As quickly as summer sped by, that's how fast some of the contenders for the Breeders' Cup sprint races ran in Monday's holiday prep races.
There also was a scattering of races for youngsters as Labor Day put a semiofficial end to summer.
Ben's Cat broke near the back of a big field in the $350,000, Grade III Turf Monster Handicap at Parx Racing, raced wide throughout and was just up in time to beat Perfect Officer to the wire by 1/2 length. Chamberlain Bridge, last year's Breeders' Cup winner, finished third and the favorite, Regally Ready, finished 10th, never a factor. Ben's Cat, a 5-year-old, Maryland-bred Parker's Storm Cat gelding, got the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.30 seconds with Jeremy Rose in the irons, earning an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint through the "Win and You're In" program. The race was marred by the death of Central City, who collapsed while being eased in the stretch run. He had finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint.
One race earlier, in the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap for fillies and mares, Suzzona stalked the pace, worked her way past the dueling leaders by mid-stretch and got clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths. The early leader, Bounding Bi, finished second and a late run moved Separate Forest into the show position. The favorite, Rose Catherine, raced inside and could not find a stretch bid, fading to finish next-last of 12. Suzzona, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by The Name's Jimmy, got the 5 furlongs in 57.61 with Julien Pimentel up.
Goldzar came four-wide into the stretch in the $75,000 Ecclesiastic Stakes at Saratoga and was just up in the final strides to beat Pashito the Che by a neck. Wicked Tune finished third. However, Pashito the Che then was set down to fourth for interference, promoting Wicked Tune to second and the odds-on favorite, Fiddlers Patriot, to the show position. Goldzar, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Cozar gelding, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on soft turf in 1:07.28 with Jaime Rodriguez aboard.
Filly & Mare Turf
Emerald Beech saved ground down the backstretch in the $100,000, Grade III Glens Falls Handicap for fillies and mares at Saratoga, then came around rivals though the stretch turn to challenge for the lead. With Alex Solis up, the 5-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred Maria's Mon mare then worked clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over pacesetter Dynaslew. Senada was third and the favorite, Giants Play, checked in seventh. Emerald Beech ran the 11 furlongs on soft turf in 2:21.71. It was her fourth straight win but first in a graded stakes. "Now we'll see how far we can go," said winning trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "She's just matured. This is only my second year having her … My training style is to have horses do well when they get older. A lot of other horses get burned out. They go into the Triple Crown and get burned out. That's not my style. I love horses and I try to treat them right."
City to City caught pacesetting Medaglia d'Amour in the stretch run of the $150,000, Grade II Palomar Handicap at Del Mar, winning by 3/4 length. Go Forth North finished third. City to City, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred City Zip filly out of the Storm Cat mare Stormbow, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.58 with Garrett Gomez aboard for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She had been away since last July for ankle surgery and rehab. "This filly came off a long layoff and to win a Grade II race like this, I'm very proud of her," Hollendorfer said.
Wilburn raced wide in mid-pack early in the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing, swung around rivals into the turn and won a long stretch drive, scoring by 1 3/4 lengths over Redeemed. I'm Steppin' It Up was third at a long price, another nose back. The favorite, Turbo Compressor, was another 7 1/2 lengths back in fourth. Wilburn, a Kentucky-bred Bernardini colt, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:40.89 with Corey Nakatani riding.
It wasn't pretty but Currency Swap managed to work out a narrow win in the $250,000, Grade I Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes on closing day at Saratoga, edging pacesetting 68-1 longshot Trinniberg by 3/4 length. Big Blue Nation was third. The morning-line favorite, J C's Pride, broke poorly, was pulled up by jockey Jose Lezcano at the top of the lane and vanned off. Meanwhile, Trinniberg, who was thrashed by 26 lengths in his last start, was leading the field into deep stretch over the sloppy main track and Currency Swap, with Rajiv Maragh up, was floated out toward the middle of the track when he came alongside. It took a renewed burst of effort before Currency Swap regained enough momentum to strike the lead. He finished the 7 furlongs in 1:26.16, now is 2-for-2 and earned a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup through the "Win and You're In" program. "This is just the start, because now we can go forward from here," said winning trainer Teresa Pompay, a locally based conditioner who picked up her first Grade I win. "Obviously, we'd like to do the Breeders' Cup … I think this horse is going to get better as he gets older, and I think he'll like the added distance as well." A track veterinarian who examined J C's Pride said the Henny Hughes colt, who earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in breaking his maiden July 27, showed no signs of injury or lameness after the race.
Bay Park Boy, the heavy favorite, sat off the pace in the $126,000 Aspirant Stakes for New York-breds at Finger Lakes, kicked into gear when asked by Jesus Castanon, and won off by 2 lengths over Smokem's Charm. French Wine, a first-time starter, made a nice late run to finish third. Bay Park Boy, a Johannesburg colt out of the Seattle Slew mare Combanchera, got the 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:13.44.
Menlo Castle sat behind the early speed in the $200,000 (Canadian) Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine, then surged by in the stretch and drew off quickly to win by 7 3/4 lengths. Where's Johnson held second with Crowns Dynasty third after showing the way. Menlo Castle, a Forest Danger gelding out of the Woodman mare Romantic Tryst, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:16.25 with Patrick Husbands up.
Ruler of Dubai led all the way to a 3 1/4-lengths upset victory in the $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar. The favorite, Champions Gate, bobbled at the start and could do no better than second. Rousing Sermon woke up late to get third. Ruler of Dubai (which is Sheikh Mohammed's title in his home Emirate), ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.42 with Mike Smith riding. He is a bay gelding by Tribal Rule out of the Old Topper mare O K Topless.
Gypsy Robin dueled to the lead in the $100,000 Sorority Stakes, then found another rival taking up the chase in the lane. At the end, Gypsy Robin, a Kentucky-bred Daaher filly out of the Indian Charlie mare Feisty Princess, prevailed by 1 length over Say a Novena. The favorite, Select Cat, broke a step slowly and could do no better than finish third. Gypsy Robin, a Jeffrey Sanchez aboard, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.98.
Shot Gun Pennie led from the start in the $135,000 Lady Finger Stakes for New York-breds at Finger Lakes, built a comfortable advantage at the top of the lane and coasted home first by 1 length over Wildcat's Smile. One Smart Farrah finished third. Shot Gun Pennie, a daughter of Speightstown out of the Eltish mare Shot Gun Favorite, got the 6 sloppy furlongs in 1:13.65 for John Grabowski.
Rose and Shine rallied from far back to win the $200,000 (Canadian) Muskoka Stakes for Canadian-breds at Woodbine, besting first-time starters Dixie Strike and Holy Wine by 3/4 and another 1/2 length. The favorite, Notacloudinthesky, finished fourth. Rose and Shine, a Mr. Sekiguchi filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:17.78 with Eurico Da Silva in the irons.
In other racing:
In addition to the two juvenile stakes, the Ontario Jockey Club offered four other restricted events on Monday's Yearling Sales card, each worth $125,000 (Canadian).
Bug's Boy outfinished odds-on favorite Society's Chairman in the Halton Stakes at 1 mile on the grass, winning by 3/4 length as both came from far back in the big field. Top Prospect finished third after a pace-stalking effort. Bug's Boy, an 8-year-old Crown Attorney gelding, finished in 1:38.71.
Euro Platinum ran down fellow long shot Tee Game in the final yards of the Algoma Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by a neck with the odds-on favorite, Dancing Raven, third. The 1 1/16 miles took 1:44.58.
Quick Code put a head in front of Arepeatee to win the Kenora Stakes. Race for Gold was third as the 6 furlongs went in 1:09.93.
And the track announcer needed a vocal cord massage after the last of the stakes events as Medidocihospisurg held off Hippolytus to win the Elgin Stakes by a head. The favorite -- and more pronounceable -- Sand Cove finished third. Medidocihospisurg ran the 1 1/16 on the all-weather track in 1:42.88.
Hasay prompted the pace in the $76,800 Omnibus Stakes for fillies and mares, worked her way to the lead turning for home and won by 1 length over Dyna Waltz. Tarrip finished third and the pacesetting favorite, Bubbly Jane, faded to finish last of eight. Hasay, a 4-year-old, British-bred Lomitas mare, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:13.83 with Pablo Morales in the irons.
Seruni stalked the pace in the $75,000 Labor Day Stakes, took the lead when asked by jockey Jon Court and went on to win by a handy 4 3/4 lengths over Cryptolight. Sneakin Thru finished third. Seruni, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Saint Liam gelding, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a muddy track in 1:41.98.
Grecian Maiden kicked clear in the stretch run to win the $75,000 Summer Finale Stakes for fillies and mares by 6 3/4 lengths over American Romance. Kiss Mine finished third. Grecian Maiden, with Scott Spieth in the irons, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in the mud in 1:42.86. She is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Ghostzapper filly.
Ready Set split horses entering the stretch run of the $50,000 Cliff Guilliams Handicap, cleared and won off by 1 1/4 lengths in a mild upset. Moonport was second and Formulaforsuccess ran third. Ready Set, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Touch Gold gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.52 with Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons.
Vamoose lived up to his name in the $50,000 Ruidoso Downs Championship, scooting off in the lane to win by 2 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Quiet Again. Sea Battle finished third. Vamoose, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Petionville gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.40 with Enrique Gomez up.
Cherokee Notion led, was headed and came again to win the $50,000 (Canadian) Sir Winston Churchill Handicap by 1/2 length over Silly Fella. Crew Leader was third. Cherokee Notion, a 4-year-old, British Columbia-bred gelding by Black Minnaloushe, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.34 with Mario Gutierrez up.
Dashing Daisy won a three-horse charge to the wire in the $50,000 Delta Colleen Stakes for fillies and mares, besting pacesetter Hard Way Ten by a head and Orchid's Silver by another head. Dashing Daisy, a 5-year-old, British Columbia-bred Mass Market mare, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:51.93, also with Gutierrez in the irons.
Cool Greta led all the way to a 1-length victory over Causegood in the $25,000 All Sold Out Stakes for Illinois-bred 2-year-old fillies. Here's Denton was third and the favorite, Pleasant Ryder, finished fourth. Cool Greta, a daughter of Cherokee Rap, finished 6 furlongs in 1:16.80 in her first start.
Rocket Professor got to the lead in the $25,000 Troy Our Boy Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds and easily held off the odds-on favorite, Bling King, winning by 3 1/2 lengths. J Cool finished third, another 1 3/4 lengths back and then it was another 25 3/4 lengths back to Imminent Storm and yet another 40 3/4 panels to Twine, who brought up the rear -- slowly. Rocket Professor, a Cherokee Rap colt, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:14.80.
News and notes:
-- If you blinked, you missed it but Ochoa, the favorite, won Monday's $2.4 million Futurity at Ruidoso Downs by a whopping 1 1/2 lengths over Jess Send Me. Tee Cos finished third in the 440-yard dash over a fast track. Ochoa was clocked in 21.058 seconds with Roy Baldillez along for the ride. Ochoa is a Texas-bred gelding by Tres Seis out of the Stoli mare Stolis Fortune.
-- Del Mar will pay horsemen a record underpayment of more than $1 million after the conclusion of its 37-day race meeting Wednesday. That amounts to at least 8 percent added to the overnight purses paid during the seven-week meeting and track officials attribute the boost to purses in excess of $600,000 a day, which resulted in slightly bigger fields and "solid wagering numbers." "This has been a delightful surprise for myself and others," said Del Mar Vice President and Racing Secretary Tom Robbins.