Weekend racing ran the gamut from an upset in the venerable Epsom Derby to a successful new fixture in Pennsylvania.
In addition, there was an upset in the Epsom Oaks, favorites and jockey Junior Alvarado had a good day in Belmont Park's state-bred festival, Clubhouse Ride finally got a win in California and Japan's super sprinter, Lord Kanaloa, successfully stretched out to win a 1-mile event.
From the history of Epsom Downs to the innovation of Penn National, here's what happened:
Ruler of the World swept by the leaders in the final furlong to win Saturday's Epsom Derby by 1 1/2 lengths. Libertarian closed with a rush to snatch second by a short head over Galileo Rock and easily could have won if he had a faster pace to close into. Battle of Marengo finished fourth.
The shocker of the race was previously undefeated favorite Dawn Approach. He was unruly through the early stages of the race, leaving jockey Kevin Manning with little choice but to let him make the lead halfway through. When the real running started, Dawn Approach was at the end of his day. He quickly faded from contention, finishing last of the 12 starters.
"Kevin said he jumped out all right and was okay for about 10 strides," said Dawn Approach's trainer, Jim Bolger. "But then there wasn't much pace on, he grabbed his bridle and from there on he was more or less out of control."
Simon Crisford, racing manager for the owners, Godolphin Racing, said Dawn Approach will bypass Royal Ascot. "He'll need some time now," Crisford said Sunday at Chantilly.
Ruler of the World, a Galileo colt making just his third career start, came into the race off a win in the Group 3 Chester Vase. He headed a group of five Derby starters trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien. He finished in 2:39.06 under jockey Ryan Moore.
"It was a very tactical race," Moore said. "I had a handyish spot and he quickened up impressively. He got there very quickly and easily."
Also on Saturday's card, St Nicholas Abbey, another O'Brien charge, won the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup for the third time, beating Dunaden by a commanding 3 3/4 lengths. Joshua Tree was third, followed by Chapter Seven and Chamonix in a short field. St Nicholas Abbey, with Joseph O'Brien aboard, ran 1 1/2 miles on good to soft going in 2:37.76. The world traveler picked up his sixth career Group 1 victory -- a list that also includes the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs and this year's Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
On Friday, Talent sprung the surprise in the Group 1 Investec Oaks, exploding through the final furlong to get home first by 3 1/4 lengths over Secret Gesture, a fellow denizen of the Ralph Beckett barn and the better fancied of the pair. The Lark finished third while Moth was fourth and Liber Nauticus fifth. Talent, a daughter of New Approach, won for the third straight time but was making her first appearance in a Group race. She finished 1 1/2 miles over good to soft going in 2:42.00 under Richard Hughes. The win was a surprise even for Hughes. "I rode her in work during the week," the rider said, "and, to be honest, I wasn't impressed. I said that she was skinnier than me!"
Gregorian came to the lead in the final furlong in Friday's Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes at Ascot and was home first by 1 1/2 lengths over Penitenent. Gregorian, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred colt by Clodovil, has been a consistent money-maker for his owner, Princess Haya of Jordan, with four wins, three seconds and a third from 13 starts.
Elsewhere across the various waters:
Lord Kanaloa again showed he is a world-class performer, stretching out from his normal sprint trip to a mile and besting a big field in Sunday's Group 1 Yasuda Kinen, albeit by only a neck over Shonan Mighty. Danon Shark was third. A pair of quality Hong Kong-based milers, Glorious Days and Helene Spirit, could do no better than 11th and 16th, respectively, in a race that in the past has been fertile fields for invaders. Glorious Days missed the break, then was trapped in traffic down the straight and never got to run. Lord Kanaloa, a 5-year-old son of King Kamehameha, got home in 1:31.5 over turf rated firm. He now has five straight wins, including a victory in the Group1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint last December, and seven wins, two seconds and a third from 10 career starts. Lord Kanaloa had won previously at 7 furlongs but Sunday's race was his first try going that far. "The victory gives us a wide option in planning his future races," said trainer Yasuda Takayuki, listing the 1,200-meters Sprinters Stakes and the Mile Championship at potential domestic targets. "As for his possible starts in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Mile is beginning to sound quite attractive to me as well as the Hong Kong Sprint. I'll have to discuss this with the owners. I don't plan to stretch his distances any further than the mile." Lord Kanaloa earlier this year won the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, the second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. That series offers a $1 million bonus to a horse than wins three legs in three different countries. The Sprinters Stakes and the Longines Hong Kong Sprint also are GSC races but Lord Kanaloa would need a win in a third country -- either England this summer or Australia this fall -- to collect.
Intello, with Olivier Peslier up for trainer Andre Fabre, dominated Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby at Chantilly, winning by 2 lengths with a quick turn of foot in the final few hundred meters. Odds for the German-bred Galileo colt in this fall's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe immediately dropped like a rock. An unlucky third in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, or French 2,000 Guineas, Intello made his own luck on Sunday and he won for the fourth time in five starts. He was never far back and once he made the lead, he was unchallenged. Morandi nipped Sky Hunter at the wire to take second. The 1 mile, 2 1/2 furlongs took 2:07.89. Winning co-owner Gerard Wertheimer said decisions about the rest of Intello's campaign will be left up to Fabre.
Saturday night's rich stakes card, headed by the $500,000 Penn Mile on the grass, attracted some top runners and produced some exciting and controversial finishes. The ambitious program also shattered wagering records for Penn National, with all-sources handle of $3,658,996 obliterating the old mark of $2,173,921. "On every possible level, tonight was a huge success," said Dan Silver, director of racing operations.
In the feature, the favorite, Rydilluc, stalked the pace, went to the lead on the stretch turn and held off a late rush by Charming Kitten to win by 3/4 of a length. Jack Milton also was in the mix in the final yards but settled for third, a nose farther back. Rydilluc, a Kentucky-bred Medaglia d'Oro colt, finished in 1:33.99 over firm going with Edgar Prado up for trainer Gary Contessa. "I'm thrilled," Contess said. "It's the horse. It's the race. Penn National is going to be on the map because of this race. This is a great race, and the timing is great. Next year it will be graded for the next guy." He said the $500,000, Grade II Virginia Derby on July 13 might be the next stop for Rydilluc, whom he called "arguably the best 3-year-old turf horse right now."
Easter Gift rolled to a minor upset in the $250,000 Mountainview Handicap at 9 furlongs on the main track. The 4-year-old Hard Spun colt tracked the pace into the final turn, came out for room and quickly got clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Norman Asbjornson trailed the winner to finish second with Pants On Fire fading from the lead to finish third. Easter Gift got home in 1:49.96 over a fast track under Kendrick Carmouche.
Tightend Touchdown ran his route perfectly in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup, jetting right to the lead and crossing the goal line first, 5 1/2 lengths to the good of Bridgetown. The favorite and local hero Ben's Cat, came from far back to salvage third, 1 3/4 lengths farther in arrears. Chamberlain Bridge was forced to check on the turn, lost momentum and finished next-last of 10. Tightend Touchdown, a 4-year-old Pure Precision gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 54.62 seconds with Javier Castellano up -- missing the course record by 0.01 second.
Blue Mountain Cat led all the way to a 1 1/2-length win in an eventful $50,000 Penn Dash Stakes at 5 furlongs on the dirt. Kens Cape finished second and Candyman E got home third but both were disqualified after both stumbled at the start, interfering with rivals. The stewards placed Kens Cape third and Run With Me, who finished fourth, was elevated to second. Blue Mountain Cat, a 4-year-old Discreet Cat gelding, finished in 57.52 seconds with David Cora up.
In a second division of the Penn Dash, King Henry came from well off the pace to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Tiree. Fearsome finished third. King Henry, a 5-year-old Congrats gelding, ran 5 furlongs in 57.44 seconds with Matthew Rispoli up.
In the state-bred races on the card, Lisa Stanard rallied from off the pace to win a three-way photo by a neck over Power of Snunner in the $60,000 Silver Train HBPA Stakes for fillies and mares; Uptown Boy was long gone in the stretch run of the E Dubai HBPA Stakes, winning by 7 lengths over Phil Dancer.
Clubhouse Ride, out from under the shadow of Game On Dude, finally broke a long string of second-place finishes by taking down Saturday's $150,000, Grade II Californian Stakes. The 5-year-old son of Candy Ride, saved ground behind the leaders into the second turn, came out for room and took charge. At the wire, he was 2 3/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, Liaison, who was spinning his wheels over the all-weather surface. Oilisblackgold added a spot of value to the trifecta. Clubhouse Ride got 9 furlongs in 1:51.02. He had finished second five straight times before Saturday's race -- the last three times behind Game On Dude. "I was real happy on the first turn," said winning rider Garrett Gomez. "The track's a little dead, but he did everything perfect. He's been running against a real quality horse so it was nice to get a win with him. This might even help his confidence level a bit and make him a better horse." Liaison's rider, Martin Garcia, said Liaison "wasn't handling the track at all. This horse is way better than that."
In Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds, Tiz a Minister came from the clouds, found room along the inside of Den's Legacy and went on to win by a length over that rival. The favorite, Manando, led much of the way but found himself between the top two late in the stretch run and faded to get home third. Dice Flavor was fourth. Tiz a Minister, a Ministers Wild Cat colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather course in 1:45.79. "As good as he was moving, I had them in my sights and all they had to do was come back to him a little bit," said winning jockey Corey Nakatani. "I knew he was going to put in a tremendous run like he's been doing in the morning." Trainer Paul Aguirre said, "If they give him an opportunity, he'll take it." And Mike Marlow, assistant to Den's Legacy's trainer, Bob Baffert, said his rider, Garrett Gomez, should not have left room inside for the winner to make that move. "It's easy to ride them in the grandstand," Marlow said. "But if he had been on the rail where he should have been, that horse wouldn't have come through. You don't do that when you're riding for $100,000."
Scatman tracked the pace in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Aristides Stakes, then outfinished Jasizzle to win by a neck over that rival. It was 2 1/4 lengths farther back to the favorite and early leader, Rothko, in third. Scatman, a 4-year-old Scat Daddy colt, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:10.56 with Shaun Bridgmohan riding. "I had a pretty good trip and things set up," Bridgmohan said. "I was able to get him in the clear and he came running." It was the fifth win from 16 starts for the Bill Mott trainee but he is 2-for-3 under the Twin Spires.
Laugh Track stalked the pace in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Vigil Stakes, got by the leaders late and won by 1/2 length over pacesetter Essence Hit Man. Bumum and City Wolf completed the order of finish. Laugh Track, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor colt, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.85 under Luis Contreras. "I just wanted to stay where the horse wants to be and be patient," said Contreras, adding that Essence Hit Man "moved a little early at the quarter pole and that gave me the opportunity to close at the end."
Delightful Mary trailed most of the field early in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Hendrie Stakes for fillies and mares, responded gamely when called upon by Contreras and ran by her rivals to win by a length. Heavenly Pride led early in the stretch run and settled for second. Starship Universe was third. Delightful Mary, a 5-year-old Limehouse mare out of the French Deputy mare Deputy's Delight, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:15.54. It was her first graded stakes win. "I was behind the pace and I was waiting until the quarter pole to make my move on the outside," Contreras said. "She gave me everything at the end."
Cerro made the early going in Saturday's $75,000 Canonero II Stakes for 3-year-olds, was engaged on the turn by Dynamic Strike and finally prevailed by a head after a stretch-long battle. It was 12 3/4 lengths back to Dreaming of Jazz in third. Cerro, an Irish-bred colt by Mr. Greeley, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.81 with Alan Garcia riding.
Our Double Play led from the early yards in Saturday's $60,000 Prairie Mile for 3-year-olds and held well to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Bashaar. The favorite, Black Bear, ran evenly and finished third. Our Double Play, a Grand Slam colt, crossed the wire in 1:36.19 under Shane Laviolette.
Hitechnoweenie tracked the pace in Saturday's $60,000 Panthers Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, advanced to the lead around the turn and shot clear in the lane, winning by 3 lengths over Canticle. Touch Magic finished third. Hitechnoweenie, a daughter of Harlan's Holiday, ran the mile on a good track in 1:37.14 with Terry Thompson in the irons.
Golden Gate Fields
The bells were ringing for odds-on favorite Unusual Way after Saturday's $100,000 Campanile Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Unusual Heat dueled her way to the lead and wasn't much troubled thereafter, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Qiaona. Life Is a Stone got show money. Unusual Way, with Russell Baze up, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:36.81.
With a week to go to the Belmont Stakes, the Long Island oval on Saturday put the spotlight on New York-breds with seven stakes covering much of the spectrum. The track was fast and the turf firm. Favorites won four of the seven and Junior Alvarado booted home three of the winners.
Lovely Syn lived up to her name and odds-on favoritism in the $100,000 Bouwerie Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, leading all the way to win by 10 1/4 lengths. Kelli Got Frosty was next with Kitty Panda a neck back. Lovely Syn, a Freud filly, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:21.58 with Javier Castellano up.
Saginaw, also the odds-on choice, stalked the pace in the $100,000 Affirmed Success Handicap, then outfinished Fiddlers Afleet to win by a half length. Mine Over Matter was third. Saginaw, a 7-year-old gelding by Peruvian, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.39 for Alvarado.
Amberjack kicked home strongly to post a mild upset in the $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes for 3-year-olds, beating the favorite, Weekend Hideaway, by 1 3/4 lengths. Smooth Bert ran evenly to take down show money. Amberjack, an Indygo Shiner colt, finished 7 furlongs in 1:21.64 with Alvarado riding.
Shakeira, another favorite, got by Inimatable Romanee in the late going to win the $125,000 Mount Vernon Stakes for fillies and mares by a neck. Elusive Rumor finished third. Shekeira, a 5-year-old Freud mare, ran the mile on the grass in 1:35.75 with Rajiv Maragh up.
Clear Pasaj got a clear lead in the $100,000 Dancing Renee Handicap for fillies and mares and made it stand up, winning by a head over Lady on the Run. Beautiful But Blue was third and the favorite, Miss Valentine, broke some hearts with a fourth-place finish. Clear Pasaj, a 4-year-old Smoke Glacken filly, got 7 furlongs in 1:22.60 under Jose Ortiz.
Readtheprospectus tracked the pace in the $150,000 Commentator Handicap, took over in the stretch run and won by 1 1/4 lengths over So Scott. Awesome Vision was third. Readtheprospectus, a 4-year-old Read the Footnotes gelding, went off as the favorite and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.17 with Alvarado aboard.
King Kreesa led from the start in the $125,000 Kingston Stakes and inched away in the final sixteenth to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Kharafa. The favorite, Lubash, settled for third. King Kreesa, a 4-year-old gelding by King Cugat, ran the mile on the grass in 1:33.99 under Irad Ortiz Jr.
Win Willy came from well back with a late rush to win Saturday's $50,000 Joseph French Memorial by 1 3/4 lengths over Rush Now. Koh I Noor finished third. Win Willy, a 7-year-old son of Monarchos, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.64 with Alex Cintron up.
Rienzi had a battle on his hands all the way in Wednesday's $50,000 Grover "Buddy" Delp Memorial for 3-year-olds, fighting for the lead, then holding off the closers before prevailing by a neck over Stratocruiser. Where's Dominic finished third and Keep the Canoli completed the order of finish. Rienze, a Majestic Warrior colt, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.38 with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
Illinois-breds were the focus Saturday. Bold Kitten outfinished the odds-on favorite, My Option, to win the $100,000 Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a half length. It was 8 more lengths back to Alette in third. Bold Kitten, another of those Ken and Sarah Ramsey Kitten's Joy progeny, ran the one-turn mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.54 under Florent Geroux. In the $100,000 Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds, Reigning Catfish came from well back to catch Massive Explosion for a massive upset. Lassell finished third and the favorite, Fear the Kitten, settled for fourth as a $2 trifecta bet returned $3,105.50. Reigning Catfish, a Bellamy Road gelding and possibly the "name of the month," ran 1 mile on the all-weather course in 1:37.76 with Seth Martinez up.
In the $65,000 Meafara Stakes, open to all 3-year-old fillies, Flower Spell went quickly to the lead under Rosemary Homeister Jr., opened a huge lead and coasted home first by 6 lengths. Ghost Flower was second and Gold Edge third. Flower Spell, a daughter of Flower Alley, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather in 1:11.27.
Don's Peach led from the early stages of Sunday's $60,000 Open Mind Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares and went on to win by 3/4 length over Geeky Gorgeous. Little Stitch finished third. Don's Peach, a 5-year-old mare by Don Six, got 6 furlongs in 1:09.68 with Paco Lopez in the irons.
Hop Skip and Away skipped away to set the pace in Saturday's $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds and ran on to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Chief Carlson was second, followed by Bombast. Hop Skip and Away, an 8-year-old Gold Fever gelding, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.81 with Pedro Cotto Jr. up.
Look At the Time was along in the late going to upset odds-on favorite String King in Saturday's $50,000 John Franks Memorial for state-breds. At the wire, the 4-year-old Brahms gelding had a neck in front of the favorite with Sadie's Soldier 3 lengths farther back in third. Look At the Time, with Bobby Walker Jr. up, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.62.
Earlier on the card, Drinking Fund rallied from last of six to prevail in a three-horse blanket finish in the $50,000 Honeymoon Stakes for state-bred distaffers. Drinking Fund, a 7-year-old Placid Fund mare, scored by a neck over Divine Loretta with another neck back to Esther Carl in third. the favorite, Little Ms Protocol, was well trapped in traffic and settled for fourth. Chris Rosier rode the winner 1 mile on firm going in 1:36.62.
Lattin Devil battled his way to the lead in Saturdays' $50,000 Ragin Cajun Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds and kicked clear in the stretch to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Warren's Rebel finished second and Don't Be Mad was third. Lattin Devil, a Latent Heat gelding, finished 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.81 with Donnie Meche up.
Sittin At the Bar rallied from mid-pack to take Friday's $50,000 Arcadiana Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies by a neck. Ante Up Annie finished second but was set down to fifth for interference at the top of the lane. That promoted Miss Goodthing and Tactical Gift to second and third. Sittin At the Bar, a daughter of Into Mischief, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.13 with Mark Guidry up.
Watch Me Go tracked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Free Spirit Handicap, circled the leaders into the stretch and won by 4 1/4 lengths over Fist Pump. Wiredfortwotwenty plugged in third. Watch Me Go, a 5-year-old son of West Acre, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.35 with Casey Lambert up.
Plain Ol' Willard rallied to the lead late in Sunday's $50,000 Green Carpet Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds and kicked clear, winning by 4 3/4 lengths over Pyrite Green. Owensville finished third. Plain Ol' Willard, with Gabriel Lagunes up and at odds of 12-1, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:46.19.
Finallygotabentley dueled to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 Auburn Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings, then held off Disruption to win by a length. Carving, the odds-on favorite once owned by Bob Baffert's wife and skier Bodie Miller, settled for third. Finallygotabentley, a Bernardini colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.25 with Juan Gutierrez up.