Turf racing, headlined by the Irish Derby, was the main course of the weekend's Thoroughbred racing banquet from the Curragh on the Emerald Isle to the dusty green of Hollywood Park in California.
In the Classic Division, Desert Party was successful in his first U.S. start for Godolphin Racing since the 2009 Kentucky Derby while a couple of late-blooming 3-year-olds also showed some promise for upcoming feature races.
Everywhere, owners and trainers kept their eyes on the big-money races of the late summer and fall, along with potential for the November Breeders' Cup Championships at Churchill Downs.
Results with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup:
It was all Ballydoyle and Aidan O'Brien in Sunday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh. Cape Blanco came out on top by 1/2 length after tussling in the straight with stablemate Midas Touch. Another O'Brien pupil, Jan Vermeer, ran best late to finish third. The victory was a redemption for Cape Blanco, who failed to fire in his last start in the French Derby, finishing 10th – an "off" performance that O'Brien still is at a loss to explain. "Perhaps it was the travel," the trainer said of the French misfire. "Something upset him. He wasn't the horse we know. He left that behind today and showed all the courage and class we know he has." O'Brien said Cape Blanco, now 5-for-6 in his career, will go on to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24. There, the Galileo colt likely will face a rematch with Epsom Derby winner Workforce, whom he bested earlier in the Dante Stakes at York.
Plumania took the lead 2 furlongs out in Sunday's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at Saint-Cloud in France, then just did hold off the late run of Youmzain to win by a nose. Daryakana was third, another neck in arrears. With Olivier Peslier in the irons, Plumania, a 4-year-old Anabaa filly, ran the 2,400 meters on soft turf in 2:34.40. A spokesman for the owners, the Wertheimer family, said Plumania will be pointed to the Qatar Prix Vermeille at Longchamp Sept. 12. Mick Channon, who trains Youmzain, said Youmzain will use the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24 as a stepping stone to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, where he finished second in each of the last three years.
Filly & Mare Turf
Turning Top stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park, got by Princess Taylor in the deep stretch and went on to win by 1 length over that rival. Restless Soul finished third. Turning Top, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal, ran the 1 1/4 miles on firm going in 2:01.69 with Brice Blanc in the irons. It was her fourth straight win but first in graded company. "I had this filly (in England)," said winning trainer Simon Callaghan. "She won a couple of races for me over there. She loves fast ground, but she really didn't get the opportunity to show it. She's pretty straight forward, this filly. She relaxes and gives herself every chance to get the trip. She has all the attributes to do well here." Callaghan said Turning Top will target the $250,000 John Mabee Stakes on Aug. 15 at Del Mar.
Grand Adventure stuck close to the lead in Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian) King Edward Stakes at Woodbine, got to the fore in the stretch run and won by 1 length over Rahy's Attorney. Ice Bear was third and the favorite, Get Stormy, faded in the lane to finish fourth. Grand Adventure, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Grand Slam colt, finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.40 with Patrick Husbands aboard. "He's a speed horse," said Husbands. "So today, we leave there and after about 10 strides he relaxed, pricked his ears, so I knew I wasn't going too fast. I was comfortable with the position I was in." Added co-owner Rick Balaz, "We've always had a lot of faith in this horse. He just seems to be getting better every start now. We're hoping that's going to continue." Balaz said the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 19 "would be a fantastic objective for us." It was the fifth win in 11 starts for Grand Adventure, who was 10th in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Strike It Rich opened a big lead in Saturday's $157,000 Boiling Springs Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park, set a moderate pace and coasted home first, 1 1/4 lengths better than the favorite, Bay to Bay, who came from near the back of the field. Triple Cream was third. Strike It Rich, a Kentucky-bred filly by Unbridled's Song out of the Dehere mare Belle of Perintown, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.25 for jockey Garrett Gomez. "She's an improving filly, a great horse," said winning trainer Chrisophe Clement. "We're not sure where she will go next. We focused on today."
Chamberlain Bridge stalked a brisk pace set by Bullet From Abroad in Saturday's $125,000 Arlington Sprint Handicap at Arlington Park, came three-wide around the leader and favorite Sacred Journey at the top of the lane, blasted clear at mid-stretch and won off by 4 1/2 lengths. Bullet From Abroad held second and Moralist edged Sacred Journey for third. Chamberlain Bridge, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred War Chant gelding, completed 5 1/2 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:03.66 with Jamie Theriot up. The race is a "Win And You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. "We got him into these 5-furlong turf races and he really enjoys it," said "Peaches" Geier, assistant to winning trainer Bret Calhoun. "I hope he can keep it going. We've got two more races and then the Breeders' Cup."
Desert Party, making his first U.S. start since shipping from Dubai, got off to a sluggish start in Saturday's $200,000 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park, encountered some traffic problems when looking for racing room but finally got clear and spurted off to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Uncle Gidge, close all the way, finished second. Mannigton was third and the favorite, Riley Tucker, finished fourth with a flat effort. Desert Party, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Street Cry colt, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:22.04 with David Cohen riding for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Desert Party won the Sanford at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, then finished 14th in last year's Kentucky Derby. After that race, he had surgery to remove a chip from an ankle and took the remainder of the year to recuperate. He finished 11th in the Godolphin Mile at Meydan before shipping back to the United States. Sheik Mohammed's crew has not outlined a plan for the colt for the balance of the year.
Shadowbdancing stayed close to the pace in Saturday's $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, got to the leaders leaving the stretch turn and edged clear to post the upset victory, 1 length better than Racing Bran. Golden Yank finished third. Shadowbdancing, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred son of Montbrook, finished the 9 furlongs in 1:48.24 under Eusebio Razo Jr. Chicago-based winning trainer Terrel Gore said Shadowbdancing next may try for a repeat victory in the West Virginia Governors at Mountaineer on Aug. 7.
Concord Point stalked the pace in Saturday's $250,000 Iowa Derby, took charge in the lane and won by 8 1/2 lengths over Thiskyhasnolimit. The favorite, Winslow Homer, ran third. Concord Point, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:40.37. The Kentucky-bred son of Tapit shipped to Iowa off a second-place finish in the 7-furlong Laz Barrera at Hollywood Park.
Exhi drew away from a trio of rivals in the stretch run of Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Victoria Park Stakes for 3-year-olds at Woodbine and won off by 8 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Gold Medallion, Bear's Hard Ten and Village Drive completed the order of finish. Exhi, a Kentucky-bred Maria's Mon colt, got the 9 furlongs in 1:50.60 over the all-weather track with Robby Albarado in the irons. It was the fourth straight win, all stakes, for the Todd Pletcher trainee. "He broke really sharp and, being on the outside post, I was able to dictate on what I wanted to do," Albarado said. "He went very easy in the first quarter, he got a bit anxious in the second quarter, but in the middle of the backside he relaxed well and came home nice."
Devil May Care sat off the pace in Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, closed on the leaders around the sweeping stretch turn and then had things her own way in the lane, winning by 1 1/4 lengths as jockey John Velazquez held the other safe in a hand ride. Connie and Michael was second and Biofuel powered her way to the show. Devil May Care, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Malibu Moon, was making her first start since finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby. She finished the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.06 and now has four wins from seven starts. "It was a big race from her, and I've always felt she was the best filly in her generation," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "She had shown us every sign that she was as good as she had ever been. She trained brilliantly, like she always does. Aside from losing a little bit of weight in the Derby like most horses, colts or fillies, will do, she came out of it really well. It was just a matter of making sure we gave her the proper time." He said the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 31 and the Alabama on Aug. 21, both at Saratoga, will be the next targets.
Seeking the Title was up in the final jumps to win Saturday's $200,000 Iowa Oaks by 1/2 length over Harissa. All Due Respect was third and the favorite, Quiet Temper, ran evenly to finish fourth. Seeking the Title, a Kentucky-bred Seeking the Gold filly, got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.84 with Calvin Borel up. Winning trainer Dallas Stewart said he feels Seeking the Title, who scored her first graded stakes win, is on the upswing and will tackle the
Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga in her next outing.
Wynning Ride applied pressure to pace-setting Hightap down the backstretch in Friday's $100,000 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows, took the lead on the turn and held off Euphony at the end, winning by 1 length. Hightop finished third and Choragus completed the order of finish. Wynning Ride, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred Candy Ride filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.77. Martin Garcia rode for trainer Bob Baffert.
Majesticperfection not only ran away with Friday's $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows, he did so in track-record time of 1:07.24. And he accomplished that, shaving 0.61 second off the mark set by Coach Jimi Lee in 2004l without a lot of encouragement from jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. The Harlan's Holiday colt, owned by Padua Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, blasted out of the gate, put away challenger Cash Refund entering the stretch and won by a comfortable 4 3/4 lengths. Ata Boy Roy ran into the pace for second, 6 1/2 lengths ahead of the tiring Cash Refund. The win was the fourth in a row for Majesticperfection, his first stakes win and, likely, a debut at the top levels of sprinting.
Here Comes Ben won an overnight stakes at Churchill Downs on Friday impressively enough to be considered by trainer Charlie Lopresti for the Forego Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 4 – and perhaps more after that if he continues to fire. "I was really, really happy with him," Lopresti told the Daily Racing Form after his colt ran the 7-furlong Kelly's Landing Stakes in 1:21.89. "He ran another huge race. (Winning rider Alex) Solis came back and said he thinks he's a really nice horse, so I think we're going to give him a chance to step up and show us." The 4-year-old Street Cry colt ran down Hamazing Destiny in the final strides of the Kelly's Landing, winning by a neck and running his 2010 record to 3-for-3.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Secret Gypsy stalked the pace in Friday's $100,000 Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows, surged to the lead in the stretch and won off by 4 3/4 lengths. Mindy Queen was second and Palanka City finished third. Secret Gypsy, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Sea of Secrets mare, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.28 with Jamie Theriot up. Ronny Werner trains.
Just Louise got the lead on the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, was headed at mid-stretch but came again and won by a neck over Tristanme. The favorite, Salty Strike, had the lead briefly at mid-stretch and finished third, just another nose back. Just Louise, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Five Star Day, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.85 with Robby Albarado in the irons for trainer Dale Romans. She now is 2-for-2. "This race is something for her to improve off of," Romans said. "She dug in game … She will point toward the Saratoga meet."
Final Mesa took complete charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) My Dear Stakes at Woodbine, winning off by 7 3/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Where Did She Go broke first, did not go with the winner but held second. Mimi's Missy finished third. Final Mesa, a New York-bred Sky Mesa filly, ran the 5 furlongs on the all-weather track in 57.22 seconds for jockey Eibar Coa and owner/trainer Wesley Ward. She now is 3-for-3, with earlier victories at Keeneland and Delaware. "Before today's race, I believe she already showed how good she is," Coa said. "In the first 100 yards, I was wondering if she was going to relax for me or if she was wondering what was happening around her. This is a very nice filly."
Red Rock Springs sprung quickly to the lead in Saturday's $136,000 Mountain Top Futurity for New Mexico-breds at Ruidoso Downs and wasn't caught. At the line, the Your Eminence colt was 1/2 length better than the favorite, Texas Silver. Quick Flag finished third. Red Rock Springs, with Mark Villa in the irons, ran the 5 furlongs in 59.25 seconds on a "good" track.
In other weekend racing:
Nakayama Festa came to even terms with Buena Vista and Ernestly with just about a dozen strides to go in Sunday's Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse, then used his momentum to sweep by and win by 1/2 length. Buena Vista held second and Ernestly was third. The race was open to foreign horses but none started. With Yoshitomi Shibata in the irons, Nakayama Festa covered the 2,200 meters on "good" going in 2:13. The 4-year-old son of Stay Gold, notoriously a bad actor, dumped his rider at the gate and was reluctant to load. "It's always a question of whether this horse will run seriously or not," Shibata said. "He was a bit of a handful. But after the break he ran smoothly and with a cool head. That was very good."
Malibu Prayer dueled her way to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Lighthouse Stakes for fillies and mares, then worked clear in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Luna Vega was the best of the rest with the favorite, Just Jenda, third. Malibu Prayer, a 4-year-old, Virginia-bred daughter of Malibu Moon, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.40 under jockey Garrett Gomez.
Way With Words stuck her neck in front of Saarlight at the wire in Sunday's $100,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes for fillies and mares. Rated Feisty, who pushed the pace through the early furlongs, held on for third. Way With Words, a 6-year-old, New Jersey-bred Sefapiano mare, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.39 under Eddie Castro.
Greeley's Rocket rocketed past pace-setting favorite Whoopi Kitten in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000 Crank It Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Whoopi Kitten held second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Full of Gut. Greeley's Rocket, a Kentucky-bred Mr. Greeley filly, ran the "about" 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.81 for jockey Jeremy Rose.
My Summer Slew raced just behind the pace set by Unzip Me in Sunday's $80,000 Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap, worked his way to the lead with a 16th of a mile to run and won by 3/4 length over Stoneside. Unzip Me finished third, another nose back. My Summer Slew, a 5-year-old, California-bred Siberian Summer gelding, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:08.40. Alonso Quinonez rode for trainer Craig Dollase.
Giant Mover led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 Brookmeade Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, winning by 7 1/4 lengths over Huge. Patriot Miss finished third. Giant Mover, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway filly, ran the 1 mile over the firm inner turf course in 1:35.65 with Horacio Karamanos aboard.
The aptly named Miss Pleasant rallied by pace-setting favorite Victoryasecret late in Saturday's $50,000 Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap and got home first, 1/2 length ahead. Victoryasecret held second by 1/2 length over Christmas Ship. Miss Pleasant, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Pleasantly Perfect filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.40 with Chad Schvaneveldt riding.
Sun Ray Park
Betternilook looked just fine to the fans who made her the odds-on favorite in Saturday's $50,000 Dr. O.G. Fischer Memorial Handicap and she justified the support, winning by 1 length over early leader Orabell. It's a Promise finished third. Betternilook, a 7-year-old, New Mexico-bred daughter of Desert God, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.36 with Alejandro Medellin up.
Calder Race Course
Regina Twain won a close battle with Trip for A.J. in Sunday's $50,000 Noble Robyn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, only to have the stewards reverse the order of finish upon further examination. Miss Delite finished third. The adjudged winner and victim of the stretch interference is a Florida-bred daughter of Trippi. Javier Santiago had the mount. The 1 1/16 miles on firm turf went in 1:42.60.
Koala Beach pressed the pace in Sunday's $50,000 Pepsi Cola Handicap for 3-year-olds, then won a three-way battle to the finish, nosing out the odds-on favorite, Posse Power, at the wire. Newfound Man held the lead briefly then settled for third, another neck back. Koala Beach, a Washington-bred Harbor the Gold gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34 2/5 under Ricky Frazier.