Trainer Bobby Frankel celebrated Memorial Day by continuing his domination of everything in Thoroughbred racing other than Triple Crown races.
Frankel sent out Aldebaran to win the day's biggest stakes event, the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on Long Island and also won the day's biggest feature for distaffers, the $350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park in Southern California.
The Met Mile was a big race for Aldebaran, a regally bred 5-year-old son of Mr. Prospector. The horse, with Jerry Bailey up, was bumped at the start and settled at the back of the eight-horse field. He started his move on the turn, swung wide to run to the lead and then held on to beat Saarland by a neck. Peeping Tom was third and the odds-on favorite, Congaree, faded badly in the late going to beat only two rivals.
Aldebaran ran the 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:34.15.
"With his pedigree, this is a huge win," Frankel said. "This race looked like it would set up for him. He's worth a lot of money as a stallion now."
Winning jockey Jerry Bailey said he heard Saarland coming in deep stretch and hit Aldebaran left handed, only to see him duck out. "I had to straighten him up real fast and, when I did, he gave me another surge. He was good enough to win."
Although Frankel has been cutting a swath through most divisions of racing for the past few years, he has yet to win any Triple Crown race, finishing second and third in this year's Kentucky Derby with Empire Maker and Peace Rules. He will send Empire Maker to the Belmont Stakes in two weeks, trying to prevent Funny Cide from winning the $5 million Visa Triple Crown Bonus.
In the co-featured Jaipur Handicap at 7 furlongs (taken off the turf), Garnered dueled with Speightstown during the early going, then edged to the lead and drew off to win by 1 1/4 length. Speightstown held second and Whitewaterspritzer was third. Garnered, a 5-year-old son of Holy Bull, finished in 1:23.49. "Victor (Carrero) rode him like a pro," said winning trainer H. Allen Jerkens. "He couldn't afford to let the other horse get away."
In other Memorial Day racing:
Redattore stayed in touch with pace-setting Special Ring during the early furlongs of the $350,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile, challenged for the lead at mid-stretch and finally got by to win by 3/4 length. Touch of the Blues was third. Redattore, a Brazilian-bred 8-year-old, was timed in 1:33.37 over a firm course. "Couldn't have been better," said winning trainer Richard Mandella. "He was as good as he can be. He was as good as anybody could be. He's just been phenomenal this year." Jose Valdiva Jr., who rode Special Ring, admitted he had "hats off to the winner. But we're looking for a rematch down the road."
Fillies and mares ran over the turf course in the $350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap and Tates Creek was the best after 9 furlongs. The 5-year-old Rahy mare came three-wide into the stretch and scored by 1 length over Dublino. Megahertz finished third. Tates Creek was clocked in 1:46.97. "It's no surprise to me," said Humberto Ascanio, assistant to winning trainer Bobby Frankel. "I mean, she's one of the best fillies in the country right now." Jockey Patrick Valenzuela rode Tate's Creek.
In the final Memorial Day stake, Blazonry came from last in a field of nine to win the $150,000 Laz Barrera Memorial by 2 1/2 lengths over Fly to the Wire. Jimmy O was third. Blazonry, a son of Hennessy, finished the 7-furlong event for 3-year-olds in 1:22.19 under Mike Smith.
Lone Star Park
Pie N Burger, claimed from Bob Baffert's barn last summer for $100,000, posted a mild upset in the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, drawing clear in the stretch run to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Pari-mutuel favorite Bluesthestandard dead-heated with 36-1 longshot Maysville Slew for second and third. Pie N Burger ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:42.03. Pie N Burger, trained by Cole Norman and ridden by Jamie Theriot, won an allowance race at Lone Star after shipping in from Southern California. "The way this horse ran his last race, me and Jamie were so confident," Norman said. "He came out of the race super." Owners Tom and Jesse Kagele said the son of Twining will stay at Lone Star and may return in the Bob Johnson Memorial on July 12.
In the $200,000 Winstar Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares, Eagle Lake led all the way, virtually unchallenged, and scored a minor upset by 2 1/4 lengths. Little Treasure was second and Magic Mission third with favorite Bien Nicole struggling home seventh. Eagle Lake, a Texas-bred 5-year-old daughter of Desert Royalty, ran the 1 mile on soft turf in 1:43.02. "I had everything my own way. I really did," said winning rider Gerard Melancon.
The $200,000 U.S.A. Stakes for 3-year-olds produced another upset as Crowned King rallied from well back to win by a neck over Iceanwater at 11-1 odds. Kool Humor was third and the favorite, Lone Star Deputy, struggled throughout, finishing 10th. Crowned King, a son of Barkerville, ran the 1 1/16 mile on soft turf in 1:51.58. Jockey Chandra Rennie picked up the biggest stakes victory of her career.
That Tat scored his fourth straight win by defeating Maryland invader Take Achance On Me in the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint, running the 5 furlongs in 1:00.03. And See How She Runs caught pace-setting Distinctive Code and Southern Tour in the final furlong to win the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes by 3/4 length. Drexel Monorail was up for second, giving trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel an exacta sweep.
Looking for a future-book prospect for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile this October? How about Cuvee, the 8 1/4-length winner of Monday's $150,000 Kentucky Breeders' Cup? The son of Carson City now is 2-for-2 and looked like a prospect to trainer Steve Asmussen. "He's a very nice horse and he's extremely talented," said assistant Scott Blasi. "He warrants us mapping out a schedule that fits according to his ability." Blasi said the next race may be the Bashford Manor on July 6, "if he comes back well." Jockey Lonnie Meche hardly had to ask for Cuvee's best on Monday, even though the chestnut colt hopped at the start and broke last of six starters. He passed his rivals easily and finished the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.45. First Money was second and Exploit Lad was third.
Calder Race Course
Dancing Guy, an 8-year-old Robyn Dancer gelding, rolled from well back in the field and just hit the front at the wire to win the $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap by a neck over Shotgun Fire. High Ideal, the favorite, was third. Dancing Guy, owned and trained by 80-year-old Newcomb Green, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.56. Green claimed Dancing Guy for $25,000 when he was a 3-year-old. The horse has earned almost $850,000. What an easy game this is! Asked if his charge could hit the million-dollar mark, Green replied, "Why not?"
Bay Meadows Handicap
Reba's Gold, the even-money favorite, blasted off at the top of the lane in the $100,000 Seabiscuit Handicap, winning pretty much as jockey Chance Rollins wanted. Free Corona (the press box anthem) was second, with Truly a Judge third. Reba's Gold, a 6-year-old son of Slew o'Gold, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:41.63. "As soon as I moved him from behind the dirt, he just went," said Rollins. "He took off and the race was over."
Astrid led all the way to a neck victory over Fresh Tracks in the $100,000 My Juliet Stakes for fillies and mares. Astrid, a 5-year-old Concern mare, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.65. Maresha was third.
Billy Idel found running room along the rail in the turn during Monday's $50,000 Gray's Lake Stakes and put the opportunity to good use. Shooting through the hole at the urging of jockey Ken Shino, Billy Idel went on to win by 1 length, finishing in 1:11.77. Shino said Billy Idel "was the only one that didn't have speed. When I was sitting behind them, I still had a lot of horse." Trainer Kelly Von Hemel said the winner will get a short rest.
Al's Dearly Bred came from the middle of the field to win the $45,000 Mister Gus Stakes by 1/2 length over Holy Conflict. Man o'Rhythm finished third in the about 1-mile event, run over firm turf in 1:37.47. "He's a tough old horse," said winning trainer Hugh Robertson. "He runs well every time you lead him over." He said Al's Dearly Bred, a 6-year-old gelding, may try the $150,000 Sea o'Erin on June 15 or ship to Canterbury Park.
Leather N Lace scored a gate-to-wire, 2-length victory in the $40,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15 1/5. Geardown was second and Knightsbridge Road was third. Leather N Lace is a 3-year-old gray colt by Slewdledo.
Flying Supercon wore down Classy Sheikh in the stretch drive to win the $35,000 Honor the Hero Turf Express by 1/2 length. Classy Sheikh, with Scott Stevens up, finished in 56 4/5 seconds, missing the course record by two ticks. Stevens, Canterbury's all-time riding leader, also was a regular rider for Honor the Hero.