Even before the leaves begin changing colors, racing started its fall shift with Belmont Park opening in New York and Sha Tin kicking off the season in Hong Kong. Several up and coming European winners were being pointed to the Breeders' Cup.
A Korean-bred horse won outside Korea for the first time ever. Japanese racing officials were in Maryland and world-class sprinters were gearing up in Japan.
Take a break from the opening week of the NFL and buckle up for a super ride through the details:
Snow Fairy completed her return from last year's serious injury with a dramatic and decisive victory over Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey in Saturday's Group 1 Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. Nathaniel, the Coral-Eclipse winner, took over the lead from a fading Daddy Long Legs heading into the straight but when Frankie Dettori let Snow Fairy make her run, she methodically went by and Nathaniel was helpless against the charge, losing by 1 1/4 lengths. St Nicholas Abbey came along in the wake of the top two, finishing 3/4 of a length further in arrears. The 1 1/4 miles on good going went in 2:00.92. Snow Fairy suffered a serious tendon injury while prepping for last year's Hong Kong International Races and was idled until Aug. 19, when she returned with a win in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville. Before her injury, she had become a major force on the international scene and had just won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup in Japan. Before that, she finished third in the 2011 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and trainer Ed Dunlop said next month's renewal of the Arc may only be the start of Snow Fairy's year-ending tour. "Looking ahead, we'll take it one step at a time," said Dunlop. "She's in the Champion Stakes and the Arc and I'd love to take her to the Breeders' Cup." After that, it's clear Snow Fairy loves the Hong Kong turf as the winner of the 2010 Hong Kong Cup.
Up captured Sunday's Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh and trainer Aidan O'Brien said the 3-year-old Galileo filly's next stop could be at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup. Up was posting just her second win in 11 starts and finished sixth in the Beverly D. at Arlington this summer. But she has been competitive in top company throughout her career. Sunday she commenced her run with less than 2 furlongs to go and was all out to beat Caponata by a short head. "The Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf would suit her and she might not run before," O'Brien said. "She's been very busy lately."
Sunday's Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at the Curragh also may have produced a Breeders' Cup contender as Sky Lantern surged to a convincing win, beating Scintillula by 2 1/2 lengths. Harisaya finished third. Sky Lantern, a daughter of Red Clubs, got the 7 furlongs on good going in 1:25.14. She now has three wins and two seconds from five starts. Assistant trainer Richard Hannon Jr. said Sky Lantern "could get a mile and Santa Anita could be an option." Sunday's race was an international "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, carrying financial assistance for that event. But Hannon said he and his father would have to discuss that with the owner, Hong Kong resident Ben Keswick, who supplemented Sky Lantern to Sunday's race at a cost of more than 22,000 pounds.
Chachamaidee was awarded victory in Saturday's Group 1 Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes at Leopardstown after Duntle, who crossed the finish line first, was disqualified to second for causing interference 2 furlongs out. Emulous finished third and stayed there.
Society Rock rallied from midfield to take the lead with under 100 yards to go in Saturday's Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock and held on to post the upset win by 3/4 of a length over Gordon Lord Byron. Bated Breath was third and the star Australian mare Ortensia, faded late after suffering a bad laceration during the race. Society Rock, a 5-year-old son of Rock of Gibraltar, finished the 6 furlongs on firm going in 1:10.20 with Kieren Fallon up. Society Rock won last year's Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot but had been winless since that race.
Epice Arome won Sunday's Group 2 Centaur Stakes at Hanshin, a prep for the upcoming Group 1 Sprinters stakes. Lord Kanaloa finished second, En Ciel Bleu was third and the defending champion in the Sprinters Stakes, Curren Chan, finished a close-up fourth in a clear prep for the bigger race to come. Epice Arome, a 3-year-old Daiwa Major filly, ran the 1,200 meters over firm turf in 1:07.3.
Meanwhile, back in North America:
The 3-year-old division continues to turn up late bloomers with promise for the end of the year and onward. The latest is Bourbon Courage, winner of Saturday's $500,000 Super Derby at Lousiana Downs. The Lion Heart colt, coming off a gutsy second-place finish in the West Virginia Derby, sat well back from the pace in Saturday's feature, kicked into gear four wide around the second turn to get into contention and then easily drew off to win by 5 lengths. Fly Lexis Fly finished second and Master Rick was third. The favorite and early leader, Blueskiesnrainbows, faded badly to finish seventh. Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order was sixth. Bourbon Courage, with Leandro Goncalves up, ran the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:51.40. He now has won half his six starts. Trainer Kellyn Gorder said the next start for Bourbon Courage could be the Sept. 30 Oklahoma Derby or the Oct. 6 Indiana Derby. But he did not rule out a start after that in either the Breeders' Cup Classic or the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. "We always have the Breeders' Cup in the back of our minds," Gorder told Daily Racing Form Sunday morning. "That would be a possibility. I need to race him before that." He added he is "watching what the other horses in the division are doing. The 3-year-old division is just decimated with injuries and illness. We've got to pick our spot."
Air Support wore down pacesetter Bombaguia in the closing strides to win Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Bowling Green Stakes at Belmont Park by a head. Brilliant Speed was far back in third. Brujo de Olleros and Newsdad completed the order of finish. Air Support, a 4-year-old Smart Strike colt, ran the 1 1/4 miles on the good inner turf course in a leisurely 2:06.12 with John Velazquez up. It was his fifth win from 15 lifetime starts but his first victory since last year's Virginia Derby. "I knew it would be a walking pace," winning trainer Shug McGaughey said. "I'm pleased with him. It's the first race he's won in a while. The field was pretty decent for a five-horse field." McGaughey said he's considering Keeneland or Aqueduct for the colt's next race, adding, "I haven't discounted the Breeders' Cup either. I just have to wait and see."
See Tobe found room between rivals at mid-stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes at Laurel Park, went through and won off by 1 1/4 lengths. Mr. Irons finished second, Dannhauser was third and last year's winner, Eighttofasttocatch, faded to finish fifth. See Tobe, with representatives of the JRA's New York office in attendance, ran the 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.53 with Julian Pimentel up. "We ran into some problems with him early and gave him plenty of time and did some surgery on him," winning trainer Gary Capuano said. "He came back really good. He's just been getting better. He's a one-run horse. He just keeps coming right at the end. You can't give up on him. In the last forty yards he gives you an extra gear." See Tobe is a 5-year-old Concerto gelding.
Eternal Rule led from the gitgo in Friday night's $250,000 Presque Isle Mile and held well at the end to win by a length over late closer Alma d'Oro. Photo Shoot was a long shot third with a late run from far back. Eternal Rule, a 4-year-old Tribal Rule gelding in from Woodbine, covered the mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.57 with Jesse Campbell up. He now has six wins from seven starts, with a second-place finish in the Grade III Bold Venture Stakes the only blot on his copybook. All seven starts have come on all-weather faces at Woodbine or Presque Isle.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Groupie Doll, making her first start since winning at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, rallied to win Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Presque Isle Downs Masters by 3 3/4 lengths over Kitty in a Tizzy. Sally Sally finished third. Groupie Doll, a 4-year-old filly by Bowman's Band, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:16.32 under Rajiv Maragh.
Pataky Kid ran down the front-running favorite, Muppet Man, in the final furlong and went on to win Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity by 3 lengths over that rival. Stormin Monarcho finished third. Pataky Kid, a Rockport Harbor colt, got the one-turn mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.58 despite some erratic running in the lane with Garrett Gomez up for trainer Tom Proctor. "He made the lead and I got into him a couple of times," Gomez said. "The second time I got into him he didn't like it too much and he let me know. He ducked out a little bit but I got him straightened out and he continued on his way." He now has two wins from three starts.
Uncaptured was reserved off the early pace in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Swynford Stakes at Woodbine, then got rolling in the lane and went on to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Five Iron. Dan the Tin man and Platitude completed the order of finish. Uncaptured, a Lion Heart colt out of the Arch mare Captivating, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.49 with Patrick Husbands up. He remains undefeated in four starts and is a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Pitch N Roll rolled by early leader Uptown Boy in the late going of Friday night's $75,000 Mark McDermott Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred juveniles at Presque Isle Downs and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over that rival. Jump for Kitten finished third. Pitch N Roll, a Scipion gelding out of the Dynaformer mare Provobay, got the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.04 with Huber Villa-Gomez in the irons.
Proud Victor led all the way to a 4 1/4-length victory over Step Up in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Jack Diamond Futurity for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds at Hastings Racecourse. Regal Legacy finished third. Proud Victor, a Storm Victory colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.93 with Pedro Alvarado up.
Java's War hooked up with Brown Almighty in a mighty stretch war at the end of Saturday's $150,000 Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs with Java's War getting the best of it by a neck. It was a ways back to Kamchatka in third. Java's War, a War Pass colt, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:36.73 with Richard Eramia up for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Gold Edge broke on top in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie, took back and then came running at just the right time to win a three-filly sprint to the wire. The camera found Gold Edge, a daughter of Eddington, a neck in front of La Song withDancinginthecircle a nose farther in arrears. The all-longshot trifecta returned $2,097.45 for a 50-cent investment. Gold Edge ran the one-turn mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.96 under Chris Emigh. She now has won all three career starts. "I wasn't sure we were going to get there until the last couple of jumps," Emigh said. The favorite in a 13-horse field, Flying Rapunzel, got home ninth.
Dreaming of Julia was way too good for a quartet of rivals in Sunday's $85,000 Meadow Star Stakes at Belmont, winning off by 16 1/4 lengths. With John Velazquez up for trainer Todd Pletcher, the A.P. Indy filly finished the one-turn mile on a fast track in 1:36.46. Fully Living was second, another 12 1/4 lengths ahead of Over the Counter, who was another 12 3/4 lengths better than Amethyst. After that, it was 25 lengths back to Colorful Image in last. Or, as Trevor Denman might have said, "Sixty-six and a quarter lengths would cover the lot."
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Always Kitten rallied four-wide down the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Happy Ticket Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over Fleet Dawn. Courtney's Hope finished third. Always Kitten, a Kitten's Joy filly out of the Dynaformer mare Misinformer, ran the mile on good turf in 1:37.93 with Mike Smith in the irons for trainer Mike Maker.
Nikkis Bold Gelato took the lead in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) La Prevoyante Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, then held off the favorite, It's Gail, to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Consecutive was third. Nikkis Bold Gelato, a daughter of Bold Executive, ran the 1 mile on soft turf in 1:41.70 with David Moran riding.
The favored three-horse entry in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian), Grade III British Columbia Derby finished second, third and fourth. Ahead of all three was Second City, a 6-1 long shot who rallied from last of 11 to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Devil In Disguise, Hoist and Taylor's Deal were next and Wilo Kat in fifth completed the triactor. Second City, a Kentucky-bred Distorted Humor gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.94 under Richard Hamel.
Evelyn's Dancer led from the start in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) British Columbia Oaks and won off by 5 1/4 lengths over Dance the Wind. Racing for Gold was racing for third. Evelyn's Dancer, a Songandaprayer filly, finished 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.68 for jockey Mario Gutierrez.
Eyes Super Freaky was reserved off the pace in Friday's $50,000 Governor's Buckeye Cup for Ohio-breds, came four-wide into the stretch and went by to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Bold Captain, also with a late move, took second and Only Boy rallied from far back to fill out the trifecta. Eyes Super Freaky, a 3-year-old Silver Wagon gelding, ran the 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:04.80 under Luis Gonzalez.
Candy and Thunder rolled from the back of the field to win Friday's $50,000 Beverly J. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3/4 of a length over My Selection. Tornado Allie finished third. Candy and Thunder, a daughter of Candy Ride, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.96 under Juan Hernandez.
Sean Avery rallied strongly down the stretch to win Saturday's $80,000 Affiliate Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths over Zero Rate Policy. The favorite, Royal Currier, checked in third and Crossbow completed the order of finish. Sean Avery, a 6-year-old Cherokee Run gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.46 for jockey Joe Bravo.
Hessonite drew off in the stretch to win Sunday's $150,000 John Hettinger Stakes for New York-bred distaffers by 5 1/4 lengths. Freedom Rings was second with Inimitable Romanee third. Hessonite, a 4-year-old Freud filly, ran 9 furlongs on the yielding inner turf in 1:52.12 with Ramon Dominguez up.
Lubash got the lead in the lane in Sunday's $150,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds and held off the favorite, Compliance Officer, at the end by a head. Street Game finished third. Lubash, a 5-year-old son of Freud, ran 1 1/8 miles on the yielding inner turf in 1:53.26 with Jose Lezcano aboard.
Calder Race Course
Spectacular Sky led early in Saturday's $55,000 Whippleton Stakes, then drew off in the lane to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Close It Out and Black Diamond Cat dead-heated for second and third. Spectacular Sky, a 4-year-old Sky Mesa filly, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.03 with Luis Saez riding.
Ducduc was along late to capture Saturday's $55,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes by a length over Tell Tale Friend. It was a long way back to Oligarch in third. The race came off the turf onto the fast main track and Ducduc, a 6-year-old son of Langfuhr, ran the 9 furlongs on that surface in 1:53.32 with Fernando Jara up.
Safe Trip got by pacesetting Streakin' Mohican in the final yards of Sunday's $100,000 Premiere Cup, winning by a head over that rival. The favorite, Imco Spirit, got home third. Safe Trip, a 5-year-old Tale of the Cat gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.41 under Miguel Hernandez.
Eldaafer pressed the slow pace in Saturday's $50,000 Carl Hanford Memorial, got to the lead in the lane and won off by 3 lengths over Not Abroad. Win Willy finished third. Eldaafer, a 7-year-old A.P. Indy gelding, ran the 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:58.10 with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons.
Suitefriendsofmine overtook pacesetting I Dare U Em to win Saturday's $60,000 John Franks Memorial Sales Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by a half length. Linnie Laurine was third in the race, restricted to those sold at the Evangeline March sale. Suitefriendsofmine, a daughter of Richter Scale, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.58 under Diego Saenz.
In the companion race for 2-year-old colts and gelding from the same sales, Proust set a pressured pace into the lane and then held on well to win by a length over Fishin Frank. Go Lil Tiger finished third. Proust, an E Dubai gelding out of the Sky Classic mare La Recherche, finished in 1:05.34 with Trey Agilar in the irons.
Going for a Spin spun by pacesetting Logical Single in the late going in Saturday's $50,000 E.B. Johnston Stakes for Cal-bred fillies and mares and went on to win by a length over that rival. Party With Brando finished third. Going for a Spin, a 4-year-old Ministers Wild Cat filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.08 for jockey Martin Pedroza.
Explain rallied by the pace-setting favorite, Mile High Magic, in the late going of Sunday's $50,000 Jim Kostoff Stakes for 3-year-olds and won by a length over that rival. Born Force finished third. Explain, a Broken Vow gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.11 with Jorge Carreno riding.
It was a soggy Saturday at the old Dueling Grounds course, a rambling, European-style layout that was so deep that times resembled rambles rather than races.
Good Lord split rivals in the stretch in the $75,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Icon Ike. Will's Wildcat finished third. Good Lord, a 5-year-old Greatness gelding, ran the 6 furlongs over the yielding turf in 1:18.58 with Gabriel Saez in the irons.
Depeche Chat pressed the pace in the $75,000 Franklin-Simpson Mile, then drew off down the long, long stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Uncle Brent was second and San Antone finished third. Depeche Chat, a 4-year-old Wildcat Heir gelding out of the Black Tie Affair mare Tarahumara, got the 1 mile on the yielding ground in 1:51.20 with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard.
Miz Ida rolled from near the back of an 11-horse field to win the $75,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf by 3 3/4 lengths from Ridgester. Affair Register finished third. Miz Ida, a 3-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen, ran the mile in 1:50.46 for jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
Delaunay led all the way to a 2-length victory over Gantry in Saturday's $50,000 Temperence Hill Stakes. Jake Mo finished third. Delaunay, a 5-year-old Smoke Glacken gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.01 with Gerard Melancon up.
She's Prado's Idol took over entering the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 River Cities Stakes for fillies and mares and went on to win by 3/4 of a length over She's All In. Jiggy Jo finished third. She's Prado's Idol, a 3-year-old Screen Idol filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.29 under John Jacinto.
Global Power was quickly on the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Unbridled Stakes and got home first by 1 1/4 lengths over Golden Yank. String King finished third. Global Power, a 4-year-old Pulpit colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles of firm turf in 1:4
Sweet As You Are rolled down the stretch to a 3 1/2-length victory over Lenape Rim in Saturday's $100,000 Mrs. Penny Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares. Coco's Sweetie finished third. The race came off the turf onto the fast main track and Sweet As You Are negotiated the 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.36 under Angel Castillo.
Sloan Ranger came wide around the leaders to win Saturday's $75,000 Banjo Pickers Sprint for state-breds by a head over Rod's Five Star. Phil Dancer finished third. Sloan Ranger, a 6-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding, raced 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.04 with Frankie Pennington in the irons.
Spring Dance went quickly to the front from an outside post in Saturday's $75,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial for state-bred 3-year-old fillies and extended the lead through the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Villette. Rockinonthewater finished third. Spring Dance, a daughter of Dance With Ravens, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.82 under Angel Quinones.
Closing Vision closed quite well, thank you, in Saturday's $75,000 Marshall Jenney Handicap for state-breds, winning by 3/4 length over fellow closer Ricky's Lite. Philly Bound was third. Closing Vision ran the off-the-turf 5 furlongs in 58.26 seconds on a fast track with Pennington up. He is a 5-year-old Pollard's Vision gelding.
And in the $75,000 Roanoke Stakes for state-breds, Tujoes came from next-last to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Layers. Pollard's Boy finished third. Tujoes, a 5-year-old Oratory gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.79 under Angel Arroyo.
Dreamed a Dream took over in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 Louise Kimball Stakes for Massachusetts-bred 3-year-old fillies and won by 4 1/2 lengths over Majestic Emily. Don Sings Ramona finished third. Dreamed a Dream, a daughter of Agnes Gold, covered the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.61 with Jill Jellison riding.
News and notes
Feel So Good won a $17,000 maiden claimer on Thursday at Calder Race Course by 7 lengths, going away. Not particularly noteworthy -- except that Feel So Good was bred and foaled in the Republic of Korea and the victory was the first for a Korean-bred horse outside that country. "There were five of us from Korea that were here watching the race," Korean Racing Authority Racing Management Team representative Byung-un Ko told Calder's media department. "I haven't been back to experience how big the story was, but the guys I spoke to at home said it was huge news, and that all the people were very happy for what had happened. And I can tell you that when I posted the news on my Facebook page, people replied that we had made history." He said Feel So Good, owned by the KRA for the American experiment, was not taken for the $32,000 tag and will return to Korea immediately and be sold -- hopefully for a record price. And he predicted the successful foray into international racing will be the first step in the emergence of Korea into the worldwide scene. "This win is a very memorable and important thing for us," Ko said.
Hong Kong's season opener at Sha Tin on Saturday drew the biggest first-day crowd in almost 20 years as 63,570 race fans turned out. Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges called it "a fantastic start to the new season ... . This is the first time in 15 years that our opening meeting has been held on a Saturday and still we had more than 63,000 people in attendance." Wagering also was up 2 percent, to HK$929 million.