The course was softened by rain at Ascot in England Saturday for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and the result was a bit of an upset of some of the world's top grass horses.
Alamshar, with John Murtagh in the irons, sat just off the pace, took the lead with 2 furlongs to run and was the only contender with anything left. At the finish, Alamshar was 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Sulamani. Falbrav was third.
Alamshar is owned by the Aga Khan and trained by John Oxx. Earlier this year, he defeated previously unbeaten Dalakhani in the Irish Derby. Said Murtagh: "I waited and waited and when I went on at about the 2-furlong pole, it soon went quiet and I knew we had gone clear."
The Aga Khan also owns Dalakhani and will have a decision to make about whether to send both of his colts to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp or to reserve one for another course of action - perhaps one that could include the $2 million John Deere Turf on Breeders' Cup Championship Day on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
In other weekend races in the Turf Division:
--Honor in War earned a spot in the Aug. 16 Arlington Million with an off-the-pace victory in Saturday's $250,000 Arlington Handicap at the same distance on the same course. Trained by Paul McGee and ridden by Alex Solis, the 4-year-old son of Lord at War went to the lead on the turn for home and win by a neck over Better Talk Now. Mystery Giver, an Illinois-bred, ran third. Honor in War won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day two starts back, then finished a close sixth in the Manhattan Handicap at Belmont on a soft course. He has seven wins from 15 starts. "He broke so nice and I got a great spot," said Flores. "He relaxed so beautifully on the backside. When I shook him a little bit, he responded real strong." McGee added, "If all goes well between now and then, the Arlington Million is definitely our goal." Gretchen's Star ran last in the Arlington Handicap.
In other races with potential implications for the Breeders's Cup Championships:
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
--At Del Mar, Megahertz rallied from the back of the field to upset Saturday's $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap by 1/2 length. There was a triple dead-heat for place among Tates Creek, Dublino and Golden Apples. Megahertz, a 4-year-old, British-bred daughter of Pivotal, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49, picking up her eighth win in 21 starts. She is trained by Bobby Frankel.
--Voodoo Dancer won an extended stretch duel with Heat Haze in Saturday's $500,000 Diana Handicap at Saratoga, getting to the wire a neck in front. Pertuisane was third. Heat Haze and Pertuisane ran as an entry for trainer Bobby Frankel. Voodoo Dancer, a 5-year-old Kingmambo mare, finished the 9 furlongs of firm turf in 1:47.98. "I'm very happy," said winning trainer Christophe Clement. "Maybe we will try the Beverly D. (Aug. 16 at Arlington Park) when we see how she comes out of this."
--Owsley swung wide into the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park, grabbed the lead and went on to win by 1 length over pace-setting Bien Nicole. Beret was third under the wire. Trained by Randy Schulhofer and ridden by Rene Douglas, Owsley ran the 1 3/16 mile on a firm course in stakes-record time of 1:55.06. Schulhofer said Owsley, a 5-year-old daughter of Harlan, will be considered for the Grade I Beverly D. on Arlington Million Day, Aug. 16. The mare had struggled this year after a highly successful 4-year-old season that included graded stakes victories at Belmont, Saratoga and Keeneland - all on less-than-firm turf.
$1 million Mile (turf)
--Special Ring led all the way to win Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar by 5 lengths over Decarchy in course-record time of 1:45.87. Irish Warrior was third and the favorite, Redattore, faded to finish sixth after leading. After Special Ring, the other five starters were separated under the wire by a neck, head, nose and nose. Special Ring, a 6-year-old son of Nureyev, will be held for the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, said trainer Julio Canani.
--Trademark scored a bit of an upset in Friday's $150,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga, working between horses on the turn for room and then jetting clear to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Rouvres was second and Slew Valley third. The favorite, Del Mar Show, faded to finish fifth after setting the early pace. Trademark, a 7-year-old, South African-bred gelding, ran 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:49.06. "I thought today a mile and an eighth would be his best distance," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "But I've only had him since April 5 and we've only run him twice, so you are always learning."
$2 million Distaff
Sightseek, the heavy odds-on favorite, lived up to her notices in Sunday's $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga, drawing off in the lane to score by 11 1/2 lengths over She's Got the Beat. Nonesuch Bay was third. Sightseek, a 4-year-old daughter of Distant View, is yet another from the barn of Bobby Frankel. Jerry Bailey applied the winning ride. "I was a little surprised at how easy she won," Frankel said. "I got a little nervous when I saw 1-9 (odds)." He said he expects Sightseek to run back during the Belmont fall meeting. She now has won three straight and has never missed the exacta in 11 lifetime starts.
$1 million Sprint
Beau's Town was the first California starter for Louisiana-based trainer Cole Norman and both horse and conditioner seemed to like the experience. Running on the front, the 5-year-old gelding won Saturday's $200,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Captain Squire. Bluesthestandard was third. Beau's Town, an Arkansas-bred son of Beau Genius, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:07 4/5, just a tick off the track record. "I love California," Norman said. "First time here, first time to run one here and everything went well." Winning rider Pat Valenzuela said he was surprised at Beau's Town's turn of foot. "The track isn't that fast today," he said. "And still he ran a time like that. If the track had been souped up, he would have broken the track record." Bing Crosby was a co-founder of Del Mar.
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
--Chapel Royal had no trouble with six rivals in Thursday's $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, taking the lead when asked by jockey John Velazquez and drawing off to score by 5 3/4 lengths over Blushing Indian. Flushing Meadows was third. Heckle was last after stumbling at the start and rushing up into contention. Sent off as the even-money favorite, Chapel Royal ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:10.74. He is a Florida-bred son of Montbrook. "He's just a young horse, talented and learning," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. He said the Aug. 30 Hopeful may be Chapel Royal's next start.
--Next Bandit scored a gate-to-wire victory in Saturday's $50,000 Honest Pleasure Stakes at Arlington Park. With Rene Douglas in the irons, the son of Time Bandit covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.97. He early finished sixth in the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs and now is 3-for-4 lifetime.
--Stormthebarricade, a son of Kiridashi, won Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bull Page Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths over Kent Ridge. Imperial Alydeed was third. "He's very competitive," said winning rider Emile Ramsammy. In his last start, Stormthebarricade fell after clipping heels with a rival. Trainer Laurie Silvera said she had the colt "about 75 percent fit" after the mishap. "I pampered him," she said.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
--Ashado, the luke-warm favorite, used a quick move on the turn to take the lead in Wednesday's $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga and worked clear to win by 3 lengths over Maple Syrup. Hermione's Magic finished third after leading the way. Ashado, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Saint Ballado, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:12.12 for Edgar Prado. Todd Pletcher trains the first- and third-place finishers and said he will consult the owners before deciding on their course of action. "I would guess that Ashado will go straight to the Spinaway," he said.
--Dirty Diana, a Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Flying Continental, romped off to an 8 1/2-length victory in Friday's $125,000 CTBA Stakes at Del Mar. Champ's Rocket was second and Blowing Bartok third. The 5 1/2 furlongs took 1:03.31 - a stakes record. "We bought her to win stakes with," Baffert said. "Now we can brag on her." The filly is nominated to the Del Mar Debutante.
--Donald Lebovitz and trainer Steve Owens claimed La Grande Mama out of her debut race on July 4 - a smashing win -- for $25,000. Saturday, the filly more than tripled the investment, earning $82,425 (Canadian) as the winner of the Nandi Stakes. Running on a muddy strip, jockey Patrick Husbands sat right behind the longshot pacemaker, then let his filly run through the stretch to win by 4 lengths over Boozin Blonde. My Vintage Port finished third. "All you can do is start smiling," Owens said of the successful claim. "She's a lovely filly."
In other weekend racing:
Lady Tak upset Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town in Saturday's $250,000 Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 4 1/2 lengths. House Party was third in the 7-furlong event, timed in stakes-record time of 1:20.83. Jerry Bailey rode the winner for trainer Steve Asmussen. "She was there all the way around," Bailey said. "She went when I wanted her to go. She was very impressive." Asmussen said the 9-furlong Gazelle at Belmont on Sept. 6 "or something like that could be a fabulous race for her."
Wiggins stepped up from state-bred company to win Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths over Best Minister. Winning for the fifth time in eight trips to the track, Wiggins finished the 9 furlongs under Eusebio Razo Jr. in 1:50.47. "Going in to the first turn, I had a real tough time relaxing my horse," Razo said. "But after that, he was just pushbutton."
Dubai Sheikh swept five-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes and just caught Shah Jehan in the late going to win by a neck. Sterling Gold was third. The favorite, Twilight Road, challenged down the backstretch but gave way and finished last of seven. Dubai Sheikh, a Kentucky-bred son of Kayrawan, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs under Jason Lumpkins in 1:16.28. Shah Jehan, a $4.4 million yearling purchase trained by D. Wayne Lukas, picked up his fifth second-place finish to go with four wins from 27 starts. Dubai Sheikh, a $45,000 bargain, has won five of 13 starts.
Sing Me Back Home rebounded from a 7-month vacation to win Saturday's $100,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths over Deer Run. The favorite, Say Florida Sandy, finished third. Sing Me Back Home, a 5-year-old son of Homebuilder, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.45. Jeremy Rose rode for trainer Allen Iwinski. "It was impressive," Iwinski said. "He had been training just excellent." He said he does not yet have a next race picked out for Sing Me Back Home.
Traffic Chief didn't have to worry about much traffic in Saturday's $125,000 New York Derby for state-breds. The Colonial Affair colt went right to the front and never looked back, coasting home a 3-lengths winner over Spite the Devil. Go Rockin' Robin was third. Traffic Chief ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.74.
Tucked Away ran from the back of the pack to upset Sunday's $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for Cal-bred 3-year-old fillies. With Gary Stevens taking time off from "Seabiscuit" festivities to take the mount, Tucked Away edged clear in the stretch to win by 1 length over Summer Wind Dancer. Abby's Not Normal was third. Tucked Away, by Unusual Heat, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.34.
Vinemeister upset Saturday's $100,000 Salvator Mile Handicap, stalking the early pace before challenging for the lead at the quarter pole. At the wire, the 4-year-old son of Williamstown held off Jersey Giant to win by 3/4 length. Highway Prospector was third with a late run. Vinemeister finished in 1:35.89 on a fast track.
Sunday, City Fire took a quick lead in the $60,000 Serena's Song Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and quickly dusted five rivals, drawing out to win by 16 1/2 lengths. Tigress Bythetail was second and Charleston Springs third. City Fire, a daughter of Carson City, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:41.95.
Calder Race Course
Supah Blitz wasn't bothered when Saturday's $50,000 Roman Brother Stakes for 3-year-old came off the turf onto a sloppy main track. The son of Mecke, who ran 13th in the Kentucky Derby, scooted off in the stretch to post a 4 3/4-length victory in Saturday's effort. The Name's Bond was second and King Cassia was third. The 1 1/16 mile went in 1:43.77. Supah Blitz in a son of 1996 Arlington Million winner Mecke. "I'd rather it had been on grass," said winning trainer Manny Tortora. "But that's all right. "He said he is considering the $600,000 West Virginia Derby in two weeks time or the $400,000 Secretariat at Arlington on Aug. 16. "We'll have to see."
Sunday, Hermans Honor rolled from well back in the field to win the $40,000 Precious Feather Stakes by a neck over Lost Appeal. What a Price was third, another head back. Hermans Honor, a 4-year-old daughter of Katowice, ran 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:28.59.
Crowned King sat behind a moderate pace in Saturday's $50,000 Bossier City Handicap for 3-year-olds, waited for room in the stretch and then kicked clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Zydeco Affair. Gentlemen JJ was third. Crowned King, a son of Barkerville, ran the "about" 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.47.
Golden Tour shook off a stumble at the start to win Saturday's $100,000 Queen City Oaks for Ohio-breds by 3 1/4 lengths over Orangeberry. Just Michel finished third. Golden Tour, a daughter of Lac Oumet, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:54.
Ghostly Numbers led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 Mister Diz Stakes for Maryland-breds. At the wire, the son of Polish Numbers held off a late-running Buenos Dias to win by 1/2 length. Elberton was third. Ghostly Number, who also won the Mister Diz last year, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a "good" turf course in 1:05.56. Said winning jockey Rick Wilson, "I just let him do as he pleased and took a long hold."
Perfect Moment - the only filly in the field -- surged to the lead on the backstretch in Saturday's $50,000 Iowa Stallion Stakes, then drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over S.S. Bounty. Sent off as the favorite in a field of eight, Perfect Moment ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:41.89. The Dazzling Falls filly "broke good and was very aggressive," said winning rider Perry Compton. "There just wasn't speed in there for her to settle down." Trainer Kelly Von Hemel said Perfect Moment will be pointed to the Iowa Breeders' Oaks on Iowa Classic Night on Aug. 30.
At 15-1, Tricky Pick Six was the longest shot in Saturday's $50,000 Minnesota Derby. At the wire, the gelding won by more lengths than there were digits in his odds - a 16 1/2-length margin over Ima Smarty Boy. Imagery was third. Tricky Pick Six, with Bobby Walker Jr. up, finished in 1:42 1/5.
In Saturday's $50,000 Minnesota Oaks, She's Scrumpy picked up her second stakes win of the month, catching pace-setting Maywood's Jill in the late going. She's Scrumpy, who won the Princess Elaine on Fourth of July weekend, finished Saturday's effort in 1:44 2/5.
Poker Brad stalked the early pace in Sunday's $50,000 Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap, took the lead a furlong out and won by 3 1/2 lengths over Moonlight Meeting. Alfurune was third. Poker Brad, a 5-year-old Go for Gin gelding, ran 9 furlongs in 1:46.80.
Youcan'ttakeme led from gate to wire in winning Saturday's $40,000 Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by 5 1/2 lengths. The daughter of He's Tops, bred in Washington, was never challenged and finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:41 2/5, ridden out.