Meanwhile, some other potential stars, including Last Gunfighter and Fiftyshadesofhay, emerged from the weekend of racing at Pimlico. Hong Kong horses ran off with both of Singapore's International Group 1 races, Farhh provided a bright spot for Godolphin in England and a longshot took down the Japanese Oaks.
Will Heliskier ever lose at Canterbury? Will he ever leave Minnesota? And what about the future for Ben's Cat out there in Maryland?
We'll get to those issues. But let's start with Oxbow's upset victory in the Preakness.
Before the Preakness Stakes, trainer Shug McGaughey was optimistic but cautious about Kentucky Derby winner Orb's chances. Sunday, after Orb struggled home fourth, spoiling chances for the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, the trainer was philosophical -- and puzzled.
"We hope he doesn't get in trouble," McGaughey said Friday. "We hope he handles the track. We hope he handles the kickback of dirt. We hope he handles the day. If he does all that, I would have to think it's going to take a pretty darn good horse to beat him."
Which of those factors, if any, caused Orb's subpar performance? McGaughey wasn't sure as he reflected on Sunday morning.
"The racetrack was probably deep down the inside there," he said. "There was a lot of throwback. We couldn't get to the outside. I thought he was in good position and he (jockey Joel Rosario) took him to the right position, and all of a sudden he had no horse. Why that was, I don't know," McGaughey added. "I think it wasn't our day and it was Oxbow's day."
By contrast, rival trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who picked up the sixth Preakness win of his long career, said he had been keeping his confidence to himself and hoping his horse would get a chance.
"I was trying to be politically correct all week," Lukas said. "But I thought he was the toughest horse. I thought if there was some adversity or something went wrong (for Orb), he had the best chance to overcome."
And so it was as jockey Gary Stevens took Oxbow to the front as the field neared the first turn and never looked back. At the wire, it was Oxbow by 1 3/4 lengths. Stevens admitted his mount was struggling late but none of his rivals could take advantage and Itsmyluckyday settled for second with Mylute third and Orb fourth.
The pace was slow and the final time of 1:57.54 was nearly 5 full seconds off the track record.
It will take a while for the Belmont Stakes field to shake out. McGaughey said he will evaluate Orb before deciding. Itsmyluckyday is 50-50, according to his trainer. Stakes coordinator Andrew Byrne said Sunday he expects Revolutionary, Golden Soul, Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Freedom Child for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont and is waiting for Bob Baffert to decide whether to send Code West or Power Broker.
Those who elect to skip the Belmont already are looking forward to summer races like the Travers at Saratoga and the Haskell at Monmouth. By the time they all come together again late in the year, there could be a formidable crop of 3-year-olds contesting the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
It was Hong Kong Day at Kranji on Sunday as runners based at Sha Tin took down both the Singapore Airlines International Cup and the KrisFlyer Sprint -- the twin Group 1 showpieces of the Singapore racing year.
In the Cup, Hong Kong-based trainer John Moore saddled not only the winner, Military Attack, but also runner-up Dan Excel. Lucky Nine earlier captured the KrisFlyer.
With Zac Purton up, Military Attack tracked an honest pace while following the German runner Pastorius. When that one had enough, Purton got Military Attack out into the clear and he shot to the lead, winning by 3 1/4 lengths, geared down at the end. Mawingo finished third. "I couldn't believe how far ahead he was," Purton said, "and in the end, I just let him idle to the line." That made it two international Group 1 wins in a row for Military Attack, a 5-year-old son of Oratorio, following his victory last month in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup on his home turf. "Mission accomplished," Moore said. "This is the topping on the cake. I've been trying to do this for years. I've run second so many times and to win one, well, it's the pinnacle." Military Attack, Moore said, will go on to the Group 1 Cox Plate in Australia in October. There were disappointments aplenty in the outcome. Among them, Red Cadeaux bombed off his second-place finish in the Dubai World Cup, getting home eighth at Kranji. Meandre finished ninth and Pastorius faded badly to finish next-last of 13.
Lucky Nine also had an easy go of it, winning by 3 lengths under Brett Prebble in the KrisFlyer Sprint. Bel Sprinter was second and the favorite, Super Easy, settled for third. The win was vindication for Lucky Nine, who had been anything but lucky in several earlier overseas expeditions, repeatedly encountering bad traffic problems. Sunday, Prebble got Lucky Nine out from behind the leaders turning into the straight and kept him out of trouble as he went to the lead. None of the other late runners could make any headway thereafter. "We saw the real Lucky Nine tonight," said winning trainer Caspar Fownes. "He's been unlucky overseas on a number of occasions previously so it was great to see everything fall into place. Brett got him into a lovely position in the race and he was also strong to the line." The race was the fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, which offers a US$1 million bonus for a horse winning three races in the series in three different countries. There have been four different winners so far this year with six races yet to go. The series finishes in Hong Kong with the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 8 so Lucky Nine could be in position to sweeten his pot should he win an intervening series leg in England, Japan or Australia.
Sunday's Group 1 Yushun Himbo, or Japanese Oaks, at Tokyo Racecourse was a wide-open race going in. Even so, it was a surprise to see Meisho Mambo cross the wire in front as the daughter of Suzuka Mambo hardly had distinguished herself earlier in her career and was only the ninth choice in betting on the 18-filly field. In her last race, she was a thoroughly beaten 10th in the first leg of the Japanese fillies Triple Crown, the Oka Sho. Nonetheless, jockey Koshiro Take confidently kept Meisho Mambo near the middle of the field until the stretch turn, produced her on the outside and kicked his filly into gear. She led with 300 meters to run and finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Ever Blossom. Denim and Ruby finished third. The 2,400 meters over firm turf took 2:25.2. Meisho Mambo became the first Group 1 winner for her sire, himself a son of Sunday Silence.
Farhh provided a ray of light for Godolphin Racing by winning Saturday's Group 1 JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, beating Sovereign Debt by 4 lengths. Aljamaaheer finished third. Declaration of War acted up in the gate and finished fifth as the favorite. Cityscape was eased. Farhh, a 5-year-old son of Pivotal, was making his seasonal debut for trainer Saeed bin Suroor after capping last year's campaign with a runner-up finish by just a head to Moonlight Cloud in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in Paris. Before that, he was second to Frankel twice, at Goodwood and at York. Sunday's 1 mile over good to firm turf took 1:35.43 with Silvestre De Sousa up for his first Group 1 win. "He's in the Prince of Wales's and Queen Anne at Ascot," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, "and we will wait for the five-day stage before deciding where to go. We had thought a mile and a quarter was his best trip but after that I'm not so sure." The Prince of Wales's Stakes is run at 2,000 meters, or about 1 1/4 miles. Sovereign Debt likely is ticketed for the Queen Anne, which is 1,600 meters, or about 1 mile.
Telescope, once considered doubtful for the Epsom Derby after an injury, produced a most satisfying workout Sunday morning at Newmarket and now may be back in the chase for the June 1 Classic. Sir Michael Stoute, who trains the Galileo colt for Highclere, is still "day-to-day" about his participation in the Derby, a Highclere official said after the workout.
Back in the States:
Pimlico Friday: Track fast, turf firm
Fiftyshadesofhay raced near the back of the field in the $500,000, Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, swung out for room with a furlong to run and just got there in time, winning by a neck over Marathon Lady. Toasting finished third. The favorite, Emollient, stumbled at the start and was rushed into a pace-stalking position, then came up empty in the stretch run and got home next-last of the seven starters. Fiftyshadesofhay, a Bob Baffert-trained Pulpit filly, finished 9 furlongs in 1:53.72 with Joel Rosario riding. Fiftyshadesofhay finished third in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks but skipped the Kentucky Oaks in favor of the Pimlico race. "I wasn't sure turning for home," Baffert said, "because I told Rosario that she usually runs 1-2-3, but ride her the way you feel you should ride her. Rosario sort of did his own thing today. But it was the right thing."
Last Gunfighter could be emerging as a star in the handicap ranks if the $300,000, Grade III Pimlico Special is an indication. The 4-year-old First Samurai colt, with Javier Castellano up for trainer Chad Brown, stayed just close enough to runaway leader Eighttofasttocatch, then gave the lie to that one's name. With a sixteenth left in the race, Last Gunfighter got to the leader, quickly went by and won by 4 1/4 lengths over that one. It was another 9 1/4 lengths back to Richard's Kid in third. The 1 3/16 miles went in 1:58.50. Last Gunfighter broke his maiden on the fifth try at Belmont Park last October, then reeled off four straight wins at Aqueduct, culminating in the Grade III Excelsior Stakes on March 23. "It was kind of typical of the way this horse runs," said winning trainer Chad Brown. "Once he had him collared, any horse that puts up that many W's in a row, you know they want to get their nose on the line."
Dance to Bristol cleared the field in the stretch run of the $100,000 Skipat Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 4 3/5 lengths over Orange's Little Sis. Kalambaka finished third. Dance to Bristol, a 4-year-old Speightstown filly, got 6 furlongs in 1:11.86 with Xavier Perez up. She has finished worse than second only once in 15 career starts, piling up earnings of more than $400,000. Trainer Ollie Figgins II said Dance to Bristol will step up to the Grade III Bed O' Roses Handicap at Belmont Park on June 15. "Three weeks won't be a problem."
I'm Mom's Favorite got to the lead at the sixteenth pole in the $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then was all out to hold on and win by a nose over Flattering Bea. Lighthouse Bay was third. I'm Mom's Favorite, an Indian Charlie filly, finished 6 furlongs in 1:12.1 under Sheldon Russell. She has three wins, a second and a third from her five career starts. Trainer Tony Dutrow said he had never seen I'm Mom's Favorite run that way before and was surprised at Russell's tactics. Russell attributed it to "a really rough start."
Local favorite Ben's Cat rated patiently under jockey Julian Pimentel in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, collared pacesetting Spring to the Sky with a sixteenth to run and edged clear to win by 1 length over that one. The favorite, Bridgetown, making his first start since finishing last of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last fall, dueled for the lead but then faded to finish third. Ben's Cat, a 7-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding, finished 5 furlongs in 56.18. Ben's Cat now has 21 wins from 31 career starts and owner/trainer King Leatherbury might be getting an early start in his search for backing to supplement the gelding to this year's Breeders' Cup. "It looks like he's as good as ever as a 7-year-old," the venerable conditioner said. "He's not that well bred, I just hit a home run when everything fell into place with this horse. He's super and has stayed totally healthy. He's probably one of the best dirt-grass horses in the country. He'll run in the Governor's Cup at Penn National on June 1."
Sensible Lady had only one rival behind her at the start of the $100,000 The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares, advanced steadily, found room outside in the stretch and was up to win by a neck over Nechez Dawn. Donna Getyourgun got show money. Sensible Lady, a 4-year-old Street Sense filly, ran 5 furlongs on the grass in 56.57 with Angel Serpa in the irons, winning this race for the second straight year. She now has eight victories from 16 starts. "She's just amazing," said winning trainer Tim Salzman. "She got shut off 50 yards from the wire and still got there. She is a Street Sense, so I'd like to stretch her out and look for better races."
Emotional Kitten outfinished the favorite, Summer of Fun, to win the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a nose. Zenzara was 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Emotional Kitten, yet another in the seemingly endless string of Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy offspring, ran 1 1/16 miles on the grass in 1:41.98 with Joel Rosario riding. He now has won three of four starts after breaking his maiden in a claiming race at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 9 where she was available for $75,000 "The farther she goes, the better," said trainer Wesley Ward. "We'll go down to that race in Virginia," referring to the Grade III Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs on July 13.
Pimlico Saturday: Track fast, turf firm
Preakness bettors could have gone to school on the immediately preceding $300,000, Grade II Dixie Stakes on the turf. Jockey Stevens, riding 24-1 longshot Skyring for trainer Lukas, went right to the lead, galloped along and had enough left at the end to win by 1/2 length over Willcox Inn. Optimizer, another Lukas trainee, was just a head farther back in third with the favorite, Imagining, faltering to finish next-last of 11. Skyring is a 4-year-old English Channel colt out of the Seattle Slew mare Violet Lady. He finished 9 furlongs in 1:47.87. Skyring had not visited the winner's circle in 11 tries over the course of a year -- since winning the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico on last year's Preakness Day. "This horse loved this turf course last year," Lukas said. Stevens echoed, "He went to the front easy enough and we were able to back things up and he just sprinted home."
Zee Bros went right to the lead in the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds and wasn't caught. At the wire, the Brother Derek colt was 2 1/4 lengths to the good of Bobcat Jim with Brave Dave taking down show money. Zee Bros, with Martin Garcia up, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.72. He finished sixth in the 1-mile Derby Trial at Churchill Downs in his last previous outing. "We've always been really high on this horse," said trainer Bob Baffert. "His Derby Trial, he went real fast, the track was off and tiring. He got a lot out of it and we expected him to run a big race today."
Redwood Kitten led all the way to a 1-length victory over Shining Copper in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds. The favorite, Notacatbutallama, came with a wide, late move but settled for third. The race was muddled when Yougotthatgoinforu clipped heels going into the first turn, lost his rider and impeded two other rivals enough to force them to pull up. Redwood Kitten, meanwhile, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.17 with Rosario up. He had finished third in the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland in his last outing and has been a consistent in-the-money performer since his first win at Gulfstream Park in December. "I liked how the race unfolded," said winning trainer Wesley Ward. "He got away with an easy first quarter and then it was just a sprint home." He said he will look for a race at Churchill Downs.
Summer Applause stalked the pace in the $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff, went to the lead in the stretch and won by 2 lengths. Sea Island and Brushed by a Star, also both went by the leaders to finish second and third. Summer Applause, a 4-year-old Harlan's Holiday filly, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.54 with John Velazquez aboard. Summer Applause was fourth in last year's Kentucky Oaks and was coming off a fourth-place showing in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in her last outing. "She ran great," said winning trainer Chad Brown. "She was spotting everyone six pounds. I was worried about that when I was handicapping the race the last couple days. To really pull away like that and to run such a strong race against some nice fillies, giving weight, I'm really proud of her."
Pianist led from the opening notes of the $150,000, Grade III Gallorette Handicap for fillies and mares and kicked clear at the end to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Hard Not to Like was best of the rest, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Appealing Cat. The favorite, Samitar, settled for fourth. Pianist, a 4-year-old More Than Ready filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:40.60 under Mike Smith. Pianist was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Honey Fox Stakes at Gulfstream Park and now has won half his 10 career starts. Chad Brown trains both the winner and Samitar. "We had two horses in the race and the plan was for Mike to go to the lead," Brown said. "I thought the fractions were a little strong but I just left it to the riders. I said, 'You just judge the pace.' I didn't give them any figures. I just left it to them."
Sage Valley came from off the pace to win the $150,000, Grade III Maryland Sprint Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths over Hardened Wildcat. Laurie's Rocket finished third. Sage Valley, a 4-year-old Discreet Cat colt, got 6 furlongs in 1:10.51 with John Velazquez riding. It was his fourth straight win and first appearance in a graded stakes race. "The race came up pretty tough," said winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "I was looking for a race in New York, but I'm glad I came to this one."
Ready for the 2-year-old stakes races? Well, ready or not, Debt Ceiling rallied from the back of the pack to win the $75,000 Rollicking Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths over Silvertonguedtommy. New Zone finished third. Debt Ceiling is a Kentucky-bred son of Discreet Cat out of the Marquetry mare Top Marks. He got the 5 furlongs on the main track in 1:00.27 with Eric Camacho in the irons. He now is 2-for-two including a maiden win by 4 1/2 lengths at Laurel Park. Trainer Jerry Robb said he will take Debt Ceiling back to Laurel and see what develops. "There aren't a lot of spots for him right now. His first race, he was not really ready and we didn't expect him to run as well as he did. But he was ready for this one."
Open Water outfinished odds-on favorite Lady of Fifty to win Saturday's $150,000, Grade II Marjorie L. Everett Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 length. It was 4 1/2 more lengths back to I Dazzle in third. Open Water, a 4-year-old Include filly, finished the 1 1/16 miles over the all-weather surface in 1:44.01 with Joe Talamo riding. The win was a bit of a breakthrough for Open Water, who last visited the winner's circle after taking an optional claimer at Turfway Park in Kentucky in February 2012. She finished sixth in the Grade II La Canada at Santa Anita in her only previous start this year. "She danced every dance last year and was always the bridesmaid, never the bride," said winning trainer Eric Guillot. "She's a Grade II winner now and her second dam is Flanders. I think she can go a mile and an eighth." On that hope, he said, he may run her back in the $250,000, Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood on June 15.
Unusual Hottie had the outside position in a three-way battle to the wire in Saturday's $100,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes for California-bred distaffers and made the most of it, winning by 3/4 length over Sugarinthemorning. The odds-on favorite, Top Kisser, led the way along the rail and battled gamely to finish third, just a nose farther back. Unusual Heat, a 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.28, also with Talamo calling the shots. "We were pointing for this race and didn't want to empty the tank (in her last race, even though she won)," said trainer Jeff Mullins. "This was her second race in three weeks so she'll probably get a little rest now."
Iotapa surged to the lead in the lane in Sunday's $70,000 Railbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and won off by 1 1/4 lengths over Ciao Bella Luna. Hail Mary led early but didn't have a prayer of holding the advantage, fading to get home third. Iotapa, a daughter of Afleet Alex, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.40 with Joe Talamo up.
Glorious View shot right to the lead in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Vagrancy Handicap for fillies and mares, turned back a challenge from Fantasy of Flight and went on to win by 1/2 length over that rival. Withgreatpleasure was pleased to get show money, 2 lengths farther in arrears. Glorious View, a 4-year-old Pleasant Tap filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.96 for jockey Junior Alvarado. "She showed a lot of gameness today," said winning trainer Bill Mott. "She had won her last few races fairly easily, and that's a pretty nice filly who ran up to her in the stretch." She now has won four straight races.
Fearless Jacq had no regrets after Sunday's $85,000 Miss Otis Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Irish-bred daughter of Soviet Star pressed the early pace, took over easily and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Fab Flowers, covering 6 furlongs on the yielding inner turf in 1:12.49 for jockey Joel Rosario. Exchange Cat finished third.
Za Approval rallied inside and through traffic to take Saturday's $111,000 Red Bank Stakes by 3/4 length over Tune Me In. Bad Debt was just a nose farther back in third. Za Approval, a 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.52 with Joe Bravo riding. The win backed up Za Approval's score in the Grade III Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park in his last previous outing. "It's really cool to ride an old pro like this horse," Bravo said. "He just gave me the impression that he was in control the whole time. I was just waiting for a place to go and he did the rest."
Bear's Gem was hemmed in among rivals turning for home in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ballade Stakes for fillies and mares. But when jockey Patrick Husbands found her a path, the 4year-old Peaks and Valleys filly went through and on to a 1 3/4-lengths victory over Dance to the Moon. Grace Phil was third at a big price. Bear's Gem ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.08. Trainer Reade Baker noted Bear's Gem is undefeated since he equipped her with extension blinkers at the suggestion of former rider Emma-Jayne Wilson.
Coffee Clique swept by her rivals at the top of the lane in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Selene Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and drew off to win by 4 lengths. Nipissing finished second with Overheard filling out the triactor. Coffee Clique, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.63 under Luis Contreras. It was her first race up from a four-race campaign in Florida and trainer Brian Lynch said he "didn't want to over race her" at Gulfstream. "It's very tempting when you have a 3-year-old filly to get creative down there," he said. "But we feel like the program up here for 3-year-olds is great and we want to save her for that and have a fresh horse."
Calder Race Course
Close It Out, the odds-on favorite, did just that in the final furlong of Saturday's $55,000 Champali Stakes, rallying by the leaders and quickly getting clear to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Black Diamond Cat was along for place money and the pacesetter, Cajun Breeze, faded to finish third. Close It Out, a 5-year-old Closing Argument gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.12 with Manoel Cruz in the irons.
Heliskier picked up right where he left off last year, winning Saturday's $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for Minnesota-bred colts and geldings by 5 1/2 lengths as the prohibitive favorite. Freedom First and Bobble Doit, both longshots, finished second and third to add a little value to the trifecta. Heliskier, a 4-year-old Appealing Skier gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.99 with Derek Bell up. "All I did was steer," Bell said. Heliskier had been idle since last August, when he scored his sixth win without a loss, taking the $65,000 Minnesota Derby by 13 1/4 lengths. All of his races have been at Canterbury.
Treasured Up was just up in time with a five-wide move to win Saturday's $65,000 Keertana Stakes for fillies and mares by a head over Qushchi. Midnight Music got home third. Treasured Up, a 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly, ran 1 3/8 miles over firm turf in 2:15.16 with Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons.
Isle St. Molly led the way in the second division of Saturday's $50,000 Our Mims Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and prevailed by 3/4 length over Disco Barbie, who was closing the gap but ran out track. Off My Cloud tracked the pace but finished a fading third. Isle St. Molly, an Arkansas-bred Ile St. Louis filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.19 with Joshua Navarro riding.
In the first division, Missy Rules scored her first stakes win by 3 1/2 lengths over Doubled with Broomsage third. Missy Rules, a daughter of Peace Rules, finished in 1:38.88 with Jose Caraballo up.
Cho Cho Cat dallied at the back of a seven-horse field in Saturday's $50,000 Tellike Stakes for fillies and mares, then shot by all of her rivals late to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Going to Kukaro led briefly late but settled for second with Cowgirl N Up third. Cho Cho Cat, a 5-year-old, Virginia-bred Tale of the Cat mare, ran "about" 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.32 seconds with Colby Hernandez in the irons.
Jumped the Harbor got first run to the lead in Saturday's $60,000 Bob Bryant Stakes for Iowa-bred 3-year-old fillies and got loose to win by 3 1/4 lengths. The odds-on favorite, Cat Five' O, rallied late from the back of the field but could only get place money. Tra Kela pressed the pace, led briefly and held third. Jumped the Harbor, a Jump Start filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.04 for jockey Glenn Corbett.
In the companion Gray's Lake Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings, Wolf Pack Jack led all the way and won by a neck over Rushin' Rubietta. Patty's Key was third. Wolf Pack Jack, a Hat Trick gelding, got home in 1:10.33 under David Mello.
Hoist, with Aaron Gryder up, opened a big lead late in Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Handicap and held on to win by 1 length over Stryker Phd. Why Not Be Perfect was third. Hoist, a 4-year-old Mineshaft gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.78.
Raise the Reward led throughout in Saturday's $50,000 Michael F. Rowland Memorial Handicap for Ohio-breds and won by 2 lengths over Beau Mec. Catlaunch finished third. Raise the Reward, a 7-year-old Parents' Reward gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.22 with Jacob Radosevich up.
Deniro's Saint battled with Blazing Bling through much of Sunday's $50,000 Tomboy Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies, than got clear and went on to win by 2 lengths. She's the Prize was third, 10 1/2 lengths farther back. Deniro's Saint, a daughter of Saints n' Sinners, finished 1 mile on a fast track in 1:41.37 with Rodrigo Vergara in the irons.
Will Rogers Downs
Polka Joke took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $55,000 Cherokee Nation Classic Cup for Oklahoma-breds and won off by 2 3/4 lengths. Johnny Whip was second with Evansville Storm third. Polka Joke, a 4-year-old Sasha's Prospect gelding, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.38 with Erik McNeil riding.
Foreign Sultress led the way in Saturday's $55,000 RPDC Classic Distaff for state-breds, exchanged the lead with Sooner Superstar in the stretch and finally won by a neck over that opponent. Diamond Disco got third. Foreign Sultress, a 4-year-old daughter of Foreign Policy, carried Benny Landeros 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:43.7.
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