Virginia Sprint Derby, then relentlessly drew off in the stretch, winning by 5 1/2 lengths. Pilanesberg was the best of the rest and Big Push finished third. Ju Jitsu Jax, a Florida-bred Tiger Ridge colt, ran the 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 50.97 seconds.
San Nicola Whiskey raced last of eight through the early furlongs of Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoriana Stakes for Ontario-bred distaffers, moved up around the turn and into the stretch and rallied to win by 3/4 length. You Will Love Me was second, a head in front of the odds-on favorite, Authenticat. San Nicola Whiskey, a 4-year-old Whiskey Wisdom filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.13 under Emma-Jayne Wilson.
Anne's Purse came from well back to win Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Rainbow Connection Stakes for fillies and mares by 3 1/4 lengths over Koonunga Hill. Bold Maneuver finished third. Anne's Purse, with Gerry Olguin aboard, ran the 5 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:00.45.
Banrock rallied through the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 West Point Handicap for New York-breds by a head over Pennington. Extra Zip finished third. Banrock, a force for the past few years among state-breds, finished the 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:47.48 with Kent Desormeaux riding.
Don'ttalktome did all her talking in the stretch in Friday's $50,000 Iowa State Fair Stakes for fillies and mares, taking the front at the sixteenth pole and edging out to win by 3/4 length over Nursery Rhyme. Pace-setter Daguerreotype finished third with no photo needed. Don'ttalktome, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Cactus Ridge filly, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.23 for jockey Terry Thompson.
Native Ruler got the best of five rivals in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint, winning off by 3 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Coach Jimi Lee was the early leader and held second. High Expectations finished third. Native Ruler, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Elusive Quality horse, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.26 with Terry Thompson in the irons.
M One Rifle shot to the lead in Friday's $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds and drew off at the end to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Korban was best of the rest and J P Jammer finished third. M One Rifle, a One Man Army gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.32 under Mike Smith.
Mogumbo Cat drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Shishkabob Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths over Angelonmyshoulder. Warren's Mark finished third. Mogumbo Cat, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Van Nistelrooy gelding, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.86 under Patrick Valenzuela.
No Flies on Doodle led all the way in Saturday's $75,000 Washington Oaks and held on in the final strides to win by a neck over Point of Reference. Lucy Got Lucky and Crocodile Tuff completed the order of finish. No Flies on Doodle, a Washington-bred Storm Blast filly, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.80 with Gallyn Mitchell riding.