The Japanese Derby winner beat the Epsom Derby winner in France and the U.S. Horse of the year won in Canada in weekend racing action.
And that was just the apex of a weekend that also included dueling St Legers in England and France and a full slate of American turf racing.
Pay attention because final exams are coming up soon -- at the Arc weekend at Longchamp on Oct. 6, British Champions Day at Ascot on Oct. 19 and the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Nov. 1-2.
Japanese horses were the big story on Arc trial day Sunday at Longchamp, with Superstar Orfevre putting in little more than a paid workout in winning his prep and Japanese Derby winner Kizuna just hanging on to beat Epsom Derby winner Ruler of the World in his race.
Orfevre, a 5-year-old son of Stay Gold, has been carefully managed since his luckless second-place finish in last year's Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He returned from that race to finish second to superstar filly Gentildonna in the Group 1 Japan Cup, and then went to the sidelines until March, when he won a Group 2 event at Hanshin. Sunday, it was back to the Group 2 Qatar Prix Foy, a race he captured last year. This renewal was no contest. Under Christophe Soumillon, Orfevre inhaled the leaders a furlong out and found no other competition. He won by 3 lengths, geared down at the end, albeit in a slow 2:41.47. Very Nice Name was second and Pirika was third -- but those are not names likely to be among the challengers in the Arc. There wasn't much to say about the performance but winning trainer Yasutoshi Ikee commented, "He was very relaxed. His position was very good and I have nothing else to ask for." It's worth noting Camelot was withdrawn because of the soft going. Trainer Aidan O'Brien said the colt didn't leave Ireland and would work at the Curragh after the day's card.
Three races earlier on the Paris card, Kizuna battled from the rear of the field to work his way into contention in the final furlong of the Group 2 Qatar Prix Niel for 3-year-olds and needed every gasp to hold on for a short head victory over Ruler of the World. Ocovango was only 3/4 length behind that in third. With Yutaka Take in the irons, Kizuna ran 1 1/2 miles on the soft turf in 2:37.64. Kizuna, a Deep Impact colt out of a Storm Cat mare, was making his first start since winning the Group 1 Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby, in the spring. He now has four straight wins. Both the top finishers now are legitimate Arc candidates.
In the Group 1 Qatar Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares, Treve had to wait a little bit to put in her run but when she got free she was clearly the best, scoring by 1 3/4 lengths over Wild Coco. Tasaday was third. Treve, under Frankie Dettori, ran 1 1/2 miles on the soft going in 2:36.82. The 3-year-old Motivator filly remains undefeated in four starts and clearly has a bright future. The win thrust her directly into the picture for the Arc, with at least one British bookmaker posting her as the favorite. Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, however, said she was holding her breath during Sunday's race. "My heart was beating," she said, "because she found herself badly positioned and she pulled. But she has a lot of speed and class."
In the Group 1 Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, Maxios reeled in the early leader in the final furlong and went on to win by 5 lengths over Olympic Glory. Anodin finished third. Maxios, a 5-year-old son of Monsun, finished 1 mile of the soft course in 1:40.73 under Stephane Pasquier. He was rebounding from a disappointing, sixth-place finish in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Leading Light emerged as just that in Saturday's Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster. The Montjeu colt tracked a comfortable pace through much of the race, surged to the lead with a quarter mile left and persevered gamely for jockey Joseph O'Brien, holding safe Oaks winner Talent in the late going to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Galileo Rock had every chance in the final furlong but was unable to sustain a bid and settled for third. Leading Light, trained by Aidan O'Brien, won his fifth straight race in his first start since taking the Group 3 Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot. The 1 mile, 6 1/2 furlongs over good to soft footing went in 3:09.20. "They obviously think a lot of him back home (at Coolmore)," said O'Brien. "But he is very versatile. We could drop him back to a mile and a half for the Arc. But we will have to discuss that back home."
Outstrip easily ran by pacesetting The Gray Gatsby in the final furlong of Saturday's Group 2 At the Races Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, winning by 3 lengths and geared down by Mickael Barzalona in the final yards. The Gray Gatsby held second by a head over Cable Bay, who failed to sustain an inside bid. Treaty of Paris negotiated a fourth-place showing. Outstrip, a Darley-bred colt by Exceed and Excel, toted the Godolphin blue to his second win in three starts, sandwiched by a second-place finish behind Toormore at Goodwood last time out. He finished 7 furlongs on good to soft going Saturday in 1:26.90. "He will be a serious horse next year," Barzalona ventured.
Viztoria got home first by 3/4 length over Lockwood in Saturday's Group 2, 7-furlongs OLBG Park Stakes at Doncaster with Gregorian third and Caspar Netscher fourth. Viztoria, a 3-year-old Oratorio filly, was making her first start since a sixth-place finish at Royal Ascot for trainer Edward Lynam.
On Friday at Doncaster, Ihtimal was up in the final 100 yards to capture the Group 2 Barrett Steel May Hill Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 2 lengths over Majeyda in an exacta sweep for Godolphin. Ihtimal, a Shamardal filly trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa, picked up her second win in a row. She has not been worse than third in any of her five runs. Majeyda, a Charlie Appleby charge ridden by Mickael Barzalona, has two wins from four starts.
Voleuse De Course charged to a rather dominating 6-length win in Sunday's Group 1 Irish St Leger at the Curragh, with the favorite, Ahzeemah, second and Saddler's Rock third. Red Cadeaux finished fourth in the 1 3/4-miles event for 3-year-olds and up. Voleuse De Course, a 4-year-old Teofilo filly, came off a second-place finish in the St Leger trial over the course. Before that, she was third behind Ernest Hemingway in the Group 3 Curragh Cup. Overall, she has five wins from 12 starts for trainer Dermott Weld. The trainer said it's unlikely she will journey to the Melbourne Cup, as had been bandied about.
Back in North America:
Wise Dan, the reigning U.S. Horse of the Year, ventured to Canada for Sunday's $1 million, Grade I Ricoh Woodbine Mile and made the trip pay. After settling early, the 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding went to the front with little urging and easily pulled clear, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over Za Approval. Trade Storm finished third. Wise Dan, with John Velazquez in for the ride, got the 1 mile on firm going course-record time of 1:31.75. He has won nine straight races and 12 of his last 13. "I compare it to the horse I sat on, Leroidesanimaux," Velazquez said. "But I always thought he was a freak. This one is a much bigger freak than the other one. He's a much better horse -- always wins. Horse of the Year. You can't change that." Velazquez said he was worried briefly that Wise Dan wasn't going to settle behind the early speed. "Once he did that, I waited until the 5/16th pole and let him ease out from those two horses and as soon as he saw the wire, he just went on." Trainer Charles Lo Presti said Wise Dan "is a dream come true. He just makes us all proud." Sunday's race was a "Win and You're In" ticket to the Breeders' Cup Mile, which Wise Dan won last year over later Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom, to circle back to Velazquez' comment, is a son of Leroidesanimaux. Owner Morton Fink said another run in that race likely is the next stop for Wise Dan. "Not sure if we will run between," he said.
Forte Dei Marmi got to the lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian) Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine and just managed to hold off 16-1 long shot Perfect Timber to preserve the victory by a neck. The early leader, Stormy Len, finished third. Forte Dei Marmi, a 7-year-old, British-bred Selkirk gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:28.46 with Eurico Da Silva in the irons. He has won three in a row over the Woodbine turf and looks a good chance for the International next month -- likely against some tougher customers. "He 's the best he's ever been," said trainer Roger Attfield. "He's a tough little horse and, the way he is right now, he's a tough horse to beat."
Swift Warrior stalked the pace in Saturday's $250,000 PTHA President's Cup Stakes at Parx Racing, then came out for running room and got home first by 1 1/4 lengths. Reflecting finished second and Change of Command got show money. Swift Warrior, a 5-year-old son of First Samurai. Ran 9 furlongs on firm going in 1:47.91 with Jose Ortiz up. He posted graded stakes wins earlier in the year in Texas and Florida but then struggled in three intervening starts.
Temeraine collared Olympic Thunder in the final yards of Saturday's $400,000, Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup, winning by neck under Gary Stevens. Suntracer finished third. Temeraine, a 4-year-old Arch gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf in 2:29.18. He was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Grade I Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile event in which his late bid ran out of real estate. Before that, he was second in the Grade III Arlington Handicap. Tom Proctor trains.
Filly & Mare Turf
Alterite, just off the plane from France, rallied by pacesetting favorite Discreet Marq late to win Saturday's $500,000, Grade I Garden City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park by 1 1/2 lengths. Concise finished third while Emollient proved the biggest disappointment, finishing eighth without ever being involved. Alterite, a French-bred daughter of Literato, got 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:50.55 after biding her time behind a dawdling early pace. It was her first start since finishing a decent sixth in the Group 1 Prix Diane, or French Oaks at Chantilly in June. She was stakes-placed earlier in France. "She ran terrific today," said winning trainer Chad Brown. "But I've got to tell you, I don't think firm is her preferred surface. If she can catch a little more give in the ground, she's probably even more effective."
Minakshi rallied from mid-pack to lead a parade of moderate long shots across the finish line in Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian), Grade II Canadian Stakes for fillies and mares. Colonial Flag and Moment of Majesty followed the winner past the early leaders to finish second and third. Minakshi, a 5-year-old, French-bred mare by Footstepsinthesand, ran about 1 1/8 miles on firm going in 1:44.05 with Luis Contreras up. The favorite, Solid Appeal, finished eighth. It was the first win for Minakshi since she shipped from France after last year's season, though she has run well without winning in graded stakes on the East Coast. The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. "She's a bit of a quirky filly so you have to be patient with her," said Joy Cooper, assistant to winning trainer Michael Matz.
I'm Already Sexy went right to the front from the No. 1 gate in Saturday's $175,000, Grade III Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Arlington Park, had things all her own way and drew off in the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Every Way finished second with My Option third. I'm Already Sexy, a daughter of Ready's Image, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.12 with Florent Geroux in the irons. She came into the race off a victory in a division of the Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million day. The other winner, I O Ireland, finished sixth in the Pucker Up. "It looked like there was no speed in the race," said winning trainer Wayne Catalano. "We had the rail with some speed. I told Florent to take advantage of the situation." The filly is undefeated in three tries over the Arlington green.
Dreaming of Sophia worked her way to the lead in the early stretch run in Saturday's $70,000 Judy's Red Shoes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Calder Race Course and edged clear, winning by 1 length over Nicki Starshine. Dreamlicious took third at 49-1 odds. Dreaming of Sophia, a Lewis Michael filly out of the A.P. Indy mare Liz on Polk Street, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.60 for jockey Antonio Gallardo.
In Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, the entire field of six had was bunched with the stretch to run. Then, it was 16-1 long shot Peace Preserver, who had saved ground all the way, who found a way through rivals and went on to post the upset, beating Hungry Island by 1/2 length. The favorite, Better Lucky, was 3/4 length farther in arrears in third. Peace Preserver, a 4-year-old War Front filly, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:33.93 with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. "She's a gutsy mare," said Mike McCarthy, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "She was actually just kind of galloping back there. She's very genuine and puts a lot into her training. She puts a lot into everything she does."
Coalport put a nose in front of Trend to win Saturday's $150,000 Franklin-Simpson Mile at Kentucky Downs at the last jump. It was just another neck back to Utley in third. Coalport, a 4-year-old, Illinois-bred Kitten's Joy colt, got home in 1:35.86 with Channing Hill riding for trainer Wayne Catalano. He now is the victor in four of his last five starts, a string broken by a sixth-place finish in the Grade I Arlington Million.
Longhunter stuck close to the pace in Saturday's $150,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Dash, then won the event with a late effort. Xbalanque ran well from far back to finish second and Ancil was third. Longhunter, a 5-year-old, British-bred Halling gelding, ran 6 furlongs on firm going in 1:10.28 with Alan Garcia riding. Longhunter was seventh in this race last year, then was claimed for $16,000 this past April at Keeneland by trainer Mike Maker for Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He ran back for a $20,000 tag at Belmont Park and won but wasn't claimed.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Vuitton rallied three wide around the speeding leaders in Saturday's $100,000 Open Mind Stakes for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs and outfinished Sweet Cassiopeia for a 1-length victory. Ms Anna Destiny finished third and the favorite, Burban, faded from the lead to finish fourth. Vuitton, a 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.07 with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons. "There was plenty of pace up front and she likes being on the outside," said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. "When I saw them run that first quarter (21.78 seconds), I thought we had a good shot." She came off a long layoff following a third-place finish in the Grade III Winning Colors on Memorial Day over the same track.
Best Plan Yet ran to his notices as the favorite in Saturday's $85,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Race Course. Starting last of eight, the Hear No Evil colt put in a bid for the lead a furlong out, survived some light bumping and got home first by 1 length over early leader Union Cash. Copa Del Rey attended the early pace and held on for third. Best Plan Yet, with Jeffrey Sanchez riding, finished 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:45.43.
Hi Fashioned exchanged bumps with I Earned It Baby in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000 Barrett's Juvenile at Fairplex, won by 1 1/4 lengths and survived a stewards' inquiry before the result was made official. Storm Reveler was 3 lengths farther back in third. Hi Fashioned, a Florida-bred Old Fashioned colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:19.21 for jockey Agapito Delgadillo.
Debt Ceiling opened a commanding lead in Saturday's $75,000 First State Dash for 2-year-olds at Delaware Park and cruised home first by 5 lengths over Stormin Wendy. Blue Distortion was another 10 lengths back in third. Debt Ceiling, a Discreet Cat colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.76 under Eric Camacho.
On the grass:
Boji Moon rallied by intercontinental shipper Here's Johnny in the final furlong in Saturday's $150,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile and easily opened up to win by 5 1/4 lengths. Sweet Daddy was another 4 1/4 lengths in arrears in third. Boji Moon, a Cactus Ridge gelding out of the Malibu Moon mare Philadelphia Moon, finished 7 furlongs over the firm, European-style turf layout in 1:23.31. He is 3-for-3, with the first two wins coming over the main track at Prairie Meadows, giving trainer Chris Richard lots of options. Here's Johnny was making his first start since a trip to France and an also-ran finish at Deauville for trainer Wesley Ward.
My Conqistadory, a first-time starter, went to the lead at the top of the lane in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian) TVG Summer Stakes at Woodbine and drew clear, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Go Bro. Matador finished third. My Conquistadory, a Kentucky-bred Artie Schiller filly, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.81 with Eurico Da Silva riding.
Holiday Magic took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $85,000 Brave Raj Stakes at Calder Race Course and drew off handily to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Quinnkat beat the others with Scripture 'n Verse third. The favorite, Flat Out Charming, missed third by a nose. Holiday Magic, a Florida-bred Congrats filly out of the Harlan's Holiday mare Harliday, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:45.97 with Juan Leyva in the irons.
Hop the Six won a three-way blanket finish in Saturday's $75,000 Small Wonder Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, scoring by a head over Jonesin for Jerry and another head over My T Swift. Hop the Six, an Artie Schiller filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.66 with Huber Villa-Gomez up.
City by the Bay ran away from nine rivals in Saturday's $100,000 Barrett's Debutante at Fairplex, scoring by 8 3/4 lengths over Harlington's Rose. Perched finished third. City by the Bay, a City Zip filly, got 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.94. Juan Hernandez rode for trainer William Morey.
Miss Scatalicious led the way in Friday's $50,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at Fairplex, kicked clear on the turn for home and won off by 3 1/4 lengths over Be Proud. Santa Lucia was 5 3/4 lengths farther back in third. Miss Scatalicious, a Kentucky-bred Scat Daddy filly, ran 7 furlongs over a fast track in 1:24.68 with Saul Arias in the irons. She now is 2-for-2 after breaking her maiden last month at Del Mar at 42-1 odds against seven other first-timers.
On the grass:
Llanarmon appeared beaten into second in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian), Grade II Natalma Stakes at Woodbine until the favorite, Ready to Act, suddenly ducked in after taking the lead and unseated jockey Rajiv Maragh. Llanarmon wound up first, 3/4 length ahead of Spanish Flower, with Appreciating taking show money. Llanarmon, an Ontario-bred daughter of Sky Mesa, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.89 with Emma-Jayne Wilson riding. It was the first win for Llanarmon, who ran third in her first career start. She qualified for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf through the "Win and You're In" program.
As noted here Thursday, in the well-matched field for Saturday's $150,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies, you might as well lean on Lien on Kitten. And, on cue, the Kitten's Joy filly, out of the Chester House mare Mortgage the House, rallied from far back to win by 1 1/2 lengths over J J Julep. Personal Diary finished third. Lien on Kitten, with Channing Hill riding, got 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:24.77. Lien on Kitten now is 2-for-2, having broken her maiden at Arlington Park last month for trainer Wayne Catalano.
His Race to Win got the better of the favorite, Winning Cause, in the stretch run of Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Ontario Derby. Pyrite Mountain was just a head farther back in third. His Race to Win, an Ontario-bred Stormy Atlantic colt, got 9 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:50.71 with Eurico Da Silva aboard. His Race to Win finished sixth in the Queen's Plate, then won an allowance event in preparation for Sunday's run.
Effie Trinket's backers won't go hungry after the 3-year-old Freud filly outfinished Wholelottashakin to win Sunday's $150,000 John Hettinger Stakes for New York-bred distaffers by a neck. Inimitable Romanee was another neck farther back in third. Effie Trinket, with Luis Saez aboard, ran 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:50.39.
Kharafa led from the start in Sunday's $150,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for state-breds and held on to win by a head over Lubash. Hear the Footsteps finished third. Kharafa, a 4-year-old Kitalpha gelding, finished 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf in 1:49.21 with Javier Castellano up.
Calder Race Course
Dysprosium led from the start in Saturday's $70,000 Needles Stakes for 3-year-olds and kicked clear late to win by 6 lengths. The favorite, Midnight Cello, was second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Offlee Fast. Dysprosium, a Rock Hard Ten gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.82 with Jeffrey Sanchez riding.
Balooga Bull took the lead on the stretch turn in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Gold Cup Stakes, quickly opened a big lead and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Assembly Hall. Flexiplus finished third. Balooga Bull, a 4-year-old Flashy Bull gelding, toured 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:54 1/5 under Paul Nolan.
Divine Wisdom allowed Discreet Gold to make the early going in Friday's $50,000 (Canadian) J.W. Sifton Stakes for locally bred 3-year-old colts and geldings, then went by handily to score by 2 1/2 lengths. Discreet Gold held second by 1 3/4 lengths over Just Add Sale. Divine Wisdom, a Manitoba-bred Whiskey Wisdom gelding, finished 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:53 3/5, also with Nolan up.
Okie Ride got through between the leaders in the stretch run of Friday's $50,000 Remington Park Turf Sprint for Oklahoma-breds and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over pacesetting favorite Pucker Up Pete. Stickrossmountain added some value to the trifecta. Okie Ride, a 6-year-old Candy Ride gelding, finished 5 furlongs on firm going in 56.40 seconds under Luis Quinonez.
Galiana rallied to the lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Tax Free Shopping Distaff and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Cabo Time. A and Out finished third and the odds-on favorite, Bryan's Jewel, got home fourth. Galiana, a 3-year-old Stonesider filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.88 with Abel Lezcano riding.
Managed Account dueled with Warrioroftheroses through Saturday's $75,000 DTHA Governor's Day Stakes before winning by a head over that foe. Dinny Dinosaur finished third. Managed Account, with Daniel Centeno up, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:40.84. He is a 4-year-old Malibu Moon gelding.
Final Escrow was up in the final yards to win Saturday's $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial for fillies and mares by 1/2 length over War Prospector. Marataya's Tune finished third. Final Escrow, a 4-year-old Bernardini filly, got 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.89 for jockey Able Castellano Jr.
Diavoletto outfinished Filled With Wonder to win Saturday's $75,000 New Castle Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. Pitch N Roll finished third. Diavoletto, a 4-year-old gelding by Stephen Got Even, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.43 with Agustin Bracho up.
Mom's Law saved ground throughout Saturday's $50,000 Jack Betta Be Rite Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares, took the lead in the stretch and held off Senora Dubai to win by 1/2 length. The favorite, Shesabronxbomber, finished third, 3/4 length farther back. Mom's Law, dispatched at 24-1 odds, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:47.34 for jockey Jeremias Flores. She is a 4-year-old daughter of Andromeda's Hero.