Even as next weekend's Breeders' Cup promises to crown some 2012 champions, top 2-year-old races run during the weekend pointed toward future stardom.
In England, in Canada, at Churchill Downs and as far west as California, juveniles were on display. Look for some of them next spring in the Derby -- both in Kentucky and at Epsom.
Elsewhere in the United States, the sprint action and some fine turf events enlivened Laurel Park as Hurricane Sandy headed for the area, while Keeneland ended its all-too-brief fall meeting.
Ambitious Dragon made an auspicious seasonal debut in Hong Kong and Group 1 races in Italy, France and Japan enlivened the world scene.
Next week, the Breeders' Cup. This week, this:
The weekend's richest race and a rich diet of turf stakes helped divert the nearby nation's capital from the onrushing election and Hurricane Sandy -- at least for a few minutes -- on Saturday afternoon.
Action Andy rallied around the leaders in the stretch run of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash and was just up in time to win by a nose over Il Villano. Immortal Eyes overcame a stumble at the start to finish third. Action Andy, a 5-year-old Gators N Bears gelding who went off at odds of 10-1, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.61 with Horacio Karamanos in the irons. "I was a little worried at the sixteenth pole, but I know when he kicks, he keeps coming," winning trainer Carlos Garcia said."He trained better than he ever has coming into this race and Horacio rode him to perfection. That was an extremely nice horse he beat today. They both wanted to win. You could see that. But I guess he wanted it more."
Dannhauser got through along the rail to take the lead late in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup, then held off a cavalry charge to win by a neck. See Tobe was second and it was only a pair of noses back to 97-1 long shot Manchurian High and Slip and Drive in third and fourth. Dannhauser, a 4-year-old Johannesburg colt, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm going in 2:27.17 with Sheldon Russell up. "He's a wonderful horse, just marvelous to train," winning trainer Kathleen O'Connell said. "We were hoping that Sheldon could get him settled in behind early and he rode him just perfect."
Jazzy Idea caught the favorite, Ben's Cat, in the final yards to win the $100,000 Laurel Dash by 3/4 of a length. Night Officer was third and Heros Reward finished fourth. Jazzy Idea, a 3-year-old Great Notion filly, ran the 6 furlongs in course-record time of 1:07.29 with Elvis Trujillo up. Owner-trainer Edwin Merriman said if he had expected that performance, he might have sent Jazzy Idea to the Breeder's Cup. "I'm speechless," he said. "She's 3-for-3 on Laurel turf now and before today Ben's Cat was 5-for-5. She is far and above the best horse I have ever had my hands on."
Silver Screamer got by pacesetting Laughing in the stretch run in the $100,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes and held on to win by a neck over that one. It was another neck back to Federation in third and only a nose more to Embarr in fourth. Silver Screamer, a 4-year-old Cozzene filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the grass in 1:40.63 with Jose Espinoza riding.
Tate's Landing stalked the pace in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity, then went on to post the 23-1 upset, beating runner-up Star Maneuver by an easy 3 1/4 lengths. Lunar Rock finished third. Tate's Landing, an Orientate colt out of the Forestry mare Treetop Landing, finished the grassy 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.08 with Alex Cintron in the irons.
Mystic Love rallied from way far back to win the $100,000 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 3/4 of a length with a strong stretch move. Jewel of a Cat was second and Hold Our Destiny finished third. Mystic Love, a Not for Love filly out of the Dixie Union mare Memories of Mystic, got the 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass in 1:02.23 for Trujillo.
Uncaptured was unrivaled in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Iroquois Stakes, working clear to score by 5 1/2 lengths over Positively. The favorite, Overanalyze, was third after being shuffled wide on the turn. Uncaptured, a Lion Heart colt out of the Arch mare Captivating, ran the one-turn mile on a fast track in 1:37.63 with Miguel Mena up for trainer Mark Casse. Previously raced at Woodbine, he now has five wins in six starts, a record marred only by a fifth-place finish in the Grade III Grey Stakes. His victories, however, also include three non-graded stakes in Canada. Casse said Uncaptured might make his next start in the $150,000, Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 24. That race is part of the new system for determining next year's Kentucky Derby field. "He had been very powerful before this and that's why I wanted to bring him here and run him on the dirt," Casse said. "If it didn't work, well then I was going to send him home for a break. But I think we got the answer today."
Sign came from the back of the pack to win Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Pocahontas Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 4 lengths over early leader Gal About Town. Cloudy Vow was a longshot third. Sign, a Pulpit filly out of the Mighty mare Cross, got the mile in 1:38.63 with Rosie Napravnik handling the reins. Sign was coming off a maiden win at first asking at Saratoga in August. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said to look for Sign next in the Grade II Golden Rod on Nov. 24.
Here's a big surprise: It looks like Coolmore and the O'Briens have another really good one coming along. Kingsbarns ran his record to 2-for-2 with a handy win in Saturday's Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Donacaster, the final British Group 1 flat race of the year. With Joseph O'Brien up for father/trainer Aidan, the Galileo colt tracked the leaders until the final furlong, took over when asked and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Van Der Neer. Steeler was just nosed out for second. Kingsbarns ran the mile on soft going in 1:40.32. The win moved him into an early favorite's role for the 2013 Investec Epsom Derby, though both Van Der Neer and Steeler ran well enough to encourage their supporters. The elder O'Brien said Kingsbarns did what was needed, adding, "All the data on him and all his figures stacked up very good but you never know until they go and do it."
Ambitious Dragon, two-time Horse of the Year, is back in top form if Sunday's performance is any judgment. And trainer Tony Millard now is thinking his star just might be a miler. With Zac Purton up for the first time, Ambitious Dragon surged to the fore on his own initiative turning for home in Sunday's Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy. When up-and-coming miler Glorious Days came to him with 200 meters to run, Purton finally asked for his best and Ambitious Dragon quickly drew clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Helene Spirit was third in a field loaded with talent -- much of it prepping for longer races in the next two months. The 1,600 meters went in a quick 1:33.59. Millard said he is eyeing the Jockey Club Mile on Nov. 18 as a final prep for Ambitious Dragon before the Longines Hong Kong International Races on Dec. 9. "From there, we will look at whether we go for the Longines Hong Kong Mile or the 2,000-meter [the Longines Hong Kong Cup]. But I'd like to give him another run at a mile first and take it from there," Millard said.
Cerise Cherry, a 7-year-old and newly gelded, seems to have new interest in running and is on track toward the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint after a victory in Sunday's Premir Bowl at Sha Tin. "At the start of last season he was showing no interest and lost the plot completely," winning trainer Derek Cruz said. "We gelded him and his form picked up in the late part of the season. He ran well last time out and today he has run a very good race." He finished the 1,200 meters in 1:08.55 with early leader Aashiq second, 2 1/4 lengths back. His chances were improved by the absence of Hong Kong's star sprinters, Lucky Nine and Little Bridge, who are recovering from their recent international travels before resuming efforts on the home track.
Eishin Flash got home first by a half length over Fenomeno in Sunday's Group 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at Tokyo Race Course. Rulership was third. Curren Black Hill finished fifth and Tosen Jordan was home 13th. Eishin Flash won the Japanese Derby two years ago but had been winless since. He finished sixth in this year's Dubai World Cup. Mirco Demuro rode for trainer Hideaki Fujiwara. Eishin Flash, a 5-year-old son of King's Best, finished the left-handed 2,000 meters in 1:57.3.
Sortilege finished best of all to win Sunday's Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio Longines for fillies and mares at Capannelle by a length over Cherry Collect. Sortilege, trained by Andreas Wohler and ridden by Andrea Atzeni, got the 10 furlongs on heavy going in 2:07.70. Nova Hawk was third and Godolphin raider Sajjhaa finished fourth after leading at the furlong mark. Sortilege, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred Tiger Hill filly, now is 3-for-9 in a campaign that has seen her all over Europe.
Les Beaufs led all the way to a 4 1/2-lengths win in Sunday's Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp. Silver Valny and Rollex Borget completed a French sweep of the top three positions. Les Beaufs, a 3-year-old Apsis gelding, ran the 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 110 yards on heavy going in 3:26.22. Julien Guillochon rode for trainer Valerie Seignoux, who also is his mother. "That's him finished for this year," the trainer said. "But he'll have a program built around all the good staying races next year."
Newsdad came from near the back of the pack to win the $150,000, Grade II Fayette Stakes on closing day of the fall meeting. Nikki's Sandcastle was along for third and Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy finished third. The favorite, Salto, finished fourth after attending the pace. Take Charge Indy, making his first start since suffering an ankle injury in the Kentucky Derby, set a quick pace and held tenaciously at the end. Newsdad, a 4-year-old Arch colt, ran the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:48.24 with Julien Leparoux up. Leparoux won the race for the third straight year. "It was not our game planning going out there to be that far back, to be honest with you," said Kenny McCarthy, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott. "He's got a big cruising speed so we thought he'd be a little closer. Leaving the gate, he looked like he stumbled just slightly and then after that, you have to leave it up to your jockey. I thought Julien did a great job on him." Take Charge Indy's jockey, Calvin Borel, said his mount tired after battling with Salto "and only got beat, like, 2 lengths. So I was very impressed with the race."
Afleeting Lady sat just behind pacesetter All Due Respect until the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Turnback the Alarm Handicap for fillies and mares, battled her way to the front and drew clear late to win by 3 1/2 lengths. All Due Respect held thirdwith Nefertini finishing third. Afleeting Lady, a 5-year-old Afleet Alex mare, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.17 with Joel Rosario up. The favorite, R Gypsy Gold, finished fifth. "That was an easy trip," Rosario said. He said All Due Respect figured to be on the lead, adding, "My horse has speed, too. But I just let them go and let my horse get comfortable and she was really game today."
Buffum went quickly to the lead in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap and coasted home first, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Little Drama. Associate finished third. Buffum, a 4-year-old Bernardini colt, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.68 with Eddie Castro riding. The favorite, Caixa Electonica, was never in the mix and finished seventh. Winning trainer Tom Albertrani said the Grade I Cigar Mile on Nov. 24 will be the next goal for Buffum.
Notacatbutallama collared pacesetting Bernie the Jet in the late going of Sunday's $85,000 Incurable Optimist Stakes for 2-year-olds and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Fredericksburg finished third. Notacatbutallama, a Harlan's Holiday colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.33 with John Velazquez up.
Mariel N Kathy bested Coconut Shrimp in the stretch run in Sunday's $85,000 Chelsea Flower Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. Flashy Gal finished third. Mariel N Kathy, a Corinthian filly, got the mile in 1:36.83 under Jose Espinoza.
Baffle Me, a 21-1 mutuel chance, led from the start in Saturday's $85,000 Banner Gala for 3-year-old fillies and held on to win by a nose over Sea Island. Regalo Mia finished third. Baffle Me, a First Samurai filly, got the 1 1/8 miles over the firm inner turf in 1:50.12 with Joel Rosario steering.
Book Review, the odds-on favorite, ran to her notices in Wednesday's $85,000 Imperial Gesture Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, clearing at the end to score by 4 1/2 lengths over Lady Cohiba. Final Escrow was third. Book Review, a Giant's Causeway filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.98 under Javier Castellano.
Future Generation kicked clear at the end of Thursday's $85,000 Serena's Cat Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 5 3/4 lengths over Much Rejoicing. Whipsaw City led briefly and then held on for show money. Future Generation, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred daughter of Hurricane Run, ran the 7 furlongs on good turf in 1:23.50 for jockey Ramon Dominguez.
Nipissing outfinished Strut the Course to win Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Princess Elizabeth Stakes for Canadian-bred 2-year-old fillies by a half length. Smartyfly finished third. Nipissing, an Ontario-bred Niigon filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.25 with Steven Bahen in the irons. She now is 3-for-3. "She is the real deal," Bahen said. "She's done everything we've ever asked of her and today proved it."
Golden Gate Fields
Miss Empire, the odds-on favorite, hooked up in a ding-dong duel with 10-1 long shot in Saturday's $100,000 Pike Place Dancer Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and Miss Empire finally prevailed by just a neck with a second effort near the wire. Somethingabouther finished third. Miss Empire, an Empire Maker filly, ran the mile on good turf in 1:38.84. Winning jockey Russell Baze said his filly wasn't getting a good hold on the track. But, "Toward the end, she switched back to her left lead and was able to accelerate past the other horse. I think she has a promising future."
Hawthorne Race Course
The Pizza Man rallied wide to the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $125,000 Buck's Boy Handicap for Illinois-breds and rolled home to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Star of Paradise. Ice Climber was third while the favorite, Suntracer, finished next-last of eight. The Pizza Man, a 3-year-old English Channel gelding tackling older rivals, got the 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:46.55 with Florent Geroux riding.
Peyote Patty came around the leaders to take the lead in Saturday's $125,000 Illini Princess Handicap for state-bred distaffers and went on to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Kepi. Mourette finished third and the favorite, Cumulonimble, settled for fourth. Peyote Patty, a 7-year-old Cactus Ridge mare, got the 1 1/16 miles on the yielding grass course in 1:46.46 under Jeffrey Sanchez.
Twice Mike, the odds-on favorite, took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $200,000 Too Much Coffee Stakes for Indiana-breds and kicked clear, winning by 3 lengths over Prince of Time. Unreachable Star reached third with a late move. Twice Mike, a 3-year-old Awesome Sword gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.96 with Chris Russell riding.
Ain't She a Saint showed her heels to 11 rivals in Saturday's $200,000 Frances Slocum Stakes for state-bred distaffers, drawing off to a 7-length victory. Yeardley was best of the rest with the favorite, Dreamin Big, third. Ain't She a Saint, a 3-year-old Saintly Look filly, got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.83 with Malcolm Franklin in the irons.
Dread the Pirate rallied from a pace-stalking trip to win Saturday's $84,000 Indiana Futurity for state-bred 2-year-olds by 3 lengths over Seal Beach. Short Round finished third. Dread the Pirate, an Evil Minister colt, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.26 with Marlon St. Julien up.
Higher Logic ran by pacesetting Harbor Cat in the stretch run of Saturday's $84,000 Miss Indiana Stakes for state-bred 2-year-old fillies and won off by 3 1/2 lengths over that rival. Blade's Edge finished third. Higher Logic, a daughter of High Fly, ran the mile in 1:37.86 under Irwin Rosendo.
Red Sun went quickly to the lead in Sunday's $65,000 Lure Stakes, then battled down the lane with the favorite, Ryehill Dreamer, before prevailing by a neck. Temple's Door was third, 2 1/2 lengths farther back. Red Sun, a 6-year-old Redattore gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.03 under Rafael Bejarano.
Lee's Spirit rallied four-wide into the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Gold Cup for state-breds and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths from Populist Politics. Heavy on Themister finished third. Lee's Spirit, a 7-year-old Leestown gelding, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:39.17 with John Jacinto in the irons.
She's Prado's Idol came from near the rear to win Friday's $100,000 Magnolia Stakes for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares, finishing a length to the good of Pretty Not. Harley's Dreams was a half length farther back in third. She's Prado's Idol, a 3-year-old Screen Idol filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.81 with Tracy Hebert up.
American Sugar outfinished Cat Five' O to win Friday's $50,000 E.L. Gaylord Memorial for 2-year-old fillies by a head. Pacesetting Kentucky Gem held on for third. American Sugar, a Kentucky-bred Harlan's Holiday miss out of the Quiet American mare I Love America, got the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.44 for jockey Alex Birzer. She also won the Prairie Gold Lassie this summer at Prairie Meadows but then finished 13th in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie over the all-weather track.
Coastal Sunrise went quickly to the lead from an outside gate in Saturday's $50,000 Xtra Heat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, built a big lead and held on against the challenge of Carry the Torch to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Disco Barbie was just a neck farther back in third. Coastal Sunrise, a Florida-bred Congrats filly, toured the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.65 for jockey Javier Santiago.
Pay the Man kicked clear in the late and went on to win Saturday's $50,000 Scarlet and Gray Handicap for Ohio-bred fillies and mares by 4 1/2 lengths. Doubled Vision was the best of the rest with Startin Something checking in third. Pay the Man, an 8-year-old daughter of Bernstein, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:11.45 with Luis Gonzales up.
Sunday was New Mexico Classic Cup Day in the Land of Enchantment, with a lot of gaming money on offer for state-bred steeds.
On Down the Road took over in the stretch to win the $180,000 Classic Cup Rocky Gulch Championship by 1 3/4 lengths over Cross Chris Run. The favorite, Smash Dancer, settled for third as On Down the Road finished the mile on a fast track in 1:38.94 with Rye Eikleberry up.
Iplaytricks was up in the final strides to post an upset win over prohibitive favorite Rose's Desert in the $170,000 Classic Cup Peppers Pride Filly/Mare Championship. Iplaytricks ran the mile in 1:40.08 with Ken Tohill up, winning by a length.
Attitude E Racer was a big upset winner in the $170,000 Classic Cup Sprint Championship. Hennessey Smash won as the favorite in the $140,000 Filly Stakes at 6 furlongs. Midnightlowdown won at 80-1 odds in the $140,000 sprint for colts and geldings. Back Seat Roll took the $140,000 Juvenile Fillies and Thermal was a mild upset winner in the $140,000 Juvenile.
News and Notes
Darren Beadman has retired from riding, finally acknowledging the aftermath of an accident at Sha Tin in Hong Kong back in February is too much to overcome. Beadman, who has been recuperating in Australia, told the Brisbane Times, ''I knew in my heart that I wouldn't be riding again when I was in hospital. I'm really lucky to be alive. I can drive now but it has taken a lot of time even to be able to do that. There have been a lot of little challenges along the way but I'm happy.'' Beadman was a top rider in Australia, winning the Melbourne Cup twice among other big wins, before relocating to Hong Kong in 2007.
Cha Ching Jackpot finished eighth in the final race of the Keeneland fall meeting, capping a 17-day run that saw record attendance and all-sources handle up 7.35 percent to $137,981,281. "This was a strong meeting from many aspects -- especially wagering, attendance, and quality of racing," said Bill Thomason, who presided over his first race meeting as president and chief executive officer of Keeneland.