Dialed In wasn't even supposed to be in the race. He only had one previous start -- a maiden win last November at Churchill Downs. Trainer Nick Zito tried to start him in an allowance race nearly two weeks ago but scratched because of a wet track. The Holy Bull was the best available option.
It turned out to be no problem for the Kentucky-bred son of Mineshaft out of the Storm Cat mare Miss Doolittle. He broke sluggishly and chased the field into the stretch turn but once jockey Julien Leparoux got him out for running room, the colt switched leads and accelerated quickly, getting home 1 1/2 lengths ahead of long shot Sweet Ducky.
Gourmet Dinner and Mucho Macho Man were third and fourth, respectively.
Dialed In, owned by Robert LaPenta, finished the $400,000, Grade II event in 1:35.19.
"I had a good feeling and confidence in Julien to let him be in the right place and then get into the mix," Zito said. "I just wanted him to get out clear and settle.
Since the winner's share of Sunday's purse probably is enough to ensure Dialed In a place in the Kentucky Derby field, Zito now is off the hook in planning the rest of the spring campaign.
"I'm not sure what will be next," he said. "The idea is just to get him there." "There" being Churchill Downs on May 7.
Joe Bravo, who rode Mucho Macho Man, said he remains high on his horse.
"You know with this horse, if he doesn't win, he's going to give you 110 percent," Bravo said. "This was the best race of his life. We weren't going to beat the winner today. They paid half a million (actually $475,000) for him for a reason. Hats off to Nick Zito."
Pomeroy's Pistol opened a big lead at the top of the stretch in Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the favorite, Dancinginherdreams, had too much to do at the end to make up the difference. At the wire, it was the 9-1 long shot on top by 3/4 of a length with extreme outsider Evil Queen completing the trifecta. R Heat Lightning, coming off a second-place finish to Awesome Feather in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, raced wide and finished fourth, another neck back. Pomeroy's Pistol, a Florida-bred daughter of Pomeroy out of the Point Given filly Prettyatthetable, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.89 with Paco Lopez up for trainer Amy Tarrant. Pomperoys Pistol finished second behind Final Mesa in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 5 and Tarrant said she was "concerned that there wasn't enough time between her last race and this one." She said she considered waiting for the Grade II Davona Dale on Feb. 26 but after Sunday's win, "Now we'll see how she comes out of this one before deciding on the Davona Dale." Dancinginherdreams' trainer, Wesley Ward, noted his filly was forced very wide and didn't have enough distance to catch the winner. He said she should fare better in the longer Davona Dale.
In other racing:
(By Richard Gross)
English-bred Presvis came from last in his first start since June at Royal Ascot and stormed away at the top of the stretch to easily take the 9-furlong Al Rashidya (UAE-IIT) turf feature at Meydan the third night of the Dubai International Racing Carnival Thursday.
The 7-year-old Sakhee gelding was immediately settled by Ryan Moore off a pace set by Tam Lin and Tequila Heights. That dueling pair was tracked by Frankie Dettori aboard Caymans with favorite Irish Flame well out of the race early in sixth position. Caymans briefly took the lead but was no match for the winner when Presvis was gently urged at the top of the stretch by Moore. Steele Tango grabbed second by 1 3/4 lengths with Caymans third and Irish Flame a disappointing fourth.
The win gave 2009 QE II Cup (HK-I) winner Presvis his seventh victory in 21 starts. The $120,000 winner's share pushed lifetime earnings above $3.8 million. "His next stop will be a group race here," said trainer Luca Cumani. "Then it will be the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-II) World Cup night."
With the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) only two months away, a total of 312 horses from 18 nations were nominated for the $10 million run March 26, including 49 from the United States. Leading that group and almost certain to be in the gate is Gio Ponti, reigning Eclipse Champion Male Turf Horse, who finished fourth in last year's Dubai World Cup, and 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer. Consistent threats First Dude and Fly Down may join the fray. I Want Revenge, who was scratched on race day from the 2009 Kentucky Derby, may get a chance for some and Rule, left off the 2010 Derby card after a third-place showing as the favorite in the Florida Derby, might get a nod to try and rule in Dubai. Sidney's Candy and Saturday's Sunshine Millions Distaff winner, Evening Jewel, round out the best American hopes along with Mission Impazible.
Other Dubai World Cup day races include the $5 million each Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) and Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), the $2 million each Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) and UAE Derby (UAE-II) and the $1 million each Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-II) and Godolphin Mile (UAE-II). The $10 million, 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup, run on all-weather Tapeta, is the highlight of a seven-race card with a total of $26 million in purses on racing's richest day.
Beauty Flash, hero of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile in December, backed up that triumph with a hard-won victory Sunday at Sha Tin in the HK Group 1 Stewards' Cup and now is a top contender for the Dubai Duty Free (UAE Group 1) in March. With Gerald Mosse up for trainer Tony Cruz, the 5-year-old son of Golan got the lead at the top of the lane, beat back the challenges of Irian, runner-up in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup, and then Sunny King, who fell just a neck short of the win. "At the 200 meters there were horses going faster than me," Mosse said. "I didn't want to use the whip because he doesn't like that. But he has such a big heart he kept quickening and fought them off." Cruz did not rule out the option of running Beauty Flash back in the HKG1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup on Feb. 27. But, he said, "The Dubai Duty Free at Meydan is his main target now."
The annual series, run at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita for California- and Florida-breds, always promises competitive fields and a relief from seemingly endless northern winters. Saturday's renewal also provided a big payoff for the more adventurous punters, especially in the $500,000 Classic.
In that event, contested this year at Gulfstream, Tackleberry grabbed the lead and nobody could get past the 27-1 long shot. With Javier Santiago riding, the 4-year-old, Florida-bred Montbrook gelding glided home first, 2 1/4 lengths better than Duke of Mischief. Dream Maestro, at a dreamy 57-1, clunked up for third, a nose in front of First Dude, who was making his first start since showing the way to Blame and Zenyatta in the early stages of the Breeders' Cup Classic. Dry Martini and Birdrun finished fifth and sixth. The Tackleberry-topped trifecta returned $2,665.50 for a $1 investment and may have been a breakthrough for the Luis Olivares owned and trained runner. He picked up his sixth win in 10 starts, a record that includes a win two races back in the Grade III Fred Hooper Handicap at Calder. "He loves to run and wants the lead," Olivares said. "Last time he stumbled and broke bad at the start and didn't get to run his race. He's a fighter. He looks like he's dead at the top of the stretch and he fights back." Olivares said he might run Tackleberry back in next weekend's $500,000 Donn Handicap. Of First Dude's effort, jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "We wanted to take him off the pace today, and I was able to do that. He hasn't been performing up to what the team thinks he should, so we wanted to get him to the outside and give him his best chance."
Trip for A.J. surged to the lead a furlong out in the $300,000 Filly & Mare Turf, then was all out to hold safe Askbut I Won'ttell, winning by a half length. Scolara came from far back to finish third with a late rush. The favorite, Dynaslew, was fractious at the gate, raced near the lead and then faded badly to finish last of 13. She was making her first start since the fall meeting at Keeneland. Trip for A.J., a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Trippi filly, got the 9 furlongs over the firm Gulfstream grass in 1:49.49 under John Velazquez. Trip for A.J., winless since the Calder Oaks back in October, picked up her seventh win in 14 trips. "I think a mile and an eighth might be a little far for her, so I wanted to reserve as much as I could for the stretch run," Velazquez said. "It worked perfectly." Trainer Marty Wolfson said while Trip for A.J. acts on both grass and the main track, he plans to keep her on the green course for now.
Aegean chased early in the $200,000 Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream, moved to the leaders entering the stretch, dueled the pacesetters into submission, then lasted by a nose over late-running long shot Jessica Is Back. Feel That Heat finished third, completing a $1 trifecta worth $789.40. Aegean, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Northern Afleet Filly, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.61 under Jeffrey Sanchez. She bounced back from a defeat on the grass at Tampa Bay Downs to pick up her fifth win in 13 career starts. "The plan was to let the speed go and take a hold of her and sit about a length off the pace," Sanchez said. "She waited a little bit on the other horses in the stretch, but when I hit her with the whip left-handed she really took off." Trainer Wesley Ward added, "The goal this year will be the (Breeders' Cup) Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill. I want to space her races out pretty good from here, so I don't have anything picked out just yet."
The California half of the Sunshine Millions (actually worth total purses of $1.8 million) was headed by the $300,000 Distaff. Evening Jewel ran to expectations there, tracking the pace into the stretch, then accelerating to the front and hanging on to score by a half-length over Amazing. Ultra Blend was a nose farther back in third with a late rush from the rear. Evening Jewel, a 4-year-old, California-bred Northern Afleet filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.25 with Victor Espinoza in the irons. Second to Blind Luck in last year's Kentucky Oaks, Evening Jewel had not won since the Del Mar Oaks last Aug. 21. Saturday's race was her first ungraded event since last January. "Midway around the turn, the horses in front of me got tired and drifted off the rail," Espinoza said. "I was able to cut the corner there at the quarter pole. She's got a tremendous turn of foot, and she finished great today." Winning trainer James Cassidy said some consideration was given to retiring Evening Jewel after three straight losses. "I wouldn't want to cheapen her in any way and keep running her if she'd had enough," he said. "But after this performance today, you've got to keep running."
Caracortado outfinished The Usual Q.T. to win the $300,000 Turf by a half-length, with Soul Candy third and the favorite, Jeranimo, settling for fourth with an even trip. Caracortado, who was fourth in last year's Santa Anita Derby and seventh in the Preakness, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.75 with Joe Talamo handling the reins. The California-bred Cat Dreams gelding ran third in the Grade I Malibu on the main track in his last start and was making only his second career start on the grass. Talamo said winning trainer and co-owner Mike Machowsky has had him working Caradortado on the turf. "He just explodes that last eighth," the rider said. "I think in one of his workouts he came home in 10-and-four, and I didn't even ask him the last eighth. He's a tremendous horse." Machowsky said he is not sure what race will be next for Caracortado but he knows the date. "March 5 will be the date," he said. "Whether it's the Kilroe Mile (on turf) or the Santa Anita Handicap (at 1 1/4 miles on the main track), we'll just wait and see how it all plays out."
Amazombie, stepping up to stakes company for the first time, tossed an upset in the $200,000 Sprint, overhauling pacesetter Cost of Freedom in the stretch run and holding off Apriority to win by a head. Cost of Freedom finished third, another head back. Amazombie, the third offspring of Northern Afleet to visit the Sunshine Millions winner's circles Saturday, covered 6 furlongs in 1:07.28. The 5-year-old California-bred now has six wins from 15 lifetime starts. "He's one of those horses that it probably doesn't matter if he's on the turf or dirt," said winning jockey Mike Smith. "The rail was something new today. I probably could've stayed down there and followed Cost of Freedom, but I knew the closers would be coming and we made them fan out a little bit, which helped. (Trainer) Bill Spawr has done a great job with this horse."
Switch had no problem with five outclassed rivals in Sunday's $250,000, Grade I Santa Monica Stakes for fillies and mares, taking a good lead into mid-stretch before jockey Joel Rosario started gearing down. The 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Quiet American filly eased by the wire 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Gilded Gem, finishing 7 furlongs in 1:20.70. Sweet August Moon finished third. "These are the hardest ones to win, when you're the heavy favorite," said winning trainer John Sadler. "I thought we'd have a chance to be leader of the division this year, with Zenyatta retiring. Switch is very, very good -- as good as anything out there." He said he is considering running back in the $300,000, Grade I Santa Margarita on March 12 or the $500,000, Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 15 -- both around two turns. "She'll have six, seven races this year," he added. "She's kind of a late-developing filly. We kind of thought early on last year that she would improve with age and she's showing that right now."
Reba Is Tops rallied from last to top the order of finish in Sunday's $70,000 Wishing Well Stakes for fillies and mares down the hillside turf course. With Joe Talamo riding, the 7-year-old, Washington-bred He's Tops mare came five-wide around her rivals and got home 2 1/4 lengths ahead of runner-up Catchy Tune. She finished the gravity-assisted "about" 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.25.
Sam Houston Race Park
Schramsberg stalked the pace in Saturday's $200,000, Grade III John B. Connally Turf Cup, came wide around the leaders into the stretch and got home first by 2 1/4 lengths over Southern Anthem. The favorite, Stately Victor, made a late run to finish third, another 1 1/4 lengths back. Schramsberg, for those not paying attention, is as regally bred as you can get -- a 5-year-old son of Storm Cat out of the superstar Rahy mare Serena's Song. Despite the breeding, he was out of the money in his last start in the Winsham Lad Handicap at Sunland Park in New Mexico and was only the third favorite in Saturday's race. With Chris Landeros up, Schramsberg finished the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:50.22. "Stately Victor was the one I was looking for," Landeros told the Houston Chronicle. "About halfway through the race, I sneaked a look back. I thought I'd see him close to me. He wasn't there."
Wicked Thunder caught pacesetting Diski Dance in the final jump to win Saturday's $50,000 Dancing Count Stakes for 3-year-olds by a nose. Afternoon Action finished third. Wicked Thunder, a Kentucky-bred Thunder Gulch colt out of the Dixieland Band filly Wicked Looking, ran 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:11.76 with Josean Ramirez up. "He puts it out there and gives it his all every time out," winning owner/trainer Gary Capuano said. "My horse does what he does in the morning but in the afternoon he becomes a competitor, which is better than the other way."
Modern Cowboy stalked a pace duel in Saturday's $60,000 Bald Eagle Stakes, swooped to the lead at the top of the stretch and soared off in the final furlong to win by an airy 4 lengths. Goombada Guska was second and More Than a Reason finished third. Modern Cowboy, the favorite, finished the mile on a good track in 1:35.87 with Ramon Dominguez up. He is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Tiznow colt.
Dominguez also was aboard Kid Kate in Saturday's $65,000 Correction Stakes for fillies and mares, guiding the 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid filly to a neck victory over Meese Rocks. The pair hooked up in the stretch run with the winner gradually wearing down the competition until she gained the advantage in the final yards. Purrfect Bluff finished third. Kid Kate ran the 6 furlongs on the good inner track in 1:10.30.
Forest Uproar stalked a slow pace in Saturday's $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial for fillies and mares, advanced on the leader with a furlong to run and dominated in the stretch drive, winning by 3 lengths. Avie's Tale also made a late move to finish second, a neck in front of Instant Style. Forest Uproar, a 5-year-old, Ontario-bred Forest Wildcat mare, finished the "about" 1 1/16 miles on "good" turf in 1:51.30 with James Graham in the irons.
Native Ruler got the measure of pacesetting Mighty Rule in the final jumps of Saturday's $50,000 King Cotton Stakes, winning by a neck. Another pair of necks separated the third- and fourth-place finishers, River Bear and Agastache. Native Ruler, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Elusive Quality, got the 6 furlongs in 1:10.15 with Terry Thompson in the irons.
California invader Alec's Moon dominated Saturday's $80,000 Portland Meadows Oaks, easily pulling off in the stretch run to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Formal Plan was second with Chick Power third. Alec's Moon, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Malibu Moon out of the Conquistador Cielo filly Bello Cielo, got the mile on a fast track in 1:40.13 with Joe Crispin in the irons. Jerry Hollendorfer trains Alec's Moon.
Tampa Bay Downs
Hyperlink pressed the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Manatee Stakes for fillies and mares, then drew off quickly when asked by jockey Daniel Centeno, winning by 2 3/4 lengths over Choragus. Tripped finished third. Hyperlink, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Toccet filly, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in stakes-record time of 1:23.52.
Tend pressed the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Forego Stakes, took charge in the lane and got home first by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Cool Bullet. Bee Line's Edge finished third. Tend, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Dynaformer gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.79 under Perry Ouzts.
News and notes:
"Pickaname," by Bernardini out of the Street Cry mare Zenyatta. Well, that relegates the recently elected 2010 Horse of the Year to a kind of secondary position but that's how her first foal will be show on the pedigree. Owners Jerry and Ann Moss, after consulting with their team, selected Bernardini, the young son of A.P. Indy, to provide Zenyatta's first experience in the breeding shed. Bernardini's first crop hit the track in 2010 with notable success. What will the foal's name be? Moss is fond of referencing his music experience -- Zenyatta is named for an album by The Police. Time to check the old A&M Records music catalog? "Bernyatta" or "Zenardini" just wouldn't cut it. Too bad Moss didn't take a chance on Blame, who ended Zenyatta's 19-race winning streak, finishing a head in front of her in last November's Breeders' Cup Classic. That mating could have produced ... wait ... "Don'tblameme."
Anyone who's been following racing during the past four decades knows Terry Wallace -- or at least his voice. The venerable Oaklawn Park race caller stepped up to the Hot Springs, Ark., track's microphone on Feb. 7, 1975, and hadn't missed a race from then until Friday. After logging 20,191 consecutive races, Wallace took a break and watched the fifth race from the apron -- just because he wanted to. "I'm comfortable knowing my record isn't going to be broken any time soon," he said. "So I thought it might be fun to experience the track I love so much from a different perspective." However, prospective replacements can cool their jets. "I don't plan on going anywhere for a while," Wallace said. "But it's nice knowing that I can step out of the booth from time to time." He still has a way to go to catch Phil Georgeff, the now-retired Chicago-area race caller who is credited by the Guiness Book of World Records with announcing 96,131 non-consecutive races in his career, usually punctuated by, "Here they come, spinning out of the turn."