In a busy and somewhat strange weekend, Royal Delta lost in one big race and Ron the Greek won in another.
On the other hand, a couple of former Breeders' Cup winners who had fallen on hard times appeared to get their acts together at the right time. Some promising juveniles won some big races and the 3-year-old fillies came out swinging.
In Japan, Lord Kanaloa reaffirmed his international stardom by winning the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes. And there were all kinds of developments at Newmarket in England.
The big international fall race meetings are almost upon us, so let's get studying.
Saturday was a day for 3-year-old fillies to flex their muscles against their elders as the 1-2 finishers in this year's Kentucky Oaks both beat older rivals.
Princess of Sylmar ran right by two-time Breeder's Cup champion Royal Delta in the stretch run of Saturday's $400,000, Grade I Beldame at Belmont Park and the budding 3-year-old champ went on to win by a convincing 2 lengths over her older rival. Centring finished third, 6 3/4 lengths farther back. Princess of Sylmar, who would require a $100,000 supplemental nomination to the Breeders' Cup, finished the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:47.93. It was her fourth straight Grade I win, following the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama. Royal Delta had won her last two starts by huge margins and appeared to be at the top of her game coming into the Beldame. But she was never able to get a clear lead until midway around the turn. When Princess of Sylmar ranged up on her outside, she offered little resistance. "I just wanted to emphasize, 'Let her run her race,'" winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. "'Don't chase. Wherever you are, let it be on her terms and just sit back and let her play to her strengths.' I felt like if there was anyone who could do that on paper, it was her." Asked about the Breeders' Cup, Pletcher said, "We need two or three more weeks to sort that out." He said the five weeks to the Breeders' Cup provides time "to sort out how everyone is doing and how everyone came out of the races." Royal Delta's trainer, Bill Mott, said Princess of Sylmar "came to us and beat us today." Sunday morning, he said Royal Delta "looks great. I'm not sure she ran her best race yesterday. She might have a better one in her than that. I'm pretty sure she does." He said he will talk to her owner about whether she will go in the Distaff or the Classic at Santa Anita.
Beholder, the only 3-year-old in the field, led all the way to win Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita, defeating Authenticity by 1 1/4 lengths. Joyful Victory finished third. Beholder, a Henny Hughes filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.11 under Gary Stevens. Beholder now has four wins and two seconds from six starts this year. The first loss was in her seasonal debut; the second, to Princess of Sylmar in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. Authenticity came into the race fresh from a runner-up showing against Royal Delta in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Trainer Richard Mandella said the win over older mares gives him confidence to send Beholder on to the Breeders' Cup Distaff. "Anytime you try something different, it makes you nervous," he said. "She couldn't look any better or be doing any better, so I had a lot of confidence." He also credited Stevens, saying, "Gary is a great rider. He always has been."
Montana Native, after leading all the way, won a head-bob decision over Gold Medal Dancer in Sunday's $200,000 Remington Park Oaks. Sister Ginger checked in third, well back of the embattled front pair. Montana Native, a Kentucky native by Yes It's True, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.68 with Terry Thompson up.
Moonlit Beauty led all the way in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Classy 'n Smart Stakes and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Silent Star. I'm a Kittyhawk finished third. Moonlit Beauty, a 7-year-old mare by Perigee Moon, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather course in 1:45.13 with David Moran in the irons.
Awesome Flower closed smartly through the stretch to win Thursday's $100,000 HBPA Stakes at Presque Isle Downs by 3 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Primed for Passion. Unavailable led the way and held third. Awesome Flower, a 4-year-old Flower Alley filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:40.82 under Alan Garcia. Mike Maker trains for the all-conquering Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
The shocker of the weekend was Ron the Greek, at 21-1 odds, easily drawing off in the stretch to win Saturday's $1 million, Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, defeating a field that included this year's Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winners, the winner of the last two Gold Cups and the winners of the Grade I Whitney and the Grade I Woodward. Ron the Greek, meanwhile, hadn't won since he took the restricted Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park in January and hadn't won a Grade I race since June of last year. That last victory, however, was over Wise Dan, who went on to be Horse of the Year. In Saturday's race, the 6-year-old son of Full Mandate stuck close to the early pace set by Alpha, got by that one along the rail on the stretch turn and jetted off to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Belmont winner Palace Malice finished second with Flat Out, the two-time defending Gold Cup champion, third. Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished last of eight and still has not won a race since he wore roses. Ron the Greek, with Jose Lezcano up, finished 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in a very good 1:59.70. "He might have fired his best shot right there," winning trainer Bill Mott said Sunday morning, reporting his horse returned OK from his tour de force. "I'm not disappointed if he doesn't fire that one back." Mott actually was more excited about the performance of Flat Out, who won the last two runnings of the Gold Cup. "That's the kind of race you can go to the Breeders' Cup with and maybe have a little bit more confidence that you haven't overdone it," he said. Orb's folks had no explanation for the Kentucky Derby winner's last-place finish. "I think we were all very, very confident and it was disappointing, to say the least," said Buzz Tenney, assistant to trainer Shug McGaughey.
Last year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Fort Larned, got back in the winner's column in Saturday night's $175,000 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs, taking some of the tarnish off a 2013 campaign that had been, to say the least, disappointing. The 5-year-old son of E Dubai got the lead early under the floodlit Twin Spires and no one could catch him. At the end, Fort Larned and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. were 1 1/2 lengths to the good of Windswept, with Worldly third. The 9 furlongs on a fast track went in 1:48.59. In his four previous starts this year, Fort Larned had but a single win -- that coming in the Grade I Stephen Foster, also at Churchill Downs. Trainer Ian Wilkes said he elected to run in the Homecoming Classic rather than the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park so he wouldn't have to ship. Wilkes reported Sunday morning Fort Larned looked "bright and alert this morning and he got something out of the race, so that was good." He said Fort Larned was not 100 percent for the Homecoming Classic, having missed some work due to a muscle strain. "Everything has to go right now," he added, referring to the lead-up to the Breeders' Cup. "Everything has to be perfect. Timing has to be right. Everything has to be spot-on." Windswept's trainer, Charles Lo Presti, said his horse will point to the Grade I Clark Handicap on Nov. 29.
And last year's runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Mucho Macho Man, bounced back into the win column for the first time in more than a year, closing smartly to win Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita by 4 1/4 lengths, going away. Paynter ran well but couldn't stay with the winner late and settled for second. Soi Phet finished third. Mucho Macho Man, a 5-year-old son of Macho Uno, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48.30 with Gary Stevens up. Much like Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man has struggled this year. Like that rival, he didn't finish in his first 2013 start. He then finished third in a minor stakes at Belmont and showed improvement by getting home third in the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga in his last start. He has been out of the money only four times in 22 lifetime starts. Asked about this year's Breeders' Cup Classic, winning trainer Kathy Ritvo said, "I just hope we can get ready. He's doing great." Stevens added, "This horse only has to make up a neck from last year's Breeders' Cup Classic and I think he's a bigger, stronger horse than he was last year."
In Sunday's $400,000, Grade III Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, Broadway Empire, in from Northlands Park, led all the way to a 4-length upset win. Cameo Appearance was second and Carve finished third. The favorite, Illinois Derby and West Virginia Derby winner Departing, finished fourth. Broadway Empire, a Kentucky-bred Empire Maker gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.44 with Rico Walcott up. The entry of Texas Bling and He Has Bling finished a decidedly non-blingy last and next-last. Broadway Empire came to Oklahoma fresh off a win in the Grade III Canadian Derby at Northlands. He now has four wins from six starts.
Last year's Arlington Million and Breeders' Cup Turf winner Little Mike has struggled this year after a stay in Dubai. But he was back on his game in Saturday's $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park. The 6-year-old Spanish Steps gelding hit the lead early in the stretch run, then had to contend with the Ken and Sarah Ramsey entry of Big Blue Kitten rallying inside him and Real Solution coming up on the outside. At the wire, Little Mike held on by a head bob over Big Blue Kitten, with Real Solution a length back in third. Slumber completed the trifecta. Little Mike, with Mike Smith aboard, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:25.00, coming off a sixth-place finish in this year's Million. "He's finally rounding back into form," winning trainer Dale Romans said. "We needed to change tactics and come from off of it." Romans was high on Smith's ride in his first assignment on Little Mike. "With Mike having had that race under his belt and [Santa Anita] being his home track, I feel pretty good about going" to the Breeders' Cup, he said. Trainer Chad Brown said he thought both Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution "ran well. Turning for home, I thought they both had a great chance to win." Asked about the Breeders' Cup Turf, Brown said Sunday, "If they stay healthy and train well, I plan them both [being] out there ... . We'll look for the rematch at Santa Anita."
And, speaking of Santa Anita, Indy Point rallied to the lead a sixteenth of a mile from home in Sunday's $150,000, Grade II John Henry Turf Championship at the California oval, beating Vagabond Shoes by 1 1/4 lengths. Lucayan finished third, followed by Old Time Hockey, Teaks North, Slim Shadey and Kettle Corn. Indy Point, a 4-year-old, Argentine-bred colt by Indygo Shiner, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm going in 1:57.47 with Gary Stevens riding. Previously raced in Argentina, Indy Point won the Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar in his U.S. debut in July but then finished 11th in last month's Grade I Arlington Million. Trainer Richard Mandella said the horse almost clipped heels in the Million, losing all chance, and turned things around in Sunday's race. "We called it as we saw it and he trained well or I wouldn't have run him ... . Gary did a great job and it's on to the Breeders' Cup."
Filly & Mare Turf
Laughing led the whole 1 1/4 miles in Saturday's $600,000, Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational and held off her entrymate, Tannery, in the final yards to win by a half length. Both are Irish-bred, both are owned by Richard Santulli and neither is nominated to the Breeders' Cup. Laughing, a 5-year-old Dansili mare with Jose Lezcano up, set a dawdling pace over firm turf with most of the others simply jockeying for position and waiting. But after she strolled the first 1 mile in 1:39.48, none of her rivals could catch Laughing. Tannery rolled down the outside of the pack to take second as the race was clocked in 2:02.34. Laughing now has four straight graded stakes wins after taking the Eatontown at Monmouth and both the Diana and Balston Spa at Saratoga. Tannery came off a good fourth-place finish against males in the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer in her last effort. Trainer Alan Goldberg didn't sound like a man planning to try his luck in the Breeders' Cup but argued Laughing's credentials for year-end honors anyway. "If somebody jumps up and runs a great race in the Breeders' Cup, they'll just make them champion," he said. "But as far as anybody who has run, I don't think there's anybody who's done what she's done this year."
Out West, Tiz Flirtatious was making a case of her own in Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes. With Julien Leparoux at the controls, the 5-year-old Tizbud mare rallied three-wide down the lane and just arrived in time to win by a head over Marketing Mix. The long shot pacesetter, Vionnet, held on well to finish third. Tiz Flirtatious ran 1 1/4 miles on firm going in 1:58.98. Her case for the division Eclipse Award includes four wins and a second from five starts so far this year. Her other victories include the Grade 2 Santa Ana and the Grade II John C. Mabee. "This horse is something else," winning trainer Martin Jones said. She deserved this today because she's been so close in Grade I's." Gary Stevens, who rode Marketing Mix, said the race "set us up well going forward ... . Hopefully there will be more pace in the Breeders' Cup."
General Election rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Jefferson Cup for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs, defeating Redwood Kitten by a neck. Gentleman's Kitten finished third. General Election, a Harlan's Holiday colt, finished the mile on firm going in 1:35.96 under Joe Rocco Jr. It was his fourth win from 10 starts. "I was a little worried that he would get stuck in traffic," trainer Kellyn Gorder said. "But he got through. It was nice." Asked about the next race for General Election, Gorder said, "We'll see. The horse is entered in the November sale at Keeneland."
Daddy Nose Best rallied from the clouds in Sunday's $100,000 Remington Green Stakes in Oklahoma and drew off late to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Caberneigh. No Spin finished third. Daddy Nose Best, with Ricardo Santana Jr. up, finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.39. He now has three straight wins for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Private Zone led from the start in Saturday's $400,000, Grade I Vosburgh Handicap at Belmont Park, was headed by Justin Philip inside the sixteenth pole but came back amid some bumping to win by a neck. Strapping Groom finished third, 4 1/2 lengths farther in arrears. The 6 furlongs on a fast track went in 1:08.02. Private Zone, a 4-year-old Macho Uno gelding, and jockey Martin Pedroza had to sweat out a stewards' inquiry into the late bumping before the result was made official. Private Zone came back from a fruitless trip to Dubai to win the restricted Pirates Bounty at Del Mar earlier this month in his only prep for this race for trainer Doug O'Neill. "He got off to a good, clean start and that's what I was concerned about," Pedroza said. "He's very fast and we just waited for the competition. When I let him run, he gave me everything he had." Pedroza had not ridden at Belmont Park since 1991, according to NYRA.
Wine Police held off the favorite, Alsvid, to win Sunday's $150,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup by 3/4 of a length. Okie Ride finished third. Wine Police, a 5-year-old Speightstown gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.57 for jockey Enrique Gomez.
Meanwhile, last year's 2-year-old champ, Shanghai Bobby, has been retired with a suspensory injury suffered while making a successful comeback in last Friday's Aljamin Stakes at Belmont Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher had hoped to get the colt to the Breeders' Cup Sprint or Dirt Mile. "We're disappointed," said Jack Wolf, managing partner for the owners. "We were looking forward to him returning to top-level competition." Ring up Ashford Stud if your mare is asking about the Harlan's Holiday colt.
Graydar led from the start in Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Kelso Handicap and survived the late push of Brujo de Olleros for a 3/4-length victory. Hymn Book, with blinkers added, ran well late to finish a closing third. Graydar, a 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt, ran the mile in 1:34.08. The gray colt was returning from a six-month absence occasioned by the removal of a bone chip. Nonetheless, it was his fourth straight win and fifth overall from just six career starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher said before the race his owners decided to remove the chip after Graydar won the Grade II New Orleans Handicap so he would have time to get in shape for the Breeders' Cup. "He had been training really well," Pletcher said. "We were hoping for that type of performance. But any time you haven't run since March, you're concerned." He said Graydar will go to the Breeders' Cup but it hasn't been decided yet whether he will contest the Dirt Mile or the Classic. "We've got plenty of time to sort it out," he added.
Chips All In took the lead late in the stretch run in Friday's $100,000, Grade III Eddie D. Stakes down the Santa Anita hill and held on to win by a nose over Boat Trip, who was steaming from the back of the pack. The favorite, Unbridled's Note, also ran well late but had to be content with third, another half length behind. Chips All In, a 4-year-old North Light colt, got the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.00 under Julien Leparoux. Caracortado finished fourth. The Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint is run over the same course but trainer Jeff Mullins noted Chips All In is not eligible. "They're going to have to come up with a lot of money" to supplement him, the trainer added. "We'll see how he comes out of this, regroup and see what they want to do. You never know."
Three-year-old fillies went down the hillside in Saturday's $70,000 Unzip Me Stakes with Pontchatrain shaking loose after crossing the dirt and winning off over Tribal Spy. Warren's Vendetta was third and the favorite, Judy In Disguise, checked in fourth. Pontchatrain, a War Front filly, finished in 1:11.86 with Gary Stevens handling the reins.
Baffle Me stalked the pace in Wednesday's $100,000 Jazzy Stakes for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, went to the lead when asked by jockey Javier Castellano and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths in a good 1:20.81. Moment in Dixie was along for second and Free as a Bird, the early leader, saved show money. Baffle Me, a 4-year-old First Samurai filly, is trained by Mark Hennig.
In Trouble pushed by pacesetting favorite Corfu at the sixteenth pole in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park and got clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over that rival. Big Sugar Soda finished third. In Trouble, a Tiz Wonderful colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.64 with Joe Rocco Jr. up. He now is 2-for-2 after breaking his maiden at Saratoga. "It shows you a lot," winning trainer Tony Dutrow said. "This was the second race of his life and he was able to relax and give up the lead and finish up against quality horses."
Bond Holder entered Saturday's $250,000 Front Runner Stakes at Santa Anita a maiden and emerged as a Grade I winner. With Mario Gutierrez up for trainer Doug O'Neill, Bond Holder rallied to the lead in deep stretch and kicked clear, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Dance With Fate, who was second in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity in his last previous outing. Tamarindo, who finished second in the Del Mar race, was third in the Front Runner. Bond Holder, a Virginia-bred son of Mineshaft, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.02. It was his fifth start. "We had great expectations for this horse, even though he was a maiden," O'Neill assistant Leandro Mora said. "He ran a huge race at Del Mar and we knew we had a legitimate horse."
Wired Bryan had his way with five rivals in Saturday's $237,457 New York Breeders' Futurity for New York foals at Finger Lakes. Leading all the way under Jamie Rodriguez, the Stormy Atlantic colt drew off at will to score by 7 lengths. Ogermeister was best of the rest with Fox Rox third. Wired Bryan got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.50. He won his first two starts, including the Grade II Sanford at Saratoga, but then finished second in the Grade II Saratoga Special and fifth in the Grade I Hopeful.
Jose Sea View set a pressured pace in Thursday's $100,000 Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial at Presque Isle Downs, then edged clear late to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Ready for Action was second and Bray's Secret checked in third. Jose Sea View, a Woodbine-based Badge of Silver gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:16.79 with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons for trainer Reade Baker.
Pachanga Party led from the start in Saturday's $85,000 Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder Race Course and kept on going to post the 11-1 upset. Pallium Prize, an even longer chance, finished second and the odds-on favorite, Run for Logistics, was a nose farther back in third. Pachanga Party, an Indy Wind colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.01 under Abdiel Jaen.
Del Rio Harbor took the lead in the lane in Sunday's $75,000 Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Mebossman. The favorite, Noosito, settled for third. Del Rio Harbor, a Harbor the Gold gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:43.85 with Julien Couton in the irons.
Aaron's Orient was on the engine from the start in Sunday's $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes at Remington Park and won by 3 3/4 lengths over Rivers Run Deep. Smack Smack finished third. Aaron's Orient, an Orientate colt, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.59 with Ricardo Santana Jr. riding.
Secret Compass rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante to score a late-running, head victory over Debutante winner She's a Tiger in Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita. Fascinating, who was second in the 7-furlongs Debutante over the all-weather course, got home third over the fast Santa Anita dirt. Secret Compass, a Discreet Cat filly with Rosie Napravnik in the irons, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.91. Bob Baffert trains Secret Compass and Fascinating. "They'll both be a lot better for the Breeders' Cup," he said. The track, he added, "is deep and a little bit loose, still a lot of sand. So unfortunately you have to have a good horse but you have to ride the track."
Miss Behaviour tracked the favorite, Sweet Whiskey, through the opening furlongs of Sunday's $200,000, Grade I Matron Stakes at Belmont Park, got by that one without much trouble and opened up a big lead. Then, Sweet Whiskey found another gear and made another run, falling just 1 length short at the wire. Gracer finished third. Miss Behaviour, a Jump Start filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.57 under Gary Cruise, a Scotsman who began riding in the U.S. late last year. She now is 3-for-3, also including a win in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park. "I'm sure we'll try her at two turns at some point," winning trainer Phil Schoenthal said. "But she's a sprinter right now."
Regal Conquerer conquered six rivals with relative ease in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victorian Queen Stakes at Woodbine. Leading most of the way, the Sky Conquerer miss won by 2 1/2 lengths over Lexie Lou with On Rainbow Bridge third. Regal Conquerer ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:10.52 with Eurico Da Silva up. She now is 2-for-2.
Secret Kitten, who is not by Kitten's Joy, dominated Saturday's $85,000 Cassidy Stakes at Calder Race Course, opening a big lead in the lane and prevailing by 3 1/2 lengths over Chinita Mia. It was another 9 1/4 lengths back to City in the Sky in third. Secret Kitten, who is by Discreet Cat, ran 6 furlongs in 1:14.47 with Antonio Gallardo in the irons.
Sky Lantern, victimized by traffic problems in her last two races, finally got clear sailing under a smart ride by Richard Hughes and went on to win Saturday's Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket by a length over Integral. Duntle was third, flattering Arlington Park's Grade I Beverly D. Stakes, where she finished seventh in her last outing. Sky Lantern's connections are still smarting from her defeat by Elusive Kate in the Falmouth after Elusive Kate carried Sky Lantern halfway across the course in the late going. Hughes schooled on that experience, passing up a chance to move outside his rival and instead waiting until Elusive Kate made her move in the stretch and again hung left. Sky Lantern then shot through the opening and chased down Integral and Duntle for the win. The flashy light gray filly finished the mile on good to firm going in 1:38.02. Trainer Richard Hannon said Sky Lantern's owners "want to go to Hong Kong, so that's on the agenda," presumably for the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile on Dec. 8 at Sha Tin. In the interim, Hannon said "we'll see" about the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot on British Champions Day.
Berkshire, making his first start since June, narrowly won Saturday's Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes for 2-year-olds at Newmarket, getting home a neck better than Somewhat. Sir Jack Layden was just another neck behind in third. With Jim Crowley in the irons, Berkshire went to the lead inside the final furlong, survived some issues in "The Dip" and persevered. The Irish-bred son of Mount Nelson won for the second time in three tries.
Chriselliam rallied from last to win Friday's Group 1 Shadwell Fillies Mile at Newmarket by a length over the favorite, Rizeena. With Richard Hughes up, the Irish-bred Iffaaj filly picked up her second win in her fifth start.
Soft Falling Rain rained all over the parade of his rivals in Friday's Group 2 Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket, drawing off easily at the end to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Montiridge. Trainer Mike De Kock said the 4-year-old son of National Assembly is pointing toward the likely tougher Queen Elizabeth II. Soft Falling Rain suffered his first defeat after seven straight wins when finishing second to Gregorian last month in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury. Among his victories were the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas and the Group 2 Godolphin Mile -- both over the Tapeta artificial surface at Meydan in Dubai.
Another De Kock runner, Igugu, could manage no better than a second-place showing behind Zurigha in Friday's Shadwell International Stallions Rosemary Stakes. Igugu, who was practically invincible in South Africa, has not been able to duplicate that form in Dubai, Hong Kong or England.
Renew held off Wigmore Hall with relative ease to capture Friday's Mawatheeq Godolphin Stakes by a length. Wigmore Hall, a 6-year-old frequent flyer, has not won since taking the Grade I Northern Dancer at Woodbine just over a year ago. This past summer, the High Chaparral gelding finished fifth in the American St. Leger at Arlington Park.
On Wednesday, Melbourne Cup prospect Brown Panther could do no better than a fading fifth-place finish in the listed Greene King Foundation Stakes at Goodwood. Leading early, the Goodwood Cup winner ran out of gas in the 1 1/8-mile event, shorter than his usual trip. Grandeur, held up in the rear through much of the going, went on to victory. Trainer Tom Dascombe said Brown Panther nonetheless will proceed to Melbourne.
Thirty-one went to the post in Saturday's Betfred Cambridgeshire at Newmarket and it was Educate leading them home despite drifting left nearly across the course in the final furlong. That left a chance for Code of Honor, who fell just a short head of catching the 8-1 favorite. Tres Coronas finished third.
Lord Kanaloa returned to his winning ways, and showed he will be a force to be reckoned with in the remainder of the year, with a victory Sunday in the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama. Reserved early in the race, Lord Kanaloa moved through a gap at the top of the lane and began picking off the early runners. He finally dispatched Hakusan Moon, who narrowly defeated him in the Centaur Stakes last time out, in the final 50 yards, winning by 3/4 of a length in 1:07.2 Mayano Ryujin finished third at an astronomical price. Lord Kanaloa picked up a second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge but both came in Japanese races. The series requires wins in three different countries to trigger the $1 million bonus.
Willet took the lead in the lane in Friday's $100,000 Princess Dixie Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares and held off Miss Valentine at the end, winning by a half length. Mischief Maker finished third. Willet, a 5-year-old Jump Start mare, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:30.71 with Angel Arroyo up.
Parranda stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes for Florida-bred fillies and mares, surged to the front in the lane and won off by 2 1/4 lengths over Milennia. Creative License finished third. Parranda, a 4-year-old daughter of English Channel, finished the mile on firm turf in 1:39.77 with Elvis Trujillo up.
Sliver of Hope set a pressured pace in Saturday's $85,000 City of Anderson Stakes for state-bred 2-year-old fillies, opened a decent advantage in the stretch and fended off Elegant Model by 3/4 of a length. It was 8 1/2 lengths back to Blew by Two in third. Sliver of Hope, a Value Plus filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.30 with Alberto Pusac up.
Mister Pollard just did hold on at the end of Saturday's $85,000 Hillsdale Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds, winning by a neck over Bisque. Tachi finished third. Mister Pollard, a Pollard's Vision colt, got 6 furlongs in 1:11.26 with Miguel Mena riding.
My Crafty Friend was reserved just off the pace for the first half of Wednesday's $85,000 Crown Ambassador Stake for state-bred 2-year-olds, then took over and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Flashy Warrior. Jenry finished third. My Crafty Friend, a Wild Zone gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.36 under Alejandro Contreras.
Express Model got through a small opening along the rail turning for home in Wednesday's $85,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes for state-bred juvenile fillies and cleared, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. Secondhand Justice finished second and Tricia's Trama was third. Express Model, a daughter of Unbridled Express, got home in 1:11.96 with Leandro Goncalves up.
School House was up in the final yards to upset Thursday's $50,000 With Anticipation Stakes, winning by a neck over Hobbs at 18-1 odds. Gourmet Dinner finished third as five of the seven starters finished within a length of each other. School House, a 6-year-old Limehouse gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.54 with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
Sing the Dream, the prohibitive favorite, dominated Saturday's $50,000 Tin Cup Charlie Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds, leading all the way to a 9 1/4-length ictory. Patriot Star and Sam the Man I Am filled the trifecta slots. Sing the Dream, a Songandaprayer colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.35 with Jose Ortiz up.
Champagne Ruby outfinished the favorite, Alwaysinstilettos, to win Saturday's $50,000 Stonecoldfox Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies by a length. Aspree led early and held on for show money. Champagne Ruby, a daughter of Utopia, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.37, also for Ortiz.
Marks Mine got by pacesetting long shot Kitty Marie in the late going to win Saturday's $50,000 Harvest Stakes for fillies and mares by a half length. Twitter Pie was another 5 lengths back in third. Marks Mine, a 3-year-old Benchmark filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.48 while toting Frank Alvarado.
Dallon's Gold led from the start in Sunday's $50,000 NWSS Cahill Road Stakes for 2-year-olds and won by 3 1/2 lengths over Moony Moony. Stikine Slough was third and the odds-on favorite, Chu and You, drifted out in the stretch run, finished fourth and burned a bunch of bridge-jumper money. Dallon's Gold, a Washington-bred gelding by Private Gold, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:09.48 with Ronald Richard riding.
Stepupforthemoney did just that -- at 25-1 odds -- in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) CTHS Sales Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings. The Stephanotis gelding rallied from mid-pack and put his nose on the line in front of the odds-on favorite, Hopeseeker. Stoneridge Raider was third. Stepupforthemoney, with Frank Fuentes up, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:46.18.
In the companion race for 3-year-old fillies, Kiri's Gal led all the way and then found the wire just in time to score by a neck over Le Facteur Wow. Dee's Dream was third. Kiri's Gal, a Kiridashi filly, ran 1 1/16 miles in the slop in 1:47.53, also with Fuentes in the irons.
Okie Nova took over in the stretch run of Sunday's $50,000 Ladies On the Lawn Stakes for Oklahoma-bred distaffers and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths over In the Band. Lady Jensen was third. Okie Nova, a 4-year-old Cavvy filly, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:30.68 with Cliff Berry up.