The weekend's biggest race ended with a dramatic win by a veteran campaigner, Champs Elysees, and the immediate decision to retire him rather than move along to the Breeders' Cup.
Champs Elysees rated off the pace in Saturday's $2 million (Canadian) Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine, came out for the stretch run and blew past Jukebox Jury in the late going to win by 1/2 length. Buccellati was third.
Champs Elyssees, under Garrett Gomez, finished the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:28.36 and owner Juddmonte Farms announced after the race he will be retired to stud without a detour to the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 7.
Juddmonte's Garrett O'Rourke said Champs Elysees deserves to end his career with a victory. And, he added, "such a huge win like this is obviously a huge boost to his stallion career as well … He has been a tremendous servant. He is very game, he is very talented."
Gomez said: "I just try to ride him with all the confidence in the world. He is probably one of the most talented horses I have seen. But he finds ways to get himself beaten. He seems to never end up in the winner's circle on the big days. I'm glad to see him get a big one."
In another potential prep for the Breeder's Cup Turf, Sal the Barber shipped in from New York to win Saturday's $100,000 Calder Derby in south Florida, rallying sharply in deep stretch to score by 1/2 length over Grand Cash. Livingston Street finished third. Sal the Barber, a Kentucky-bred Alphabet Soup colt, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:40.41 under Eddie Castro. "When I hooked the leaders at the top of the stretch, my horse got competitive and responded very well," Castro said.
Other weekend races with potential implications for the $25.5 million Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 6-7 at Santa Anita:
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
Lahaleeb kicked into high gear in the stretch run in Saturday's $1 million (Canadian) E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, swept past the leaders with a furlong left and went on to post a 44-1 upset win. The favorite, Rainbow View, led early in the stretch run and settled for second, 1 3/4 lengths back. Princess Haya was third. LaHaleeb, a 3-year-old, Irish-bred daughter of Redback, ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.89 under William Buick. "We kept it very simple," said winning trainer Mick Channon. "She came very fresh. If you'd seen her in the paddock beforehand, she did throw a few bucks and kicks in. We got it spot on. We can't believe it, especially for (owners) Mohammed Al Qatami and Khalid Al Mudhaf, who are watching in Kuwait. Channon said a trip to the Breeders' Cup would be "a lovely thing. But, we do think she needs a little bit of a cut in the ground, which is why we came here really. So, we are not too sure, really. It's a question of one race at a time."'
Hot Cha Cha waltzed to an upset victory in Saturday's $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland, advancing from a pace-stalking trip to dominate the stretch run. At the wire, the Kentucky-bred Cactus Ridge filly was 4 1/2 lengths in front. Shared Account was second and the odds-on favorite, Gozzip Girl, settled for third, lacking the needed rally. Hot Cha Cha ran the 9 furlongs on "soft" turf in 1:53.09 with James Graham up for trainer Philip Sims. She improved her record to five wins in 11 starts. "I pulled the trigger a little sooner than I wanted to," Graham said. "But if I didn't, the hole would've closed and I'd have never got through. When I did get through, she exploded all the way to the wire."
Chary came out from behind horses at the head of the lane in Saturday's $75,000 Calder Oaks and ran by the leaders, winning off by 1 3/4 lengths over Proud Osceola. Hopeful Image finished third. Chary, a Florida-bred Montbrook filly, got the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:50.52 with Juan Leyva up.
$2 million Sentient Jet Sprint
El Brujo split horses a furlong from home in Saturday's $150,000 Perryville Stakes for 3-year-olds at Keeneland and gamely prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over Not for Silver. Conchacer was third and the favorite, Warrior's Reward, faded from the lead to finish fifth. El Brujo, an Ontario-bred Candy Ride gelding, ran the "about" 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:25.95 for jockey Edgar Prado, who was subbing for the injured Robby Albarado. "I was just waiting, biding my time, and luckily a hole opened up and he shot through there," Prado said.
$1 million Turf Sprint
In Saturday's $500,000 (Canadian) Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine, Field Commission had to wait at the top of the stretch for running room, got through and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Bogue Chitto. Jungle Wave, the favorite, finished third. Field Commander, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred colt by Service Stripe, ran the 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:09.23 for jockey Julien Leparoux. Field Commission came into the Nearctic off a sixth-place finish to Ventura in last month's Woodbine Mile Asked about the Breedes' Cup, Leparoux said: "I think he deserves it. We were in a very good position. He was very relaxed on the rail. I was able to get out and he finished well."
Dubai Majesty wore down pace-setting Libor Lady to win Friday's $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes for fillies and mares at Keeneland by 1 1/4 lengths. Nadeshiko finished third. Dubai Majesty, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Essence of Dubai filly, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on soft turf in 1:03.64 with Jamie Theriot in the irons. "She's relaxing a little bit more on the grass," Theriot said. "She can finish a lot stronger and I think she can go a lot of ground on the grass."
Gotta Have Her got through along the rail at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Senator Ken Maddy Handicap for fillies and mares at Santa Anita and went on to win by 2 lengths over Pasar Silbano. Tuscan Evening was third. Gotta Have Her, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Royal Academy mare, ran the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12.09 under Tyler Baze. "I know I can always count on her," said winning trainer Jenine Sahadi. "We'll take it one day at a time. We are considering the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. She's always had tons of raw talent."
$2 million TVG Turf Mile
Get Stormy pressed the pace in Sunday's $125,000 Bryan Station Stakes for 3-year-olds at Keeneland, then got by in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Rescue Squad. Kinsella finished third. Get Stormy, a Kentucky-bred Stormy Atlantic colt, ran the 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:37.49 under Javier Castellano. He now has won three straight. "I handicapped this race," Castellano said. "There was a little speed in the race. I just left him close to the pace and he responded very well today."
$1 million Dirt Mile
Mambo Meister rallied to the lead four-wide in Saturday's $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap at Calder Race Course and drew off easily, winning by 3 3/4 lengths and earning an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup. Motovato was second and Pechito third. Mambo Meister, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred King Cougat gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.85 with Manoel Cruz up. "We'll probably start talking about the Breeders' Cup over dinner tonight," said winning trainer Philip Gleaves.
$5 million Classic
Etched moved into the Breeders' Cup picture with a pace-stalking victory in Friday's $300,000 Meadowlands Cup. After letting Great Debater set the early fractions, jockey Alan Garcia sent Etched to the front with a quarter mile to run and the Forestry colt held off Kiss the Kid at the end to win by a neck. Anak Nakal was third. Etched, who finished the 9 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:45.93, now has won five of six starts, his only loss coming in the UAE 2000 Guineas in Dubai this spring. Asked about the Breeders' Cup Classic, Andrew St. Lawrence, assistant to winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, said: "The way he ran here, I wouldn't be surprised. But that's for Kiaran and Darley (Stable) to decide."
$2 million Ladies' Classic
Holy Nova led early in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ballerina Stakes at Hastings Racecourse, gave up the lead and then came again to win by 1 length over the favorite, La Rocca. Summer Song was third. Holy Nova, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Pure Prize mare, ran the 9 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:52.37 under Mario Guiterrez.
$2 million Grey Goose Juvenile
Jackson Bend overcame a bad stumble at the start to win Saturday's $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Series, becoming just the seventh horse to sweep the open division. Despite the early bobble, the Hear No Evil colt drew off in the final sixteenth to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Jeffrey Sanchez hung on at the start and got Jackson Bend through 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.86. Thank U Philippe was second and Bim Bam was third. "As for the Breeders' Cup," said winning trainer Stanley Gold, "I personally am not a fan of the synthetic tracks. I've never even been to California. The final decision will be up to (owner/breeder Fred Brei). There will be plenty of races for him down the road at Gulfstream this winter."
$1 million Juvenile Turf
Hollinger rallied from last to win Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Cup and Saucer Stakes for Ontario-breds at Woodbine by 2 lengths over Stormy Lord. Mobil Unit finished third. Hollinger, a gray gelding by Black Minnaloushe out of the Dynaformer mare Dynamite Cocktail, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.53. Tyler Pizarro had the mount for trainer Roger Attfield. "I was very impressed with his race today," Attfield said. "We were anticipating him staying with his pedigree. He trained very well into this race. He'd only had one workout over the turf. So, you don't really know. He just keeps getting better and better. I thought he ran very professionally."
$2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies
Sweetlalabye stalked the pace in Saturday's $400,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, moved to the lead midway through the turn and took off in the stretch to win by 3 lengths over the favorite, Joanie's Catch. Sweet Enticement was third. Sweetlalabye, a daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:49.42 under Luis Saez. Sweetlalabye won the first division of this year's series, the Desert Vixen on Aug. 8. She then finished second by a neck in the middle leg, the Susan's Girl Division on Aug. 29. "I'm not even considering California," said winning trainer Manny Tortora when asked about the Breeders' Cup. "If it wasn't on synthetic and was being run at Belmont or Churchill, maybe I'd think about it. But she's run hard."
Rules R Rules ruled the roost in Saturday's $50,000 Finger Lakes Juvenile Fillies in Upstate New York, collaring Winning Image in the late going to win by 3/4 length. Thundered finished third. Rules R Rules, a Florida-bred Peace Rules filly, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.78 under Pedro Rodriguez.
In other weekend racing:
Charles Town Races
Russell Road jetted off down the stretch in Saturday's $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic for state-breds, winning by 8 lengths under mild urging from jockey Travis Dunkelberger. Peacefully Bliss was second, 4 lengths better than Dancin Banker. Russell Road, a 3-year-old Wheaton gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:54.75.
My Sister Margaret battled through the stretch with Natures Annuity in Saturday's $500,000 Breeders' Classic for state-bred fillies and mares, then put her nose in front on the wire. Shesagrumptoo led early and settled for third, 7 1/4 lengths farther back. My Sister Margaret, a 3-year-old Bop filly, ran the 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:26.74 with Scott Spieth in the irons.
Calder Race Course
Criolla Bonita got the best of it in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Cassidy Stakes at Calder Race Course, drawing off to win by 4 lengths over Lavendar's Spirit. The favorite, Sweet Like Sugar, finished third. Criolla Bonita, a Florida-bred daughter of Lightnin N Thunder, got the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:06.81 with Abel Lezcano up.
Lucas Brady caught favorite Mr. Green in deep stretch to win Saturday's $75,000 Birdonthewire Stakes for 2-year-olds by 3/4 length. Peace At Dawn was third. Lucas Brady, a Florida-bred Trippi colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:06.29 under Cecilio Penalba.
Kudu rallied from last to win Saturday's $75,000 Docent Handicap for state-breds by 4 1/2 lengths over Balian. Kudu, a 4-year-old Menifee gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.27 under Stewart Elliott.
Miss Blue Tye Dye led from gate to wire in Saturday's $75,000 Cozy Lace Stakes for state-bred distaffers, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Elizaveta. Miss Blue Tye Dye, a 5-year-old Tekken mare, got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.49 with Frankie Pennington up.
Bunker Hill won Friday's $60,000, off-the-turf Princeton Stakes for 3-year-olds by 2 1/2 lengths over Dubai Review. Swinging Bernie finished third. Bunker Hill, a Florida-bred Trippi colt, ran the 9 furlongs on a sloppy main track in 1:48.8 with Joe Bravo aboard. Trainer Ryan Derek said Bunker Hill will be nominated to the Pegasus on Nov. 6.
On the Vineyard beat Cardashi by a head and Perfect Officer by another neck in Friday's $60,000 Thomas Edison Stakes, running 5 furlongs on the sloppy main track in 55.96. The race originally was carded for the grass and four of the nine original starters scratched.
Thoroughly Holy stalked the pace set by Glitter City in Saturday's $60,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then wore down that rival late to win by 1 1/2 lengths. With Jose Lezcano aboard, the Florida-bred Holy Bull miss ran the 5 furlongs on a "good" main track in 55.39 seconds. The race originally was carded for the grass.
Linda's Lace got by pace-setting Brean Can in deep stretch to win Saturday's $70,000 Frances Slocum Stakes for state-bred distaffers by 1 1/4 lengths. The even-money favorite, Trust N Seven, got home third. Linda's Lace, a 6-year-old Is Sveikatas mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a "good" track in 1:44.6 for Rafael Hernandez.