The Kitten's Joy filly, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, came from the clouds to win the invitational and likely will reappear in three weeks' time to contest the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita -- along with several other Ramsey "Kittens".
An official Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event at Woodbine produced a late-blooming winner but, likely, not a Breeders' Cup contestant. And a couple more juvenile contenders popped onto the horizon, including the filly who swept the Florida Stallion Series events at Calder.
Internationally, Australia saw contenders for both the Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate. In Japan, a promising filly made it 2-for-3 in the filly Triple Crown. And some likely juvenile sprinters were on display in England and Italy.
Also worth noting: Jockey John Velazquez eclipsed Pat Day's record for career purse earnings.
Next weekend is British Champions Day at Ascot. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Read on.
Filly & Mare Turf
Kitten's Dumplings started rolling from the back of the field on the turn for home in Saturday's $400,000, Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Invitational for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland, got the lead in the late going and held off Alterite to win by a neck. Caroline Thomas was a long shot third, another half length in arrears. Kitten's Dumplings, a Kitten's Joy filly from the Ramsey corral, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.43 for jockey Julien Leparoux. She has won four of her last five starts, with a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in her last previous start. She left the paddock early Saturday -- to avoid the noise and confusion of an enthusiastic, record crowd during the "call to the post," trainer Mike Maker said. "Good ones are easy," Maker said. "She's a little tough to deal with. She needs more schooling in the winner's circle. She looked a little nervous in there." Sunday morning, Maker reported Kitten's Dumplings "came out of the race fine." Asked about the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, he replied, "That would be a good option. I'm still enjoying yesterday." Among the disappointments in the race, Irish-based Say, who finished fifth, has been sent to Ashford Stud, where farm Manager Dermott Ryan said Say will be bred in the springtime.
Pianist sat just off the pace early in Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park, took the lead when asked by jockey Jose Ortiz and coasted home first by 2 lengths. Pacesetter Abaco held second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, Samitar. Pianist, a 4-year-old More Than Ready filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in a rapid 1:39.94. She picked up her third win of the year while coming off a second-place finish behind Laughing in the Grade II Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga. "Jose watched the replay of that race," said Cherie DeVaux, assistant to winning trainer Chad Brown, "and watched her sit off Laughing and she hung in there. He did the same thing today and it worked out."
Za Approval shot by pacesetting Plainview in the stretch run in Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths in a hand ride. Howe Great finished third and Boisterous continued his slide with a listless sixth-place finish. Za Approval, a 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, got 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf in 1:46.51 with Joel Rosario aboard. He has figured in the exacta in five straight races, all graded stakes. "He's a fun horse," winning trainer Christophe Clement said. "When I ran him in Grade I's, he got beat by two of the best milers in the country. He's been getting better all his life."
Phil's Dream rallied to the lead in the final sixteenth in Sunday's $300,000, Grade I Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine, then edged clear to win by 2 lengths over Mr. Online. Longhunter was third and the favorite, Excaper, faded to get home next-last of 10. The 6 furlongs over good turf went in 1:10.83 with Justin Stein up on the winner, a 5-year-old Philanthropist gelding. Phil's Dream now has won three straight, climbing the ladder from an optional claimer to the restricted Overskate Stakes and directly to Sunday's Grade I. The race was a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" for the Turf Sprint but Phil's Dream is not nominated and isn't expected to make an appearance on the Santa Anita hillside course.
Best Plan Yet took charge in the stretch run to win Saturday's $300,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Race Course, winning by 5 3/4 lengths. Purchango was second and We're All Set third as the favorite, My Brown Eyed Guy, trying for a series sweep, faded to finish last of nine. Best Plan Yet, a Hear No Evil colt, finished second in each of the two previous divisions of the series. He ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.90 with Jeffrey Sanchez in the irons. "I really wanted to win it," trainer Stanley Gold said. "I thought it would be his best performance to date and everything went well." Noting the series, which was developed and nurtured at Calder, will move to Gulfstream Park next year, Gold said, "It's a happy ending to something that's not really over. It's bittersweet."
Legend Fortynine was too much to handle for his eight rivals in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Canadian Juvenile at Northlands Park, kicking clear in the lane to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Mr Know It All was second and Go Max finished third. Legend Fortynine, a Gold Legend gelding, completed the mile on a fast strip in 1:40.45 for jockey Rick Walcott.
Tap It Rich, an easy winner in his first career start Saturday at Santa Anita, might go directly to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, trainer Bob Baffert told Daily Racing Form. "We liked him going in but I didn't think he'd run like that," the Form quoted Baffert after the Tapit colt, despite a slow start and a wide trip, won by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:36.78 with minimal encouragement from jockey Mike Smith.
While My Brown Eyed Guy failed spectacularly in his bid for a series sweep, Scandalous Act was equally impressive in completing her sweep of the filly races in the Florida Stallion Stakes. Scandalous Act, a daughter of Act of Duty, led essentially all the way in Saturday's $300,000 My Dear Girl Division and kicked away at the end, winning by 5 3/4 lengths. Quinnkat was second and Holiday Magic finished third. Scandalous Act, with Eduardo Nunez up, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:48.23. "We're California dreaming," winning trainer Kathleen O'Connell said, referring to the Breeders' Cup. "We'll talk to the boss and go from there."
Needmore Flattery probably will get plenty after winning by 18 3/4 lengths in the $100,000 John W. Galbreath Stakes for Ohio-bred misses at Thistledown. Crafty Blue Kat beat the other five and Circle Can Run finished third. Needmore Flattery, a daughter of Flatter, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.80 under Irwin Rosendo.
Countess Bling, a filly taking on colts and geldings, got a narrow lead at the top of the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Best of Ohio Juvenile at Thistledown and finally opened up to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Conniption Fit. Ridge Defense finished third. Countess Bling, a Too Much Bling filly, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:48.68, also with Rosendo in the irons.
Habida, a prohibitive favorite, ran to her notices in Friday night's $50,000 (Canadian) Freedom of the City Stakes at Northlands Park. With Rico Walcott piloting, the Cause to Believe filly took over the lead easily turning for home and won off by 7 lengths. Rosavita and Pay to Go Home completed the triactor. Habida ran the mile on a fast track in 1:40.68.
War Command took the lead with a furlong to run in Saturday's Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and held well in the stretch to get home first by 1 1/4 lengths over Cable Bay. Outstrip finished third. War Command, an American-bred War Front colt, ran 7 furlongs on good to firm turf in 1:25.06. He now has four wins from five starts and trainer Aidan O'Brien said he's likely done for the year. Jockey Joseph O'Brien told Racing Post "a mile will not be a problem" for War Command "but I'm not sure if he'd get much further."
Astair danced all the way on the lead in Saturday's Group 1 vision.ae Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket and held off Hot Streak to win by a half length. Kevin Ryan trains the top two. Neil Callan rode the winner and Jamie Spencer was second. Justice Day finished third. Astair, an Irish-bred colt by Intense Focus, picked up his fourth win from five career starts. He ran 6 furlongs on good to firm turf in 1:12.33.
Al Thakhira came from well off the pace to take charge in the final furlong of Saturday's Group 2 vision.ae Rockfel Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Newmarket, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Blockade. Valonia finished third. Al Thakhira, a Dubawi filly, remains undefeated in two starts after running 7 furlongs on good to soft turf in 1:25.54 under Martin Harley.
Scatter Dice came from last in a field of 33 to win Saturday's Betfred Cesarewitch Stakes by 3 lengths over Waterclock. Lieutenant Miller was third in the heritage handicap, run at 2 1/4 miles. Scatter Dice is a 4-year-old Manduro filly, bred by Darley and owned by Sheik Hamdan bin Rasheed al-Maktoum.
A pair of undefeated juveniles -- Arpinati and Fanoulpifer -- could muster only third- and fourth-place showings in Sunday's Group 1 Gran Criterium at San Siro as Priore Philip showed the way home. Grey Greezley was second. Priore Philip, a claimer early in the season, now has won six of seven starts after completing 7 1/2 furlongs over good going in 1:36.60. He was partnered Sunday by Umberto Rispoli, who is on his way to a three-week billet in Japan, then on to Hong Kong for the remainder of the season there.
Meisho Mambo, sporting bright pink blinkers and earmuffs, rallied stoutly late in Sunday's Group 1 Shuka Sho at Kyoto by 1 1/4 lengths over Smart Layer. Lilas Corsage finished third in the final leg of the Japanese fillies Triple Crown. Meisho Mambo earlier won the Yushun Himba, or Japanese Oaks, the second leg. She finished 10th in the Oka Sho, or Japanese Guineas. Sunday, with Koshiro Take up, the Suzuka Mambo filly raced in the middle of the field until the stretch run, advanced powerfully on the outside and was much the best at the end. She finished the 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 1:58.6.
Looking forward to the Melbourne Cup? Sea Moon, who had struggled in his first two starts down under, posted his second straight win in Saturday's Group 2 Sportingbet Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield, scoring by 3/4 of a length from Oasis Bloom. Simenon was just a short head farther back in third with Let's Make Adeal fourth. Sea Moon, a 5-year-old son of Beat Hollow, finished second to St Nicholas Abbey in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. He ran Saturday's 1 1/2 miles over good turf in 2:29.98 with Hugh Bowman at the controls.
Looking forward to the Cox Plate? Atlantic Jewel romped by 4 lengths over Foreteller and three others in Saturday's Group 1 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes and trainer Mark Kavenagh is looking forward to the bigger test for his 5-year-old Fastnet Rock mare. She now has seven wins from eight starts, the lone loss coming by a short head It's A Dundeel in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes last month. She covered Saturday's 1 1/4 miles on good going in 2:03.99.
Also Saturday at Caulfield, Long John won the 1-mile, Group 1 Caulfield Guineas and Solzhenitsyn took the Group 1 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap, a 1 mile for 3-year-olds and up.
Back in North America:
Dance Again rallied from well back to win Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Carotine Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Smartyfly. Primordia finished third. Dance Again, a daughter of Awesome Again, got 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.90 with Patrick Husbands riding. Malcolm Pierce trains the top two finishers. "No horse has been training any better in the barn than Dance Again," said Pierce, who also trains Up With the Birds, winner of last weekend's Grade I Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park. "Two weeks ago, she gave Up With the Birds all he wanted in a workout. That says a lot."
Queen's Award rallied stoutly outside the leaders in Friday's $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes and was up just in time to win by a half length over Madame Giry. Sweet Cassiopeia finished third and the favorite, Silverette, got home fourth. Queen's Award, a 6-year-old Medaglia d'Oro mare, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:03.12, with every second judged by jockey Kent Desormeaux. "We needed a Hall of Fame rider to do a Hall of Fame ride and he did it today," winning trainer Eduardo Caramori said. "We got it because of Kent."
Bajan took over in the lane in Sunday's $70,000 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and won by 2 lengths over E Equalsmcsquared. Smoove It was third and the two Bob Baffert runners, favorite Spring Moon and Cadron, finished next-last and last of five. Bajan, a Speightstown filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.64 with Victor Espinoza in the irons.
Qiaona caught pacesetter Ismene in the final stride of Saturday's $100,000 California Distaff for state-breds, winning by a half length. Bella Viaggia, the odds-on favorite, checked in third, 3/4 of a length farther back. Qiaona, a 3-year-old Wilco filly, finished the 6 1/2 furlongs down the firm hillside turf course in 1:11.66 with Corey Nakatani in the irons. "There aren't too many horses in the country that could have beat these two today," said Mike Smith, who rode Ismene.
Hawthorne Race Course
The Pizza Man ran by pacesetting Tazz in the late going in Saturday's $75,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial, winning by a head over that rival. It was 4 3/4 lengths farther back to Mister Mardi Gras in third. The Pizza Man, a 4-year-old English Channel gelding, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:50.62 with Francisco Torres in the irons. "When you have this kind of race and they both battle to the finish, it makes for an exciting horse race," Torrez said. "But, The Pizza Man delivered again."
Saturday's $75,000 First Responder Stakes came off the turf with seven resulting scratches. Of the remaining five, Winchill got first run to the lead and held off Norman Asbjornson to win by 3/4 of a length. Derby Kitten got home third. Winchill, a 5-year-old son of Tapit, ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.20 with Joe Bravo in the irons.
Geeky Gorgeous caught Atthispointintime at the right point in time in Saturday's $75,000 Cornucopia Stakes for fillies and mares, putting a head in front under the wire. She's Ordained finished third. Geeky Gorgeous, a 4-year-old daughter of Devil His Due, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.90, also with Bravo up.
Calder Race Course
Amen Kitten provided another win for his sire, Kitten's Joy, and owners, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, rallying from near the back of the pack to win Saturday's $70,000 Tropical Park Derby by a head over Midnight Cello. Grand Tito was just another head back in third. Amen Kitten, an Illinois-bred gelding, ran 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:49.81 with Juan Delgado up.
E B Ryder came from last of 12 to take Saturday's $70,000 Frances A. Genter Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 1 1/2 lengths over Triple Arch. The favorite, Dreaming of Sophia, made a bid in the lane but settled for third. E B Ryder, a Bluegrass Cat filly, got the mile on firm turf in 1:36.50 with Jilver Chamafi in the irons.
Fire With Fire was moved up to the victory in Sunday's $75,000 Bull Dog Handicap when the first horse across the line, Positive Response, was set down to fourth for interference. That ruling also move up King Kelly and Hudson Landing to second and third, respectively. Positive Response, a 5-year-old Distorted Humor gelding, was ridden by Juan Hernandez. The 9 furlongs on a fast track took 1:49.76.
Saturday was "Best of Ohio" day for state-bred steeds. The track was fast for the five feature races, each worth $100,000. The juvenile races are noted above.
Raise the Reward led from the start in the Endurance and widened the advantage in the lane to win by 2 1/2 lengths from Master Rocket. Plain ol' Willard finished third. Raise the Reward, a 7-year-old Parents' Reward gelding, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:05.60 with Scott Speith in the irons.
Pay the Man finished first in the Distaff, beating Devil's Lil Bit by a head, but the stewards reversed that order of finish as a result of some late contact. It was another 9 1/2 lengths back to Uptown Gal in third while the favorite, Caviar N Champagne, faded quickly and badly to finish last of nine. The adjudged winner, Devil's Lil Bit, is an 8-year-old Devil His Due mare. Ricardo Feliciano guided her over 9 furlongs of fast track in 1:52.68.
Diavoletto stalked the pace in the Sprint, then closed nicely at the end to win by a length over pacesetting Sneak a Cold Treat. Candy Bites was third. Diavoletto, a 4-year-old Stephen Got Even gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.60 with Agustin Bracho up.
News and Notes:
John Velazquez passed Pat Day Sunday for the top spot on the jockey's career earnings list -- without a win in his four rides on the Belmont Park card. Velazquez mount finished second in the ninth race of the day, earning $15,400 and pushing his career total to $297,922,320, according to figures compiled and provided by Equibase. He earlier finished third, fourth and third and needed $7,920 to surpass Day. "It's something that happened to happen and I'm glad it happened," Velazquez said. Velazquez, 41, already is enshrined in the Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs. He won the Eclipse Award in 2004 and 2005.