Vineyard Haven rallied along the rail in the final furlong to win Saturday's $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park in Maryland, beating Ravalo by 1/2 length.
The 3-year-old, gray, Florida-bred son of Lido Palace broke from the inside post position and was caught behind horses down the backstretch and through the turn. Once the field fanned out turning for home, jockey Alan Garcia shot his mount through and he provided plenty of kick.
The 6 furlongs, over a sloppy track, went in 1:09. Fleet Valid finished third.
Vineyard Haven, from the Godolphin Stable, finished first in the King's Bishop at Saratoga in his last start but was disqualified to second after drifting out in the stretch drive. That race marked his return from a seven-month layoff.
"During the first part of the race I wasn't sure we were going to be able to get there," Garcia said. "But when the rail opened my horse just started running for the hole." He's a really nice horse. This was a great effort."
Rick Mettee, assistant to winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said it is "very difficult for a 3-year-old to compete against a solid field of older sprinters as he did today. Going three-quarters instead of seven-eighths makes it an entirely different race. These horses run hard every step. Most have a good amount of speed themselves and they don't stop until the wire."
In other weekend racing:
So You Think, a 3-year-old making just his fourth career start, won Saturday's Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in Australia, leading much of the way and beating another 3-year-old, Manhattan Rain, by 2 1/2 lengths. Winning trainer Bart Cummings also captured the Caulfield Cup the previous week with Viewed, giving him a powerful potential punch in the Nov. 3 Melbourne Cup. "He may be only a 3-year-old," Cummings told the Australian Associated Press, "but he's a big, strong horse with above-normal ability so I thought he should run." He said he told jockey Glen Boss "to try to have him forward. I didn't expect him to be up there but in the end he did it pretty easily."
St Nicholas Abbey won a battle of heavyweight 2-year-olds (and owners) in Saturday's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in England. The Montjeu colt, who races for Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor, shot to the lead when asked by jockey John Murtagh and won by 3 3/4 lengths over the previously undefeated Elusive Pimpernel. Al Zir, representing Godolphin, finished third. St Nicholas Abbey, now undefeated in three tries, becomes trainer Aidan O'Brien's brightest hope for next spring's Derby.
Packing Winner -- packing odds of nearly 160-1, upset some of Hong Kong's biggest names in Sunday's Mission Hills Sha Tin Trophy. Leading from the start, Packing Winner and stablemate, Mr Medici, finished 1-2, with Thumbs Up third, reigning Hong Kong "Horse of the Year" Viva Pataca fourth and Collection and Good Ba Ba fifth and seventh, respectively. The various trainers noted the season is just getting going and predicted the form will sort itself out through the trials and into the Cathay Pacific International Races in mid-December.
In Wednesday's rescheduled $100,000 Athenia Stakes, Belle Allure had to overcome traffic problems in the stretch before getting up to win by a head over Kristi With a K. The 4-year-old Numerous filly, with Ramon Dominguez up, ran the 1 1/16 miles of "good" turf in 1:43.3. "I was panicking a little bit when we turned for home because there was really no racing room," Dominguez said. "Eventually, I was able to get my filly out." Winning trainer Christophe Clement said Belle Allure next may tackle the Nov. 21 Cardinal at Churchill Downs or the Nov. 28 Matriarch at Hollywood Park.
Operation Red Dawn overhauled breakaway pace-setter Lemon Cream Pie in the final sixteenth to win Thursday's $100,000 Knickerbocker by 2 1/2 lengths. Brave Tin Soldier finished well back in third. Operation Red Dawn, a 7-year-old Miswaki gelding, finished in 1:50.21 under Rajiv Maragh. "He's like a good French wine," said winning trainer Christophe Clement. "He gets better with age."
In Saturday's New York Showcase Day races for New York-breds:
Haynesfield pushed to the lead in the $250,000 Empire Classic, opened a daylight advantage at the head of the lane and was all out at the end to win by 3/4 length over Ruffino. Undocumented finished third. Haynesfield, with Ramon Dominguez capping a near-sweep of the stakes card, got the 9 furlongs in the slop in 1:50.76. "It doesn't get any better," Dominguez said after the Classic. "I'm very excited, very excited. It's special, especially being my first year riding year-round here. It's a very special day here in New York and to be able to win four races is a great feeling, really."
Dominguez was in front all the way aboard Driven by Success in the $125,000 Hudson Stakes, winning by 3 lengths over Legal Consent. Citifest finished third. Legal Consent, a 4-year-old gelding by Precise End, ran the 6 furlongs on the sloppy track in 1:10.51.
Needless to say, Fenway Faithful didn't attract favoritism from the New York crowd in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds. But, unlike this year's Red Sox, he did win, stalking the pace, then leading through the stretch to finish 1 length ahead of City Trooper. The Grand Slam colt ran the sloppy 1 mile in 1:38.94 under Dominguez.
Minerologist overcame a bad break and resulting traffic issues to win the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies by 3/4 length over Embrace Change. With Kent Desormeaux up for trainer John Kimmel, the Mineshaft filly got the 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:40.04.
Rightly So led from gate to wire in the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap for fillies and mares, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over My Dinah. Rightly So, a 3-year-old daughter of Read the Footnotes, got the 7 furlongs on the sloppy main track in 1:24.64, again with Dominguez in the irons.
The turf races from Saturday's stakes card were pushed back to Sunday by the wet weather. When they ran, Banrock rallied from mid-pack to win the $150,000 Mohawk by 1 length over Gimme Credit, finishing the 9 furlongs on soft turf in 1:52.66 for Javier Castellano. And You Go West Girl stalked the pace before drawing off at the end to win the $150,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares by 3 lengths over Love Cove in 1:53.53 and Joe Lezcano in the irons.
Westover Wildcat led most of the way to win Sunday's $65,000 Bold Lad for 2-year-olds on the fast main track with Golden Ghost second. Westover Wildcat, a Kentucky-bred Forest Wildcat colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.81 with Dominguez picking up another win.
Dean's Kitten rallied to the lead in the stretch in Sunday's $65,000 Vision Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the soft turf, then held off Imaging to win by a neck. Dean's Kitten, a Kentucky-bred Kitten's Joy colt, finished in 1:46.22 under -- again -- Dominguez.
Female Drama made all the going in Sunday's $65,000 Wings of Jove Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, beating Magic Appeal by 1 1/2 lengths and running 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.36 for jockey Rajiv Maragh. Female Drama is a Kentucky-bred Indian Charlie fillie.
Potosina stalked the pace, then drew off with ease in Sunday's $65,000 Good Mood Stakes for juvenile fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. At the wire, the Kentucky-bred Cactus Ridge filly was 4 3/4 lengths to the good of Caminadora. Potosina finished in 1:46.75 with John Velazquez up.
Satan's Quick Chick rode the rail to a fast-finishing upset win in Saturday's $300,00 Lexus Raven Run for 3-year-old fillies, nipping Slides Choice by 1/2 length. Don'ttalktome, who opened up a big lead at the top of the stretch, settled for third. The favorite, Flashing, finished 12th. Satan's Quick Chick, a daughter of Sky Mesa, finished the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.62 with Leandro Goncalves up. The winner had three previous wins in seven starts this year but two were allowance victories at Presque Isle Downs. "I thought she was in trouble on the turn," said winning trainer Eric Reed. "But Leandro gave her a great trip. The waters parted at the eighth pole and here she came."
California-based Black Mamba justified her favorite's status in Sunday's $125,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes, stalking the pace until the field was approaching the final turn, then drawing clear and holding well to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Winter View. Ballynoe finished third. Black Mamba, a 6-year-old, New Zealand-bred mare by Black Minnaloushe, got the 1 1/2 miles on yielding turf in 2:37.07 with Robby Albarado riding. "With this pedestrian pace, being as good of a quality filly as she is, I figured if I could kick on turning for home and spread the race out a little bit, she'd come nicely," Albarado said. "She did."
Cloudy's Knight rolls on. The 9-year-old son of Lord Avie, who won the Kentucky Cup Turf in September off a full year's layoff, scored again in Thursday's $125,000 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland. Under Rosemary Homeister Jr., Cloudy's Knight came from ninth in the final quarter to win by a head over the favorite, Winchester, then survived a foul claim before the result was posted official. He finished the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:30.87. "He's very game, aggressive and he handled the turf course perfect," said Homeister, who posted her first-ever win at Keeneland.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey John Velazquez didn't mind seeing Friday's Pin Oak Valley View Stakes for 3-year-old fillies split into two divisions -- they won them both. Eye of Taurus dueled with Miss Keller through the final furlong to win one division by a head, finishing the 1 1/16 miles on the grass in 1:46.49. Bluegrass Princess got to the front with more than a furlong to run in the other division in 1:47.
April Pride waited for running room in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, got through in time and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Century Park. Starlarks was third. April Pride, a British-bred daughter of Falbrav, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.02. Winning jockey Garrett Gomez said of the slow start, "I actually think that helped her, because when I asked her, she really accelerated -- so much so that when we went through there, my boot slipped back in my right iron. The hole was tight, and she went through there great."
Bodua made the early way in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Fanfreluche Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies, was headed at midstretch but came again to win by a neck over Jenny's So Great. Attitude Included finished third. Bodua, a daughter of North Light, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.48 for Eurico Da Silva. "I thought she would be more relaxed and be a little further back," said winning trainer Mike Doyle. "He did the right thing and rode her well."
Simmard stalked the pace into the turn in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Chief Bearheart Stakes, eased past early leader Cool Gator and went on to defeat that rival by 1 length. Sligovitz finished third as the favorite. Simmare, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Dixieland Band colt, ran the 1 1/4 miles on yielding turf in 2:04.67 with Robert Landry up. "He's only had two races this year," said winning trainer Roger Atfield. "I think he's a class horse. I hope if we can hold him together, he can go on to bigger and better things."
Rahy's Attorney battled for the lead into the stretch in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bunty Lawless Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and up, then drew clear and won by 3 lengths over Sand Cove, ridden out by jockey Robert Landry. Rahy's Attorney, a 5-year-old gelding by Crown Attorney out of the Rahy mare Rahy's Hope, ran the 1 mile on soft turf in 1:37.81.
An oddity -- the same owner, trainer, jockey and sire won Saturday night's races for 2-year-old colts and geldings, and juvenile fillies.
Kera's Kitten pressed the pace in the $100,000 Skyy El Jovan Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings, took charge in the stretch and won by 5 lengths. B'wanagoldmine was second and Prince Eddington finished third. Kera's Kitten, a Kentucky-bred Kitten's Joy colt, ran the 1 mile on soft turf in 1:39.67. Julien Leparoux rode for trainer Michael Maker and owners Sarah and Kenneth Ramsey.
The same team sent out Lisa's Kitten to win the $100,000 M2 Technology La Senorita Stakes for juvenile fillies. Lisa's Kitten, however, did it from well off the pace, starting behind 10 of her 11 rivals and fighting traffic most of the way. She also tried to jump the finish line shadow before winning by 1 length over Winning Tale. Seasoned was third.
Even though it's only two weeks until the Breeders' Cup turf races for juveniles, Kenneth Ramsey proclaimed, "We're going to California."
Ebony N Ice came around rivals on the turn in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Fantasy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, got to the front and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Victorious Vye. Indy Beauty was third. Ebony N Ice, a Washington-bred Tribunal filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a "good" track in 1:48.05 under Quincy Welch.
Lydia's Last Step, at odds of nearly 60-1, made the last steps count in Sunday's $60,000 Governor's Cup Stakes for 2-year-olds, rallying along the inside to beat Kerrville by 3/4 length. Big Texas Daddy ran third. Lydia's Last Step, a Texas-bred Spanish Steps gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.4 under Juan Ochoa.
Mutak Gold stuck close to the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Walter R. Cluer Memorial, advanced between horses on the turn and worked hard to score a 3/4-length victory over a late-running Pearl Fisher. Allegre came seven-wide around rivals and finished another head back in third. Mutak Gold, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Mutakddim gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.12 with Ry Eikleberry up.
Czechers set a pressured pace throughout Saturday's $50,000 Queen of the Green Handicap for fillies and mares, held her ground and got home first, 1 length to the good of the favorite, Star of Whitney. Double Dip was third. Czechers, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Indian Charlie filly, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.7 with Stephan Heiler in the irons.