Joshua Tree got home first by a head in a dramatic, multi-horse charge to the wire in Saturday's $2 million Canadian International at Woodbine. Only a little more than 4 lengths separated all nine runners at the end of a mile and a half.
Joshua Tree, based in England, raced in mid-pack but up close until the turn. Then jockey Colm O'Donoghue swung the 3-year-old, Irish-bred Montjeu colt out for room and he out-rushed Mores Wells. Redwood was just another nose back in third and a half length ahead of Al Khali.
The final time was 2:32.72 over a course rated "good."
"It's amazing," said O'Donoghue. "It's very important to me and I owe a lot of gratitude to the owners who put their trust in me to come here to Canada and to win this race for them is amazing. Obviously, he (Joshua Tree) was prepared for today. He was trained perfectly for this race."
The victory was worth a guaranteed berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf through the "Win and You're In" program although the connections did not make a commitment. Joshua Tree is trained by Aidan O'Brien for an ownership group that includes Mrs. John Magnier, Derek Smith, Michael Tabor and Khalifa Bin Hamad al-Attyah .
Other races that could impact the Breeders' Cup Turf:
-- The 134th running of the Champion Stakes -- the last-ever at Newmarket -- went to defending champion Twice Over, who tracked the pace, took over with a quarter mile to run and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Vision d'Etat. Arlington Million winner Debussy finished third after showing the way. Twice Over, owned by Khalid Abdullah, trained by Henry Cecil and ridden by Tom Queally, got the 1 1/4 miles on good to soft going in 2:08.54. After winning the Champion last year, Cecil sent Twice Over to Santa Anita where he finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind Zenyatta and Gio Ponti. This year, Cecil said, he will be rested in preparation for the 2011 Dubai World Cup. The Champion Stakes, meanwhile, will move next year to Ascot as part of a new marketing campaign tying together many of England's top races and race meetings.
-- Violon Sacre raced near the rear through the early furlongs of Sunday's $100,000 Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park, accelerated around rivals through the turn and was up at the end of a stretch drive to win by a length over pacesetting Whatsthescript. Baletti finished third. Violon Sacre, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Stravinsky, got the 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:52.62 with Pablo Fragoso in the irons. "He has a huge turn of foot," said Patrick Biancone, who trains Violon Sacre for Bernard Weill. "He seems to be improving with every race. In Europe, he was just below the good horses. Some horses come to the United States and do not acclimate well. He has."
-- Fantastic Pick collared front-running Blue Panis at the wire in Saturday's $150,000 Oak Tree Derby at Hollywood Park, winning by a head. King Edward finished third. The favorite, Make Music for Me, attended the pace but then faded at the end and finished last. Fantastic Pick, a British-bred Fantastic Light gelding, also stayed close to Blue Panis but found more when asked by jockey Corey Nakatani. He finished the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.51. Trainer Jamie Lloyd, who scored his first graded stakes win, said, "He got out there running second and let Make Music for Me creep up on him. When the time came and I saw him moving at the three-eighths pole, I was really excited." Joe Talamo, who rode Blue Panis Saturday, had been Fantastic Pick's regular rider until he was hurt at Del Mar. Lloyd credited Talamo with the suggestion to equip the gelding with blinkers.
-- Across the "pond," Daily Racing Form reported Fame and Glory may not ship to Churchill Downs for the Turf. DRF quoted trainer Aidan O'Brien as saying the 4-year-old Montjeu colt had a "hard race" while finishing fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and it is "quite possible" he is done for the year. Fame and Glory won the Coronation Cup and the Tattersalls Gold Cup before the trip to Paris.
Other races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs:
Serious Attitude rallied from near-last to spring the upset in Saturday's $500,000 (Canadian) Neartic Stakes at Woodbine, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Grand Adventure. Fatal Bullet ran evenly to finish third while the favorite, Bridgetown, faded to get home fifth. Serious Attitude, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred Mtoto filly, got the 6 furlongs on good turf in 1:09.37 with Garrett Gomez riding for trainer Rae Guest. She was the only filly in the field and earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup. "I hadn't even asked her (until mid-stretch), but she answered all of them today," Gomez said. "I was down on the inside the whole time. She never seemed to have any kind of problem with any kind of turn. She's just a pure racehorse." Guest, also a part-owner, noted Serious Attitude is about to be sold. "She was good all year and we knew that she had another great race in her," the trainer said. "This seemed like a nice race for her because she will be sold in America … at the Fasig-Tipton Sales in about three weeks time, so we thought this would be a nice little boost for the sales."
Quick Enough was patient enough to sit behind the early pace in Monday's $100,000 Morvich Handicap at Hollywood Park, moved to the lead a furlong out and held off Dilemma to win by 1 1/2 lengths. The 8-5 favorite, Scenic Blast, finished third. Quick Enough, a 6-year-old, California-bred High Brite gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:08.42. "I knew the leader had a lot of speed, but I thought he'd come back to me," said winning rider Patrick Valenzuela. "He lasted a little longer than I thought. Turning for home, I knew I had the leader, I just didn't know who was going to come running from behind. When I went to throw a cross, he picked it up and when I went to hit him left handed he really picked it up and started to draw away. Very nice." The last two editions of the race were won by California Flag, who also is the defending Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion. The Columbus Day renewal was a "Win and You're In" event for this year's big race. "Well, we're in," winning trainer Doug O'Neill said. "Now all we need is for one of these guys (the owners) to write a big check" to supplement Quick Enough. "Other than that, it's a strong possibility he's going to go."
Mimi's Bling rallied smartly around rivals into the stretch in Friday's $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland and outlasted Canadian Ballet to post a big upset win. The favorite, West Ocean, was third, 1 1/4 lengths farther behind, after rallying from far back. Mimi's Bling, with Julien Leparoux up, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:03.48. The 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Bernstein filly went to the post at odds of 33-1. "She's an improving filly," Eddie Kenneally, the winning trainer and co-owner, said. "We really didn't think we were going to beat some of those older mares, but we wanted to take a shot. For a 3-year-old filly, she's really done very well."
Filly & Mare Turf
Reggane rallied from last of 10 to win Saturday's $1 million (Canadian) E.P. Taylor Stakes, Presented by Fly Emirates, at Woodbine by a length over Miss Keller. Shalanaya was third and the favorite, Contredanse, settled for fourth. Reggane, a 4-year-old, British-bred Red Ransom filly, ran the 1 1/4-mile race on good turf in 2:03.38 with Christophe Soumillion up for trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre. It was her first Grade I victory and worth an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup. "I watched her run many times in Europe, so I know she is a late-finishing filly," Soumillon said. "She doesn't like to be in good position and take the lead early. Today, the pace was fast enough for me to wait and when I came into the turn I could tell that many horses in front of me were slowing down so when I asked her to go she gave me a good turn of foot."
Harmonius let long shot Dade Babe set a solo pace in Saturday's $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for 3-year-old fillies, easily closed the gap on the turn and drew off in the stretch to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Zagora. Evening Jewel finished third and Dade Babe faded to finish fourth. Harmonius, a Kentucky-bred Dynaformer filly out of the Storm Cat mare Jade Tree, got the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.14 with Joel Rosario up. "She was galloping along, and I just let her relax, find her stride," Rosario said. "Turning for home, I had a lot of horse. When I asked her, she tried to get in a little bit. I hit her left handed and she tried to get out a little bit. But she was fine. She did the job really easy." Will the filly move along to the Breeders' Cup, trainer John Shirreffs was asked. "That's a discussion we'll have with (co-owner) Mr. (Marty) Wygod," he replied.
Eye of Taurus cleared the field heading for home in Saturday's $100,000 Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park and got home first, 3 lengths in front of the favorite, Mary's Follies. Missit was third at a good price. Eye of Taurus, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Aldebaran filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on the soft inner turf course in 1:47.04 with Eddie Castro riding. "She likes it soft, and she ran big," winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We're happy that Eddie Castro came to ride. It always looked like she was traveling well. She does well in the fall." It was her second straight stakes win, following the Revidere at Monmouth Park on Sept. 11.
Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Plumania reportedly will ship to Churchill Downs and contest either the Filly & Mare Turf or the Turf. During this year's campaign in France, Plumania defeated Youmzain in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, won the Prix Corrida against other distaffers and finished second to defending Filly & Mare Turf champ Midday in the Prix Vermeille. She recently finished 16th in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. The 4-year-old Anabaa filly, trained by Andre Fabre, will be ridden by Olivier Peslier.
Aruna trailed most of the field into the stretch turn in Monday's $100,000 Pebbles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, came four-wide into the lane and cruised home first, 3 lengths ahead of Bet on The Blue. Sea Road finished third. The mile on firm turf went in 1:35.03 with Ramon Dominguez up on the winner. Aruna, who began her career in France, now is 2-for-2 in the United States, with the Pebbles reprising her earlier win in a Saratoga allowance. In the Saratoga race, said winning trainer H. Graham Motion, "she had so much to do at the top of the stretch. With how the turf had been playing, it had been so hard to make up ground. I thought that race justified her being here today."
Mad Flatter was never in doubt in Saturday's $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap at Calder Race Course, pressing the pace, then taking over to win by 6 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Mambo Meister. El Kingdom was 1 length farther back in third. Mad Flatter, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred son of Flatter, covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.37 with Jon Court aboard. The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
Okay. Memo to Juddmonte Farm and trainer Henry Cecil: If you're going to name him "Frankel," after your great and recently deceased American trainer, you really do need to bring him to the United States at some point. If not three weeks down the road, maybe next year? Frankel, a Galileo colt, remained undefeated by turning a potentially contentious Dewhurst Stakes into a romp on Saturday at Newmarket in England. Racing well back under Tom Queally, Frankel began his move with about 3 furlongs to go, got to the fore a furlong and a half out and simply dominated the rest of the way, winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Roderic O'Connor was second, followed by Glor Na Mara, Waiter's Dream, Dream Ahead and Saamidd last. Frankel covered the straight 7 furlongs in 1:25.73 on "good to soft" going. Cecil said Frankel now will be put away to await the 2011 Guineas and Epsom Derby. "I've never had a horse work like him as a 2-year-old," Cecil said. "The last one I remember who was similar would be Arazi." That's the Arazi who did show up for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 1991 at Churchill Downs, winning in one of the most thrilling performances in the event's history.
Reprized Halo, last turning for home, rallied sharply through the stretch to win Saturday's $350,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course by 1 1/2 lengths at odds of better than 45-1. The odds-on favorite, Gourmet Dinner, was making up ground in the stretch, too, but not enough and finished second. Decisive Moment finished third. Reprized Halo, a Halo's Image colt out of the Reprized mare Reprized Angel, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:50.50 with Jose Alvarez in the irons. Winning trainer Manny Azpura, who started Reprized Halo in a $25,000 claimer two starts back, said he "always thought he was better than he was running in the afternoon by the way he trained in the morning, but he wasn't living up to my expectations."
Bear's Peak collared front-running favorite Altius in the final yards of Monday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bull Page Stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds, winning by a neck. Quintana was third. Bear's Peak, a Peaks and Valleys colt, got the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.99, breaking his maiden with Patrick Husbands in the irons. "I knew he was talented," winning trainer Reade Baker said. "I expected a big race, but it was a tough race. I didn't have him ready. He didn't break well, he came really wide. It was really just an experience run. But I thought this was the place."
Golden Set stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic, took charge when asked by jockey Travis Dunkelberger and won off by 1 1/4 lengths. Early leader Just Your Way held on for second, 4 lengths better than Blackberry Winter. Golden Set, a Tapit colt out of the Swing Till Dawn mare Swing Set, got the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:21.50.
Celtic Conviction battled all the way to a big upset win in Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Cup and Saucer Stakes for Canadian-breds. At the end, the Strut the Stage gelding proved best by 1 1/4 lengths over the late-running Good Better Best. Say No More dueled most of the way with the winner and held on for third. Celtic Convention, with Emile Ramsammy in the irons, went to the post at 43-1 and ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.88. Winning trainer Mike Doyle said Celtic Conviction showed talent in the early months of the Woodbine meet but didn't realize his potential until after he was gelded. "He showed quite a bit all along. He just didn't show it in those first two starts," said Doyle. "We gelded him. He needed a race back. Then we just wanted to put him somewhere where he'd be competitive. So we put him in for $32,000." After that, with his confidence restored, he was ready to spring the upset.
Awesome Feather ran to her notices in Saturday's $350,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course. After prompting the pace, the Awesome of Course filly quickly took over and easily drew off, winning by 8 1/4 lengths. Lily's Hope rallied from next-last of eight to put some reward in the exacta while Beso Grande finished third. Awesome Feather, with Jeffrey Sanchez in the irons, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:48.05. She now is undefeated in four starts, including a sweep of the FSS fillies division. "Breeders' Cup!" exulted winning trainer Stanley Gold. "That's what we discussed going into the race. If she won and did it right, we'd go to the Breeders' Cup. I knew she was good, but I don't think I was prepared for the performance she gave today. You always wonder if they are as good as you hope they are. In her case, I think I underestimated her.
Flying Trip caught pacesetting favorite Ayoumilove in deep stretch to win Saturday's $65,000 Cassidy Stakes at Calder Race Course by three-quarters of a length. Devilish Lady was third. Flying Trip, a Florida-bred Trippi filly, covered the 6 furlongs in 1:13.72 under Eibar Coa. She remains undefeated after four starts. "She hasn't done anything wrong yet," Coa said. "That's the way I looked at it coming into the race. She did everything right, broke good today, and put herself into a good position."
Table Talking was up in the final jumps to win Saturday's $75,000 Small Wonder Stakes at Delaware Park by a head over Funky Munky Mama. Players Court finished third. Table Talking, a Kentucky-bred Orientate filly out of the Dixieland Band mare Dixie Talking, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.09 with Oliver Castillo in the irons.
Princess Cecilia stayed close to the pace in Saturday's $75,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic for state-foaled fillies at Charles Town, engaged pacesetter Blushing B J in the stretch and edged past at the end to win by a half length. A Good Run had an even run to finish third. Princess Cecilia, a Sharp Humor filly out of the Chief's Crown mare Cecilia's Crown, ran 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 53.13 seconds with Kendrick Carmouch up.
Fastation took the took the early lead in Sunday's $55,000 Permian Basin Stakes at Zia Park in New Mexico, was headed by Angel At Home early in the stretch run but found another gear and got home first by a half length. Angel At Home finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Squall Wilbud. Fastation, a Texas-bred Valid Expectation filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.67 with Ken Tohill in the irons for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Kathmanblu lagged well behind the field until the stretch turn in Thursday's $150,000 J.P. Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes, circled six-wide into the lane and rallied dramatically to win by 4 lengths over Lauren Byrd. Cloneylass finished third. Kathmanblu, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Bluegrass Cat out of the Devil's Bag mare Abba Gold, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.01 with Julien Leparoux in the irons.
In other weekend racing:
Sea Rescue came from well back in a 10-horse field to out-run Colonel J W and win Saturday's $500,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic for state-breds by a head. Black Belt finished third and Russell Road, part of the heavily favored entry with Colonel J W, was bumped in the lane and finished fourth. Sea Rescue, a 4-year-old Brahms colt, finished the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.71 with Xavier Perez in the irons.
In the companion $250,000 West Virginia Cavada Breeders' Classic for state-bred distaffers, Aspenglow set a pressured pace, shook clear in the stretch and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Natures Annuity. Silver Heart finished third. Aspenglow, a 4-year-old Lion Hearted filly out of the Holy Bull mare Holy Princess, ran 7 furlongs in 1:27.12 with Travis Dunkelberger up.
In the other Breeders' Classic races, each worth $75,000:
Stowe White rallied from off the pace to win the West Virginia Division of Tourism for 3-year-old fillies by 3 1/2 lengths over Crusader's Angel, running the 7 furlongs in 1:27.57. Henry the Lover ran away with the West Virginia Breeders' Association Onion Juice, scoring by 10 1/4 lengths over Mill Stone and finishing 7 furlongs in 1:26.09.
Taylor's Flight lead all the way to a 1 1/2 lengths win over Green Spring Boy in the West Virginia Lottery for 3-year-olds, getting the 7 furlongs in 1:26.32. Trouble Makin also led from "go to whoa" in the West Virginia Dash For Cash, getting away late to win by 2 1/4 lengths, finishing the 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.66 seconds.
Devonspaintedlady upset the WestVirginia Breeders' Classic Distaff, rallying from far back to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Little Shiney. Badge Bunny was third. Devonspaintedlady got the 9 furlongs in 1:56.18.
Smokey Fire pressed the pace in Wednesday's $100,000 (Canadian) Mt. Sassafras Stakes for Ontario-breds, took the lead in the stretch and got home first, a length ahead of Ice Bear. Daniel Be Good finished third and Lady's First Cat completed the order of finish. Smokey Fire, a 5-year-old Smoke Glacken gelding, got the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.65 with Jono Jones riding.
Noisy Feet worked past pacesetting favorite Lady Alexander in the stretch run of Saturday's $60,000 College of New Jersey Stakes for fillies and mares and won by a half length over that foe. D'wild Ride finished third. Noisy Feet, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Tapit filly, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.43 with Angel Serpa riding.
Go Forth North was just up at the wire to nip pacesetting All Due Respect by a nose in Sunday's $100,000 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. The favorite, Antares World, stalked the pace, then settled for third. Go Forth North, a Kentucky-bred North Light filly, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:34.48 with David Flores aboard. "She sure knew where the target was and accelerated right after (All Due Respect) at the top of the stretch," Flores said. "I thought I could get there because I could feel the other horse coming back and I was making a good run."
Eskimo's Best gave her best in the stretch run of Saturday's $83,000 Frances Slocum Stakes for state-bred distaffers, finishing first, 2 lengths ahead of early leader Evenly. Linda's Lace finished third. Eskimo's Best, a 4-year-old Best Luck filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45 4/5 with Orlando Mojica in the irons.
Tuesday's Rosenna Stakes for fillies and mares was split, then rained off the turf and run as two $50,000 five-horse fields. In the first division, Million Seller rallied from last of five to win by a neck over Check Point, who was a neck better than All Night Labor. Million Seller, a 4-year-old A.P. Indy filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:44.38 with Jeremy Rose up. In the second half, Stage Trick led all the way to a 5 1/4-lengths win over Nicksappealinglady. Haven's Honey was third. Stage Trick, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor miss, was clocked in 1:44.22 was Rose won both ends of the twin bill.
Pashito the Che took the lead at the top of the lane in Wednesday's $50,000 Hard Spun Stakes, opened daylight and then just held on to win by a nose over Silver Edition. Whistle Pig finished third. Pashito the Che, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Flatter colt, was clocked in 1:09.44 for the 6 furlongs on a fast track. Abel Castellano Jr. rode.
Victory With Class surged to the front turning for home in Monday's $100,000 (Canadian) Jack Diamond Futurity for Canadian-bred, 2-year-old fillies, opened a decent lead and held off Misty Memory easily to win by 1 1/2 lengths. La Bronca was third. Victory With Class, a British Columbia-bred Storm Victory filly, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:19.07 with Richard Hamel riding.
In the companion event for juvenile colts and geldings, Outoftheclouds came from well back to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Too Much Dirt. Lookout Dubai lost a big lead in the stretch and finished third. Outoftheclouds, a British Columbia-bred Storm Victory gelding, was timed in 1:18.36 with David Wilson in the irons.
Double Shuffle pressed the pace in Monday's $50,000 (Canadian) Harvest Gold Plate, went to the lead a quarter mile out and held well to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Footprint. No Walkin' Joe completed the foot-related hunch triactor. Double Shuffle, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Repent gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44 1/5 with Vicky Baze riding.
Uno Caliente led from gate to wire in Saturday's $65,000 Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder Race Course, winning by 1 length over Determinato. Brock N Rock was third. Uno Caliente, a Florida-bred Macho Uno colt, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.20 with Manoel Cruz up. "He set fast fractions in his last start," said winning trainer Bill White, "but that was seven-eighths and the speed was not doing very well that day. I think he's really best the first five-eighths and I'm looking to try him that distance on turf at some point."
Uncle Otto rallied along the rail through the stretch to catch pacesetting favorite Steady Warrior and win by a length in Saturday's $75,000 First State Dash at Delaware Park. Poseidon's Warrior finished third. Uncle Otto, a New Jersey-bred Roaring Fever gelding, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on fast track in 1:04.78 with Rosemary Homeister up.
Calder Race Course
Trip for A.J. had the easiest trip of all in Saturday's $75,000 Calder Oaks, leading all the way to a clear 5 3/4-lengths victory. Gator Brew was second, a neck in front of Musical Romance. Trip for A.J., a Florida-bred Trippi filly, got the 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:51.12 with Eibar Coa riding.
Tannersville was just up in the final jumps to outfinish Bim Bam and win the $75,000 Florida Derby by a nose. Saint Dynaformer finished third. Tannersville, a Florida-bred West Acre colt, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.32 for jockey Wilmer Galviz.
Southern Truth took charge in the stretch to win Saturday's $75,000 Tax Free Shopping Distaff Stakes by 2 3/4 lenths over Comet of Love. Serenadia finished third and the favorite, Malibu Moon Dance, faded to finish last of six. Southern Truth, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Yes It's True filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.76 with Rose Napravnik in the irons.
Nathan's H Q got there "fustest with the mostest" in Saturday's $75,000 New Castle Stakes. Leading much of the way, the 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Yonaguska colt was headed but came again to win by 2 lengths over Rock Solid Arch. Cayman Condo finished third. Nathan's H Q ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.53 with Clyde Martin up.