The first derby of the year goes to Reveron -- a previously unheralded colt who prevailed in Sunday's $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby.
Reveron, with Fernando Jara up for trainer Agustin Bezara, pressed the pace, took over on the turn for home and repulsed a strong stretch bid by Casual Trick in the final sixteenth to win by a half length. King Kid was third and the favorite, Ancient Rome, got home second-last of 11 in his first two-turn start.
Although it was his first stakes try, Reveron had the credentials as a son of Songandaprayer out of the Awesome Again mare Carolina Sunrise. And he came into the race off two straight wins at Calder -- a maiden event and an allowance. He now is three-for-five for his young career and epitomizes the difficulty of sorting out legitimate Florida Derby -- much less Kentucky Derby -- contenders this early in the year.
"We think this he is the best 3-year-old in Florida right now," said Bezara, a former Venezuelan training champion who now has five horses stabled at Calder -- three of whom won on Sunday's Gulfstream card.
"This is my first stakes win in the U.S. and the biggest day I've had since I came here two years ago," Bezara added.
Asked what's next for Reveron, the trainer sounded like a veteran sparring with the U.S. media, saying, "We'll see how he comes out of it. He goes the distance. We'll consider the options."
By RICHARD GROSS
The third annual Meydan Masters International Jockeys' Challenge opens the Dubai World Cup Carnival Thursday.
Twelve invited jockeys will compete in a points-based event consisting of four races offered during the racing programs this Thursday and Friday at Meydan Racecourse. Points are gained based on the riders' finish in the chosen races with the winner gaining the highest point total.
The 12 confirmed riders are: Mickael Barzalona, Maxime Guyon and Christophe Lemaire from France; William Buick, Ryan Moore, Colm O'Donoghue and Tom Queally from Great Britain and Ireland; Australia's Craig Williams; Mirco Demuro and Frankie Dettori of Italy; Japan's Kenichi Ikezoe; and Andrasch Starke of Germany.
The riders in this year's competition won 61 Group 1 races worldwide during 2011, including the Dubai World Cup (Demuro), and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Starke).
This is the first time the event will not have an American rider. Calvin Borel won last year's competition and Kent Desormeaux participated in the inaugural Meydan Masters won by Great Britain's Richard Hills. Last month's Hong Kong International Jockey Challenge also lacked an American rider. This year's Dubai Challenge will be presented by Longines.
Known from its inception as the International Racing Carnival, the 16-raceday season at Meydan has been renamed the Dubai World Cup Carnival. The Carnival ends with the Dubai World Cup day program Saturday, March 31.
This year's DWC race card is expanded to nine races with the addition of the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup, a 2-mile (3,200 meter) Grade 3 turf race. The event increases the world's richest day of racing to a total of $27.25 million in purses.
Other weekend racing included a lot of stakes for youngsters seeking their place on the class ladder:
A parade of longshots lit up the tote board after Saturday's $300,000, Grade I La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Teddy's Promise moved to the lead with a quarter mile to run, kicked clear through the stretch and got home first by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 16-1. Fellow outsiders Sugarinthemorning and Great Hot completed the trifecta while pacesetting Home Sweet Aspen held on for third. Turbulent Descent, entered in an effort to make amends for a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup, showed little and finished sixth. Teddy's Promise, a California-bred Salt Lake filly, got the 7 furlongs over a fast track in 1:20.47 under Victor Espinoza. "The last time she ran, I really liked her," Espinoza said. "Today, I thought she was ready and I thought she would like it better over here on the dirt. I had so much horse today I wasn't expecting anybody to come near me." Winning trainer Ron Ellis said he asked owners Ed and Judy Nichols if they didn't want to scratch in favor of Sunday's $75,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap "because I knew we could win tomorrow. But they wanted to go for the big one and I couldn't argue with them." There apparently was some bridge-jumper action on Turbulent Descent in the show pool as all three top finishers paid extra in that column.
Bauble Queen rallied outside the leaders in the stretch run of Sunday's $150,000, Grade II Robert J. Frankel Stakes for fillies and mares and caught pacesetting Turning Top late to win by a half length. Miss Mittagong attended the modest early pace but settled for third. Bauble Queen, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Arch filly, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.22, toting Garrett Gomez. "I was sitting in behind them pretty easily the whole way," said Gomez, who was celebrating his 40th birthday. "It was just a matter of if my filly would lengthen at all when we turned for home. As it worked out, it was in our best interest. My filly liked the mile and an eighth for the first time and it worked out."
Rumor got first run at the leaders in Sunday's $75,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap for fillies and mares, then refused to relinquish the edge, turning back the favorite, Saint Isabelle, to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Big Tiz got third. Rumor, a 4-year-old Indian Charlie filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.95 with Garrett Gomez up.
Chips All In stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds, took over the lead turning for home and got home first by 1 1/4 lengths over Sheer Talent. Stoney Fleece finished third and the favorite, Daddy Nose Best, was fifth. Chips All In, a Kentucky-bred North Light colt out of the Maria's Mon mare Maria's Image, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:34.86 with Alonso Quinonez up. Chips All In won his first three starts at tracks ranging from Golden Gate to Del Mar to Arapahoe Park in Colorado where he won the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity. His only loss came in the Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate. The Eddie Logan was his first start on turf. "We always kind of thought he would take to the grass," winning trainer Jeff Mullins said. "He had breezed good on it. But he was out of conditions, so we didn't have any other choice. He made us look good."
Lady of Shamrock came from well back in a nine-horse field to win Friday's $75,000 Blue Norther Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, scoring by 2 3/4 lengths over Batalha. Byrama was third. Lady of Shamrock, a Kentucky-bred Scat Daddy filly out of the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue, got the mile on firm turf in 1:34.24 with Garrett Gomez in the irons. June Cleaver finished seventh, for all you old TV fans.
Apriority stumbled badly at the start of Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Mr. Prospector Stakes, quickly recovered and raced into contention, then got through along the rail in the late going to nip pacesetting Zero Rate Policy by a nose. The favorite, Indiano, also had an awkward start but put in a late bid to finish third, just another half length back. Capt. Candyman Can finished fourth. Apriority, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Grand Slam colt, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.26 with Luis Saez up. "I thought we were done at the start after he stumbled so bad," winning trainer David Fawkes said. "We're lucky the jock stayed on. It's what he overcame to win it. When he got back in contention at the top of the stretch it was a matter of inside, outside. [Saez] waited and waited and then made the right choice and got through." Fawkes said Apriority grabbed his left front foot during the race but the injury appeared superficial. If all is well, he said, the colt will be back in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 28.
The religiously inclined may be less likely to be betting types but, if they were, they surely would have had the exacta in Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Old Hat Stakes for newly turned 3-year-old fillies. Sacristy rallied to the lead in the stretch and held off Say a Novena to win by 1 3/4 lengths. You had to bet to show to collect on Bet to Win. Sacristy, a Kentucky-bred Pulpit filly coming off a win at Churchill Downs, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.91 under Kent Desormeaux. Sacristy had finished second in races over all-weather tracks before breaking through at Churchill, winning by 6 3/4 lengths going 6 1/2 furlongs. "This is what it's all about," winning trainer Wayne Catalano sai, "moving these young horses forwardly. She was taking a step forward and we thought she might make it. She was training like she would." Catalano said Sacristy will likely run next in the $200,000, Grade II Forward Gal at Gulfstream Jan. 29.
Nicole H was in traffic in the middle of the pack in Sunday's $75,000 Interborough Handicap until jockey Ramon Dominguez got her to the outside with three-sixteenths left. At that point, the 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Mr. Greeley mare took the lead nearing the sixteenth pole and held on to win by a neck over Winning Image. Aquitania finished third. Nicole H got the 6 furlongs on the fast inner track in 1:10.99.
C C's Pal shook loose from the pack in the stretch run of Sunday's $75,000 Ladies Handicap and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Bahama Bound. Katy Now was third. C C's Pal, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred Alex's Pal mare, ran 9 furlongs in 1:52.85 with Junior Alvarado up.
Swag Daddy led from the start in Saturday's $75,000 Restrainor Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds, then separated from the field in the stretch run, winning by 4 1/2 lengths. Coalition finished second with Live For Today third. Swag Daddy, a Scat Daddy colt out of the Eastern Echo mare Mrs. Filio, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards over the fast inner track in 1:43.87 for Alvarado.
Spa City was quickly on the lead in Saturday's $75,000 Alex M Robb Stakes for state-breds, then survived a three-way battle to the wire to win by a head over Icabad Crane. It was only another neck back to the favorite, Groomedforvictory, in third. Spa City, a 4-year-old Roaring Fever gelding, finished 1 1/16 miles on the inner track in 1:45.71 under Alan Garcia.
Lemon Splendor stalked the pace in Thursday's $75,000 Swirlaway Stakes for 2-year-old, New York-bred fillies, moved smartly to the lead and drew off in the lane, winning by 3 3/4 lengths. Proud and Charming was second and the odds-on favorite, Double Mint, led early in the stretch run but then faded to finish third. Lemon Splendor, a Lemon Drop Kid filly out of the A.P. Jet mare Karakorum Splendor, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on the fast inner track in 1:44.96 with Cornelio Velasquez up.
Isn't He Clever, a nicely bred bay gelding, was the easiest of winners in Friday's $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity, dusting the field in the stretch to win by 11 3/4 lengths. Flame Broiled and Alsvid filled out the trifecta as a two-horse spill behind the leaders marred the race. Isn't He Clever, a son of Smarty Jones out of the Deputy Minister mare Sharp Minister, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in1:15.10 with Alejandro Medellin riding for trainer Henry Dominguez. Isn't He Clever now is 3-for-4. All three wins came in New Mexico and he finished second, a half length back of Officer Prado, in the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park in his other start.
That's Who pressed the pace in Saturday's $110,000 Red Hedeman Mile for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds, took the lead turning for home and was fully extended to win by 3/4 of a length over Tarahumar Flags. E Bar Way finished third. That's Who, a Quinton's Gold gelding, got the mile on a fast track in 1:37.11 for jockey Ry Eikleberry.
Desert Hennessey took the lead with a sixteenth to go in Sunday's $110,000 Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap for New Mexico-breds and won by 3/4 of a length over Cross Chris Run. Brother John D. was third at long odds. Desert Hennessey, a 4-year-old Desert God gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.78 with Joe Martinez up.
Tampa Bay Downs
It's Me Mom had all the best of Saturday's $50,000 Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares, leading throughout and winning by 8 1/4 lengths. Moon Buzz was the best of the nine others, finishing 2 3/4 lengths better than Yournotthebossofme. It's Me Mom, a 3-year-old, Florida-bred Put It Back filly, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.68 with Willie Martinez in the irons.
River Bear took command in the stretch run of Saturday night's $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes and won off by a comfortable 5 lengths. Live From Apollo was second and Conchacer took third. The favorite, Hollywood Hit, stumbled out of the gate and never recovered, finishing next-last of 11. River Bear, a 6-year-old, Illinois-bred Unreal Zeal gelding, got the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.78 with Timothy Thornton in the irons.
Beanwah'smachine, the overwhelming favorite, stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Louisiana Futurity for state-bred colts and geldings, moved to contention in the stretch and got clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the early leader, Gar. Gar's entrymate, C.D. Dubai, was third and Paw Paw Ralph completed the trifecta. Beanwah'smachine, a Successful Appeal colt out of the Malagra mare X Strawdnair, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.82 with Shane Sellers riding.
Effie was along late to win by 3/4 of a length in Saturday's $50,000 Louisiana Futurity for juvenile fillies. The pacesetting favorite, Izzie's Gold, held second, well ahead of Miss Helen Jay. Effie, a daughter of Closing Argument out of the Gold Fever mare Golden Diva, finished 6 furlongs in 1:12.61 for jockey Rosie Napravnik.
A couple other juvenile races were noteworthy on Saturday's card. Summer Applause led all the way to win an optional claiming race for 2-year-old fillies by 7 lengths over odds-on favorite Devious Intent. The Harlan's Holiday filly, in from Woodbine, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:43.55. Capetown Devil won an all-out stretch war with Gowhereyougaze in the companion open event for 2-year-olds, finishing in 1:43.81. A Cape Town gelding, Capetown Devil won his last race at Churchill Downs.
Delta celebrated New Year's Eve with a pair of $60,000 stakes for non-winners of a stakes during the year.
Unitas pressed the pace in the B-Connected Stakes, turned back a couple of challenges and won by 4 1/4 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Break UP. Heavenville finished third. Unitas, a 3-year-old, Louisiana-bred Sunday Break gelding, got the mile on a fast track in 1:38.39 under Diego Saenz.
Rileys Monarch rallied from far back to win the Lookout Stakes by 2 lengths. Pacesetting Warrior Maid held on for second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Moon Larry. Rileys Monarch, a 4-year-old, Louisiana-bred Monarchos filly, finished the 1 mile in 1:40.71 with Kerwin Clark riding.
Beer Meister circled circled his rivals turning for home in Saturday's $35,000 Luke Kruytbosch Stakes for 3-year-olds and drove clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Goldfire. Wegner was third. Beer Meister, a Kentucky-bred Pleasant Tap gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.54 with Glenn Corbett up.
News and Notes
Big congratulations to Jenny Rees and Claire Novak on winning 2011 Eclipse Media Awards for writing. Rees, who has covered racing since 1983 for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, earned her third Eclipse statue for a story on the winner's circle altercation between jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano after the 2010 Breeders' Cup Marathon. The article provided a unique glimpse into an equally unique relationship in the world of sports -- cutthroat business competitors whose very lives depend on mutual trust during the running of races. Novak, a native of Lake Zurich, Ill., won for a sensitive and insightful profile of race caller Tom Durkin, a native of Oak Park, Ill., and the anxieties and pressures that led him to step down as the NBC Sports' "Voice of the Triple Crown." The article, which appeared on ESPN.com, portrayed Durkin from his own perspective and that of some of his peers.
HRTV won in the Television Features Programming category for the documentary "Inside Randy Romero," detailing the triumphs and lifelong struggles of the Hall of Fame rider. ESPN won for Television Live Programming for its presentation of the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Bob Mayberger of Albany, N.Y., won the 2011 Eclipse for Photography for a panoramic image of Thoroughbreds jumping a fence during the A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase at Saratoga on Aug. 4.
Well done, all.
-- Rapid Redux will try for his 22nd straight win Wednesday in a $17,000 starter allowance at Laurel Park in Maryland. The ageless gelding won all 19 of his starts in 2011, equaling the mark set by Citation. "He is training well and coming into this race better than his last start," said owner Robert Cole.
-- Along the lines of encouraging innovation and the courting of new fans: NYRA and Creative Racing Solutions have announced the launch of RaceQuest, a "beginner friendly online handicapping application aimed at new and novice horseplayers that also synthesizes handicapping angles into a useful wagering tool for the experienced bettor." Available through the NYRA web site or www.racequest.net/NYRA, the two said, "novices to
experts will be introduced to a variety of new and exciting ways to master the art of handicapping." Those will include the opportunity to purchase RaceQuest past performances.