Blind Luck vs. Havre de Grace is turning into a rivalry for the ages.
The four-legged foes met for the sixth time in a little more than a year in Saturday's $750,000, Grade II Delaware Handicap and the outcome was the same as it was in last year's Delaware Oaks -- Blind Luck by a nose after a dramatic, all-out stretch battle.
"This is a total grudge match," said winning jockey Garrett Gomez, who guided Blind Luck over the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.28. "These two fillies butt heads and when they get together it is a grudge match, so they got a good little rivalry going. They are both nice fillies and they both ran tremendous races. I think this really cool for the sport."
Blind Luck now has beaten Havre de Grace four times in their six meetings although in one of them -- last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic -- both finished behind Unrivaled Belle. But that doesn't begin to tell the story of this head-to-head competition.
A nose in the 2010 Delaware Oaks. A neck in the Alabama at Saratoga. A neck in Philadephia. A neck between them in the Breeders' Cup. A relative romp by Havre de Gras by 3 1/2 lengths in the Azeri at Oaklawn. And always, Havre de Grace near the lead and Blind Luck near the rear until the stretch run.
And they are not only great rivals. They're very good fillies. Blind Luck has run 21 times, posting 12 wins, seven seconds and two thirds. Havre de Grace has been to the track a dozen times with six wins, four seconds and two thirds.
Blind Luck, who has won more than $3.2 million, is a daughter of Pollard's Vision, purchased at the Fasig-Tipton sales in 2008 for $11,000. Blind Luck, winner of more than $1.5 million, is a Saint Liam filly who went for $300,000 at the Keeneland September sale in the same year.
"We have hooked up six times and each time it has been exciting," winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "We have come out well a couple times and we have been beaten a couple of times. But that is OK because it is not supposed to be easy."
Havre de Grace's trainer, Larry Jones, was shaking his head over the 124 pounds assigned to his filly versus the 122 given Blind Luck.
"Tell me 2 pounds does not make a difference," Jones said. "She won six Grade I's versus our one and we are the high weight. That makes a lot of sense. I probably should not have run."
Blind Luck earned a free ride to this year's Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic through the "Win and You're In" program and likely will find her old rival there, too.
The filly showdown was but one chapter of a Racing Form full of classy weekend competition, much of it previewing potential battles in the Breeders' Cup World Championships in November at Churchill Downs:
Air Support, near the back early, rallied to the lead a 16th out in Saturday's $600,000, Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, then was all out to hold off Banned and win by a neck. Casino Host was third at a big price and Newsdad finished fourth. The favorite, Street Game, was the early leader but faded through the stretch and finished fifth. Air Support, a Kentucky-bred Smart Strike colt out of the Danzig mare Gaze, got the 1 1/4 miles on firm going in 2:00.80 with Alex Solis up for trainer Shug McGaughey. Air Support now has four wins-- including three graded stakes victories on the grass -- from nine starts. "The distance really helped us today," said Solis, who rode Air Support to a second-place finish behind Street Game in the Hill Prince Stakes last month at Belmont Park. Street Game finished fifth Saturday. "This was the right distance of ground, we thought," Stuart Janney III, Air Support's owner, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "It's obviously a big purse and it brings together a lot of the good horses that have been winning at one place or another. This is a Grade II but, in my mind, it's really a Grade I, if you see the horses that have won it over the last four or five years." That list includes Paddy O'Prado last year and the likes of Battle of Hastings, Gio Ponti, English Channel and Kitten's Joy.
Clement Rock emerged from a stalking position to take a good lead at the top of the lane in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Toronto Cup for 3-year-olds at Woodbine, then had all he could do to hold on and win by a neck in a dramatic blanket finish. Celtic Conviction was second by a head over River Lemon, who was a head in front of Cozy Kitten, who was a nose better than Thundering Waters. Clement Rock, a Florida-bred Strong Hope colt, finished the 9 furlongs on firm going in 1:46.98 with Luis Contreras up. He now has won all three of his turf starts. "He's a tough horse and I think he likes winning," winning trainer Mark Casse said.
Impotente Purse rallied four-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Falcon Rock. Celtic New Year finished third. Impotente Purse, a 5-year-old, Brazilian-bred Public Purse gelding, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:26.65. "I was just watching everything that was going on and I was able to get to the outside and go from there," winning jockey Chantal Sutherland said. "This horse has amazing staying power. I started getting after him a little early to encourage him because if you let him fall asleep, he'll fall asleep."
Filly & Mare Turf
Five fillies less than a length apart at the wire and a dead-heat for first -- another exciting finish by the distaff set in Saturday's $250,000, Grade I American Oaks at Hollywood Park. At the finish, pacesetting Nereid held on to share the win photo with Cambina, who rallied from last of six. That pair were just a head in front of Star Billing, who was a head in front of Entrustment in fourth. The favorite, Bizzy Caroline, was only a half length farther back in fifth. The 1 1/4 miles on firm turf took 2:01.46. Cambina, an Irish-bred Hawk Wing filly, was ridden by Martin Garcia; Nereid, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Rock Hard Ten, by Joe Talamo. Nereid picked up her third win from four starts with one second-place finish. Cambina, earlier campaigned in Ireland, won for the sixth time in 12 starts. "She can do anything," Talamo said of Nereid. "She didn't even start running today until she got to the sixteenth pole. When she felt them coming, she really kicked on. She's got a very, very bright future." Garcia, who had to steady sharply in the stretch, added, "I don't know who came in or out, but I had to completely pull her up. It's a good thing I didn't fall. I rode her with so much confidence. I know she can really finish, that's the way she likes to run … . It will be interesting when they meet up again."
Excited stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs, worked to the lead in the stretch run and edged clear late to win by a half length over Summer Savory. Wyomia finished third and the favorite, Dynamic Holiday, was a close fifth. Excited, a Kentucky-bred Giant's Causeway filly, ran the 9 furlongs on firm going in 1:49.70 with John Velazquez in the irons.
Ultimate Class showed some class in Thursday's eighth race at Belmont Park. Leading all the way in the optional claimer, the Kentucky-bred During filly held on by a nose over classy British import Forest Crown. Exchange Funds was third and Connie and Michael, running for the first time since finishing up the track in last year's Alabama, faded badly to finish seventh. Ultimate Class finished fourth in the Hollywood Wildcat at Calder earlier this year and appears to have distance limits. Forest Crown, who raced decently in Dubai this winter, could go longer.
Mr. Ryder picked up his fifth win in his last six starts with a come-from-behind, neck victory over Bim Bam in Saturday's $100,000 Sussex Stakes at Delaware Park. Mikoshi finished third. Mr. Ryder, with Ramon Dominguez up, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.82, answering an early class question in his stakes debut. Mr. Ryder is a 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, trained by Christophe Clement.
Havelock rallied stoutly from mid-stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Sprint at Arlington Park and just nailed the favorite, Country Day, in the shadow of the wire to win by a neck. Wekiva Wachee also made up a lot of ground in the late going and finished third, another head in arrears. Birdie Beats Par led the way and finished fourth, another half length back. Havelock, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred gelding by Great Notion, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.71 under Jermaine Bridgmohan and brother Shaun Bridgmohan rode Country Day. "I had a perfect trip," said Jermaine Bridgmohan. "There were a couple of speed horses outside that came over on us, so we had the luxury of sitting in the pocket position on the outside. When I asked him, he was there for me."
Right One rallied from near the back of the seven-horse field to win Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park by a head, nailing pacesetter Yield Bogey in the final jump. Evolutionist was three-quarters of a length farther back in third. Right One, a 5-year-old, French-bred Anabaa gelding, finished 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:21.87 with Javier Castellano in the irons. It was his first graded stakes win and his third win from four U.S. starts. "He's never run a bad race since he came to the states," said winning trainer Christophe Clement, who took over Right One from his old friends Criquette and Ghislane Head when he shipped from France during the past winter. "The pace was against us but you cannot change a horse's style. Perhaps we'll put him away and wait for the fall."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Irish Gypsy led from the early going in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park, then just barely held on to win by a nose over the favorite, Ultra Blend. Tanda contended but finished third. Irish Gypsy, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Hennessey mare, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.44 with Martin Garcia handling the reins. "All I did," Garcia said, "was let her break and let her be where she wanted to be. She's not so big, so I just didn't want to bug her too much." Mike Marlow, assistant to winning trainer Bob Baffert, said Irish Gypsy has had some physical issues. "But we've got her rolling now. She's had some time to develop. She's getting stronger as she gets older. She's better now than she's ever been."
Don'tgetsuspicious opened a big lead in Friday's $75,000 Daylily Stakes at Penn National and the odds-on favorite, Eve Giselle, couldn't catch her late after a rough start. Don'tgetsuspicious, a 5-year-old E Dubai mare, won by 1 3/4 lengths, going 6 panels in 1:10.37. D'wild Ride was a late scratch. Eve Giselle came into the Daylily off a 2 1/2-length win in the $125,000 Sweet n' Sassy Stakes at Delaware Park on June 25.
Unzip Me returned from a short layoff in Thursday's featured allowance event at Hollywood Park, led but couldn't hold off Broken Dreams in the late going. The latter went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Unzip Me, running 6 furlongs over the grass in 1:09.27. Unzip Me had been idle since she was second as the 3-5 choice in the Grade III Las Cienegas Handicap April 9 at Santa Anita.
Alma d'Oro moved to the lead at mid-stretch in Saturday's $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park, then won a duel to the wire by a nose over In the Juice. Nacho Friend finished third. Alma d'Oro, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.14 for jockey Ramon Dominguez. Todd Pletcher trains the winner, who now has seven wins, three seconds and four thirds from 22 lifetime starts.
A.U. Miner took charge in the stretch in Saturday's $200,000 Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing, working clear to win by 3 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Birdrun. Afleet Again was a neck farther back in third. A.U. Miner, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Mineshaft, ran the 1 1/2 miles on a fast track in 2:30.30 with Calvin Borel riding for trainer Clark Hanna. A.U. Miner won the same race last year but was winless in three intervening starts. The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Marathon.
Majestic City fell in the paddock then became worked up in the starting gate before Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship. Then jockey David Flores had a hard time getting him into stride when the running started. Still, at the end of 6 furlongs, the Kentucky-bred City Zip colt was in front by 2 1/4 lengths with a pair of promising runners from Bob Baffert's barn -- Brigand and Night Tide -- settling for second and third. Majestic City, with David Flores up, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.45. Winning trainer Peter Miller said Majestic City "got startled by the crowd in the paddock and he sucked back and lost his footing. He didn't flip over, but he kind of fell sideways ... . Those were two nice colts that he beat. I was a little worried at the quarter pole because he wasn't really moving, and then at the eighth pole he really leveled off and continued on. The Best Pal is probably next." Baffert said he "thought we were going to run 1-2 for sure." But, he added, "We're just trying to get races into these horses."
Banner Bill stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Colin Stakes, took over entering the stretch and won by a length over The Bear Vow. Town Prize settled for third after leading late. Banner Bill, an Illinois-bred Rockport Harbor gelding out of the Summer Squall mare Temporada, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.12 with David Clark aboard, remaining undefeated in three trips to the track. "We didn't want to be so close to the lead, but nobody else wanted it," winning trainer Ralph Biamonte said. "David was saying when he got there he pinned his ears wondering what was going on. He runs better when he's got something to run at."
Jake Mo led from the git go in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile, turned back a challenge in the lane and won by 2 3/4 lengths. Let's Get Crackin was second and Backdoor Kenny was well back in third. The odds-on favorite, Canigotoo, faded to finish fourth. Jake Mo, a Kentucky-bred Giacomo colt out of the With Approval mare Credit Approval, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.75 under Israel Ocampo.
Major Magic was up in the final yards to win Saturday's $50,000 Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs by a head over Ancil. Curfew Tower finished third and the favorite, Jonmil Johnny, got home fifth. Major Magic, a Kentucky-bred Kitten's Joy colt out of the Forestry mare Celestial Woods, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:04.35 under Luis Garcia.
Killer Graces raced well off the pace early in Saturday's $100,000 Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park, came wide into the stretch for running room and was up at the wire to win by a half length over long shot Mighty Caroline. Stayclassysandiego was well back in third. Killer Graces, a Kentucky-bred Congaree filly out of the Old Trieste mare Heatherdoesntbluff, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.23 with Joe Talamo up for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. "I liked it on the backstretch when all the horses were up front," assistant trainer Dan Ward said. "I knew she was going to come running. Joe has worked her every time and it's like whoosh, she just runs by them … . I think the further, the better." He said the Sorrento Stakes is the likely next race for Killer Graces.
Judy the Beauty stalked the pace in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Shady Well Stakes for Ontario-foaled fillies at Woodbine, caught up with pacesetting Dene Court in the stretch and won a duel to the wire by a half length. Rose and Shine finished third. Judy the Beauty, a Ghostzapper filly out of the Holy Bull mare Holy Blitz, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.95 with Jeffrey Sanchez up for owner/trainer Wesley Ward. The globetrotting filly remains undefeated after victories at Keeneland and at Chantilly in France. "She ran great from behind horses the first time that she started," Sanchez said. "But in France, I sent her to the lead, and she won close. I think she runs better when she sees other horses."
Page Springs sprung out of the gate in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Gold Lassie at Prairie Meadows and wasn't threatened en route to a 3 1/2-lengths victory over Scrappy Coco. Here Comes Polly finished third. Page Springs, an Arizona-bred Rocky Bar filly out of the Olympio mare Bold and Wonderful, finished 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.30 with Glenn Corbett at the controls.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Softly Lit opened a big advantage early in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 Tippett Stakes at Colonial Downs and held on to win by a head over the favorite, Putthebabiesdown. Hannah's Holiday finished third. Softly Lit, a Kentucky-bred Latent Heat filly out of the Cape Town mare Running Creek, went to the post at 30-1 odds and ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.08 with Sarah Rook in the irons.
In other racing:
Catalaunch quickly opened a clear lead in Saturday's $50,000 George Lewis Memorial Stakes for Ohio-breds, controlled the pace and won by a comfortable 3 3/4 lengths. The victory, covering 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.48 under Luis Gonzalez, was his 38th career win and pushed his earnings over the $1 million mark. The 10-year-old Noble Cat gelding did it the hard way. All but two of his 84 career starts have been in Ohio and none of his paychecks has been more than $60,000. "He loves his job," trainer Ivan Vazquez said of Catalaunch. "The only thing he doesn't like is if you fight with him. If you fight with him, you lose. If he gets along with his jockey, he runs. He gets along great with Luis." Vazquez said previously he has no plans to retire his veteran star -- that Catlaunch will tell him when it's time to stop. The horse, he said, loves to run.
Blue Bunting, benefitting by a bold move by jockey Frankie Dettori in the late going, caught Banimpire in the final strides to win Sunday's Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks by a short head. The favorite, Wonder of Wonders, finished third. Blue Bunting ran the 1 1/2 miles on going rated yielding to soft, in 2:42.97. The victory was a return to form for the English 1,000 Guineas winner after a fruitless outing in the English Oaks. The winner of that race, Dancing Rain, led early on Sunday at the Curragh but folded when the running started and finished fifth. At that point, with Banimpire looking like a winner, Dettori suddenly shifted Blue Bunting to the outside and the Dynaformer filly seemed to find new life there. "She hit a flat spot, running lazy," Dettori said. "I decided I was going to have to try and do something different. Once she got to the outside she was flying." Mahmood Al Zarooni trains Blue Bunting for Godolphin and said the Epsom Oaks may be her next target.
Pender Harbour raced in mid-pack in Sunday's $500,000 (Canadian) Prince of Wales Stakes, got into the mix turning for home and was just up under a well-timed ride by Luis Contreras to win by a nose over Bowman's Causeway. Oh Canada was third in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown -- which lacked Queen's Plate-winning filly Inglorious, who is headed for the Alabama at Saratoga. Pender Harbour, a Philanthropist gelding, ran the 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:55.74. He was third in the Queen's Plate. "We had some traffic problems in the Plate and wanted Pender Harbour outside and clear of trouble," winning trainer Michael DePaulo said. Luis gave him a great ride and he was clear of trouble every step of the way. We were so happy to have him back in the saddle."
Stormy Lord stalked the pace in Wednesday's $100,000 (Canadian) Ontario Jockey Club Stakes for Ontario-foaled runners, came to the lead three-wide and held through the stretch to win by a length over Officeinthevalley. Hollinger finished third. Stormy Lord, a 4-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:21.90 with James McAleney aboard. It was the second win from three starts this year for Stormy Lord, who kicked off his campaign with a 3-length score in the Connaught Cup Stakes on May 29.
Trac N Jam split rivals in deep stretch and was just up to win by a nose in a four-horse blanket finish to Wednesday's $125,000 Indiana Distaff for 3-year-old fillies. Notassharpasuthink led briefly and finished second, a nose in front of late-running Gold N Glamore. Tourmaline was just a neck farther back in fourth. Trac N Jam, a Kentucky-bred El Corredor filly, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:37.81 with Jermaine Bridgmohan up.
Hoosier Kingdom waited for room along the rail early in the stretch run of Wednesday's $84,000 A.J. Foyt Stakes for Indiana-breds, got through and outfinished Unreachable Star to win by a half length. Sir Walter's Oro made the early going and held third. Hoosier Kingdom, a son of Repent, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.74 with Marlon St. Julien in the irons.
Eskimo's Best bested favorite Whistlin' Jean in the stretch drive of Tuesday's $84,000 Florence Henderson Stakes for Indiana-bred fillies and mares, winning by a neck. Dr. Powers finished third. Eskimo's Best, a 5-year-old Best of Luck mare, was always close to the pace and finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.88 with Victor Lebron up.
Infinite Resource wore down rivals in a long stretch drive to upset Tuesday's $100,000 San Juan County Commissioners Handicap by 3/4 of a length. The odds-on favorite, Quiet Again, led late but couldn't hold the advantage. McKenna's Justice rallied from well back to finish third. Infinite Resource, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.80 with Alfredo Juarez Jr. in the irons.
Banker's Buy, with John Velazquez up, came from off the pace in Sunday's $60,000 Reno Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares, got clear in the stretch and won off by 2 3/4 lengths. Cody Samora led early and finished second and Go Unbridled finished third. Banker's Buy, a 5-year-old Distorted Humor mare, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:36.91.
Socialsaul pressed the pace in Saturday's $150,000 New York Derby for state-breds, took over and drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths over even-money favorite Preachintothedevil. It was another 4 1/4 lengths back to Sky Music in third. Socialsaul, a Read the Footnotes gelding, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.09 with John Grabowski in the irons.
Miss Valentine came three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Serena's Song Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, took the lead without much trouble and drew off to a 3-length win over Withgreatpleasure. The early leader, Coco Ecolo, held third. Miss Valentine, a New York-bred daughter of Afleet Alex, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:41.35 with Joe Bravo up.
Lil Kiara won a stretch battle with Little Stitch in Sunday's $65,000 Spruce Fir Handicap for New Jersey-bred distaffers, scoring by a half length. It was another 7 lengths back to Ms Glory Be in third. Lil Kiara, a 4-year-old Lion Hearted filly, got the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.77 under Carlos Marquez Jr.
Action Andy had 'em all the way in Saturday's $50,000 Kitten's Joy Stakes, controlling the pace and holding on at the end to win by 2 lengths over Baletti. Cherokee Artist was home third. Action Andy, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred Gators N Bears gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:41.91 with Alfredo Clemente up.
Native Ruler stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Don Bernhardt Memorial Stakes, came three-wide to the lead and got clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. A Diehl was best of the rest with Snapshot finishing third. Native Ruler, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Elusive Quality, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.88 with Jamie Theriot aboard.
You Me and Ema B dueled Sis's Sis into submission early in Saturday's $50,000 Boeing Handicap for fillies and mares, then worked clear to win by 2 lengths over that rival. Rewritten finished third and the favorite, Zenovit, faded to get home sixth. You Me and Ema B, a 4-year-old, Washington-bred You and I filly, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:37.48 with Deborah Hoonan-Trujillo in the irons.
Carrabelle Harbor set a pressured pace in Sunday's $50,000 Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, was headed but came back to win by a length over Class Included. Playful Argument finished third. Carrabelle Harbor, an Oregon-bred Harbor the Gold filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a wet-fast track in 1:43.73 under Gallyn Mitchell.
Southern Style battled with Classy Deelites through most of Saturday's $50,000 Oak Hall Stakes, finally winning by a head. Sweetsouthernmoon was third, 1 3/4 lengths farther back. Southern Style, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Forestry gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.07 with Carlos Marquez riding.
Wando Woman rallied from last of eight to win Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Strawberry Morn Handicap for fillies and mares by 2 1/2 lengths over Classic Alley Kat. Kimmyv finished third. Wando Woman, a 4-year-old, British Columbia-bred Wando filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:44.66 under Francisco Fuentes.
Crew Leader and St Liams Halo hooked up early in Sunday's $50,000 S.W. Randall Plate Handicap and battled to the wire. At the end, the camera found Crew Leader in front by a nose. Senor Rojo finished third. Crew Leader, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Pulpit gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:43 with Chad Hoverson in the irons.
Muir Woods stood tallest in Saturday's $75,000 Norm Barron Queen City Oaks for Ohio-breds, running clear in the lane in a slowly run race to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Startin Something was second and Bold and Beautiful completed the trifecta. Muir Woods, a Forest Camp filly, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:57.29 under Mario Madrid.
Point of Reference rallied from last of eight to win Saturday's $75,000 California State Fair Sprint by a neck over Whispering Express. U R All That I Am finished third, 3/4 of a length farther back with a belated bid. Point of Reference, a 5-year-old, Washington-bred Benchmark mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.41 with Inoel Beato riding.
Sultan's Prince came from far back to reign supreme at the end of Saturday's $50,000 Rise Jim Stakes for Massachusetts-breds, beating runner-up Same Day Pleasure by 1 1/4 lengths. Lord Kyle's Quest finished third. Sultan's Prince, a 6-year-old son of Sundance Ridge, ran 6 furlongs in 1:13.27 under Ryan Barber.
News and notes:
-- The past week saw some significant and promising movement on the medication front. Breeders' Cup announced it unilaterally will begin banning race-day use of Lasix. The new rule will be in effect in 2012 for the five juvenile races and will apply to all races starting in 2013. "Whenever you go out and talk to people in the industry, all you hear is people talking about the need for leadership," said Tom Ludt, chairman of the Breeders' Cup. "This is a step in that direction. We felt this is important, and we're hoping the states are going to follow along." Additionally, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, consisting of 25 industry organizations and stakeholders, will hold another meeting Aug. 4 to hear reports from committees formed after its June get-together. Topics will include suggestions for phasing out race-day medication or to limit its administration. The use of race-day medication is a key factor impeding full U.S. participation in international racing. Breeders' Cup has moved actively on other fronts to more fully integrate its self-titled World Championship races more fully into the worldwide racing picture.
-- This also is to second Ray Paulick's "Good News Friday" thought: "A meeting in New York last month during Belmont Stakes week, involving a cross-section of representations from throughout the industry, began a serious dialogue -- for the first time to my knowledge -- to explore ways of developing an institutional funding plan for the aftercare of Thoroughbred racehorses … . It is right thing to do for the horses." Also, NTRA's Alex Waldrop points us to a web site with suggestions for action: www.ntraaftercare.com, set up by NTRA's Safety and Integrity Alliance. The site is classy but far from comprehensive.
-- Frank Mirahmadi has been named to succeed Terry Wallace as the track announcer at Oaklawn Park. Wallace last month announced his retirement from microphone duties at the Arkansas spa oval. Mirahmadi has announced at major tracks across the country and was the voice of the Santa Anita track announcer in the movie "Seabiscuit." He will be just the fourth caller in Oaklawn's 107-year-history.