Rachel Alexandra, the reigning Horse of the Year, was unable to handle the classic distance of a mile and a quarter in Sunday's $300,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, losing for the third time in five starts this year and casting doubt on a showdown with Zenyatta in November's Breeders' Cup Classic.
But while Rachel Alexandra faded in the final furlong to be caught by 20-1 long shot Persistently, a couple late-developing 3-year-olds battled to the wire Saturday in an exciting renewal of the $1 million Travers Stakes and Rail Trip won the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar for the second straight year.
The Personal Ensign appeared to be a "make it or break it" race for Rachel Alexandra, who never before had tried the 10-furlong trip that also comprises the Breeders' Cup Classic. With regular rider Calvin Borel riding, she shot right to the lead. Shadowed by Life At Ten, the winner of six straight, Rachel Alexandra held the lead until mid-stretch.
But jockey Alan Garcia had Persistently rolling around the turn and had dead aim on the tiring odds-on favorite. When she came alongside in the final sixteenth, Rachel Alexandra offered no opposition and the final margin was 1 length but it wasn't that close.
Life at Ten was 10 1/4 lengths back in third, followed by Miss Singhsix and the hopelessly outclassed Classofsixtythree.
Rachel Alexandra went the half in 47.73 seconds and a mile in 1:37.54 but Persistently's final time was 2:04.49.
Persistently is a Phipps Stable home-bred, 4-year-old, Smoke Glacken filly. She finished a fast-closing fifth in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies but since then had been toiling mostly in optional claimers. Sunday's win was her fourth from 14 starts.
"Obviously with a filly like Rachel Alexandra in the race, we knew we were a long shot," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. "But we did think she'd run a mile and a quarter. It was Mr. Phipps's decision. He said to me, 'If it's going to be a short field, I'd like to give it a try.' I thought that (Rachel Alexandra) might be a little vulnerable going a mile and a quarter, and I knew we'd run a mile and a quarter."
Borel said the defeat was on the square.
"After we put away Life At Ten at the quarter pole, I didn't feel any acceleration and I got worried," Borel said. "She wasn't really there. I knew if anyone was running behind us, we were in trouble. If you can't take the losing with the winning, you can't be in the game."
Trainer Steve Asmussen sort of agreed.
"She's a tremendous mare," Asmussen said. "If she isn't exactly where she was last year, hopefully she can get back there." He said her next race will be up to owner Jess Jackson. "We want to evaluate who we are and who she is and where she's at. We're just worried about her well-being."
That sounded like a death knell for any hopes that Rachel Alexandra and the undefeated runner-up for 2009 Horse of the Year honors, Zenyatta, might finally meet head-to-head in the Classic.
The other races with implications for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic:
Afleet Express appeared to have Saturday's $1 million Travers in the win column with a nice move at the top of the Saratoga stretch -- until Fly Down started flying down the stretch. By the time the 3-year-olds hit the wire, it took a close look at the photo to find Afleet Express got a nostril on the wire just before his rival. The pair finished 6 3/4 lengths ahead of First Dude.
Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver continued his slide, finishing second-last of 11 starters. Derby runner-up Ice Box got home eighth while the best 3-year-old in the country, Lookin At Lucky, stayed in his barn in Kentucky.
Afleet Express, however, seems to be developing into a useful sort. He never got involved in the Triple Crown wars but won the first time trainer Jimmy Jerkens tried him in a stakes event, the June 19 Pegasus at Monmouth Park. He subsequently was third behind A Little Warm and Miners Reserve in the Jim Dandy early in the Saratoga meeting. The Kentucky-bred Afleet Alex colt now has four wins from seven starts.
"I had a beautiful trip," winning rider Javier Castellano said. "I was very aware of the speed holding earlier in the card. My horse comes from behind. I wanted to get into position on the first turn, and hopefully, there would be a speed duel and the horses would come back to me. He gave me a couple of runs."
Jerkens said he and Castellano discussed the apparent speed bias during the ninth race. "He said it all depended on what the pace was like. I told him the horse was doing well and would do whatever he wanted him to do. Just try to get as good a trip as he could, that's all."
Afleet Express finished the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.28. Jerkens said Sunday the colt came out of the race well and he has several options for a next start, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup Oct. 2 at Belmont. While he did not rule it out, he said he is not consciously pointing Afleet Express toward the Breeders' Cup.
Fly Down's close call was a tough nut for "heart on his sleeve" trainer Nick Zito. "That's another second," he said. "They're all tough. I can't explain it. Sometimes, like I say, you've got to be content. You've got to be grateful. But it's tough."
The Pacific Classic
Richard's Kid made it two Pacific Classics in a row, rallying from well back to win Saturday's $1 million renewal by 3/4 length over Crowded House. Dakota Phone was third and Battle of Hastings completed the superfecta.
Richard's Kid, with Mike Smith up for trainer Bob Baffert, ran the 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather surface in 2:03.27. The 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid posted a big upset in winning last year's Pacific Classic, This year, he was second-favorite in the mutuels after The Usual Q.T., who finished fifth.
He becomes only the third horse, after Skimming and Tinner's Way, to win the Pacific Classic twice.
"He was moving just like you'd want," winning jockey Mike Smith said. "I could tell they were going a little too slow so I had him up there a little closer than I normally would. But it was easily done. Then it was just like 'deja vu all over again.' Pretty much just like that. He came running and he galloped out strong, too. He's just a nice horse.
"You know," Smith added, "this is only the second time I've ever been on him. Last year (in the Pacific Classic) and this. I just want to ride him once a year." Richard's Kid earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic by taking the "Win and You're In" Pacific Classic. But Smith, the regular rider of Zenyatta, likely already has a mount in the big race.
Other potential Classic preps:
-- Apart stumbled at the start of Saturday's $100,000 Super Derby Prelude, recovered and then survived a wide trip to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Coyote Legend. Down With Dixie finished third. Apart, a Kentucky-bred colt by Flatter, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.71 with Jesse Campbell in the irons. He came into the race after a fourth-place finish in a Churchill Downs allowance but trainer Al Stall Jr. said he will be back for the Super Derby. "That's why we went down there," he said, adding, "Nobody could have been happy with the trip at any point until the end."
Other races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs:
Just Jenda ran past odds-on favorite Malibu Prayer in the stretch run in Sunday's $300,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes at Monmouth Park, drawing off at the end to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Milwaukee Appeal tossed in a late rally to take third without threatening the top two. Just Jenda, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Menifee filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.52 for jockey Terry Thompson. Trainer Cindy Jones said the race will be Just Jenda's last. "What a way to go out," she said. "She was on top of her game and the race just worked out perfectly. She didn't have to chase the speed today, but could sit back and relax. This was a real tough field and we couldn't be more proud of her." The winner of eight races from 17 starts, Just Jenda is to be bred to Proud Citizen.
Get Stormy rated right behind the early pace set by National Kid in Friday's $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga, took charge when asked by jockey Javier Castellano and won off like the favorite should, by 2 3/4 lengths. National Kid held second, 1 length better than Radical Sabbatical. Get Stormy, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Stormy Atlantic colt, finished the 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:46.70. He now has won four of his five starts at the Spa. "Javier did the right thing," winning trainer Tom Bush said. "He kept the hedge going through the first two turns, then he stepped him outside a little bit." Reflecting on the win Saturday morning, he added, "I don't know what we're doing, but it's working! "It was a really exciting performance, for sure, and he's doing well this morning."
Champ Pegasus rallied along the rail in the stretch run of Sunday's $200,000 Del Mar Handicap, got to the front and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Buenos Dias. Worth Repeating finished third. Champ Pegasus, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Fusaichi Pegasus colt, finished the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:11.93 with Joel Rosario up for trainer Richard Mandella. It was his third win from seven starts and the "Win and You're In" program qualifies him for a spot in the Breeders' Cup starting gate. "I'll probably run him in the Clement Hirsch at Hollywood Park," Mandella said. "Then we hope we'll be looking at the Breeders' Cup Turf. I don't know if the mile and a half wouldn't be a problem, but it's something to dream about and that's what this game is all about."
Enriched led all the way to a 3/4-length victory over Meteore in Saturday's $250,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap. Bruce's Dream was third after being boxed in through most of the stretch run. Enriched, a 5-year-old, California-bred High Brite gelding, finished in 1:34.83 on firm going with Joel Rosario up. Enriched was claimed for $32,000 last November. With Saturday's earnings, he has banked more than 10 times his price since the claim. The Del Mar Mile was his first stakes win and guaranteed him a spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile through the "Win and You're In" program. Winning trainer Doug O'Neill said he was happy when he saw Enriched was getting away with a moderate pace. "When I saw 48 and change, I started combing what little hair I have left so I could get ready for this," he said of the winner's circle festivities. "It's great to have this horse. He's very classy and he's a relative of the greatest horse I've ever had (Lava Man)."
El Brujo got right to the front in Saturday's $300,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes, opened a comfortable lead and held on at the end to win by 1/2 length over Crown of Thorns. The favorite, Smiling Tiger, ran evenly to finish third. El Brujo, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred Candy Ride gelding, finished the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.70 -- just a half second off the track record. Winning jockey Joel Rosario noted trainer Bob Baffert was at Saratoga, so he got instruction from Baffert's wife, Jill. "She said, 'Just be sure you win.' So I won," he added. Baffert assistant Jim Barnes said, "If you get a flier out of the gate, you don't want to take him back. You have to let him go and get comfortable and do the best you can with the situation. It worked out for us today." The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Discreetly Mine led from the break and dominated Saturday's $250,000 King's Bishop Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Bank Merger. Latigo Shore finished third and D'Funnybone finished last of seven. Discreetly Mine, since finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby, has sparkled at shorter distances, finishing second to D'Funnybone in the Woody Stephens at Belmont, then rattling off consecutive wins in the Jersey Shore at Monmouth and the Amsterdam at the Spa. Saturday, he established his game with a first quarter in 21.90 seconds and, lacking any serious challenge, finished 7 furlongs in 1:23.16. "Any time you go 21, 44 and change for seven eighths, that's pretty demanding," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "We were happy to hold on. We basically felt like we had to (take the lead) the way the track was playing. We'd be inclined to train up to the Breeders' Cup."
Smokey Fire won a tough stretch battle with Jungle Wave in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian) Play the King Stakes at Woodbine, scoring by a neck. Early leader Fatal Bullet couldn't hold off the top two but was only a neck farther back in third. The favorite, Signature Red, finished fifth. Smokey Fire, a 5-year-old, Ontario-bred Smoke Glacken gelding, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:20.83 with Jono Jones up. He now has won six of 11 starts.
Filly & Mare Turf
Dynaslew tracked Silver Reunion through honest fractions into the far turn of Saturday's $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap at Saratoga, worked her way to the lead and was up at the end to win by 1/2 length. Miss Keller ran well from off the pace to finish third. The favorite, Phola, showed nothing and finished eighth of 10. Dynaslew, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Dynaformer filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.58 with Eibar Coa in the irons. In her last previous start, Dynaslew led into the stretch in the Grade I Diana, then faded to finish fourth in a four-way photo. She now has three wins from five starts this year. "I was real happy with our position," winning trainer Seth Benzel said. "Eibar has ridden this horse to a 'T.' Dynaslew is a versatile filly who doesn't need to have the lead … . Eibar felt our filly had that option, but she didn't need it to win. It's a perfect union between the two."
Filly & Mare Sprint
On a day when speed seemed like the right prescription at Saratoga, Rightly So had plenty of it in the $250,000 Ballerina Stakes. Jumping right to the lead under Cornelio Velasquez, the 4-year-old Read the Footnotes filly was never seriously challenged and extended her lead in the final furlong to win by 4 lengths. Warbling and Jessica Is Back ran second and third all the way through the 7 furlongs. The favorite, Informed Decision, faded to finish sixth after struggling on the turn. Rightly So, winning for the seventh time in 11 lifetime starts, finished in 1:22.58. "It was just a fantastic performance today," winning trainer Tony Dutrow said. "She's a filly who is capable of running fast the entire race. She outdid herself today. She's been an overachiever, and once again she raised her game to the top. We just couldn't be any prouder of her."
Rapport set a blazing pace in Saturday's $100,000 Victory Ride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga and kept going through the stretch, winning off by 3 1/2 lengths. Long shot My Jen finished second with Beyondallboundaries third. Rapport, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Songandaprayer, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.66. Martin Garcia got the leg up from trainer Bob Baffert. Rapport struggled as a juvenile but blossomed earlier this year on the California all-weather tracks. In her last start, she had been a fading fourth in the Grade III Azalea at Calder on real dirt. In that event, Baffert said, "she just went way too fast on a heavy track. But she was training well here and worked very nicely in the mud actually. It was really nice to get a graded stakes win on Travers Day."
Gourmet Dinner rallied nicely through the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Affirmed Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course by 2 1/2 lengths over Rough'n Royal. Vee's Accolade finished third. Gourmet Dinner, a Trippi colt, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.69 with Sebastian Madrid up, remaining undefeated in three career starts. He now is poised to sweep the FSS colts and geldings division if he can stretch out to win the In Reality Division Oct. 16. "We seriously considered taking him to Saratoga where I've got some other horses for the Hopeful," winning trainer Bill Terrill said. "But he was doing so well here and worked good after his last race, we decided to stay, particularly with the big one still coming up." He said he may start Gourmet Dinner again before the In Reality. "He needs to stay busy."
Too Experience stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Seacliff Stakes at Calder, then was up in the final jumps to win by 3/4 length over pacesetter Andersonstate. Bluegrass Bull finished third, 7 lengths farther back. Too Experience, a Florida-bred Drewman colt out of the Meadowlake mare Lake Victoria, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:41.40 with Roimes Chirinos in the irons.
Tlaquepaque pressed the pace in Thursday's $50,000 (Canadian) New Westminster Stakes at Hastings Racecourse, collared the leaders at the top of the lane and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Lookout Dubai. Mr. Collaborator finished third. Tlaquepaque, a Kentucky-bred Suave colt, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.47 with Amadeo Perez up.
Boomtown Brat pressed the pace in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Birdcatcher Stakes at Northlands Park, then drew clear in the final sixteenth to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Points Alert. What's Up Doc finished third and the odds-on favorite, Mr. Instigator, settled for fourth. Boomtown Brat, a British Columbia-bred Salt Lake gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:19 4/5 with Ruben Lara riding.
Machisa, at odds of nearly 50-1, roared home a 5 1/4-lengths winner in Saturday's $70,000 Fasig Tipton Turf Dash at Calder Race Course. The favorite, Dual Exhauzt, was the best of the rest, with Motin third. Machisa, a Texas-bred Safado colt, ran the 5 furlongs of firm turf in 56.51 seconds with Sebastian Madrid up. "I was expecting him to run big, being his first time on turf," said winning trainer Juan Arias. "He'll get a little rest now, a little freshening. I'd say we'll keep him on the turf after that performance."
Aces N Kings pressed the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Sunny's Halo Stakes at Louisiana Downs, then drew off smartly, winning by 6 1/4 furlongs, ridden out. Dreamsrunwild was a nose in front of Landon Paul for place money. Aces N Kings, a Texas-bred Jet Phone gelding, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.85 with Eguard Tejara riding, winning for the fifth straight time.
Awesome Feather was as awesome as you'd like in Saturday's $100,000 Susan's Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course. The heavy odds-on favorite stalked the early pace, went to the front when asked by rider Jeffrey Sanchez and drew off to win by 4 lengths, ridden out. The Awesome of Course filly negotiated 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.57. She now is undefeated in four starts. "She just does what she has to, like she did again today," winning owner and breeder Fred Brei said. We'll just train her up to the big race (the $375,000 My Dear Girl Division of the FSS on Oct. 16), and then hopefully, on to the Breeders' Cup."
You wouldn't think a filly named Yawkey Way would go off favored any place in New York but that's what happened Wednesday at Saratoga in the $70,000 Ann Clare Stakes for New York-bred fillies. The daughter of Grand Slam made it stick, too, taking charge in the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Watkins Glen. Queen's Harbor was third. Yawkey Way, under Javier Castellano, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.79.
Blue Eyed Sweetie stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Lindsay Frolic Stakes at Calder, then hit the gas in the stretch and drew off to win by 6 1/4 lengths over Delightful Dawn. Beso Grande was another 3 lengths back in third. Blue Eyed Sweetie, a Florida-bred daughter of West Acre, got the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.96 with Manoel Cruz up.
Overvalued certainly wasn't in Thursday's $50,000 (Canadian) Lassie Stakes at Hastings Racecourse. After leading most of the way, the Kentucky-bred Forest Grove filly drew off late, winning by 7 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Victory With Class. Nuj Nuj Wink Wink finished third. Overvalued, with David Wilson riding, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.35.
Embellished surged to the lead midway through Saturday's $50,000 Bird of Pay Stakes at Northlands Park and easily got away to win by 7 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Spirited Winner. River City Cat finished third. Embellished, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Bellamy Road, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:20 2/5 with Heribert Martinez up.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Misty For Me did a Clint Eastwood on the field in Sunday's Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland, confidently shooting down the previously sparkling filly Memory. With Seamus Heffernan up for Aidan O'Brien, Misty For Me went quickly to the lead, shrugged off a challenge from Laughing Lashes and went on to win by 1 length. Kissable was third and Memory, who demonstrated a sparkling turn of foot last time out in the Cherry Hinton Stakes, prompting talk of next year's One Thousand Guineas, struggled home sixth. Misty For Me, by Galileo out of the Storm Cat mare Butterfly Cove, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.56 over "good to firm" going. She had won a maiden race at the Curragh in July, then finished second to Laughing Lashes at the Debutante Stakes earlier this month. "Seamus always felt she was crying out for a mile," O'Brien told the Press Association. "We'll have a look at the Fillies' Mile at Ascot for her while France is also a possible." Sunday's race also was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Ayoumilove broke well in Saturday's $100,000 Catcharisingstar Stakes at Calder Race Course, took back to a stalking position under Luis Saez, then came to the lead at the sixteenth pole and drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Daisey Lee rallied up the hedge to snatch second from pacesetting No More Yogi's and the favorite, Sunshine Gal, finished fourth. Ayoumilove, a Florida-bred Gibson County filly, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.15 seconds. She had won twice on the main track but the Catcharisingstar was her first try on the green course. Still, trainer Jose Pinchin said he "knew she'd win today. She has some turf pedigree and I was looking forward to trying her on the turf and I wanted to shorten her up."
A Brilliant Idea came from next-to-last to win Sunday's $100,000 Junior Champion Stakes at Monmouth Park by 2 1/2 lengths over Dos Lunas. Sleepless Dixie finished third. A Brilliant Idea, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Afleet Alex, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.30 with Garrett Gomez up for trainer Kelly Breen. "Galloping out, she was at the seven-eighths pole when the others were just hitting the wire," Breen said. "She's obviously very talented. We would love to get her to Churchill Downs. I think she has the ability for the Breeders' Cup and she showed that today."
Tiger Girl led all the way in Saturday's $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial at Louisiana Downs, then held gamely at the end to win by a nose over fellow long shot Patty's Pride. Gran Lioness finished third. Tiger Girl, a Louisiana-bred Hold That Tiger filly, covered the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.51 with Donald Simington aboard.
Barbaro may be gone but the kin of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner continue to move forward in their racing careers. Lentenor, a full brother to Barbaro, returned from a four-month layoff to finish third Tuesday in a $36,000, 7-furlong allowance event at Delaware Park. "He has been away from the races for four months and we obviously would like him to win, but it seemed like the way it set up, maybe it was a little short to him," said Lentenor's trainer, Michael Matz. "Hopefully, he should come a long way out of this race. We are not sure where we are going next until we see how he came out of this race."
On Wednesday, another full brother to Barbaro, Nicantor, finished sixth of seven in the $50,000 Eight Thirty Stakes. His entrymate, Ready Set, posted the upset after going winless in 15 straight starts dating back to August of 2008. Ready Set stalked the early pace set by Tybalt, then was just up in the final yards for the win, finishing 1 mile and 70 yards on firm turf in a course-record time of 1:38.93.
In other weekend racing:
Trickmeister had way too much for a quintet of rivals in Friday's $75,000 Pleasant Colony Stakes for 3-year-olds, leading all the way and then getting away from the pack in the stretch to win by 11 3/4 lengths. Our Dark Knight and Regal Warrior completed the trifecta. Trickmeister, a Kentucky-bred Proud Citizen colt, completed the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.91 with Garrett Gomez providing only modest encouragement. As good as the performance was, trainer Richard Dutrow commented afterward, "He's better than this." He added the colt is still learning. "I just don't think he's in the zone and in the game." Trickmeister came into the race off three straight wins at Philadelphia Park and Dutrow said the Pennsylvania Derby may be his next target.
Driven By Success led all the way to a 6 3/4-lengths victory in Friday's $75,000 Vic Ziegel Memorial Stakes for New York-breds. Groomedforvictory chased all the way and finished second while Naughty New Yorker rallied from last of six to take show money. Driven By Success, a 5-year-old Precise End gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.84 under John Velazquez.
Stormy's Majesty stalked the pace in Wednesday's $100,000 Albany Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, jumped out to a daylight lead at the top of the stretch, then was all out to win by a neck over the odds-on favorite, Ibboyee. Johannesburg Smile finished third. Stormy's Majesty, a chestnut colt by Stormy Atlantic, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.55 with Edgar Prado up. It was his fourth win in five starts -- all against fellow New Yorkers. His only loss was against open company in the Jim Dandy. "I might have tried Stormy too prematurely against open company," said winning trainer Dominic Galluscio. "We'll see how he comes out of this before we decide on his next start."
Meese Rocks rolled home an easy, 6 1/4-lengths winner in Monday's $70,000 Union Avenue Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares. After tracking the early pace, jockey Jorge Chavez sent the 5-year-old Rock and Roll mare about her business and the race was for second. Gold for the Queen got place honors, a neck ahead of City Broad. Meese Rocks ran the 6 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:11.46.
Hilda's Passion had an equally easy time of it in Monday's $70,000 Bennington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, drawing off in the stretch to win by 8 3/4 lengths over Malibu Moon Dance. Decelerator finished third. Hilda's Passion, a Kentucky-bred Canadian Frontier filly, finished the 5 1/2 furlongs on the sloppy main track in 1:03.84 with Javier Castellano up. The race originally was scheduled for the turf.
Barracks Road led from start to finish in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Ontario Colleen Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, holding well at the end to defeat Jenny's So Great by 1 3/4 lengths. The favorite, No Explaining, dead-heated with Dixie Chicken for third and fourth. Barracks Road, an Ontario-bred daughter of Elusive Quality, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.95 under Corey Fraser. "I wasn't really surprised," said Fraser. "She's an excellent filly. If you can get her the lead nice, she'll run on."
Liberian Freighter led all the way in Wednesday's $75,000 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes, then held on to win by a nose over the late-running Hey Elvis. Quindici Man finished third. Liberian Frighter, a 5-year-old, California-bred Bertrando gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.03 for jockey Martin Garcia.
Princess Taylor stalked the pace in Friday's $75,000 CTT and Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap for fillies and mares, rallied along the rail in the stretch to get the lead and held off Catsalot at the end to win by 1/2 length. Gripsholm Castle made the early going and held on for third. Princess Taylor, a 6-year-old, British-bred Singspiel mare, got the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:14.83 with Victor Espinoza up for trainer Patrick Gallagher.
Teaks North upset Saturday's $100,000 Restoration Stakes for 3-year-olds, rallying to the lead in the stretch and scoring by 1 length over the favorite, Beau Choix. Lighthouse Sound finished third. Teaks North, a Florida-bred Northern Afleet gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.53. "I couldn't have asked for a better trip," said winning rider Jose Valdivia Jr. "This horse broke well and got me in a great spot. He was very game when we hit the lane and the second- and third-place finishers came at him, but he prevailed. He was a little tired, but he dug in. He got the mile and an eighth distance and could maybe even go further."
My Irish Girl rallied down the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Miss Woodford Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 2 3/4 lengths over Karmageddon. Funny Feeling finished third. My Irish Girl, a Florida-bred daughter of Closing Argument, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.45. She won for the seventh time without a loss this year. "We got a perfect trip from the outside post," winning jockey Israel Ocampo said. "I knew there was a lot of speed and she's able to sit off the pace and come from behind. That's just what she did today. She's shown she can handle any track."
Rogue's Jewel and D' Oratory rallied from the back of the field to finish 1-2 in Saturday's $75,000 New York Oaks with the former a nose in front. The odds-on favorite, Freud's Notebook, led briefly early in the stretch run but settled for third. Rogue's Jewel, a daughter of Broken Vow, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.67 with Dennis Carr in the irons.
Taptam led all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Wigwam Stakes for fillies and mares and held well through the stretch to win by 2 lengths over Afleet Deceit. W W American finished third. Taptam, a 5-year-old, Texas-bred Pleasant Tap mare, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44 3/5 with Francisco Torres up for trainer Bret Calhoun.
Linda's Lace started last of 10 in Saturday's $70,000 Merrillville Stakes for Indiana-bred distaffers, came seven-wide into the stretch and caught pacesetting Serena's Reward in the final yards to win by a neck. Ms. Cat Princess finished third. Linda's Lace, a 7-year-old Is Sveikatas mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11 2/5 with Torres capturing another one.
Unreachable Star ran best late in Sunday's $85,000 Brickyard Stakes for Indiana-breds, getting by Father John to win by 1 length. Are N Aide finished third. Unreachable Star, a 6-year-old Unloosened gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10 4/5 with Leandro Goncalves in the irons.
Category Seven sat off the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Shiskabob Stakes, battled through traffic and finally got home first, 3/4 length ahead of Mogumbo Cat. Dancin Perfect finished third. Category Seven, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred Gulf Storm mare, covered the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.66 with Richard Eramia riding, picking up her fifth straight win.
Slides Choice and Pay the Man battled nip and tuck throughout Saturday's $50,000 Rose DeBartolo Memorial for Ohio-bred fillies and mares with Slides Choice finally prevailing by a neck. Squeezers' Palace finished third. Slides Choice, a 4-year-old Devil His Due filly, finished 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.56 with Jason Lumpkins in the irons.
News and notes
Hard on the heels of Fair Grounds' announcement of a $1 million purse for the Louisiana Derby, MI Developments has unveiled a new, $5.5 million "sweetener" for its tracks, leading up to the Preakness Stakes. Basically, $5 would go to the owner and $500,000 to the trainer of a horse which wins the Preakness after prepping with victories in specific stakes at other MI tracks. East Coast horsemen would have to prep at Gulfstream Park and win either the Holy Bull or the Fountain of Youth, then the Florida Derby. Ditto at Santa Anita with the Bob Lewis or the San Felipe, then the Santa Anita Derby. An alternate route: The El Camino Real at Golden Gate Fields and the Santa Anita Derby. "These events represent the greatest hope for the renewal of the Thoroughbred racing business in America," Frank Stronach, chairman of MI Developments, said in a news release.