Yet another Kentucky Derby prospect popped up this weekend in Louisiana while last year's top horses were being honored in Florida.
It was a tough go on sloppy footing for the Florida Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream Park while Santa Anita, Hong Kong and Dubai hosted noteworthy events.
The details, from around the world, around the clock:
Oxbow kicked off the yoke in the stretch run in Saturday's $200, Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds, leaving eight rivals toiling in the dust as he won by 11 1/2 lengths. Golden Soul was up for second and Fear the Kitten settled for third. The favorite, Avie's Quality, struggled and finished next-last. Oxbow is a Kentucky-bred colt by Awesome Again out of the Cee's Tizzy mare Tizamazing. He got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.30 with Jon Court up for D. Wayne Lukas. It was his second win in six lifetime starts but Lukas said he overcame adversity to gain the victory. "We took all the worst of it by shipping in yesterday and taking on all the local guys all coming out of their own stalls and having works over the race track," the Hall of Fame trainer said by phone from his Oaklawn Park base. "Now we're a little tighter and in a little better shape if we come back to the Risen Star." The Grade II Risen Star on Feb. 23 leads to the March 30 Louisiana Derby.
Also, Worldventurer pressed the pace in Sunday's $50,000 Groovy Stakes for state-breds at Sam Houston Race Park, then easily shook loose to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Breathethefire finished second and Mula Run was third. Worldventurer, a Wimbledon gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.74 with Cliff Berry up for trainer Brett Calhoun.
Touch Magic outfinished the favorite, Gal About Town, to win Saturday's $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds. At the wire, the margin was 3/4 of a length with Smitten rallying from last of 10 to finish third, another length back. Irish Lute and Finding More just was another pair of necks behind in fourth and fifth. Touch Magic, a Kentucky-bred Lion Heart filly, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:45.00 with James Graham up for trainer Patrick Devereux Jr. She came into the race off a second-place finish behind Rose to Gold in the Grade III Delta Downs Princess in November. "Perfect trip," said Graham. "Finished well and galloped out good."
American Sugar broke last of eight in Sunday's $60,000 Dixie Belle at Oaklawn Park, swept by the leaders five-wide turning for home and went on to win by 7 lengths. Little Miss Fitz was second and the favorite, Lady Stonewall, settled for third. American Sugar, a daughter of Harlan's Holiday, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.66 under Alex Birzer.
Platinum Song rallied to the lead heading for home in Friday's $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes for 3-year-old, Texas-bred fillies at Sam Houston Race Park and held well to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Molly's Honour. Early Fantasy finished third. Platinum Song, a My Golden Song filly, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.96 with Gerardo Mora aboard.
Infrattini stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Louisiana Handicap, came four-wide to the lead in the stretch and was up to win by 3/4 of a length over the odds-on favorite Mark Valeski. Hurricane Ike led into the stretch and finished third. Infrattini, a 5-year-old Include gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.62 with Miguel Mena up.
Ron the Greek, apparently relishing the sloppy going in Saturday's $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, romped home a winner by 11 1/4-lengths winner. Cash Rules was best of the rest with Fort Loudon fading from the lead to finish third. The odds-on favorite, Mucho Macho Man, attended the lead but gave way on the stretch turn and was eased. Ron the Greek, a 6-year-old son of Full Mandate, got 9 furlongs on the sealed strip in 1:49.19 with Jose Lezcano aboard.
The Classic was the marquee event on a card featuring six stakes for Florida-breds.
Teaks North went right to the lead in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf and held on nicely to win by 2 1/2 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Doubles Partner. A 30-1 long shot, Shkspeare Shaliya, was up for third. Teaks North, a 6-year-old Northern Afleet gelding, ran 9 furlongs over yielding turf in 1:52.89 with John Velazquez riding.
Off the Jak pressed the pace in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint, went to the front when asked and held off Bahamian Squall to win by 3/4 of a length. Little Drama finished third and the favorite, Star Harbor, finished fifth. Off the Jak, a 5-year-old With Distinction gelding, ran 6 furlongs in the slop in 1:10.27 with Jose Alvarez in the irons.
Successful Song saved ground early in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, took the lead entering the stretch and won off by 3 1/4 lengths. Speak Easy Gal was second and My Pal Chrisy finished third. Successful Song, a 6-year-old Successful Appeal mare, ran 9 sloppy furlongs in 1:52.28 for jockey Joel Rosario.
Regalo Mia stalked the pace in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, moved up around the turn and got home first by 3/4 of a length over Hooh Why. The favorite, Romacaca, led through the early furlongs but faded to finish third. Regalo Mia, a 4-year-old Sligo Bay filly, ran 9 furlongs of yielding turf in 1:52.39 with Javier Castellano up.
Golden Mystery kicked clear in the stretch run of the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint, winning by 5 1/4 lengths over Emma's Encore. R Holiday Mood finished third. Golden Mystery, with Luis Saez riding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.07. She is a 7-year-old Awesome Again mare.
Sahara Sky rallied through the stretch to upset Saturday's $150,000, Grade II Palos Verde Stakes, winning by a length over Private Zone at odds of 21-1. Justin Philip finished third as the favorite and Comma to the Top got home fourth. Sahara Sky, a 5-year-old son of Pleasant Tap, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:07.73 with Joe Talamo in the irons. Trainer Bob Baffert's two charges, Drill and A Priority, finished in the bottom two spots.
More Chocolate surged to the lead in the stretch in Sunday's $150,000, Grade II La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies and held off Book Review to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Willa B Awesome led early and finished third. More Chocolate, a Malibu Moon filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.59 with Garrett Gomezup.
A Jealous Woman stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Megahertz Stakes for fillies and mares, bid for the lead turning for home and won a three-way sprint to the wire by a neck over Byrony. The favorite, In the Stars, barely finished in the money. A Jealous Woman, a 7-year-old Muktarib mare, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:33.09 with Brice Blanc riding.
Last Gunfighter sat comfortably behind the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Evening Attire Stakes, advanced around the leaders into the turn and went on to win by a hard-fought half length over Isn't He Perfect. The early leader, Arlo, faded to get home third. Last Gunfighter, a 4-year-olf First Samurai colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:43.54 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.
Brigand led from the start in Sunday's $75,000 Turnofthecentury Stakes for New York-breds and finished first by 2 3/4 lengths over Mineovermatter. Socialsaul finished third. Brigand, a 4-year-old Flatter colt, ran the mile on the fast inner track in 1:36.70 with Ortiz winning another.
Ore Pass opened a big lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Frank Whiteley Jr. Stakes for 3-year-olds and held on to score by 1 1/2 lengths over Alpha Mike Foxtrot. Lunar Rock came from last to finish third. Ore Pass, a California-bred War Pass colt, got 7 furlongs in 1:24.78 with Julien Pimentel riding for trainer Mike Trombetta.
Don't Tell Sophia hit the afterburner in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Pippin Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 7 1/4 lengths. Vuitton finished second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Minesave. Don't Tell Sophia, a 5-year-old Congaree mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.62 with Ramon Vazquez riding.
Cheery cheered up her backers in Sunday's $60,000 American Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over All About Allie. Formal Plan finished third. Cheery, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.58 under Victor Lebron.
Sam Houston Race Park
Coyote Legend, the odds-on favorite, left no doubt in Saturday's $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes for state-breds, leading from the start and winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Cat's Classy Rider was second all the way around and Halifax Flyer raced third from start to finish. Coyote Legend, a 6-year-old Gold Legend gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.74 for jockey Cliff Berry.
Berry won with another odds-on favorite in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes, rallying Gold Element from a ground-saving trip to score by a half length over Solar Charge. Canigotoo was third and three others were virtually in the next race. Gold Element, another 6-year-old Gold Legend gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.93.
Skip a Smile drew off in the stretch to win Sunday's $50,000 Richard King Stakes for Texas-breds by 6 1/2 lengths over Spiderman Ridge. Fly the Red Eye finished third. Skip a Smile, a 6-year-old Skip Away gelding, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:51.24 with Glen Murphy riding.
Vilao tracked the pace in Friday's $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes for Texas-breds fillies and mares, came three-wide to the lead and quickly drew clear, winning off by 3 lengths. The favorite, Patty's Pride, was best of the rest with Smiles Golden Song fading in the lane to get home third. Vilao, a 4-year-old Grave Digger filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:45.61 with Ramon Luna riding.
Cowgirl N Up dueled to the lead in Friday's $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes for state-bred distaffers, got to the fore in the lane and won by 1 3/4 lengths. Contucky Dirt finished second with Color Code completing the "all-C" trifecta. Cowgirl N Up, a 4-year-old daughter of My Golden Song, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.89 under Larry Taylor.
Devons Ca Ching took the lead turning for home in Saturday's $85,000 Pepsi Cola Stakes for New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds and hung on to win by a half length over Thermal. Kiss My Hennessey finished third and the favorite, Attila's Hurricane, faded to finish last of 12. Devon's Ca Ching, a Devon Way gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.10 for jockey Ken Tohill.
Lotta Lovin did a lotta runnin in Saturday's $50,000 Likely Exchange Stakes for fillies and mares, jetting off through the stretch to finish first by 10 1/4 lengths over Yankee Union. Off Limits was home third. Lotta Lovin, a 4-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred Repent filly, ran the mile on the all-weather track in 1:39.54 with Shane Sellers steering.
(By RICHARD GROSS)
Carrying high weight and higher expectations, Soft Falling Rain was up to the task as South Africa's Group 1-winning top juvenile made it 5-for-5 with an easy victory over 13 rivals in the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial over 1,400 meters on the all-weather Tapeta at Meydan Thursday.
Jockey Paul Hanagan guided the son of National Assembly to the front early and never looked back to earn an easy win for the Sheik Hamdan-owned colt.
Trainer Mike de Kock will be looking for a fifth UAE Guineas 2,000 win Feb. 14 and faces a decision about which race to aim for on Dubai World Cup day, March 30.
"We will be back for the Guineas and take it from there," the winning trainer said. "The [UAE] Derby trip would have to be a concern and we may aim him for the Godolphin Mile."
The UAE Derby is run over 1,800 meters, or about 9 furlongs. The Godolphin Mile is a furlong shorter at 1,600 meters. Both are run on the all-weather surface.
Hamdan and jockey Hanagan earned a second win earlier, scoring a track record when Tamaathul took the 1,200-meter turf handicap by 1 1/4 lengths over Russian Soul.
Godolphin trainer Mahmoud al-Zarooni and lead jockey Mickael Barzalona teamed up to win three of the six races on a card sponsored by Dubai Duty Free. Barzalona took the 2,000-meter turf handicap on Laajooj, winning out in the final strides over stablemate Naqshabban. He then guided Music Chart to a 3/4-length win in the 1,000 Guineas Trial over 1,400 meters on the all-weather Tapeta, besting Shuruq. Jockey and trainer completed a triple on the night when Anatolian fought off a late charge by Ahzeemah to win the 2,410 turf handicap by a head. Champion Indian mare In the Spotlight disappointed in that race, finishing fourth after tracking the leaders but never mounting a finishing charge.
The evening opened when Capital Attraction won his second race in only five days with Tadhq O'Shea aboard in the 1,600-meter all-weather handicap.
Glorious Days upset some of Hong Kong's top runners in Sundays HK G1 Stewards' Sup, besting Dan Excel by 3/4 length. It was another 3/4 of a length back to Longines Hong Kong Cup winner California Memory with Longines Hong Kong Mile victor Ambitious Dragon finishing fourth. "He always promised to deliver a performance like that and today the race was very fast run and he was able to take advantage of that tempo," winning trainer John Size said. He said Glorious Days now could contest the HK G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup on March 17 at 1,400 meters and then move along to Japan for the Yasuda Kinen in June.
Also Sunday, Gold-Fun won the first leg of Hong Kong's 4-year-old series with a narrow victory over Garlic Boy in the HK G1 Classic Mile. Jockey Douglas Whyte, who also rode Glorious Days, got his day off to a glorious start in the Classic Mile despite, by his own admission, moving to the lead too early. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Douglas because it wasn't the race we envisaged," winning trainer Richard Gibson said. "I thought it was quite a messy race. We certainly didn't envisage hitting the front that soon and that was one of our only concerns. But Douglas, being the top international jockey he is, adapted accordingly and I think the horse will be better over a longer distance as well. He said Gold-Fun will run back in the HK G1 Hong Kong Classic Mile on Jan. 20.
News and Notes
To the surprise of few, Wise Dan was crowned 2012 Horse of the Year in ceremonies Saturday night at Gulfstream Park. Wise Dan, winner of top races on all types of surfaces, capped his year with a victory in the tough Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last November. He received 194 votes to 30 for Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I'll Have Another. Fort Larned, Royal Delta, LittleMike Frankel, Groupie Doll and Shanghai Bobby each earned a dozen votes or less.
Other winners: 2-year-old male, Shanghai Bobby; 2-year-old filly, Beholder; 3-year-old male, I'll Have Another; 3-year-old filly, Questing; Older Male, Wise Dan; Older Female, Royal Delta; Male Sprinter, Trinniberg; Female Sprinter, Groupie Doll; Male Turf Horse, Wise Dan; Female Turf Horse, Zagora; Steeplechase Horse, Pierrot Lunaire; Owner, Godolphin Racing LLC; Breeder, Darley; Jockey, Ramon Dominguez; Apprentice Jockey, Jose Montano; Trainer, Dale Romans. Congratulations to all.