California Chrome's workmanlike victory in Saturday's $1.5 million, Grade I Preakness Stakes capped a weekend of racing that also included world-class competition in Singapore, England and Japan.
There was special emphasis everywhere on turf milers as Wise Dan, the reigning U.S. Horse of the Year and two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile, underwent colic surgery. Meanwhile, some of his past and potential challengers were in action, including 2013 U.S. Triple Crown contender Verrazano, who started his European career with a good showing behind 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile contender Olympic Glory in the Lockinge Stakes in England.
And Little Mike, who has shown flashes of brilliance on the U.S. turf scene, made a successful comeback at Gulfstream Park in his first race following a December trip to Hong Kong.
That's a lot of international action. But we must, of course, start in Baltimore.
The Triple Crown
California Chrome captured the second jewel of the Triple Crown Saturday at Pimlico with apparent ease. After relaxing off the pace, jockey Victor Espinoza steered the colt into the clear, he accelerated and none of his rivals could go with him. He won by 1 1/2 lengths over Ride On Curlin, with Social Inclusion third. The time of 1:54.84 was, like his Kentucky Derby-winning clocking, unremarkable at best. But it was good enough to beat the others.
"He broke great and had a perfect trip," said winning trainer Art Sherman. "I was so happy when I saw where he was able to set him. Right now he's really on his toes and doing good. He's a remarkable horse to come back in two weeks and win."
Since Affirmed's victory in 1978, 12 horses have gone to New York as winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. None has survived the 1 1/2-miles Belmont Stakes to wear the Triple Crown and only four have managed as much as a second-place showing.
"I've got three weeks, a mile and a half, it's quite a challenge, I'll tell you," Sherman said after the Preakness. "You have to have a very good horse to win these three races and I'm hoping I've got one right now."
A field of about 10 is projected for the June 7 Belmont, including Commanding Curve, who was running late to be second in the Kentucky Derby, as well as Danza and Wicked Strong, who were third and fourth in the Run for the Roses. Social Inclusion also is listed as likely, as well as the 1-2 finishers in the recent Peter Pan over the Belmont Park course -- Tonalist and Commissioner.
As they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it.
Turning attention overseas:
For the second straight year, Hong Kong runners won both of Singapore's international Group 1 races.
Dan Excel, who was second in last year's Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup behind stablemate Military Attack, got there first this year with the benefit of a better starting slot. Japanese runner Tokei Halo led the field into the stretch turn in Sunday's 2,000-meters test. As he faded, jockey Tommy Berry had Dan Excel in full flight. He easily went by and won by 1 3/4 lengths in course-record time of 1:59.07. Smoking Sun, representing France, ran well last to snatch second and Military Attack was third. Si Sage, the first American runner in nine years in this event, made a run entering the stretch but flattened out to finish a respectable sixth. "I think the gate made the difference there -- and a great ride by Tommy," said John Moore, who trains both Dan Excel and Military Attack. Dan Excel started from the inside post and Military Attack from No. 10 in a field of 12. "He's been a great horse for years," Moore said of the 6-year-old Shamardal gelding, "and today he excelled." Berry added, "He traveled a lot stronger than I expected. He was tough right through the line." Dan Excel's career is studded with second- and third-place finishes in big races. He did win the Group 1 Champions Mile in Hong Kong in 2013 and finished third in the same race earlier this month behind Variety Club. His two trips to Singapore are his only overseas jaunts since transplanting from Ireland after the 2011 season.
Lucky Nine had no trouble at all defending his title in the Group 1 KrisFlyer Sprint. With Zac Purton up, the 7-year-old Dubawi gelding saved ground behind the early pace set by Captain Obvious. Emperor Max joined the leader as the field turned for home and it looked like two local runners might have their way. But Purton got Lucky Nine to the outside of those rivals, drove by easily and was looking back over his right shoulder for the final few jumps, looking for competition that wasn't there. He won by 2 1/2 lengths over Emperor Max with Zac Spirit up for third. The 1,200 meters over turf rated good went in 1:08.15. Medicean Man was a gate scratch after losing a shoe. "He's got a lot of heart and adjusts to the environment very easily," said winning trainer Casper Fownes of Lucky Nine. "Great performance, great horse," Purton echoed. The race was the fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, which offers a $1 million bonus for a horse winning three legs in three different countries. Four different horses have won the first four legs. Sterling City, who won the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in the previous leg, finished fifth in Sunday's race.
The world scene looks to have a new player after War Affair blazed down the stretch to win Friday night's Singapore Group 1 Singapore Guineas by a confident 4 lengths. The victory wrapped up a three-race win skein in Kranji 3-year-old series and likely cemented 3-year-old honors to go with the New Zealand-bred's 2-year-old crown. With Danny Beasley up for trainer Hai Wang Tan, War Affair relaxed well off the pace early in the 1,600-meters race. He began his move as the field turned into the stretch over the long course, rallied by outside the leaders and was never in any doubt of winning. Daniel redeemed himself from two subpar efforts by finishing second and Goodman finished third. Tan said it is possible that the O'Reilly colt could travel and likely would tackle longer distances rather than returning to sprints. "Longer would be better," he said, adding the 2014 Singapore Airlines International Cup at 2,000 meters would be a potential target. As for overseas opportunities, he said, "Yes. But at the moment, I can't think of anything."
For the second straight year, a New Zealand-bred 2-year-old won the Singapore Group 2 Aushorse Golden Horseshoe -- a race sponsored by Australian breeders and culminating a series designed to reward local owners who buy at Ingals or Magic Millions sales in Australia. Adding insult to injury, the winner, a filly, is named Kiwi Karma and the runner-up, Affleck, also is a New Zealander. As a result, the bonus money went to Barnato, who finished up the track Friday night but had three wins and two seconds in the earlier legs of the series.
Olympic Glory had no problem landing Saturday's Group 1 JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, coming to the lead a furlong out and drawing off to win by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths. Tullius ran from well back to take second while U.S. import Verrazano, making his first start for trainer Aidan O'Brien, ran very well to land third. The top trio all are odds-on for further Group 1 assignments in the near future. "That was as easy as riding work," Frankie Dettori said after dismounting from Olympic Glory. And trainer Richard Hannon said the 4-year-old son of Choisir, who was making his first start since finishing ninth behind Wise Dan in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, now is in both the Queen Anne and the Prince of Wales's at Royal Ascot, adding, "We'll just have to wait and see." O'Brien said Verrazano ran well for his first start under new conditions and new tactics. He said he is likely for the 1-mile Queen Anne.
Last year's winner, Verxina, posted a surprise repeat in Sunday's Group 1 Victoria Mile at Toyko Racecourse. The Deep Impact mare made all the going and had enough left at the end to hold off Meisho Mambo by 1/2 length with Straight Girl and Whale Capture in close attendance, third and fourth. The favorite, Smart Layer, who had handled Verxina and all other comers in earlier races, could do no better than eighth Sunday. Denim and Ruby, who fell a nose short of upsetting Gentildonna in last fall's Group 1 Japan Cup, finished seventh. "I started hearing hooves from behind me in the last furlong," said winning rider Hiroyuki Uchida, "and drove her on, praying that she'd last. We were able to defend our title and I guess this could make up for some of the disappointments we've had."
Back in North America:
Revolutionary continued his rise through the ranks with a rousing, last-to-first victory in Friday's $300,000, Grade III Pimlico Special. The 4-year-old War Pass colt was pinched back at the start and jockey Mike Smith allowed him to settle down the backstretch. He started his run on the turn, came five-wide into the stretch and reached the lead outside the sixteenth pole, beating Prayer For Relief by a neck. Cat Burgler was 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third and Moreno finished fourth. Major King, a Korean-bred and Korean-raced invader, attended the early pace but then stopped badly and was eased. The 4-year-old Pico Central colt has not beaten a single rival in two U.S. races after a promising start in his homeland. Smith said he had not expected Revolutionary to be so far back but trainer Todd Pletcher said he was comforted by the fast early pace. "I think he showed last year and as a 2-year-old that he was a really good horse," Pletcher said. "He won the Louisiana Derby and he was third in the Kentucky Derby. The time off we gave him after the Belmont Stakes did him well. This was a big effort for him."
Class Leader, fourth in the Grade III Illinois Derby last time out, was up just in time to win Saturday's $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico by a head over Life In Shambles. Six Spot finished 1 length farther back in third. Class Leader, a Smart Strike colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.79 with James Graham up. It was his third win from five starts. "It just takes a while for him to get his feet under him," said winning trainer Neil Howard. "We all agreed he was a little close in the Illinois Derby, but the horse that won (Dramatic Impact) is a very nice horse running in the Preakness today. We weren't quite ready for that."
Stopchargingmaria won a stretch duel with Vero Amore in Friday's $500,000, Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico, picking up her first win of the season after disappointments in Florida and Louisiana. With Javier Castellano up, the Tale of the Cat filly rated off the pace, moved up through the turn and ranged up outside Vero Amore early in the stretch run. After a tussle, Stopchargingmaria prevailed by a neck, with Fortune Pearl third, 2 3/4 lengths farther back. The 1 1/16 miles went in 1:51.79 over a good track. The favorite, Sloan Square, faded late to finish ninth. The winner is trained by Todd Pletcher for Repole Stable. "This was certainly her best race," Pletcher said. "To be honest, I'm not really sure why her first two races this year didn't go as well as last year." After her last effort at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Pletcher shipped Stopchargingmaria to Saratoga and, he said, "The cool weather seemed to invigorate her. Today she acted like she was back to her old self."
The big news in this division was not on the track. Wise Dan, the two-time and reigning U.S. Horse of the Year and two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner, underwent emergency colic surgery Friday in Lexington, trainer Charles LoPresti said. LoPresti said the condition was caught in time to make the surgery relatively minor and Wise Dan, a 7-year-old gelding, should recover and be able to resume his career. However, the incident at a minimum will limit Wise Dan's summer schedule and throws into question how fit LoPresti could have him for a three-peat try in this fall's Breeders' Cup Mile.
On the track...
Obviously bested three rivals in a scratch-shortened field for Saturday's $100,000, Grade III American Stakes at Santa Anita. With Joe Talamo up, Obviously was quickly on the lead and never threatened, winning off by 5 1/2 lengths. Obviously, a 6-year-old, Irish-bred Choisir gelding, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:33.39 with Joe Talamo up. Chips All In, Silentio and Smart Ellis trailed in that order. Winning Prize, Pure Tactics and Tigah were all late scratches. "Believe it or not, he took about four or five breathers today," Talamo said. "When Gary's horse (Gary Stevens on Silentio) fell away from us, he relaxed again and finished up great." Trainer Phil D'Amato, who got his first graded stakes win, said Obviously will try the $400,000, Grade I Shoemaker Mile on June 14 "and maybe the Breeders' Cup" Mile.
In Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Longines Dixie Stakes at Pimlico, Utley came five-wide into the stretch and was along to post a minor upset win by 1 length over Hey Leroy. Chamois led briefly and held on gamely to finish third, a nose farther back. The favorite, Up With the Birds, finished sixth in a dull effort. Utley, a 6-year-old son of Smart Strike, finished 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.88 with Edgar Prado in the irons. He had not won since April of 2013 at Keeneland. Prado said trainer Jonathan Shepherd "was very confident to bring this horse to this race. The horse has been training well and he thought he would have a good chance and he proved that he was right. I got a beautiful trip and I was able to go inside and save ground in both turns, angle out in the stretch and he finished real well."
Hard Enough sat just behind the early pace in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park, hooked up in a duel with Slim Shadey and finally went on to win by 3/4 length. Winning Cause also got by Slim Shadey for second. Hard Enough, a 4-year-old Hard Spun colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.68 with Eddie Castro in the irons. Winning trainer Bobby Dibona said Castro "rode him perfectly. I knew there were speed horses in there, so I told him if they go, just get him to relax, and that's how it worked out." He said he is eyeing the $200,000, Grade II Monmouth Stakes on June 8 as a next start for Hard Enough.
Wallyanna stalked the pace in Saturdays $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico, then quickly took command and won by 3 lengths over pacesetting long shot Open the Bank. Thunder Strike thundered up late to take third. Wallyanna, Langfur colt, finished in 1:39.09 over turf rated good with Javier Castellano in the irons. The colt finished fifth in his career debut at Churchill Downs, then was claimed for $35,000 while winning his next start in March at Gulfstream Park. He then went on to win at 7 furlong on the Keeneland Polytrack before Saturday's victory. Thunder Strike showed some promise in his second start over from England. "I claimed him and when we first got him he had a presence and acted like a good horse," said trainer Michael Pino. "I couldn't have asked for this race to go better. He's a young horse and is still learning."
Little Mike, making his first appearance since finishing ninth in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin last December, rolled to an easy, 2 3/4-lengths victory Saturday in the $75,000 Flying Pidgeon Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 7-year-old Spanish Steps gelding, with Elvis Trujillo up, led throughout and finished 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.10. Hakama was second and Padilla third. "The field wasn't a tremendous field, but it was a nice little field," said winning trainer Carlo Vaccarezza, who opened his own stable after the Hong Kong trip and took over Little Mike from Dale Romans. "If you run in a race like that, you have to be scared of the nine other horses." He said Little Mike now will target the Grade I Manhattan on Belmont Day, June 7, with the Grade I Arlington Million and the Breeders' Cup in the longer-range planning. Little Mike in 2012 won the Million and Breeders' Cup Turf and last year won the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park before finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup. His ninth-place finish at Hong Kong was behind winner Akeed Mofeed, who currently is targeting the Arlington Million in August. Tokei Halo was second in the Hong Kong race and Cirrus Des Aigles finished third. Cirrus Des Aigles came back to finish second in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic behind Japanese star Gentildonna and then won the Group 1 Prix Ganay in Paris, defeating French superstar filly Treve.
Filly & Mare Turf
Somali Lemonade surged to a big lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico, then just held off an onrushing Watsdachances to win by 1/2 length. Triple Arch raced evenly to finish third. Somali Lemonade, a 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.16 with Luis Saez aboard. It was her second straight win after a long drought while racing against top competition. "She never started going to the lead until she turned 5 and I don't know what's gotten into her in her old age," said winning trainer Michael Matz. "We were going to retire her this year but after she ran that good race at Gulfstream, the owner, who is my sister-in-law, said, 'Do we really have to retired her?' This is her only horse. The Just a Game (on the Belmont Stakes undercard) is a possibility. We'll just see how she comes out of it."
Praia split rivals to get to the lead turning for home in Saturday's $65,000 Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs, then held on late to win by a head over Gulsary. Topic came from last of 11 in time to get show money. Praia, a 4-year-old filly by Distorted Humor, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm going in 2:16.92 with Chris Landeros up for trainer Kenny McPeek. It was her first stakes win after a promising 3-year-old season which found her runner-up in three stakes events, two of them graded. "It worked out perfect," Landeros said. "I talked to Kenny this morning and he said that she was the type of filly that seems to find her way in some trouble, so he wanted her forwardly placed today."
Half the field scratched out of Friday's $75,000 Rollicking Stakes the Pimlico mud. Even with just remaining four, Governmentshutdown found some traffic issues before getting loose in the lane to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Pret Say Eye, Hootenanny and Royalty Sea completed the order of finish. Governmentshutdown, an Exchange Rate colt, ran 5 furlongs in 59.10 seconds with Jose Betancourt riding. "The race didn't go as planned but we got the finish we hoped for," said winning trainer John Robb, who also won the 2013 Rollicking with Debt Ceiling. "Debt Ceiling was definitely a sprinter," he said. "But I think this horse can go long." He said Governmentshutdown will reopen his career in the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs on June 28.
Happy My Way rolled to his third straight win in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Maryland Sprint Handicap, leading from the start and finishing 5 3/4 lengths in front. Lemon Drop Dream chased but settled for second and Service for Ten was third. Happy My Way, a 4-year-old Wilco gelding, covered 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.21 with Joe Bravo up. Earlier in the year, he won three of four races at Gulfstream Park and also finished second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. "He did all the work," Bravo said. "There wasn't much for me to do or think about."
It made no difference to Ben's Cat that Friday's $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint was moved from the turf to the good main track. The Maryland legend did what he usually does -- stalked the pace set by Great Attack, went by in the stretch run and kicked clear for a 1 3/4 lengths victory. Great Attack held second, 2 3/4 lengths better than Smash and Grab. Ben's Cat, an 8-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding, ran 5 furlongs in 57.75 seconds with Julian Pimentel up for King Leatherbury. Ben's Cat now has 26 victories from 39 starts and edged within $40,000 of $2 million in career earnings. "The rider said all he does is hold on," Leatherbury said. "These aren't real tough spots. He's been the same over the past five years. I criticize myself taking so much for granted. I expect to win. He's spoiling me ... We say it every year, 'He's better than ever.' How long can we say that? He's 8. How long can he keep going like this? 9? 10? 11? It's hard to believe. He's a remarkable, amazing horse."
Meadowood rolled by pacesetting favorite Brewing late in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico and drew off smartly to win by 3 lengths, remaining undefeated in three starts. Brewing held second, 1 length better than Prudhoe Bay. Meadowood, a Harlan's Holiday colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.11 with Javier Castellano up. He won at first asking at Monmouth Park last June, then was idle until winning an optional claimer at Tampa Bay in March. This is a classy horse and he's the kind that doesn't need to have the lead," said winning trainer Derek Ryan.
Speightsong had 'em all the way in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for 3-year-olds at Woodbine, winning unchallenged by 2 1/2 lengths. The Imposter and Eighty Nine Red were second and third. Speightsong, a Speightstown colt, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:22.37 with Patrick Husbands up. Trainer Malcolm Pierce said the colt is "finally showing what we thought of him" but isn't a likely candidate for the 1 1/4-miles Queen's Plate. "I think he has distance limitations," Pierce said. "I don'at think hell get the mile and a quarter but we'll figure it out over the next couple of months."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Merry Meadow came out for running room in the stretch in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park and quickly found herself clear en route to a 3 3/4-lengths victory. Jane of All Trades was second, Five Star Momma finished third and the odds-on favorite, Kauai Katie, never fired, finishing last of four, beaten nearly 11 lengths. Merry Widow, a 4-year-old Henny Hughes filly, finished 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.37 with Rajiv Maragh in the irons. "She's always run well fresh," said winning trainer Mark Hennig. "We ran her back kind of quickly in the Barbara Fritchie last time, so I wanted to give her plenty of time after that. She always responds well. She's an honest, honest horse." Trainer Todd Pletcher said Kauai Katie "got squeezed back at the start and never really fired."
Miss Behaviour behaved just fine, thank you very much, in Fridays' $100,000 Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico, leading from the start and holding off Stormy Novel by 1 3/4 lengths at the end. The favorite, Jojo Warrior, was a distant third. Miss Behaviour, a Jump Start filly, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:10.85 with Sheldon Russell aboard, scoring her fourth win from seven starts. "It's why you pay the jockey," said winning trainer Phil Schoenthal. "The plan was to lay off the pace but she broke so well, he let her do her thing."
Lion D N A came roaring down the stretch to win Friday's $100,000 Skipat Stakes for fillies and mares at Pimlico by 3/4 length over Flattering Bea. Winning Image was third in the scratch-shortened field of five, run over a sloppy track. Lion D N A, a 5-year-old, Illinois-bred mare by Lion Heart, splashed 6 furlongs in 1:11.09 with Joel Rosario up. "The shorter field really helped," said winning owner Gary Asquith. "My filly relishes the slop."
Green Mask had to weave through traffic before finding running room in Saturday's $100,000 Paradise Creek Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park. Once clear, the Mizzen Mast colt outfinished Cabo Cat to win by 1 3/4 lengths. The odds-on favorite, Chart Topper, faded from the lead to finish third. Green Mask, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, ran 7 furlongs on good turf in 1:24.17.
Ageless waited near the back of the pack in Saturday's $100,000 The Very One Stakes at Pimlico and was rewarded with a big opening along the rail in mid-stretch. The 5-year-old Successful Appeal mare went through the hole and on to win by 3/4 length over Perfect Measure, who took the overland route around the leaders. Quality Lass finished third. Ageless, with Luis Garcia in the irons, ran 5 furlongs on good turf in 58.91 seconds, winning for the third time in four starts. "It was good to save ground," Garcia said. "But it wasn't my idea to sit on the rail. It's just how the race developed. I wasn't sure the rail would open. I was behind (Quality Lass). Finally she left the rail a little bit and my filly slipped through. I loved it. We went for it the last eighth of mile."
Delta Flower contested the lead all the way in Saturday's $75,000 Angels Flight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, finally prevailing by a neck over D'ya Knowwhatimean. Midnight Dream was part of the pace scenario but dropped back to finish third. The favorite, Empress of Midway, got home next-last of eight. Delta Flower, an Arkansas-bred filly by A.P. Delta, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.48 with Corey Nakatani up.
Two-time Canterbury Park Horse of the Year Heliskier hit a mogul in the $60,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for Minnesota-breds on opening night Friday. After the prohibitive favorite hooked up in a pace duel with Bourbon County, long shot Speakfromyourheart ran by them both to post a rather stunning upset by a nose over Bourbon County while Heliskier finished 4 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Freedom First was fourth and last as three of the original entrants scratched. Speakfromyourheart, a 5-year-old Lion Heart gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.44 under Lori Keith. Heliskier won nine of his first 11 starts, all at Canterbury, but finished third and fourth in his first two starts of 2014 at Oaklawn Park.
Gypsy Melody sang a sweet song for her backers in Saturday's $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes for state-bred distaffers, rallying six-wide from the back of the field to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Polar Plunge was second and Somerset Swinger got show money. Gypsy Melody, a 6-year-old daughter of Wagon Limit, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.24 with Quincy Hamilton aboard.
Shock Hazard was never at risk in Saturday's $60,000 Gray's Lake Stakes for Iowa-bred, 3-year-old colts and geldings. With Ken Tohill along for the ride, the Dunkirk gelding went right to the front, said goodbye and won off by 12 lengths. Makoshika beat the others, finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Porme Nuther T R. The 6 furlongs went in 1:10.34.
Aintgotnohome got home first in Friday's $60,000 Bob Bryant Stakes for Iowa-bred, 3-year-old fillies. Leading from the start, the King of Scat filly scooted under the wire 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Say a Hail Mary. She, in turn, was 2 1/2 lengths better than Golden Tiago. Aintgotnohome, with Terry Thompson in the irons, toured 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.38.
Presque Isle Downs
Choctaw Chuck was up in the final strides to post a 27-1 upset win in Monday's $100,000 Tom Ridge Stakes for 3-year-olds. Cee n' O led for all but the important part and Jose Sea View put in a belated rally to save third. Choctaw Chuck, a Florida-bred gelding by Bwana Charlie, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.46 with Deshawn Parker up.
Little Rocket fired a second stage in the stretch run of Saturday's $50,000 Susan B. Anthony Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares, shooting to a 5-lengths win. Haldane was along for second, edging pacesetter Miss Rubycubes. The odds-on favorite, Make the Moment, made no impression, finishing last of six. Little Rocket, a 4-year-old daughter of Yes It's True, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:11.45 with Daniel Vergara up.
Will Rogers Downs
More Than Even stalked the pace in Monday's $55,000 RPDC Classic Distaff Stakes for Oklahoma-breds, got by in the stretch and went on to win by 3 lengths over Foreign Sultress. Heatofthestorm finished third. More Than Even, a 4-year-old Stephen Got Even filly, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a sloppy track in 1:44.47 for jockey Cliff Berry.
Z Rockstar pressed the pace in Tuesday's $55,000 Cherokee Nation Classic Cup for Oklahoma-breds, then sorted out a three-way stretch battle to win by 1 length. Johnny Whip came from off the pace to finish second, a head in front of pacesetter My Brother Don. Z Rockstar, a 5-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding, got 1 mile and 70 yards on a muddy track in 1:42.97 under Luis Quinonez.
News and Notes
Congratulations to trainer Wayne Catalano, who notched his 2,500th win Saturday at Arlington Park, where he has topped the trainer standings 11 times. Fine Assay, with Catalano's son-in-law, Channing Hill, riding, got home first in the 10th race to hit the milestone for Catalano after he picked up No. 2,499 earlier in the day at Churchill Downs.