A pair of $1 million races opened the door for potential year-end championships for the winners, Will Take Charge and Close Hatches.
Those races highlighted a weekend that saw some remarkable comeback efforts, including last year's 2-year-old champ, Shanghai Bobby, returning to the winner's circle and, in France, Cirrus Des Aigles returning to the form that made him the world's top-rated horse at the start of the year.
Speaking of starts, let's start where the money was.
The late Illinois Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen has been quoted as saying, "A million here, a million there ... pretty soon you're talking real money." That was a long time ago, when $1 million was still a lot, even in government circles. Well, it's still a lot in racing circles and, when Parx Racing put up a pair of $1 million pots for Saturday's card, the track lured a couple 3-year-olds who suddenly look like potential champions.
Will Take Charge failed to win any of the Triple Crown races, then stepped up to win the Grade I Travers by a nose over Moreno. He repeated that finish, but with considerably more authority, in winning Saturday's $1 million, Grade III Pennsylvania Derby by 2 1/4 lengths, finding room on the inside and running past Moreno in the stretch drive with apparent ease. Battier also got by Moreno but the latter came back to salvage second by a neck. Will Take Charge, an Unbridled's Song colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.28 under Luis Saez.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished third in the Travers and remains in the mix for an Eclipse Award, as does Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy winner Palace Malice. But Saturday's win opens the door for Will Take Charge. He has won four of nine starts this year, also including the Grade III Rebel at Oaklawn Park this spring.
"It will come down to head-to-head competition" in the Breeders' Cup Classic, said winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who is having quite a comeback year of his own. "We're going to turn the page on this one and look forward to the Breeders' Cup."
The companion race, the $1 million, Grade I Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, was a waltz for Close Hatches, who broke free of a duel with Sweet Lulu when asked by jockey Mike Smith and won off by 2 lengths over that rival despite drifting in late. Street Girl overcame a stumbling start to get up for third and add value to the trifecta at 25-1 odds. Close Hatches, a First Defence filly, got 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:44.03. Close Hatches now has two straight Grade I wins, following her victory in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park and moves right back into contention for 3-year-old filly honors.
Princess of Sylmar, the clear leader in the 3-year-old filly division, skipped the Cotillion and is expected to try her hoof against older distaffers next weekend in the Grade I Beldame at Belmont Park. Princess of Sylmar's only loss this year was to Close Hatches in the Grade II Gazelle at Aqueduct.
"I felt very comfortable, especially going this distance, she would give Princess of Sylmar a run for her money," said Garrett O'Rourke, racing manager for Juddmonte Farms, Close Hatches' owner. "Unfortunately, we didn't get to have that faceoff today."
Turning our attention across the water:
Cirrus Des Aigles looked back to something like top form Friday in winning the Group 3 Le Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte with ease. The 7-year-old started the year as the world's top-ranked horse, thanks to the retirement of Frankel, the only horse who beat him in last October's Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot. But he struggled this year, finishing in the top three only once in four previous tries. It was different Friday. With Christophe Soumillon at the controls, Cirrus Des Aigles went right to the front, turned back a challenge in the final quarter mile and cruised home first by 2 1/2 lengths. He appeared well within himself and in total control. "He's been getting stronger with each race," said his patient trainer, Corine Barande-Barbe, "and in the end, he's won well." He said she expects her star to move along to the Group 1 Prix Dollar and "probably" another try at the Champion Stakes.
Atlantic Jewel was starting to spark comparisons with Black Caviar as she lined up to try for her 10th win without a loss in Saturday's Group 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield. But it was not to be as It's A Dundeel shadowed the pacesetting favorite through a slowly run race, then got the best of a long stretch battle, winning by just a short head. Dear Demi was third. It's A Dundeel, winner of the Australian Derby in April, turned the tables on the favorite, who had beaten him decisively in the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield earlier. It's A Dundeel, a 4-year-old, New Zealand-bred colt by High Chaparral, now has won six of his 11 starts. The Underwood has been used as a stepping stone to the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup.
Supplicant won Saturday's Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes for 2-year-olds at Newbury by 3/4 of a length over Rufford, with Richard Fahey training both. Hot Streak was another half-length back in third at the wire. Supplicant, a Kyllachy colt, scored his third straight win and fourth overall from seven starts. He ran 6 furlongs on soft going in 1:13.59 with Tony Hamilton aboard. Fahey said he will give some thought to supplementing Supplicant to the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 12.
In a rarity, especially in Europe, the first two finishers in Sunday's Group 1 Preis von Europa at Cologne were disqualified -- to third and fourth -- for interference. The demotion of Meandre and Empoli left Vif Monsieur the winner and Earl of Tinsdal second. The connections of Meandre, the winner of last year's Grosser Preis von Berlin, said they plan to appeal the ruling and, in the meantime, will send their 5-year-old son of Slickly for a long shot try at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Back in North America:
Continuing the theme of comebacks, last year's U.S. 2-year-old champ, Shanghai Bobby, won a hard-fought victory Friday in his first start since suffering a stress fracture in his pelvis in March. After tracking the leaders, jockey John Velazquez sent the Harlan's Holiday colt to the lead well into the stretch drive in Friday's $100,000 Aljamin Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park. He got a narrow advantage over the early leader, Dads Caps, then was all out to hold off Slan Abhaile to win by a neck. Dads Caps finished third. The 6 1/2 furlongs went in 1:15.79 on a fast track. Shanghai Bobby won all five of his starts as a 2-year-old, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. But he got home second in the Grade III Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in January, then fifth in the Grade I Florida Derby before being sidelined. "He ran really well off the layoff," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I thought he ran well enough today to put us in the mix for the Breeders' Cup Sprint or the Dirt Mile. We'll see how he bounces out of it."
The weekend's three top races in this division all were within an easy van ride of one another in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
With speed merchants in town from all over the eastern half of the country for Saturday's $400,000 Researcher Stakes for 3-year-olds at Charles Town, it was Kentucky-based Take It Like a Man who rallied to the lead on the second turn and got clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Mongolian Saturday led briefly and held second while the favorite, Bond Vigilante, finished third after a wide trip. Take It Like a Man, a Run Away and Hide colt, finished 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:26.27 with Luis Saez in the irons. Heaven's Runway finished fourth at 70-1 odds, boosting the $2 superfecta payout to $50,392. Take It Like a Man clearly is on the upswing for trainer Kellyn Gorder, winning five of his last six starts and working up from the claiming ranks. He was available -- and not taken -- for $30,000 in April at Keeneland.
Immortal Eyes set a quick early pace in Saturday's $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, then kept right on going and drew off at the end to win by 6 3/4 lengths over Saturday's Charm. Service for Ten finished third and the favorite, Sage Valley, broke slowly and was never a threat, finishing last of seven. Immortal Eyes, an 8-year-old gelding by Greatness, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:08. 47 with Travis Dunkelberger keeping his silks clean. The steady, if not flashy, stakes performer was third in this race last year and second in 2011. He now has 17 wins from 47 starts and Saturday's win pushed his career earnings over the $1 million mark. "Travis and I had made a decision," winning trainer Damon Dilodovico said. "We would be in front and they would have to come and get us." Dunkelberger said he was happy with the off track and the inside post. "I know he loves the mud because he set a record at Charles Town in the mud and I was on him that day," the rider said.
City of Weston had to alter course in the stretch run in Saturday's $300,000, Grade III Gallant Bob Stakes for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing. But when the Holy Bull colt found daylight on the inside, he surged to the fore at the right time, winning by 3/4 of a length over the favorite, Clearly Now, at odds of 30-1. The early leader, Black Hornet, another one overlooked at the mutuels, held on for third, completing a $4,458.60 trifecta return. City of Weston, with Paco Lopez riding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.63. City of Weston had been knocking on the door in minor stakes up and down the eastern seaboard but Saturday's win was only his third in 11 starts so far in a busy year.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Another comebacker, Cluster of Stars, came into Saturday's $300,000, Grade II Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park undefeated in five starts. But she was making her first start since April. No matter. She led most of the way to a 5-length victory over the favorite, Dance to Bristol, while Dance Card finished third. Dance to Bristol had won seven straight races, including the Grade I Ballerina at Saratoga in her last start. Cluster of Stars, a 4-year-old Greeley's Galaxy filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a good track with Javier Castellano up. Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen, said, "That's great. That's awesome. She's never done anything wrong, that's for sure. She continues to improve, to be right there, against good horses." Dance to Bristol's trainer, Ollie Figgins III, said his filly "ran her race ... . The winner looked better than us today, that's for sure."
So Many Ways had so many choices of where to start Saturday but eventually opted for the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks in West Virginia after trainer Tom Amoss determined she could handle the tight turns just fine. And so she did. After being pinched back at the start, the Sightseeing filly waited well back of the leaders until the final bend, came four-wide to mount her challenge and got home first by 2 3/4 lengths. R Free Roll got first run to the lead, looked like she was home free, then held on for second after So Many Ways shot past her in the lane. Mr. Hall's Opus got show money. So Many Ways, with Miguel Mena in the irons, ran 7 furlongs on the sloppy, sealed surface in 1:26.62. It was her first win since Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. In the interim, So Many Ways finished third in the Grade III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows and then fourth in both the Grade I Prioress and the Grade I Test Stakes at Saratoga.
Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs was one of the options So Many Ways passed up. That left the way open for Sky Girl to swoop through an opening on the rail at mid-stretch and pick up the win by 1 1/2 lengths over front-running Irish Lute. Elusive Fate finished third. Sky Girl, a Sky Mesa filly trained by Bill Mott after a recent private sale to her new owners, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.73. She has won three of her last four starts along with a third in the Grade III Arlington Oaks. "She's got a big future, I think," winning jockey Corey Lanerie said.
My Pal Chrisy rallied to the lead a sixteenth of a mile from home in Saturday's $100,000 Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream Park and edged clear to score a 2-length win over Appealing Stella. The favorite, Starship Truffles, faded late to finish third, 4 1/2 lengths farther back. My Pal Chrisy, a 5-year-old daughter of Alex's Pal, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.41 with Jonathan Gonzalez up.
Tricky Hat came down the stretch in a tightly packed bunch in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup and proved best late, winning by a neck over Eagle Poise. Mucho Mas Macho was third at long odds. The favorite, Atigun, finished 10th after experiencing traffic issues. Tricky Hat, a 4-year-old, Chilean-bred son of the Japanese stallion Hat Trick, toured 1 1/2 miles of firm turf in 2:30.44 with Rosie Napravnik in the irons. The Shug McGaughey trainee picked up his second straight win in his first stakes try. "He'd had a good run last time at Saratoga so we decided to give him a chance to step up," assistant trainer Jenn Patterson said.
Filly & Mare Turf
Lady Strathnaver outfinished the favorite, Abaco, to win Saturday's $100,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes at Laurel Park by a head. Hunter Forward was only a nose farther back at the wire. Strathnaver, a 4-year-old, British-bred filly by Oasis Dream, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.98 with Erik Rodriguez up. She raced last year in England and won her first two U.S. starts, including the Grade III Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland before enduring a summer slump. "The horse has been off since July," trainer Graham Motion said. "I took her to Saratoga but the race came off the turf and she didn't run. This was 'Plan B.'"
Owner/trainer King Leatherbury said he scratched Ben's Cat out of Saturday's $300,000 De Francis Dash in favor of the $100,000 Laurel Dash because the latter looked like basically free money. His horse backed him up, but just barely, rallying late to win by a neck over Mr. Online. Night Officer got home third. Ben's Cat, a 7-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:07.40 with Julien Pimentel in the irons. It was his 23rd win from 35 starts. He has run out of the money only four times in his distinguished career, starting with eight straight victories. "That was a typical Ben's Cat race," Leatherbury said. "He wins a lot but never by much." He said he's pointing his star to Maryland Million Day but also has an eye on the Grade II Neartic Stakes at Woodbine, which would be pushing the envelope for Ben's Cat.
Say Charlie, a first-time starter, got to the front in the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes and held off Youve Got a Friend for a 3/4-length win. Le Gris was just a nose farther back in third. Say Charlie, a My Pal Charlie colt, ran 7 furlongs on the good main track in 1:25.59 with Gerard Melancon in the irons.
On the grass:
Yes I'm Lucky was always in charge in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Futurity, extending his lead throughout until he hit the wire first by 6 1/2 lengths. Tiger Bourbon was best of the rest with King Racer third. Yes I'm Lucky, a Yes It's True colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs of firm turf in 1:01.30 with Christoper De Carlo at the controls. He now has four wins and a second from five career starts. The second came in the Grade III Sapling at Monmouth Park behind Dunkin Bend. "The horse came back looking like he never ran," said Gareem Nicholas, assistant to winning trainer Gary Plesa. "He will go to Florida for the winter. I think you'll be seeing a lot of him in the future."
Lady Grantham took charge in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes at Louisiana Downs and won off by 3 1/2 lengths over Caroline's Prancer. Chicasaw Bayou finished third. Lady Grantham, a daughter of Yankee Gentleman, ran 7 furlongs on a main track rated good in 1:26.30 with Jansen Melancon up.
Lapsang was along just in time to snatch victory in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Deputy Jane West Stakes over the Woodbine all-weather track. Dulcify was second, a neck back of the winner. Enoree and Questera completed the order of finish. Lapsang, an Ontario-bred daughter of Smoke Glacken, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.84 with Omar Moreno up.
On the grass:
Aibhilin rallied four-wide into the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Laurel Park and was just up at the wire to beat pacesetting Hot Squeeze by a head. Pure Lady Like was another half-length back in third. Aibhilin, a Sky Mesa filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:02.25 with Edwin Rivera riding. It was her second win from four starts.
Phil's Dream opened a big lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Overskate Stakes and held on to win by a neck over the favorite, Ultimate Destiny. Pender Harbour finished third. Phil's Dream, a 5-year-old Philanthropist gelding, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:21.31 for jockey Justin Stein.
Leigh Court led from the start in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) La Lorgnette Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and was never challenged, winning by 5 1/4 lengths with Gary Boulanger merely a passenger. Overheard was second and Spring in the Air faded to finish third. Leigh Court, a Kentucky-bred Grand Slam filly, finished 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather course in 1:43.32.
Those who read the prospectus had the winner in Thursday's $100,000 Spite the Devil Stakes for New York-breds. Readtheprospectus went to the post as the odds-on favorite and was along in the final yards to win by a half-length over Spa City Fever. Night Maneuver led until the final sixteenth before yielding grudgingly. Readtheprospectus, a 4-year-old Read the Footnotes gelding out of the Affirmed mare Near Bethany, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:36.63 with Junior Alvarado up.
Another Affirmed mare, Mossflower, produced the winner of Thursday's $150,000, Grade I Lonesome Glory Handicap at 2 1/2 miles over hurdles. The winner, Gustavian, is a 7-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding. He won by a nose over All Together, whose stumble at the final jump proved too much to overcome.
On Friday, Ol Donyo got first run to the lead in the stretch in the $100,000 Zaftig Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the odds-on favorite, Flash Forward, couldn't overcome a stumbling break in time to catch him. At the end, the margin was a comfortable 2 lengths with Saturday Nthe Park third. Ol Donyo, a Curlin filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.78.
Big Screen won a three-way dash to the wire in Saturday's $100,000 Who's To Pay Stakes, scoring by a head over Bad Debt and another head over Paris Vegas. The favorite, Plainview, led the way but settled for fourth. Big Screen, a 4-year-old Speightstown colt, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:34.93 with Junior Alvarado in the irons.
Roadhog saved ground early in Saturday's $75,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds, came out to find running room and won by 1/2 length over Shetan. S S Skittles finished third. Roadhog, a 6-year-old Bowman's Band gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.47 with Kendrick Carmouche aboard.
Sierra Ancha came from far back with a wide move to win Saturday's $60,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap for New Jersey-breds by 1/2length over In God's Country. Crafty Concorde was third. The favorite, Seventy Niner, was pulled up and later walked off. Sierra Ancha, is a 4-year-old Mo Mon gelding out of the Evening Kris mare Cowboy Chili, which is the "name of the week." He ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.92 with Shannon Uske up.
Geeky Gorgeous took over in the stretch run to win Saturday's $60,000 New Jersey Breeders' Handicap by 2 lengths over Gunfighter with Saucy Don third. Geeky Gorgeous, a 4-year-old Devil His Due filly, got 6 furlongs in 1:09.94 under Joe Bravo.
Princess Perfect led from the break in Saturday's $60,000 Jersey Girl handicap for Jersey-bred distaffers and won by 1 1/2 lengths over First Acquital. Elba was third and the favorite, Ima Jersey Girl, was pulled up in the stretch and walked off the track. Princess Perfect, a 5-year-old Crafty Friend mare, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.28 for jockey Victor Santiago.
Blueskiesnrainbows set a pressured pace in Sunday's $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap, then kicked clear to win by 4 lengths. Fire With Fire was second and Shadow Runner was third. The favorite, Clubhouse Ride, made a little bit of a late run but finished fourth. Blueskiesnrainbows, a 4-year-old English Channel colt trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.59. Martin Pedroza had the mount.
Avare had them all the way in Saturday's $50,000 Pomona Derby, holding on late to win by 3/4 of a length over the onrushing favorite, Tree of Life. It was 7 lengths more back to Curly Top in third. Avare, a Johannesburg gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.66. Saul Arias had the mount for trainer Doug O'Neill.
Ruby Pumps got the lead turning for home in Saturday's $50,000 Las Madrinas Handicap for fillies and mares and held off the seasonally named Toomanytomatoes to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Changethechannel led early and finished third. Ruby Pumps, a 5-year-old, British Columbia-bred mare by Finality, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.76 under Pedroza.
Luckaruck outfinished Basmati to win Wednesday's $75,000 Governor's Cup Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. The favorite, Drill, ran late to take third, 2 1/4 lengths farther back. Luckaruck, a 5-year-old Lucky Pulpit gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.72 with Alonso Quinonez up.
Conkate took command in the stretch run in Friday's $50,000 Bangles and Beads Stakes for fillies and mares and went on to win by 3 1/4 lengths over All On The Table. Gifting attended the pace and held on for third. Conkate, a 4-year-old Exchange Rate filly, finished 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.60 with Edwin Maldonado in the irons.
In Saturday's $100,000 Jameela Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, Madame Giry stuck a nose in front of Ju Ju Eyeballs in time to take home the winner's share. Monster Sleeping finished third. Madame Giry, a Castledale filly, ran 6 furlongs on the firm going in 1:08.11 under Cornelio Velasquez.
More Than Even had more than enough in Friday night's $50,000 Te Ata Stakes for Oklahoma-bred 3-year-old fillies, leading all the way to a 2-length win over Eye Love Jeanie. Really Okie was third. More Than Even, a daughter of Stephen Got Even, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.35 under Alex Birzer.
My Brother Don won the companion race for state-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings, also leading all the way. He got home 2 1/2 lengths to the good of Agent, with Awesome Force up for show. My Brother Don, a Fast Play gelding, ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.82 with Glenn Corbett up.
The Pizza Man found running room along the rail late in Saturday's $65,000 Illinois Owners Stakes and was just up in time to beat Mr. Vegas by a neck. Sweet Luca was a length farther back in third. The Pizza Man, a 4-year-old English Channel gelding, ran the mile on good turf in 1:37.16 for jockey James Graham. Bucking the weekend trend of successful comebacks, Nate's Mineshaft faded from the lead and finished last of seven.
Wargamer came late to win Saturday's $50,000 Razorback Futurity for Arkansas-bred juvenile colts and geldings by a half length over Devilishly Clever. Spotsback finished third. Wargamer, a Notional gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:13.54 with Shane Laviolette in the irons.
Little Miss Flurry led from the start in Saturday's $50,000 Lady Razorback Futurity for Arkansas-bred 2-year-old fillies and won by a length over Questlie. Pretty Suspect was pretty far backin third. Little Miss Flurry, a daughter of Awesome Again, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:12.67 for jockey Donald Simington.
Palmy Bay stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 A.L "Red" Irwin Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings, went by the early speed and on to a 1 1/2-length victory. Request a Puck was second and Danny T filled the trifecta. Palmy Bay, a Lydgate colt, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in the off-the-turf event in 1:43.43 with Richard Eramia up.
Kisses for Carrots and the odds-on favorite, Sittin At the Bar, kissed their rivals goodbye in the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000 Elge Rasberry Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, dead-heating for the win, 8 lengths to the good of Hometown Gossip. The race was moved from he turf and went in 1:45.29 for 1 mile and 70 yards on the good main track.
Lucy's Bob Boy had a bit of a rough start in Saturday's $85,000 Wild and Wonderful Stakes but recovered in plenty of time to get home first by 2 1/4 lengths over Tomorrow's Tale. Silver Menace finished third. Lucy's Bob Boy, a 4-year-old Flatter gelding, ran 7 furlongs on the sloppy track in 1:26.23.
Wardelle led from the start in Saturday's $50,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares and won by 4 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Strike the Moon. Hymn Note finished third. Wardelle, a 7-year-old Toccet mare, ran 7 sloppy furlongs in 1:26.23 -- yes, the exact same time as Lucy's Bob Boy ran in the following race.
Nana Anna showed the way in Saturday's $50,000 Rachel's Turn Stakes for West Virginia-bred 2-year-old fillies and won by 2 lengths over Henny's Princess. Nana Anna, a Henny Hughes filly, got 4 1/2 furlongs on the sloppy track in 53.29 seconds.
Amherst Street was quickly in front in Saturday's $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial for state-bred 2-year-olds and prevailed by 3 3/4 lengths, ridden out. By His Word chased and finished second. Amherst Street, a Luftikus gelding, was clocked in 52.48 seconds in the slop.
(All purses $50,000 Canadian, track fast on Saturday for the Alberta-breds)
Wild Crush rallied from last of six to win the Alberta Breeders' Handicap by a length over Silver Baubles. Barfly's Survivor finished third. Wild Crush, a 5-year-old Stephanotis gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46 1/5 with Rico Walcott up.
Brady's Tomboy stalked the pace in the Fall Classic Distaff, grabbed the lead in the stretch and held off Regal Tigereyes to win by a half length. Smile Again Theta was third. With Fernando Perez up, Brady's Tomboy got home in 1:48 2/5.
Hollywood Dreams won the pace duel in the Red Diamond Express, then went on to win by race by 1 1/4 lengths over Gone in a Flash. The favorite, Bond James Bond, was 7 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Hollywood Dreams, a 5-year-old Ministers Wild Cat gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:19 2/5 with Perez in the irons.
For Cash took over in the lane in the Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds and won by 3 1/4 lengths over Keene On Demand. Saintly Aura finished third. For Cash, a Stephen Got Even gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:47 4/5 seconds with Perez aboard.
Tell Me Lies opened a huge lead in the Alberta Oaks and coasted home a winner by 2 1/4 lengths over Candy Alley. Lynn's Foxie Lady finished third. Tell Me Lies, a Captain Bodgit filly, ran 1 mile in 1:41 4/5 under Amie Pooli.
Legend Fortynine dominated the Alberta Premier's Futurity, kicking clear in the lane to win by 9 lengths as the prohibitive favorite. All Run beat the rest as a first-time starter and Artie's Brother finished third. Legend Fortynine, a Gold Legend gelding, got 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:19 3/5 with Perez up.
Bet On Soup, an Alphabet Soup filly, rallied down the lane to win the Sturgeon River Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths over Rosavita. Pay to Go Home was third. Bet On Soup, with Pooli in the irons, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:22 2/5.
Pay the Man caught pacesetting Blazing Ring in the final yards to win Sunday's $50,000 Scarlet and Gray Handicap for Ohio-bred fillies and mares by 3/4 of a length over that rival. Startin Something finished third. Pay the Man, a 9-year-old Bernstein mare, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.08 under Ricardo Feliciano.
Zdeno left eight rivals in his dust in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Buffalo Stakes for Manitoba-bred 2-year-olds, winning by 13 lengths. Runaway Delite finished second and Dr. Zing was third. Zdeno, a Milwaukee Brew gelding, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:45 with Janine Smith in the irons.