Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver "came back well" from his tiring, eighth-place effort in the Preakness, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday. "The only real decision that we've made so far is that he will not run in the Belmont.
"We'll freshen him up and let him tell us," Pletcher added. "But we know that he loves Churchill (Downs) and with the Breeders' Cup Classic being at Churchill this year, we'll focus on that and try to figure out the best game plan on how to get there in top shape."
Baffert, meanwhile, was an uncharacteristically early arrival at the Pimlico stakes barn on Sunday, eager to talk about Lookin at Lucky's trip in the Preakness. After rough outings in his last three races -- and especially from the No. 1 post position in the Derby -- Baffert said his colt "got the trip you need to win a Classic" in the Preakness after breaking from the No. 7 hole.
"The trip is all-important," he added. "His post positions were just killing him. The post position was the whole key. He finally was in a spot where he could negotiate a little bit."
While Lookin at Lucky heads back to California to freshen up for a summer campaign, Baffert said he will send Lone Star Derby winner Game On Dude to contest the Belmont.
Noting Preakness runner-up First Dude also is targeting the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, Baffert joked the race could be "The Battle of the Dudes."
First Dude's trainer, Dale Romans, said Sunday he is eager for the Belmont. "I think he is going to move forward again," he said of First Dude. "The mile and a half suits him and we're excited to go up there." But, he added, "I think it's going to be a pretty good field of horses."
Trainer Nick Zito, however, may have the keys to the Belmont in his barn. Zito's primary contender is Ice Box, the fast-closing second to Super Saver in the Derby. But he also could have Jackson Bend, who finished third in the Preakness, and Dwyer winner Fly Down.
Asked Sunday about Jackson Bend, Zito said, "I never say never. But I doubt it. I think he needs a rest. But you never know with him."
In other weekend racing:
Lizard's Desire, a loser by the smallest of margins to Gloria De Campeao in the Dubai World Cup, turned the tables on that rival Sunday in the Singapore Airlines International Cup. Blessed by rain before the race and a hot pace during it, Lizard's Desire rallied from off the pace under Kevin Shea and, despite wandering a bit in the final 200 meters, got home first by 1/2 length. Al Shemali, whose late run was impeded by the winner's lugging in, finished third. The stewards let the result stand but handed Shea a three-day suspension for careless riding. "The fast pace played into our hands," said Stephen Jell, assistant to winning trainer Mike de Kock. "When the two front-runners got away, I knew he would be putting down his big run at the finish." Jell said Lizard's Desire will head back to Dubai for a two-month rest after an international odyssey that included an unplaced finish last month in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. "Obviously, his main mission will be the Dubai Carnival again next March," Jell said. "But at the back of our mind, we will also have Hong Kong in December as an option."
Green Birdie fought to the wire with local favorite Rocket Man in Sunday's KrisFlyer International Sprint, prevailing by a neck. Green Birdie, invading from Hong Kong, found a seam when jockey Robbie Fradd took Rocket Man toward the middle of the track, seeking firmer ground on the yielding turf. However, the move backfired when Green Birdie made the most of the opening. Happy Zero ran on well at the end to take third from early leader Gold Trail. "He usually gets back," winning rider Mark Du Plessis said of Green Birdie. "But I rode him where he was comfortable. He traveled that good and he gave a good kick."
Buena Vista kicked into gear in the final few hundred meters of Sunday's Victoria Mile at Tokyo Racecourse, overhauling longshot Hikaru Amaranthus to win by a narrow margin. The 4-year-old daughter of Special Week covered the 1,600 meters on firm going in 1:32.4 under Norihiro Yokoyama. Nishino Blue Moon was third, a nose in front of Red Desire, with Broad Street finishing fifth. In her last previous outing, Buena Vista finished second in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March.
Avatite had to struggle for racing room late in Wednesday's Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York but once she got clear, the Dansili miss was up in the final jump to beat Gold Bubbles and remain undefeated. With Eddie Ahearn up for Henry Cecil, the Juddmonte Farms homebred got the "about" 1 5/16 miles in 2:09.14 over good going. Cecil, who also trains Juddmonte's 3-year-old filly Timepiece, said he is undecided whether to run Avatite back in the Investec Epsom Oaks or the Prix de Diana or French Oaks.
Sariska, last year's Epsom Oaks winner and the 2009 European champion 3-year-old filly, made her seasonal debut an impressive one, winning Thursday's Totesport.com Middleton Stakes at York by 4 lengths. Sariska, a daughter of Pivotal, led all the way with Jamie Spencer up and finished the "about" 1 5/16 miles on good to firm going in 2:06.20. Midday, making her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall at Santa Anita, was second. Flying Cloud finished third. Trainer Michael Bell said Sariska will target the Coronation Cup at Epsom in three weeks' time.
Paco Boy stalked the pace in Saturday's Totesport.com Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, then rallied in the final quarter to defeat Ouqba by 3/4 length. With Richard Hughes up for trainer Richard Hannon, Paco Boy got the 1 mile in 1:37.31 over "good to firm" going. The 5-year-old son of Desert Style now is poised to take on the Queen Anne, a race which he won last year.
Acting Happy raced just off the pace before winning Friday's $150,000 renewal of the Black Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies. The Kentucky-bred Empire Maker filly, with Jose Lezcano up for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., got between the leaders to challenge for the lead turning for home and drew off late to win by 1 1/2 lengths over No Such Word. The favorite, Tidal Pool, may have put a nose in front at the top of the lane but faded to finish third. Acting Happy got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.00. Two fillies went down in traffic at the back of the pack on the stretch turn but neither appeared to suffer serious injury. The jockeys involved, Kent Desormeaux and Julien Leparoux, both walked away from the track but Leparoux was taken to a hospital for observation. Dutrow said he picked the Black Eyed Susan for Acting Happy because "the longer the distance, the better for her. And she's two-turns, also … I'm going to target the Alabama (at Saratoga). I don't care if I don't run her back until then. I'm not saying that's what we'll do. But we will target that race and we'll just kind of float and glide along as we go."
Strike a Deal got to the lead, slowed down the pace and held on at the end to upset Saturday's $150,000 Dixie Stakes, scoring by 3/4 length over Just as Well. Rahystrada finished third and the favorite, Grassy, finished 10th. Nicantor finished sixth. Strike a Deal, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Smart Strike, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.81 with Ramon Dominguez riding. Strike a Deal was making his first start since last Fourth of July. He finished sixth in last year's Dixie and had not won since Nov.8, 2008. "The horse doesn't usually show speed," said Darren Silvers, assistant to winning trainer Alan Goldberg. "But today, with the speed on the outside, we had to get position. The horse showed a turn of foot to go to the lead and he was comfortable there. He stole the race."
Taqarub set a pressured pace in Saturday's $100,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap, shook off his challengers at the quarter pole and kept going to win by 1 length over Roaring Lion. Ravalo staged a mild rally late to take third while the favorite, Snapshot, finished fifth. Taqarub, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Aldebaran colt, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.02 with Eibar Coa riding. "I got out there and waited for someone to come by me, but they never did," Coa said. "I wanted to be close, but I just kind of inherited the lead."
Comedero raced to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds, surged to a daylight lead and won in a hand ride, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Latigo Shore. Quiet Invader finished third. Comedero, an Arkansas-bred Posse gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.16 with Robby Albarado handling the reins. He now has won seven of eight starts and trainer Michael Stidham sees a bright future. "They can't keep up with him," the conditioner said. "When I saw the first quarter in 23-and-change, it made me feel great. Baffert's horse (Quiet Invader) had to be pushed a little just to keep up with him. This is a really fast horse with a lot of upside."
Rainbow View was shuffled back shortly after the break in Saturday's $100,000 Gallorette Handicap, had to alter course again early in the stretch run and still got home first, 1/2 length ahead of Quiet Meadow. Ave was third. Rainbow View, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Dynaformer filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.04 under Julien Leparoux. "I thought she was comfortable all the way around the track," Leparoux said. "She kind of checked out a little bit around the quarter pole. That kind of scared me a little. She finished good. She's got a very nice kick. She was much the best today." It was the second win for Rainbow View since she shipped over from England last fall to trainer Jonathan Sheppard.
Blame rallied to the lead late in Saturday's $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over No Advantage. Timber Reserve finished third. Blame, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Arch colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.40 for jockey Garrett Gomez. "We knew he was ready to run," said winning trainer Al Stall Jr. "But that doesn't mean anything until you actually see it. We're happy to see him back in form. It was a perfect race. Garrett had to use him to get through that hole a little bit, but he got a lot out of it on a deepish racetrack." He said he will point Blame to the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 12.
Beau Choix came wide around the leaders at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $70,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds and went on to win by a comfortable 1 3/4 lengths over Manhattan Fox. Cat Park finished third. Beau Choix, a Kentucky-bred Elusive Quality colt, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.93 with Javier Castellano up.
Central City sprinted right to the lead in Friday's $70,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint and fought off a couple of challenges before winning by a neck over Sacred Journey. Heros Reward was third and the favorite, Blue Sailor, sailed home a fading fifth. Central City, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred City Place colt, scampered the 5 furlongs on firm going in 56.18 seconds with Julien Leparoux calling the shots.
Starfish Bay dueled for the lead in Friday's $70,000 The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares, finally got a clear lead and then held on at the end to win by a neck over Suzzona. Kosmo's Buddy was third. Starfish Bay, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Elusive Quality filly, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.56 seconds under John Velazquez.
Vindy City rallied to the lead with a furlong left in Friday's $70,000 Ms. Pink Warrior Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and scored by 1 length over Imanheiress. The favorite, Argent Affair, faded from contention to finish third. Vindy City, a Kentucky-bred Vindication filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.72 with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
Lights Off Annie set a pressured pace through the early furlongs of Friday's $70,000 Skipat Stakes for fillies and mares then drew off easily at the end to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Streetscape was the best of the rest with Beware of the Bop third. Lights Off Annie, a 5-year-old, New York-bred Freud mare, finished 6 furlongs in 1:10.33. Rajiv Maragh was up for trainer Michael Hushion.
Joharmony hit the right notes in Friday's $70,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, stalking the pace before surging to the lead at the top of the stretch. Once they straightened out and headed home, the Kentucky-bred Johar filly drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Potosina, with Kit Kat's Luck third. The stewards later reversed the place and show finish order. Joharmony, with Javier Castellano in the irons, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.17.
Funny Moon stalked the pace set by Solo Piano in Saturday's $150,000 Shuvee Handicap for fillies and mares, surged to the lead with a furlong to run and easily held off the odds-on favorite, Seattle Smooth to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Milwaukee Appeal rallied to take third, 1 1/4 lengths farther back. Funny Moon, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Malibu Moon filly, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.70 with Alan Garcia in the irons. "It was a nice and easy trip for my filly today," Garcia said. "She was calm and relaxed in a perfect path, and turning for home she just took off. I think she's a better filly than she was last year." Seattle Smooth went to the post at prohibitive odds despite being absent from the races since winning the Ogden Phipps Handicap last June.
Acclamation shot out to a huge lead early in Saturday's $150,000 Jim Murray Handicap, galloped along unchallenged and won by 7 1/2 length – at odds of 14-1. Falcon Rock was second and Rendezvous finished third. The favorite, Scintillo, got home fourth. Acclamation, a 4-year-old, California-bred Unusual Heat colt, finished the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:26.59. Christian Santiago Reyes rode for trainer Donald Warren. "I wasn't planning to go to the front," said Reyes. "But everybody took back so I just inherited the lead. I've never been on him before so I wasn't sure what to expect. At the half-mile pole I still hadn't let him run, he was just galloping along." Warren said he "felt that when the time was right and he got a little more maturity, we're going to make him a mile and one-quarter horse. You have to work up to it. He's actually a young 4-year-old. We're lucky if he's actually even 4 years old." In fact, Acclamation was foaled May 16, 2006, and celebrated his birthday Sunday.
Made for Magic caught favorite Wynning Ride inside the furlong marker in Sunday's $150,000 Milady Handicap and battled with that rival to a 1/2-length victory. Third Dawn was the third finisher. Made for Magic, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Cape Canaveral mare, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.48 for jockey Omar Berrio. Trainer A.C. Avila said Berrio rode a good race and things went according to plan. However, asked about the chances of running Made for Magic back in the Vanity on June 13, he said, "We applaud our mare today but I don't want to go up against Zenyatta."
Thiskyhasnolimit, returning from a six-month layoff, tracked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes for 3-year-olds, moved to the leaders with a furlong to run and prevailed by 3/4 length over Cool Bullet. Privilaged set the pace and held third. Thiskyhasnolimit, a Kentucky-bred Sky Mesa colt, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.25 under Shaun Bridgmohan. He had been away because of an injury since last Nov. 28, when he finished sixth as the favorite to eventual Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. "He is definitely moving in the right direction after the layoff," said Scott Blasi, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. "We'll see how he cools out before deciding on a race for him, but we would like to keep him between seven-eighths to a mile."
Essence Hit Man was a hit with the longshot players in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for 3-year-olds, leading all the way to a 6-lengths victory over Ghost Fleet. D's Wando was third. Previously undefeated Hollinger, last year's Canadian champion 2-year-old, finished fourth after experiencing some traffic trouble on the stretch turn. Essence Hit Man, an Ontario-bred Speightstown colt, ran 7 furlongs in 1:20.97 under Chantal Sutherland. He came into the race off a victory in last month's Woodstock Stakes but, facing several potential Queen's Plate contenders, went to the post at odds of 5-1. "I was just so impressed he improved off his last race," Sutherland said. "He's the type of horse that always runs through his threshold." Remaining preps for the July 4 Queen's Plate include the Marine on May 29, the Plate Trial on June 13 and the Victoria Park Stakes on June 27.
Tribal Belle settled in the middle of the field early in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Hendrie Stakes for fillies and mares, rallied three-wide into the stretch and was up to win by 1 1/4 length over pace-setting favorite Dr. Zic. Carem Crescent finished third. Tribal Belle, a 5-year-old, British Columbia-bred Tribunal mare, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:15.34 with James McAleney up. "She's going a lot better this year than last year," said winning trainer Terry Jordan. "She's an easy horse to be with but she's a difficult horse to train. She doesn't like working. She does what she wants to do."
Presque Isle Downs
Rockin' Rockstar rallied from last to upset Wednesday's $100,000 Tom Ridge Stakes for 3-year-olds, winning by a neck over Flamin' Hot. Black Belt was third and the favorite, Strapping Groom, got home last of six. Rockin' Rockstar, a Kentucky-bred Congaree gelding, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:08.42 with Willie Martinez aboard.
Chief of Affairs quickly took charge of affairs in Wednesday's $75,000 James Whitcomb Riley Stakes, dueling to the lead, extending the advantage and coasting home first, 1 1/2 lengths better than Riley Tucker. Golden Country finished third. Chief of Affairs, a 4-year-old, Texas-bred Yonaguska colt, finished 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:08.85 with Miguel Mena in the irons.
Golden Gate Fields
Hudson Landing came from far back in the field to win Saturday's $60,000 Alcatraz Stakes for 3-year-olds by 3/4 length over Dream Nettie. Leroy's Dynameaux was another nose back in third. Hudson Landing, a Kentucky-bred Maria's Mon colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.00 with Russell Baze riding.
Proceed Bee made all the running in Saturday's $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes and held on at the end to win by 1/2 length over Princeville Condo. Public Speaker got home third and the favorite, Giant Oak, was sixth under the wire. Proceed Bee, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Bernstein gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.33 under Chris Emigh.
Askbut I Won'ttell rallied from last of four to win the $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes for fillies and mares by 3 lengths over the pace-setting favorite, Hooh Why. Cumulonimble and Mizzcan'tbewrong completed an order of finish that looked like an overturned Scrabble board. Askbut I Won'ttell, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Horse Chestnut filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.79 with Eddie Perez up.
Final Mesa battled for the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Polly Drummond Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, opened a good lead and coasted home first, 3/4 length better than Gave Away Power. Mis Vizcaya was third after pressing the pace. Final Mesa, a New York-bred Sky Mesa filly, finished 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.54 seconds with Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard.
Frozen Angel stalked the pace in Saturday's $70,000 John Wayne Stakes for Iowa-breds, closed the margin around the turn and proved best in the stretch run, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Crimson King Cat. C S I Iowa finished third. Frozen Angel, a 5-year-old Devil His Due gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.21 with Glen Murphy in the irons.
Noosa Beach pressed the pace in Sunday's $50,000 Seattle Handicap, then wore down the leaders in the stretch run to win by 1 length. Winning Machine was second. Peaceful Reign and Kruger Park dead-heated for third and fourth. Noosa Beach, a 4-year-old, Washington-bred Harbor the Gold gelding, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:07 under Ricky Frazier.
UPI horse racing roundup