Snow Fairy's repeat win in Japan and a flurry of 2-year-old races in France and the United States sparked the weekend in Thoroughbred racing.
Snow Fairy rallied between horses in the final 100 yards with a tremendous burst of speed, took the lead and held on to win by a neck in Sunday's $2.3 million, Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto Racecourse.
With Ryan Moore at the controls, Snow Fairy started the 2,200 meters well in the rear of the 18-horse field. A trio of local favorites, Whale Capture, Apapane and Aventura got by the pacesetter early in the stretch run but Snow Fairy came between horses with a late rush and went on to win by a neck.
Aventura rallied to make a close finish, holding second with Apapane third and Whale Capture fourth. Dancing Rain, the only other foreign starter, finished 16th.
Snow Fairy, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred Intikhab filly, also won the race last year, then went on to victory in the Hong Kong Cup a month later. This year, racing manager Patrick Cooper said the ownership is considering tackling the Japan Cup on Nov. 27.
"We haven't made up our minds yet," he said. "As we said last year, it's a very, very short time between now and the Japan Cup. So we'll see in a week or the next 10 days."
Snow Fairy was third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in her previous two starts.
Elsewhere, the youngsters were running just about everywhere -- or preparing to run -- many of them with an early eye on next year's Triple Crown or the filly equivalent. And some nifty grass races in Kentucky and New York added to the mix.
Mandaean remained perfect in two starts while successfully moving up to the Group 1 level in Saturday's Criterium de Saint-Cloud for 2-year-olds. With Maxime Guyon up for trainer Andre Fabre, the Manduro colt, owned by Godolphin, was up front throughout and won by 2 1/2 lengths despite wandering in the final furlong. He covered the 1 1/4 miles on heavy going in a glacial 2:20.20. "He veered off a true line a little in the ground, but he won like a good horse today," Guyon said. The performance ticked the needle up a bit on Mandaean's 2012 Epsom Derby chances, with major British oddsmakers quoting about 25-1.
Planet Rock caught pacesetting Abeautifulred in the late going to win Saturday's Group 1 New Zealand Bloodstock One Thousand Guineas at Riccarton Park. The consistent filly got the 1,600 meters on good to soft turf in 1:40.09. Abeautifulred held on for second and Capital Diamond was third.
Sunday's New York Stallion Stakes put an early Christmas present under some plungers' trees as Shane Roars -- at 91-1 odds -- held on at the end to win the $100,000 Great White Way Division for 2-year-olds in a tight, four-way finish. The favorite, Think I'm Hooked, rallied to miss by a neck. Bait and Melvindale were third and fourth, a further neck and a head back. Shane Roars, a Roaring Fever colt out of the Key Contender mare Ali Wee, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.19 with Junior Alvarado riding. Winning trainer Dominick Galluscio explained what happened: "I honestly didn't think he would go off at 91-1 because his last race was very good. The first time he was green, the next time he showed speed and got tired. He wasn't that fit. We freshened him, got him good and fit, and it worked out well." As Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee is known to say, "It's an easy game." And if Shane Roars hadn't crashed the party, what a hunch exacta Think I'm Hooked and Bait would have made.
In the $100,000 Fifth Avenue Division for 2-year-old fillies, odds-on favorite The Funky Express led from the start and got home first by 1 1/4 lengths over Vicki's Dancer. Lenders Way finished third. The Funky Express, a daughter of Freud out of the Rodeo mare The Rodeo Express, got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.54 with Ryan Curatolo in the irons.
Lady On the Run rallied from last of seven to win the $75,000 Staten Island division for fillies and mares by 1 1/4 lengths. Saltamontes was second after leading into the stretch and Page By Page finished third. Lady On the Run, with Mike Luzzi up, got the 7 furlongs in 1:23.41. She is a 3-year-old Ten Most Wanted filly.
And in the $75,000 Thunder Rumble Division, Inherit the Gold took advantage of a tough trip for Pretty Boy Floyd and won by a neck over that rival. Uncle T Seven, an entrymate of Pretty Boy Floyd, finished third and Make Note filled the trifecta. Inherit the Gold, a 5-year-old Gold Token gelding, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:22.42 under John Velazquez.
Hit It Rich tracked the early pace in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Long Island Handicap for fillies and mares, surged to a daylight lead at the top of the lane and held gamely to win by1 1/2 lengths over Mekong Melody. Musical Rain was third and the favorite, Emerald Beach, finished fifth. Hit It Rich, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Smart Strike filly, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:30.39 with Javier Castellano up. "I just kept tracking behind the speed," Castellano said. "The pace was very slow and my filly loved to gallop right next to the lead. It was wonderful. When I asked her, she focused and took off." The victory was the third in four starts this year for Hit It Rich as she moved up the class ladder. "We've asked her to do quite a bit these past couple of months," winning trainer Shug McGaughey said. "We'll give her a little break and hopefully next summer she'll be the kind that can maybe participate in some of the bigger races."
Meanwhile, a couple of interesting prospects for the $250,000, Grade I Cigar Mile on Nov. 26 were in action earlier in the week.
Mucho Macho Man, absent from action since the Belmont Stakes, returned to action as mucho the best in Wednesday's third race, an optional claimer. With Ramon Dominguez up for Kathy Ritvo, the Macho Uno colt toyed with a quintet of rivals before drawing off authoritatively to win by 5 3/4 lengths, getting the mile on a fast track in 1:34.72. Before going to the sidelines, Mucho Macho Man won the Risen Star, finished third in the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby, sixth in the Preakness and seventh in the Belmont. "I think he's grown a lot and put on muscle," Ritvo said. "We definitely have some options, but we'll wait to see how he comes out of the race and go from there."
On Friday, it was Boys at Toscanova, last year's runner-up to Uncle Mo in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, taking another step down the comeback trail. After an 11-month absence, Boys at Toscanova finished third behind Tapizar and Uptowncharliebrown in an Oct. 8 allowance at Belmont. Friday, he stalked the lead in an optional claimer at Big A before taking charge in the stretch and winning off by 2 1/2 lengths. Trainer Rick Dutrow said he may not be quite ready to throw the son of Officer into the deep end -- like the Cigar Mile. "Maybe another race will really get him into a groove and then we will be able to point him towards something that we really want to point him towards," Dutrow said. "But we have all kinds of options."
And those looking past Breeder's Cup Juvenile winner Hansen for next year's classics could cast an eye on Consortium, a Bernardini colt who won a maiden special Saturday by 4 3/4 lengths, finishing the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.10. "He's done everything right and we have always liked him," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. McLaughlin said he has not picked out Consortium's next race nor decided whether he will winter in Florida or New York.
Marketing Mix raced right behind the early pace in Saturday's $175,000, Grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, went to the fore when asked by jockey Julien Leparoux and held off Bizzy Caroline in the late going to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Hungry Island finished third. Marketing Mix, an Ontario-bred Medaglia d'Oro filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.59. Leparoux said he let the winner coast in the final yards. "She's a nice filly and she won. She didn't need to win by 10," he said. Added winning trainer Tom Proctor, "That was a really nice field and she won pretty easily." It was her second graded stakes win of the year, following a victory in the Pucker Up at Arlington Park. In her last outing, she had been second to Together in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.
And looking ahead at Churchill, Exfactor breezed 4 furlongs in 48 2/5 Saturday under the Twin Spires and trainer Bernie Flint was pleased. The gray Exchange Rate colt won the Bashford Manor during the spring meet and then was turned out. "He was tired," Flint said. "Nothing was wrong with him. He just needed a break. I want a fresh horse for next spring, not a burnt-out horse for the winter. All the 2-year-olds that ran all summer and in the Breeders' Cup are tired. You have to stop on them sometime and give them a break, but when are you going to stop on them now? You can't."
Liaison came to the lead three-wide at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes for 2-year-olds and battled gamely to win by a half length over a closing Rousing Sermon. The early leader, Senor Rain, held third. Liaison, a Kentucky-bred Indian Charlie colt out of the Victory Gallop mare Galloping Gal, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.72. Rafael Bejarano had the mount for trainer Bob Baffert. "He's just getting better and better," Baffert said. "He's been working well since Del Mar, but he's just never showed a lot of speed for an Indian Charlie. He looks more like the bottom side -- Victory Gallop, a horse that I hate." Victory Gallop beat the Baffert-trained Real Quiet by a nose in the 1998 Belmont Stakes, dashing that year's Triple Crown hopes. Baffert, however, is looking ahead to the 2012 Triple Crown with a barn full of prospects. Several of them, he said are set for the $750,000 Cash Call Futurity on Dec. 17. "So Brilliant is going to run in the Prevue Stakes [$100,000, on Nov. 24]. I don't know what I'm going to do with [Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner] Secret Circle yet. Drill is going to Delta Downs [for the $1 million Delta Jackpot Nov. 19]. We could have four starters in the Futurity or three, two, one or none. This is the time to develop them."
In Sunday's $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Charm the Maker rallied by Killer Graces in deep stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Willa B Awesome led for a while and held on for third. Charm the Maker, a Kentucky-bred Empire Maker filly out of the Giant's Causeway mare Charm the Giant, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather surface in 1:45.14with Garrett Gomez up. Winning trainer Ron McAnally said he "thought there would be a faster pace. That's why the rider had to get after her more than he thought he would. We'll savor this one, but the [Grade I, $250,000 guaranteed Hollywood] Starlet [Dec. 10] is the most logical place to run next," he added. "We're looking forward to running her on turf. Her dam won the Wilshire on the turf here."
Straight Story led all the way to a big upset win in Saturday's $150,000, Grade II Autumn Stakes. After turning back a challenge turning for home, the 5-year-old, New York-bred son of Giant's Causeway held well to score by 1 3/4 lengths over Pender Harbour, winner of two-thirds of this year's Canadian Triple Crown. Stunning Stag put in a late run but flattened out in the stretch and settled for third. Straight Story, who finished the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.87, won for the second time this year, backing up his victory in the Grade II Fort Marcy at Belmont back in May. "He was pretty adamant, the horse, when he left the gate to be on the lead," winning rider Jesse Campbell said. "I let him get comfortable and tried to get away at the top of the lane. I didn't want to let somebody come to me."
Grace Phil stalked the pace in Wednesday' $125,000 (Canadian) South Ocean Stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, got to the lead in the lane and won by 2 lengths. Memories Last Love was along for second and pacesetting Consecutive held third. The favorite, Future Surprise, finished fourth. Grace Phil, a daughter of Philanthropist, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:46.48 with Steven Bahen up.
Tu Endie Wei led most of the way to a 4 3/4-length win in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Glorious Song Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. With James McAleney up, the Kentucky-bred Johar filly out of the Indian Charlie mare Ms. Cornstalk got the 7 furlongs on the all-weather surface in 1:21.97. Sweet Seventeen was second and Runfor Ro finished third. Tu Endie Wei came into the race off a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland. "Ideally, we'd like to get her to settle down and get her off the pace," McAleney said. "Right now, she's a very forward, very talented filly and that put her where she was today."
Calder Race Course
Saturday was Florida Million Day, celebrating and rewarding horses bred in the Sunshine State. The main track was fast and the turf was firm.
For Oby pressed the pace in the $125,000 Jack Price Juvenile, then held off Rev It Up through the stretch run, winning by a half length. The even-money favorite, Jordan's Image, got home third. For Oby, a With Distinction colt out of the Mining mare Sexy Seattle, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.93 with Julio Garcia up.
Yara was quickly on the lead in the $125,000 Joe O'Farrell Juvenile Fillies, opened a comfortable lead and got home first by 5 1/4 lengths in a mild upset. Given Enchantment was second, 8 1/2 lengths better than Sinner's Gold. The favorite, Refining, finished sixth after a poor start. Yara, a Put It Back filly out of the Gilded Time mare Ashlee's Lady, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.90 under Luis Saez.
Italo outfinished late-running Burning Time in the $100,000 Arthur I. Appleton Juvenile Turf, reporting home a 3/4-length winner. Twin finished third and the favorite, All For the Trip, was fourth. Italo, a With Distinction gelding out of the West By West mare Dance Forthe Green, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:45.01 with Jeffrey Sanchez in the irons. Trained by Wesley Ward, Italo made his first two starts in Europe before competing at Saratoga and Keeneland. The Appleton was his first Florida foray.
Sinister Brew was bumped out of the gate in the $100,000 John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf, steadily moved up through the field under Elvis Trujillo and prevailed by 3/4 of a length over Win Gera Lyn. The favorite, Montessa G, led the way and held on for third while drifting in the lane. Sinister Brew, a daughter of Milwaukee Brew out of the Gold Case mare All Saint's Day, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.16. It was the first stakes win for Sinister Brew, who broke her maiden at first asking at Calder on June 18.
Turbo Compressor led them a merry chase in the $150,000 Carl G. Rose Classic, kicking in the turbo in the lane and drawing off to win by 10 1/2 lengths. Manicero finished second, 1 1/4 lengths better than the favorite, Mad Flatter. Turbo Compressor, a 3-year-old Halo's Image ridgling, completed the 9 furlongs in 1:51.92 with Luis Saez handling rhe reins. Ginny DiPasquale, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher, said the victory wasn't a surprise. "He's won races before going wire-to-wire like he did today. We're into Palm Meadows for the winter and something at Gulfstream would probably be next."
My Pal Chrisy rallied outside the leaders in the stretch run of the $150,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff and got to the wire first, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, Sweetrepent. Callmethesqueeze finished third. My Pal Chrisy, a 3-year-old daughter of Alex's Pal, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:45.79 for jockey Luca Panici. She came into the race off a win in the Stage Door Betty Handicap at Calder on Sept. 24 going the same distance. "We'll see how she comes out of it and consider the Sunshine Millions and other options," winning trainer Padarath Lutchman said.
Bad Debt came from well back to win the $125,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup, edging another late runner, Picou, by 3/4 of a length. Roman Tiger finished third but was set down by the stewards, promoting Livingston Street to third. Bad Debt, a 4-year-old Pleasant Tap gelding, finished the 9 furlongs on the grass in 1:49.70 with Kendrick Carmouche up. Owner Robert Liebner said Bad Debt, now with six wins and four seconds in his last 10 starts, will remain in Florida while he and trainer Michael Trombletta "decide what's next."
Gibson hustled out to the lead in the $125,000 Jack Dudley Sprint, extended his advantage throughout and won by 6 1/2 lengths at odds of nearly 35-1. Pashito the Che chased but could do no better than second, a half length ahead of Ribo Bobo. Gibson, a 3-year-old Gibson County gelding, got the 6 furlongs in 1:10.54 with Daniel Centeno riding. Owner Gerald Bennett looked ahead. "This horse is eligible for the Claiming Crown that will be at Fair Grounds for the first time this year on Dec. 3," he said. "So we'll look at that and then there is the Florida Millions later."
Golden Gate Fields
Passing Game, the longest shot on the tote board, passed most of his rivals in the stretch run to win Saturday's $50,000 Golden Nugget Stakes for 2-year-olds. At the wire, Passing Game was a head in front of Chips All In with Marshall Marini a non-threatening third. Passing Game, a California-bred Game Plan colt out of the Category Five mare Fifth Avenue Suite, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.09 with Kevin Krigger up.
Art of the Hunt outfinished Lily Quatorze to win Saturday's $60,000 Squan Song Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares by a half length. Campaign Vows finished third. Art of the Hunt, a 3-year-old Lion Hearted filly, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.33 under Luis Garcia.
Catlaunch resumed his march through the ranks of Ohio-breds with a 2 1/2-length win in Saturday's $50,000 Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial Handicap. The 10-year-old Noble Cat gelding sat patiently behind a runaway leader, quickly reeled that one in when asked by jockey Luis
Gonzalez and went on to win easily. Raise the Reward was the best of the rest and Beau Mec finished third. Catlaunch ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:55.73. The venerable gelding, who had not won in his last three starts, has 38 career victories, almost all against Buckeye State competition.
Beware of the Bop relaxed on an easy lead in Saturday's $50,000 My Sister Pearl Stakes for West Virginia-bred fillies and mares and odds-on favorite Silver Heart couldn't catch her in the end. At the wire, it was Beware of the Bop by a half length with Hot Sauce third. Beware of the Bop, a 5-year-old Bop mare, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:55.26 with Oscar Flores in the irons.
Pack Your Bags dusted the favorite, Humble Smarty, in Sunday's $55,000 Lea County Sprint, shaking off that rival after an early duel and going on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Humble Smarty held second, a neck better than Lion Hall. Pack Your Bags, a 6-year-old, California-bred Flying Continental gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:02.62 with Miguel Hernandez up.
Sunday's card included two events listed for 2-year-old horses which had spent 90 days in South Carolina and paid a fee to the South Carolina TOBA.
Despite the odd conditions, it wouldn't hurt to put a circle around Adirondack King, a Kentucky-bred Lawyer Ron colt out of the successful Brocco mare Jostle, who went to the post as the odds-on favorite in the $75,000 Christopher Elser Memorial and won like he deserved it. At the wire, Adirondack King was out front by 6 lengths, ridden out by Stewart Elliot. Varborough and Race to the Top were second and third. The winner, trained by John Servis, now has three straight wins. Servis also trained Jostle, who won the Alabama and the Coaching Club American Oaks in 2000.
In the $75,000 Donna Freyer Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Pink Candy opened a comfortable lead and held off the odds-on favorite, Lead Me On, to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Suivez Moi finished third. Pink Candy is a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Southern Image out of the Sky Classic mare Classic Fashion.
News and notes: Rosemary Homeister Jr., second only to Julie Krone in number of winners ridden by a female jockey, returned to the saddle in the ninth race Wednesday at Churchill Downs for the first time since the birth of her daughter, Victoria Rose, on Aug. 21. Homeister, who has had 2,438 winners since her debut in 1992, had been working horses for several weeks. She got home sixth aboard her return engagement mount, Huxley Winner.