A regally bred 3-year-old delivered the goods in the Epsom Derby while a more modestly pedigreed colt came up short in the Belmont Stakes as the U.S. Triple Crown drought dragged on.
Two of the world's top-rated horses -- French-based Cirrus Des Aigles and Japan's Just A Way -- also won during the weekend. And at Belmont, a rich and enticing Belmont Stakes day undercard produced a flurry of upsets.
Among all the world's sports, only racing would have so many top-shelf events running on the same weekend and competing for attention amongst themselves.
Let's get the disappointing news out of the way first.
Thirteen straight swings and misses for the Triple Crown
California Chrome came up short in his quest for the Triple Crown on Saturday and his owner said some rash things in the immediate aftermath. But Christophe Clement, trainer of the winner, Tonalist, put things back in perspective Sunday morning after confirming his colt exited his Belmont Stakes triumph in good order.
"I think we always forget that this should be fun," said the internationally known trainer. "It's nice to enjoy it for a few days. For all of us -- the horse, the whole team. We're New York people, so it means a lot to us."
Tonalist, a Tapit colt, won the Belmont with a strong, sustained drive down the stretch while California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner faded to finish fourth, extending the Triple Crown drought that dates to 1978. A huge throng had been chanting "Go, Chrome, Go" well before the horses took the track but they left disappointed.
Tonalist raced outside California Chrome down the backstretch, then just nailed frontrunner Commissioner in the final yards. Medal Count finished third.
Victor Espinoza, who rode California Chrome, said when he moved his colt to the outside for the stretch run, "he just didn't have that today ... I think it was tough for him. He ran back-to-back races in different tracks - and all those fresh horses." The colt also was found to have injured a hoof, possibly at the start of the race when he bumped with a rival.
Joel Rosario, the winning rider, said the win was "bittersweet." "If I was going to get beat, I wanted to just get beat by him," he said, adding Tonalist is "just kind of a big horse, and he has one long stride, and he just grinds it, and keeps on going and going, keeps on coming, and he got the job done today."
Tonalist and Commissioner both passed up the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Medal Count finished eighth in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. California Chrome's co-owner, Steve Coburn, ignited a brief firestorm by calling the connections of the winner "cowards" for ducking the early Triple Crown races.
But Clement said illness forced Tonalist to miss the early Triple Crown prep races. Under the conditions imposed unilaterally by Churchill Downs, that meant he was ineligible for the Kentucky Derby. Clement added Tonalist was an immature horse at the start of the year, anyway, but now looks forward to an ambitious second half of 2014, perhaps starting with the Grade I Travers at Saratoga.
"I do believe there is more to come" from Tonalist, Clement said. "I really do. I think physically and mentally there is more to come. My whole deal is keep it simple. Just keep him sound and keep him fit and he will take care of the rest because he is a nice horse."
California Chrome's trainer, Art Sherman, said his colt was compromised by the hoof injury and also found "all kinds of trouble" while boxed in during the run down the backstretch. "But, hey, listen, the horse has had six straight races with perfect trips. Sometimes, in this game, when you have a bad trip, that's part of it," said Sherman, a long-ago jockey himself.
Sherman said California Chrome will return to Santa Anita, get a rest and be ready for the late summer and fall. "I think I'm going to keep him in California and get him ready for the Breeders' Cup," he said. "He loves the Santa Anita track. He runs his best his races down there. It is home for us. I'm sure he'll enjoy that." And maybe he will meet Tonalist again in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 1.
California Chrome would have been the first American Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Since then, a dozen 3-year-olds had won the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, only to either come a cropper in the 1 1/2-miles Belmont or not even make it to that climactic race. The son of Lucky Pulpit became the unlucky 13th in that line.
Meanwhile, in England
Australia swept to an impressive victory in Saturday's Investec Derby at Epsom, living up to his historic pedigree and promising a stellar future.
With Joseph O'Brien riding for his trainer father, Aidan, Australia ran patiently back of the early leaders while staying out of trouble. As the field straightened for home, the colt found another gear and quickly ran to the front. Kingston Hill put up a struggle but Australia was never in danger of losing in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Romsdal, supplemented to the race at a cost of 75,000 pounds sterling, was third, earning more than double the supplemental fee for his owner, Princess Haya of Jordan. Arod finished fourth.
"Horses don't come any easier to ride," said the younger O'Brien, who has ridden some top ones for his father's powerhouse stable.
Australia automatically becomes a favorite for any race he might target for the remainder of the year, with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby already mentioned as a possibility -- a race in which he could find Kingston Hill again.
Australia was meant to be a Derby winner from the moment his Oaks-winning dam, Ouija Board, was sent to his Derby-winning sire, Galileo, in a match arranged by Lord Derby. He achieved his destiny -- in style -- in Saturday's 235th running.
Australia, trained by Aidan O'Brien, won two of three starts in his juvenile season, then prepped for the Derby with a good third-place showing in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas over the Newmarket course. His future now is limited only by the willingness of his owners at Coolmore to risk his value on the track.
"This is the ultimate," said the 19th Lord Derby, who owns Ouija Board, "to win the race how many great-grandfathers started in 1780." Ouija Board did not produce a foal this year but currently is carrying a son or daughter of Galileo, who will be a full sibling to Australia.
The elder O'Brien, who has described Galileo as the "best horse I have ever trained," added, "We are in a very privileged position to have the horses we have. Joseph said he had it in his mind where he wanted to be, he wanted to keep it safe and that is what he did. We said what we thought -- that he was very special always and to have the pace that he has for a Galileo is incredible."
An interesting side note: Coolmore has partnered with the China Horse Club in ongoing efforts to bring commercial racing to mainland China. As part of that cooperative effort, the CHC accepted an ownership stake in Australia. "This is the first time in history there has been any Chinese representation in the Derby," said CHC's Teo Ah King. "This win will make sure a lot of Chinese and Asian interests will pay special attention to this famous race."
Also at Epsom
Sheik Hamdan bin Rasheed al Maktoum landed a 1-2 punch in Friday's Investec Oaks (In Memory of Sir Henry Cecil), with Taghrooda romping home first to remain undefeated and Tarfasha nipping pacesetting Volume for third. The favorite, Marvelous, wasn't. She struggled from halfway through the race and wound up sixth. Taghrooda, a daughter of Derby winner Sea the Stars, parked a short way behind Volume early in the Oaks but when jockey Paul Hanagan asked her for run, she quickly put paid to the rivals. At the finish, Taghrooda was 3 3/4 lengths to the good of Tarfasha. The 1 1/2 miles over going rated good went in 2:34.89. It was the first Oaks triumph for Hanagan and for trainer John Gosden. "She's the best filly today and Paul rode it nicely," Gosden said. "I always thought she was a nice filly but I never boast about a horse. They have to prove it on the track." Taghrooda won at first asking in September at Newmarket at odds she never will see again. She returned to win her 2014 debut, the Pretty Polly Stakes, as the favorite. British bookmakers boosted her into middling contention for this fall's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, with both William Hill and Paddy Power offering 16-1.
Cirrus Des Aigles surged to yet another impressive Grade I victory in taking Saturday's Investec Coronation Cup (In Memory of St Nicholas Abbey). Jockey Christophe Soumillon said the 8-year-old did not feel right after race, raising questions about what otherwise would be an exciting second half of the year for the globetrotter. However, the gelding walked to the winner's enclosure for the post-race celebration and returned to France on schedule Sunday. Trainer Corinne Barande-Barbe said Sunday her star was walking normally but made no commitment to when he might make his next start. Cirrus Des Aigles knocked off Arc winner Treve two races back, delivering her first-ever loss, then beat Olympic Glory in his last start. In Saturday's race, he bided his time while well in touch with the leaders, accelerated impressively in the final furlong and won by 2 lengths over Flintshire. Ambivalent was third.
Just A Way, winner of the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night, handled a drop in distance and soft going well enough to eke out a win in Sunday's Group 1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse -- and maybe earn a trip to Paris in the fall. Just A Way, with Yoshitomi Shibata subbing for suspended jockey Yuichi Fukunaga, raced in the middle of the 1-mile test only to find Grand Prix Boss popping out to the lead late in the stretch run. Calling on all reserves, Just A Way found a way, moving between horses to get up and beat Grand Prix Boss by a desperate neck. Shonan Mighty was third. Glorious Days, in from Hong Kong for his third try in the Yasuda Kinen, ran well to finish sixth after eyeballing Grand Prix Boss early in the stretch run. Trainer Naosuke Sugai said he thinks the successful trip to Dubai helped put the final touches of maturity on Just A Way, a 5-year-old son of Heart's Cry. That, and his ability to handle the kind of soft going often encountered in Europe in the fall, encouraged Sugai to consider France. "He hasn't pulled up too well today after such an exhausting race," Sugai said. "So we'll have to wait and see about the Takarazuka Kinen, for which he is currently voted fourth to run. As a long-term target, I think, since he has handled such testing ground today, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe would be an option." Japanese runners have come oh-so-close in the Arc in recent years, with Orfevre finishing second for the past two years and Kizuna fourth last year. Nakayama Festa finished second in the Longchamp fixture in 2010.
Back in North America:
Bayern left no doubt in Saturday's $500,000, Grade II Woody Stephens at Belmont Park, drawing off in the stretch to win by 7 1/2 lengths over a big, high-quality field. Two starts back, the Bob Baffert trainee had finished first in the Grade III Derby Trial at Churchill Downs but was disqualified to second. After Bayern, it was a scramble to the wire in the 7-furlongs Woody Stephens: Top Fortitude by a head over the favorite, Social Inclusion, who was a neck in front of Kobe's Back, another neck to Pure Sensation and a head to Coup de Grace. Bayern finished third in the Arkansas Derby, passed up the Kentucky Derby and then finished a dismal ninth in the Preakness after a troubled trip. He finished in 1:20.75 with Gary Stevens in the irons. "You just have to draw a line through the Preakness, said Baffert assistant Jim Barnes. "He lost all chance at the start. We were up against it here because we drew the one hole. He left the gate running, set some serious fractions, and finished very strong."
Palace rolled from behind a hot pace to win Friday's $250,000, Grade II True North Stakes at Belmont Park by 3/4 length over the favorite, Bakkan. Salutos Amigos got going a little too late and finished closing third. Palace, a 9-1 long shot, got 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:08.29 with Jose Ortiz up. The 5-year-old son of City Zip won the Grade III Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct last year but was coming off a dull effort in the Grade III General George at Laurel. In that race, said trainer Linda Rice, "He bled through the Lasix and ran really a subpar effort for him, so I turned him out for 60 days, and he came back great ... He was barely fit enough to run, but he trained very well coming into the race. The race looked like it had a lot of speed and it set up well for him, and he really likes Belmont."
Undrafted rallied from the rear of a tightly bunched field to win Saturday's $300,000, Grade III Jaipur Invitational at Belmont Park -- a springboard to a trip to England. Marchman, who stumbled at the break, seized the lead in the lane and looked ready to beat Undrafted for the second straight race but could not hold off the winner, finishing second by 1 1/2 lengths. Global Power, a 60-1 long shot, led early and held on burn a lot of trifecta tickets. The favorite, Ben's Cat, making a rare start off the Maryland circuit, finished fourth in a flat effort. Undrafted, a 4-year-old Purim gelding, got 6 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:07.24 with John Velazquez in the irons. "He ran fantastic," said trainer Wesley Ward. "He ran beautiful. I was really happy. We're headed to the July Cup at Newmarket ... I thought John rode him perfectly. I told him to be a cool-sitter and a go-getter."
In Sunday's $100,000 Intercontinental Stakes for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, Free as a Bird prevailed in a crazy stretch battle that found five horses separated by as many necks and a sixth by another nose. Early leader Believe in Charlie held on for second at 42-1 odds. Alaura Michele rallied from far back to finish third. The favorite, Byrama, did not take part in the late festivities, finishing eighth of 10. Free as a Bird, a 5-year-old Hard Spun mare, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in a quick 1:20.52 with Joel Rosario up.
It was a pretty joyful weekend on the Belmont Park turf for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and their star stallion, Kitten's Joy.
Real Solution had all the answers in Saturday's $1 million, Grade I Knob Creek Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park. With Javier Castellano at the controls, the 5-year-old son of Kitten's Joy raced well behind a breakaway early leader, came five-wide into the stretch and outfinished Kaigun to win by 1 length. The favorite, Seek Again, put in a bid through the lane but settled for show money. Grandeur was a neck farther back in fourth. Real Solution got 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 1:59.27. It was only his second win since he returned to the United States from Italy, where he ran with modest distinction. And his only other U.S. win was via disqualification in last summer's Grade I Arlington Million. "Javier gave him a terrific ride," said winning trainer Chad Brown. "He's been training well, and he put his nose in front officially on the wire because he deserves to win a Grade I in front of everybody."
You can add "stayer" to the sire qualities of Kitten's Joy after his 4-year-old colt, Charming Kitten, took over in the final sixteenth of Friday's 2-miles, $200,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational and worked clear to win by 1 length. Irish Mission was second and Reflecting third. Charming Kitten, with John Velazquez up, finished in 3:21.52 while making his first start longer than 1 1/2 miles. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said he and Velazquez agreed the plan was to "break from the gate and gallop for 2 miles ... He gave him a great ride. He had him covered up and he relaxed really well. A great trip." Asked what's next, Pletcher said, "Where do you go from a 2-mile race? I guess you try to stay stretched out and look at mile-and-a-half type races. Kind of cool winning a 2-mile race." Ken Ramsey, owner of both Kitten's Joy and Charming Kitten, said the win "increases the distance factor" for his star stallion. "I mean, 2 miles, that's good advertising," Ramsey said. "We may have a grinder there today, but he got the job done. That's the first 2-mile winner for the sire." That has more meaning for racing in other parts of the world.
In Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park, Speaking of Which came from off the pace with a three-wide move into the lane and worked clear in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/2 lengths over a big and competitive field. Hangover Kid ran up the rail in the stretch to snatch second and Winning Cause was third. The favorite, Lochte, finished next-last of 14, beating only Tricky Hat. Among the other also-rans were Admiral Kitten, Dannhauser, Hard Enough, Slim Shadey and Tetradrachm. Speaking of Which, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred son of Invincible Spirit, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.32 with Joe Bravo in the irons. It was the first win since the Grade III Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder in December for Speaking of Which, trained by Christophe Clement, who added the Monmouth to Saturday's Belmont Stakes victory with Tonalist. "I went over the race this morning with Christophe," said Bravo. "We wanted to sit close, but just off the pace. It worked out perfectly and we were able to sit the pocket right in behind. In this big field, it was all about getting the trip. Turning for home, we were able to split horses and he sure came running."
Close Hatches posted her third straight win in Saturday's $1 million, Grade I Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park and, in the process, exacted revenge for her loss to Beholder in last fall's Breeders' Cup Distaff. After tracking a quick early pace, Close Hatches took close order on the turn and entered the stretch on the lead. Princess of Sylmar, last year's Kentucky Oaks winner, came ranging up on her outside but could not get by. Meanwhile, Beholder went four-wide on the turn, was never able to reach even terms and finished fourth, 3/4 length behind 30-1 long shot Antipathy. Close Hatches, a 4-year-old First Defence filly, got 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:40.55 with Joel Rosario up. It was a race that lived up to its billing and winning trainer Bill Mott said he was well aware of what he was putting Close Hatches into. "I think when they advertised that this race would be held on this particular day, I think everybody started pointing to it," Mott said. "There was a lot of build up to it, at least for us. We were aware that Beholder was planning on coming in, that Princess of Sylmar was coming, and that anybody else who had a horse who was in good form and thought they had a chance in the race would show up for it." He said he has no immediate plans for Close Hatches, noting the Breeders' Cup is at Beholder's home track of Santa Anita again this fall. "That's obviously an advantage for her and it's going to be a challenge for us," he said. Beholder's trainer, Richard Mandella, played the same theme, commenting his filly "maybe wasn't comfortable with her surroundings. We'll go home."
Coffee Clique ran by pacesetting Somali Lemonade to take the lead in deep stretch in Saturday's $750,000, Grade I Longines Just a Game Stakes for fillies and mares. But then she had to hold off a late charge by Strathnaver to win by a nose. Somali Lemonade held third, a neck in front of the favorite, Discreet Marq. Stephanie's Kitten finished fifth. Coffee Clique, a 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly, got 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.52 with Javier Castellano up. It was her third straight win, following an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park and the Grade II Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs. She also has won on the Woodbine all-weather surface. "It's a world title match to be here today, to compete against this competition," said winning trainer Brian Lynch. "But as I've always said, winning form is good form. She had won two in a row, she fit here today, and she ran like she belonged. God bless her."
Saturday's $750,000, Grade I TVG Acorn for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park turned into a sweet battle between long shots, with Sweet Reason getting by Sweet Whiskey late to win by 1/2 length over that one. Unbridled Forever was third. Pacesetter Fiftyshadesofgold finished fourth and the favorite, My Miss Sophia, the runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks, faded through the stretch to get home seventh. Sweet Reason got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.98. The Street Sense filly, was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade II Gazelle at Aqueduct in April, a race won by My Miss Sophia. Overall, Sweet Reason now has four wins from seven starts. "I got a perfect trip," said winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr. "Everything turned out perfectly. She broke. I sat. I waited, waited, waited and turned the corner and saved all the ground I could. Then, I got clear and she took off. Very nice."
Honey Hues stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Early Times Mint Julep Stakes for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs, hooked up in a prolonged stretch battle with I'm Already Sexy and prevailed by 3/4 length over that rival. Maid On a Mission finished third, 2 lengths farther in arrears. Honey Hues, a 5-year-old Henny Hughes mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:41.75 with Jesus Castanon in the irons. "She didn't really surprise me," said winning trainer Bernie Flint. "She's a hard-trying mare. She's a great mare running on the dirt and she has run well on the grass here, too ... I know she does well over an off track, too, so I didn't know whether to hope for an off track or grass."
There were some performances to note in this division other than the Belmont Stakes.
Can the Man showed he's a horse who "can do," overcoming a stumbling start to win by 1 1/4 lengths in Saturday's $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita. Jockey Martin Garcia urged the Into Mischief colt quickly to the lead after the initial bobble and turned back all challengers, finishing 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.27. The Bob Baffert trainee finished a close third in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity last September and fourth in the Grade I Frontrunner at Santa Anita later that month. He rebounded to win the Speakeasy Stakes in October and had been idle since. "He's a fast horse and he's more mature now with the time off," Garcia said. "He's a really good horse." Baffert admitted the stakes assignment "was sort of a tough spot to go in coming off the layoff and having to go two turns. He's a classy horse. We should have a lot of fun with him from here on out." Baffert said he's eyeing the $500,000, Grade II Los Alamitos Derby on July 5 -- a new fixture in the post-Hollywood Park Southern California racing environment.
Palace Malice continued his dominance with a determined, 1-length victory over Goldencents in Saturday's $1.25 million Met Mile at Belmont Park. The 2013 Belmont Stakes winner started on the rail, took back to a stalking position under John Velazquez and split rivals to get to the lead in the final furlong. Romansh ran evenly to finish third and Shakin It Up was fourth. Palace Malice, a 4-year-old son of Curlin, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:33.56. He now has four straight wins, all graded, following his sixth-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Palace Malice is "working his way right to top" of the list of great horses he has trained. "I was very, very concerned when he drew the No. 1 post," Pletcher said. "That can be difficult to overcome. What can you say about the quality of a horse that's able to do that one year after winning a mile and a half Classic?"
Kid Cruz cruised past all eight rivals in the late going of Saturday's $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, winning by 3 1/4 lengths, going away. The favorite, Legend, finished second, passing pacetter Life in Shambles, late. Kid Cruz, a Lemon Drop Kid colt, won for the fourth time, bouncing back from an eighth-place trouncing in the Preakness. With Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons, Kid Cruz ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.12. "In the past," said winning trainer Linda Rice, "he's been making a big, sweeping move and losing ground on the turn, Irad saved ground on the inside, made the inside-outside move, and then when I saw the half, it was our race to lose." She said she will probably point Kid Cruz to the Grade II Dwyer on July 5 "and keep trying to let him learn his craft."
Norumbega outfinished Micromanage to upset Saturday's $500,000, Grade II Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont Park, winning by a neck over the favorite. Cat Burglar contested the lead in the 1 1/2-miles race and held on to get show money. Norumbega, a 4-year-old Tiznow colt, got home in 2:27.13 under Joel Rosario -- just 3.13 second slower than Secretariat's unchallengable track record set in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Norumbega ran second to Micromanage two starts back in the Grade III Skip Away at Gulfstream Park but ran poorly on the Keeneland all-weather course in her last outing. "He had been training really well and we expected him to run a big race," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. "We're not sure where he'll go next because it's tough to find another 1 1/2-mile race."
It's been hot in Southern California but that doesn't explain Unusual Heatwave rallying late to deny the favorite, Mega Heat, by 3/4 length in Sunday's $100,000 Crystal Water Water Stakes for California-breds. The early leader, Ethnic Dance, finished just a nose farther back in third. Unusual Heatwave finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.17 with Kent Desormeaux up. The top two are by Unusual Heat. A third of that sire's progeny, Heat Flash, was a late scratch.
Pender Harbour came from the rear of an eight-horse field to win Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Steady Growth Stakes by 1 length over Urban Forester. The favorite, Ultimate Destiny, settled for third. Pender Harbour, a 6-year-old Philanthropist gelding who won the last two legs of the 2011 Canadian Triple Crown, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.39. "He kind of missed the break," said winning rider Luis Contreras. "I was a little worried but didn't panic. From the three-eighths pole, I just wanted to be clear on the outside when I made my move because he's got a long stride." Co-owner Bob Griffin said Pender Harbour has "been a lot of fun for us over the years. Last year, he was a little bit unlucky, seconds and thirds, but always tried hard every time he runs."
On Rainbow Bridge saved ground early in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Lady Angela Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, surged to the lead in the stretch and then was all out to hold on by a nose over Sweater Weather. Ida Bambina finished third 2 3/4 lengths farther back. On Rainbow Bridge, a daughter of Bold Executive, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.57 with Skye Chernetz riding. "We got lucky," Chernetz said. "A spot opened up on the rail, I asked her to go through and she responded."
Strong Impact rallied from last of seven to win Sunday's $60,000 John McSorley Stakes by 3/4 length over Jewel of a Cat. A.P. Elvis finished third and the favorite, Wicked Tune, reported home fourth. Strong Impact, an 8-year-old A.P. Jet gelding, ran about 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.66 under Paco Lopez.
Sweet Emma Rose led all the way in Saturday's $60,000 Crank It Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then rose to the occasion when challenged late, winning by a neck over long shot Rogue Lady. Red Minx was just a head farther back at the wire. Sweet Emma Rose, a City Zip filly, ran about 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:03.01 with Abel Lezcano in the irons. The favorite, Puddifoot, faded to finish last.
Golden Gate Fields
Awesome Return had the best punch in the stretch run in Sunday's $100,000 Silky Sullivan Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds, outfinishing Alert Bay to win by a head. Patriots Rule was another head back in third, a neck in front of G.G. Ryder. Awesome Return, a Decarchy colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.03 with Joe Talamo up.
Magic Spot led all the way to a 1/2-length victory in Sunday's $100,000 Campanile Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies. Chati's On Top tracked the leader and just couldn't quite get there at the end. Global Rule and Shakeitupbetty completed the order of finish. Magic Spot, a Papa Clem filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.36 with Tyler Baze in the irons.
Joint Return returned to the winner's circle after Wednesday's $50,000 Our Mims Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Include, with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons, caught pacesetting Image of Anna in the stretch run and beat that one to the wire by 1 1/4 lengths. Brown Rice got steaming late to take third. Joint Return ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.04.
South Andros came from off the pace and outfinished She's Not Lazy to win Thursday's $50,000 Justakiss Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 length. Bryan's Jewel was third in the event, which was taken off the turf and run at 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track. South Andros, a 4-year-old Sky Mesa filly, got home in 1:45.50 with Xavier Perez riding.
Presque Isle Downs
Quality Lass was quickly on the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Satin and Lace Stakes for fillies and mares and won a scramble in deep stretch to get home first by a head over Sweet Nkosi. It was a neck back to Purely Hot in third and another neck to Dreamin Big in fourth. Quality Lass, a 5-year-old Exclusive Quality mare, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:04.07 with Antonio Gallardo in the irons.
Tea Time got by pacesetter Fat Cat in the late going and got clear to win Saturday's $75,000 Jostle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3 3/4 lengths over that foe. Offlee Golden got home third. Tea Time, a Pulpit Filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.31 with Joshua Navarro up.
Indiana Grand Race Course
Union Express rolled like a great freight train late in Wednesday's $85,000 Sagamore Sired Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, coming from last of 12 to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Diego. Spanish Justice finished third. Union Express, an Unbridled Express gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:12.46 with James Graham up.
She's Dangerous caught fellow long shot Trica's Trama in the final jumps to win Wednesday's $85,000 Swiftly Sired Fillies Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies by a nose. The odds-on favorite, Express Model, settled for third, 1/2 length farther in arrears. She's Dangerous, a daughter of Forest Danger, ran 6 furlongs in the slop in 1:13.08 under Alejandro Contreras.
Commander bided his time in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Spangled Jimmy Handicap, then took command in the stretch run, drawing off to win by 3 3/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. For Cash was second and Hoist lifted show money. Commander, a 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.09 with Quincy Welch in the irons.
Saturday Night Ride led throughout Friday's $50,000 (Canadian) John Patrick Handicap for fillies and mares and won by 5 1/4 lengths. Portofappeal was second, Tempered Sapphire third and Silkworm completed the order of finish. Saturday Night Ride, a 5-year-old Flower Alley mare, ran 1 mile on a good track in 1:39.55 with Welch up.
Zeki dueled the favorite, Wolf Pack Jack, into submission in the first half of Saturday's $75,000 Cyclones Handicap for Iowa-bred colts and geldings, then blew off to win by 8 1/4 lengths. Ice Hockey skated home best of the rest, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Cainam, an entrymate of the winner. Freeze Your Kela completed the trifecta. Zeki, a 4-year-old Mutakddim gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a muddy track in 1:44.56 with Shane Laviolette riding.
Queen Lilly Kay, the odds-on favorite, worked her way to the lead in Friday's $75,000 Hawkeyes Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares and held nicely to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Ginger Added. Jokes N Jazz got show money. Queen Lilly Kay, a 5-year-old Indy King mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.99 under Glenn Corbett.
Countess Cashmere tracked the pace set by Richies Sweetheart in Saturday's $100,000 Purple Violet Stakes for Illinois-bred 3-year-old fillies, negotiated running room entering the stretch and got by late to score by 1/2 length. Brazyn Appeal ran well late to take third. Countess Cashmere, a Bellamy Road filly, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.84 for jockey Carlos Marquez Jr.
Jimmy Simms dueled to the lead in Saturday's $75,000 Brooks Fields Stakes and cleared late to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Stachys came from the rear of the field to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Keg Party. Jimmy Simms, a 9-year-old Lost Soldier gelding, ran 1 mile on a muddy track in 1:38.62 with Dean Butler in the irons. The race was carded for 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass.
Gold Medal Dancer also dealt nicely with the surface switch, rallying late to take the $75,000 Minnesota H.B.P.A. Distaff Stakes by a head over Every Way. Polar Plunge finished third. Gold Medal Dancer, a Medaglia d'Oro filly, got 1 mile in the mud in 1:40.04 under Dean Butler.
Caviar N Champagne took the lead heading for home in Saturday's $50,000 Michael Mackey Memorial Stakes for Ohio-bred distaffers and went on to win by 3 lengths over Needmore Flattery. Pay the Man was third. Two entrymates of the runner-up finished fourth and fifth so the superfecta went down to the sixth-place finisher, Guided Reward. Caviar N Champagne, a 5-year-old Formal Dinner mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.06 with Scott Spieth in the irons.
Ole's Miss rallied from last of five to win Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Emerald Downs Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by a nose over Dawselina. The odds-on favorite, Arabella's Muse, checked in third. Ole's Miss, an Ontario-bred Officer filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.30 under Amadeo Perez.
Koffee Grinder ground out a narrow win in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) River Rock Casino Handicap for 3-year-olds, rallying to beat pacesetter Aspen Getaway by a head. Jordan's Quest finished third. Koffee Grinder, a Grindstone colt out of the Stephanotis mare Just Pinn'er, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.94 with Richard Hamel at the controls.
Title Contender took over in the stretch in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Sir Winston Churchill Handicap, kicking away to a 3 3/4-lengths win over Modern. Wilo Kat was third. Title Contender, a 4-year-old Pulpit gelding who was briefly on the 2013 Triple Crown trail, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.71 with Rico Walcott up.
Miss Derek galloped down the beach ... er, stretch ... to win Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Vancouver Sun Handicap for fillies and mares by 5 1/2 lengths over Overvalued. Touching Promise was just a nose back in third. Miss Derek, a 4-year-old Brother Derek filly, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.20 with Hamel up.