That's right. Churchill Downs has announced a new Derby "futures" pool that will offer wagering on next year's Run for the Roses during the Thanksgiving weekend. That crapshoot will be followed by the now-familiar three "futures" pools early next year when there is a little more to go on.
The Kentucky Derby will run for the 140th time on May 3.
But for the plungers who can't wait that long to get a bet down, here's what happened this weekend, with juveniles running on dirt, synthetic and turf, from France to California.
Then we'll get to some graded stakes action across North America, and in Australia, Japan and France. Buckle up and hunker down.
Shared Belief took charge in the stretch run in Sunday's $100,000, Grade III Hollywood Prevue Stakes, kicking clear to win by 7 3/4 lengths. The favorite, Kobe's Back, finished second while racing for the first time since winning the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes over the course in June in his first career start. Brother Soldier was third. Shared Belief, a Candy Ride colt, got 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.17 with Corey Nakatani up. Shared Belief now is 2-for-2, having broken his maiden at Golden Gate Fields last month. Winning trainer and part-owner Jerry Hollendorfer said Nakatani's decision to stick close to the early pace "was a good decision on his part." Asked about a next race, he said, "We'll just enjoy this race and then pick something out." Kobe's Back's trainer, John Sadler, said he is still considering the $750,000, Grade I Cash Call Futurity on Dec. 14. "He just doesn't have that much early speed," Sadler said of Kobe's Back.
Flashy Margaritta led from the start in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Frost King Stakes at Woodbine and held well to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Spadina Road finished second and Iron Wolf was third. Flashy Margaritta, an Ontario-bred gelding by Bold n' Flashy, got 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.77 with Patrick Husbands riding. He came into the race off a win in the Bull Page Stakes and now has three straight victories. "I give all the credit to Patrick," winning trainer Ralph Biamonte said. "There was a lot of speed in there and I would have expected him to stop. But he just kept going."
Amherst Street, the prohibitive favorite, led from the start in Saturday's $100,000 Tri-State Futurity at Charles Town and won by a length over Comeonletsplay. It was another 5 lengths back to Modern Day Miracle in third. Amherst Street, a West Virginia-bred gelding by Luftikus, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.84 under Antonio Lopez.
Exit Stage Left was the even-money favorite while making his first start in Saturday's $50,000 Golden Nugget at Golden Gate Fields. The punters' assessment was correct as the New Jersey-bred Noonmark colt overcame some traffic problems and then won a three-way duel to the wire, scoring by a neck over Unusual Americaine with Miss Success just another nose back in third. Exit Stage Left, with Russell Baze up for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.03.
Broadway Missile had just enough fuel left in the tank to hold off Perky Kitten at the end of Saturday's $75,000 El Joven Stakes at Retama Park, winning by a nose. Rainbow trip was only another head back in third. Broadway Missile, a Kentucky-bred Heatseeker gelding, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:36.12 with Luis Quinonez riding.
Wildcat Red got home first in Saturday's $125,000 Juvenile Sprint for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park but was set down to place for drifting out late, impeding Bolita Boys, who was awarded the win. Pachanga Party was well back in third. The adjudged winner, Bolita Boys, is an Act of Duty colt. Edgard Zayas steered him over 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.92.
Notyouraveragejoe scored the 30-1 upset in Saturday's $100,000 Juvenile Turf Stakes for state-breds at Gulfstream Park, outfinishing the favorite, Here's Johnny, by a half length. Gelfenstein was only another head back in third. Notyouraveragejoe, a Discreet Cat colt with Paco Lopez in the irons, ran the mile on good turf in 1:39.66.
Rambling Richie rambled home first in Saturday's $100,000 Sun Power Stakes for Illinois-breds at Hawthorne Race Course, beating the favorite, Solar Flair, by 2 1/2 lengths. Easy Solution finished third. Rambling Richie, a Lifestyle colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.04 for jockey E.T. Baird.
Bajan was along late to win Saturday's $100,000 Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park by 2 1/4 lengths over For Emma with Lemon d'Oro third. Bajan, a Speightstown filly trained by Simon Callaghan, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:24.26 with Victor Espinoza riding. Bajan broke her maiden at Del Mar in August, finished sixth in the Grade I Del Mar Debutant and now has posted back-to-back stakes wins at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park for trainer Simon Callaghan. "She just sits back and travels and she has that turn of foot," Callaghan said. He said he will "definitely consider" the $500,000, Grade I Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 7.
Sky's Goldmaker stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 M2 Technology La Senorita Stakes at Retama Park, took the lead in the stretch and held well to win by a length over Redgrass Cat. Strike Twice finished third. Sky's Goldmaker, a Sky Mesa filly, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:36.47 with Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez up.
Puddifoot, this week's "name of the week," took charge in the lane in Saturday's $125,000 Juvenile Filly Sprint for state-breds at Gulfstream Park, winning off by 6 lengths over Sunset Silhouette. Secret Kitten led early and held third. Puddifoot, a daughter of Red Giant, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.45 with Paco Lopez aboard.
Courtesan caught pacesetting Lemon Point in the final strides to win Saturday's $100,000 Juvenile Filly Turf at Gulfstream Park by 3/4 of a length. Cambiata was well back in third. Courtesan, a Street Sense filly, ran the mile on good turf in 1:39.97 under Joe Bravo.
Sasy Ms. Elizabeth kicked clear in the final sixteenth to win Saturday's $100,000 Showtime Deb for Illinois-bred fillies by 2 lengths over Richies Sweetheart. Cow Catcher caught show money. Sasy Ms. Elizabeth, a Giacomo filly, completed 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.00 for jockey Emanuel Cosme.
On the international front:
Meisho Mambo, running against older rivals for the first time in Sunday's Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, came wide into the stretch and got by about half the field to win by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths from Lachesis. Aromatico finished third in the 2,200-meter test for fillies and mares over yielding turf at Kyoto Racecourse. Meisho Mambo was due for a step up after winning the second and third legs of the Japanese filly Triple Crown, the Yushun Himba and the Shuka Sho. She is a daughter of Suzuka Mambo.
Buffering scored his first Group 1 victory last month in his 29th career start. Saturday, he made it two in a row with a win in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic, getting home 3/4 of a length to the good of Shamexpress. Moment of Change finished third. Hong Kong invader Lucky Nine, hoping to set himself up for a score in the US$1 million Global Sprint challenge, instead struggled home sixth after losing to Buffering by a short head in their last outing. Buffering, a 6-year-old Mossman gelding, ran 6 furlongs on good turf in 1:10.36. Trainer Robert Heathcote said the back-to-back scores put Buffering in the elite among the world's sprinters. "OK, Black Caviar kicked him in the arse a few times," he told Racing Post. "But she's not around now. My bloke is." Still, he said Royal Ascot likely is not in the cards for Buffering with the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 8 a more likely objective.
Boban posted his second Group 1 win of the season in Saturday's Group 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington. The 4-year-old Bernardini gelding, with Glyn Schofield up, was always in the mix in the 1-mile fixture, then was along just in time to deny Smokin' Joey. Speediness was third. Boban also landed the Group 1 Star Epsom at Randwick as well as the Group 3 Sportingbet Moonga Stakes at Caulfield in between. Trainer Chris Waller, asked about Boban's potential for next year's Cox Plate, said he will start the gelding along the weight-for-age path and see where that leads.
Prince Gibraltar, with Christophe Soumillon up, took the inside path to the finish line in Saturday's Group 1 Criterium while the others swung outside in search of presumed firmer going. Game, set and match to Prince Gibraltar, who came from last to win by 5 lengths. Bereni Ka beat the others with Hartnell Third and Mekong River fourth. Prince Gibraltar, a Rock of Gibraltar colt, ran 1 1/4 miles on heavy going in a glacial 2:26.25. He now has two wins and a third from three starts.
Inimitable Romanee, at 28-1 odds, led all the way to a 1-length victory in Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Long Island Handicap. Tabreed ralled late to finish second and Left a Message was third. The favorite, Aigue Marine, finished next-last of six. The morning-line favorite, Anjaz, was a late scratch. Inimitable Romanee, a 5-year-old Maria's Mon mare, ran 1 1/2 miles on good turf in 2:34.28 with Chris DeCarlo up. She had not won since taking an allowance event at Belmont Park in July of 2012 and was making her first start in a graded stakes. "I didn't think there was any real speed in there," DeCarlo said. "I was pretty sure that, if I did make the lead, no one was going to press me because I was 28-1. My plan was all along that if I was able to make a comfortable lead, when I hit the turn, I was going to open up and see how much I had left."
Watsdachances and Maximova rallied together on the outside in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Summer Secretary Stakes for 3-year-old fillies with the former getting home first by neck. It was only another head back to Mariel N Kathy in third. Watsdachances, an Irish-bred daughter of Diamond Green, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:45.80 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Kharafa raced in mid-pack in Sunday's $100,000 Three Coins Up Stakes, advanced around rivals into the turn and got home first by 1 1/4 lengths over the pacesetter, Plainview. Lubash finished third as the wagering favorite. Kharafa, a 4-year-old Kitalpha gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.96 with Castellano up.
Abaco was off slowly but up late to win Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Cardinal Handicap for fillies and mares by length over Miz Ida. Solid Appeal finished third. Abaco, a 5-year-old Giant's Causeway mare, got 1 1/8 miles on good turf in 1:50.85 with Rosie Napravnik riding. Trainer Shug McGaughey said he brought Abaco to the Twin Spires track because he wasn't comfortable sending her the extra distance of the Long Island Handicap at Belmont Park and the trip paid off. "I was tickled pink," McGaughey said. "She's so deserving of winning one." After requiring nine tries to break her maiden, Abaco reeled off four straight wins last year. This year, she had three seconds in five tries before Saturday's race. "My instructions were to keep her out of trouble and that's all I had to do," Napravnik said. "She's got a huge kick and that's her strength."
Slip and Drive battled all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes, opened a good lead in the lane and then was all out to hold on by a nose over the late-running Roadhog. Super Chunky was part of the pace duel and finished third, a half length farther back. Slip and Drive, a 5-year-old Artie Schiller gelding overlooked at 22-1 odds, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.87 with Carlos Marquez Jr. in the irons.
Lady Sabelia stalked the leaders in Saturday's $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, took the lead with a three-wide move and got clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Flattering Bea came from last of 11 to finish second, a nose in front of Crazy About Me. Lady Sabelia, a daughter of Majestic Warrior, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.97 under Horacio Karamanos.
Res Judicata seized control in the stretch drive in Saturday's $100,000 City of Laurel Stakes for 3-year-olds, kicking clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Souper Knight was the best of the rest with City of Weston third. Res Judicata, a Smarty Jones gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.09 with Kendrick Carmouche up.
Access to Charlie won a long stretch battle in Saturday's $75,000 Geisha Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares, getting there a neck in front of Monster Sleeping and another head to the good of Mystic Love. Access to Charlie, a 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.56 with Julian Pimentel in the irons.
Saturday was Millions Preview Day at the oceanside oval with a full slate of races for steeds bred in the Sunshine State. The main track was listed as fast and the turf was good. In addition to the juvenile events recounted above:
My Pal Chrisy was a popular winner in the $150,000 Distaff Preview, drawing clear after a pace-stalking trip to score by 3/4 of a length over Awesome Belle. Putyourdreamsaway finished third. My Pal Chrisy, a 5-year-old daughter of Alex's Pal, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.13 with Jonathan Gonzales up.
Bad Debt rallied to the lead in the stretch turn in the $125,00 Turf Preview and quickly settled things, getting to the wire first, 6 1/2 lengths to the good of Blameshifter. Triple Cross finished third. Bad Debt, a 6-year-old Grand Reward gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.06 with Joel Rosario riding.
Mordai's Miracle got first run to the lead in the $150,000 Classic Preview and that's all he needed to win by 3 lengths over the late-running favorite, Souper Speedy. Sr. Quisqueyano was a neck farther back in third. Mordai's Miracle, a 4-year-old colt by Lawyer Ron, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.94 with Edgar Prado in the irons.
Parranda edged clear in the stretch to win the $125,000 Filly & Mare Turf Preview by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Silsita. Milennia finished third. Parranda, a 4-year-old English Channel filly out of the Rahy mare Dynamic Feature, got 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:46.33 with Jose Lezcano up.
Uncle Virgil led early in Saturday's $50,000 Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial Handicap for Ohio-breds, took back and then came again to win by 2 lengths. Key Low was second and Raise the Reward held on for third after leading much of the way. Uncle Virgil, a 4-year-old Mercer Mill gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:54.45 under Alberto Pusac.
Red Hot Diva dueled for the lead in Saturday's $50,000 My Sister Pearl Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, got the advantage and held off Autumn Affair at the end to win by neck. Fear the Facelift was part of the pace scenario and held on for third. Red Hot Diva, a 3-year-old daughter of Devon Deputy, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:54.50 with Mathew McGowan up.
News and Notes
Groupie Doll, sold for $3.1 million at Keeneland after winning the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint for the second time, isn't done racing after all. Her new owner, Mandy Pope, said Friday she has reconsidered and now plans to start Groupie Doll in the Nov. 27 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, where she could face the likes of Verrazano, Goldencents, Alpha, Gentlemen's Bet and Capo Bastone. Groupie Doll finished second in the Cigar Mile last year, just a whisker short of Stay Thirsty.
The nominations for the 2013 Cartier Racing Awards, Europe's rough equivalent of the Eclipse Awards, include Treve, Moonlight Cloud, Novellist, Al Kazeem and Sky Lantern as potential "Horse of the Year." Reflecting perceived weakness in other divisions, Treve and Sky Lantern are 3-year-old fillies. Magician, the upset winner of last weekend's $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf, didn't make the short list for "Horse of the Year" but is among five under consideration for honors as the top 3-year-old colt. Outstrip, winner of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, and Chriselliam, winner of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, both are finalists in their divisions. Oddly, Dank, winner of the Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park and the $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, is not among the finalists even though she won group events in England and Ireland before her trips to the United States. The winners will be announced "during a glittering ceremony before an invited audience of 340" on Tuesday at the Dorchester Hotel in London, organizers said in Friday's announcement.
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI, in French) and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities have agreed to jointly create the International Horse Sports Federation to work for common goals, including easing movement of horses across international borders for all forms of competition. The FEI represents seven equestrian disciplines not including racing. "One of the many strategic benefits of this move is that we can work as one to improve the ease with which horses can travel for international competition," said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresches, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and an official of the IFHA. "Increased competition creates more interest and also allows the best horses across all sports to prove themselves across the world."
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