The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship races, marvelous as they are, don't always attract every world champion. This year's edition, for example, missed Makybe Diva.
Two days and a half a world away from the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, the 7-year-old mare captured her third consecutive Melbourne Cup at Flemington -- a feat essentially without any meaningful comparison in U.S. racing.
It was the 145th running of the cup. Makybe Diva last year became the first mare to win twice. She wasn't even regarded a certain starter for this year's renewal until the final days before the race, since she won the Cox Plate 10 days earlier.
But run she did. And win she did. With Glenn Boss up, Makybe Diva saved ground, swung wide turning for home and beat On A Jeune by just more than 1 length. Xcellent was third.
"She's immortal, mate," Boss exulted.
Added trainer Lee Freedman, "Find the youngest child here on the grounds (among 130,000 fans in attendance), because only he or she will ever have a chance to witness a feat of this magnitude in their lives."
In weekend racing:
Soldier Hollow Sunday won the Group 1 Premio Roma for the second straight year, scoring by 2 1/2 lengths over a late-running Without Connexion. Epalo was third. Both Soldier Hollow and Epalo are bred in Germany. Soldier Hollow, a 5-year-old son of In the Wings, is the current German Horse of the Year.
Oak Tree at Santa Anita
California Cup Day
McCann's Mojave surged to the early lead in Sunday's $250,000 California Cup Classic, repelled a challenge from Desert Boom at the top of the lane and went on to beat that rival by 1 length. Cheroot was third in the 9-furlong test, timed in 1:48.31. McCann's Mojave is a 5-year-old son of Memo, trained by Patrick Gallagher. "He's as game as they come," said winning rider Jose Valdivia Jr.
"When he looks a horse in the eye, he's so tough to get by." Trainer Paddy Gallagher said he nominated McCann's Mojave to three Cal Cup races and picked the Classic because, "We always wanted to stretch him out and we thought this race looked easiest of the three spots. And we got lucky."
Drake's Victory came from far back to win the $175,000 California Cup Mile by 1/2 length with a well-timed ride by Corey Nakatani. The 4-year-old son of Victory Gallop finished in 1:33.85. Orbits World was second and Running Free third.
Tempting Date led most of the way to a 1/2-length victory over Beneficial Bartok in the $150,000 Cal Cup Distaff, with Resident Alien third. Tempting Date, a 3-year-old daughter of Perfect Mandate, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course in 1:12.40 with Victor Espinoza up for trainer Jeff Mullins.
Jet West found running room on the rail in the stretch run of the $150,000 Cal Cup Sprint, got the lead and held on to win by a nose over Areyoutalkintome. Thor's Echo was third. Jet West, a 4-year-old son of Western Fame, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.63.
Brite Maneuvers upset the $125,000 Juvenile, rallying in deep stretch to get home 3/4 length ahead of favorite Direct Control. However, Direct Control then was disqualified to last for stretch interference. Catouttathebag was elevated to second and Moonlite Romance to third. Brite Maneuvers, a son of High Brite, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.23 with Corey Nakatani at the controls.
Bai and Bai drew even with the leaders on the second turn in the $125,000 Juvenile Fillies and drew off in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Sierra Sweetie. Fun Logic was third. Bai and Bai, a daughter of Falstaff, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:37.63 under Roberto Gonzalez.
The $150,000 Matron went to Dawn of Summer, which came from off the pace to beat House of Fortune by 1 1/2 lengths. Proposed was third. Dawn of Summer, a 6-year-old gray mare by Siberian Summer, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:42.21 for Patrick Valenzuela.
Moscow Burning led from the git-go in the $100,000 Distance Handicap for fillies and mares. With Kent Desormeaux conserving her energy on the lead, the 5-year-old daughter of Moscow Ballet got home 3/4 length ahead of Dancing General. Fortunate Event was third. Moscow Burning ran the 1 1/4 mile in 2:00.72 on firm turf.
Saturday, Mea Domina led from the start in winning the $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap for fillies and mares by 1 length over favorite Elusive Diva. Star Parade was a neck farther back in third. Mea Domina, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Dance Brightly, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.59 under Taylor Baze. "We weren't planning to run," said winning trainer Ron McAnally. "When they canceled turf racing (at Hollywood Park), we had to go."
Pegasusbystorm came from just off the pace to win Saturday's $50,000 Storm Cat Stakes for 2-year-olds by 1 1/4 lengths over Wilentz. St. Augustus was third. Pegasusbystorm is a Kentucky-bred of Fusaichi Pegasus from the Storm Cat mare Hidden Cat. The colt ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:44.19 under Jose Caraballo.
Schedule, after breaking from the inside post, led all the way to win Saturday's $60,000 Honey Bee Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over Defrere's Venture. Ask Queenie was third. Schedule, a British-bred, 4-year-old daughter of Brian's Time, ran 1 1/16 mile for Edwin King Jr. in 1:44.09.
The word didn't get around about Rumor Has It because the 4-year-old Awesome Again gelding went to the post at 17-1 in Saturday's $60,000 John Henry Stakes. Those who did hear about him cashed big when jockey Harry Varga booted Rumor Has It right to the lead and never looked back, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Westmoreland. Publisher's Phil was third and the favorite, Ground Hero, was last. The 1 3/8 mile on firm turf went in 2:14.31.
Gilded Gold stalked the pace in Saturday's $85,000 Kattegat's Pride Stakes for fillies and mares, came off the rail entering the stretch run and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Tight Spin. Ambition Unbridled was third while the odds-on favorite, Bright Gold, finished fourth. Gilded Gold, a 4-year-old Gilded Time filly, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.70 seconds under Enrique Jurado.
Bending Strings drew clear in the stretch drive of Sunday's $150,000 Chilukki Handicap for fillies and mares and won off by 4 1/2 lengths over Prospective Saint. Miss Fortunate was third. Bending Strings, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of American Chance, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.19 with Robby Albarado in the irons for trainer Wally Dollase. Dollase said he tried Bending Strings at longer distances during a nine-race losing streak. "We were hoping that if she did well at 1 1/8 mile, we would go in the Breeders' Cup with her ... She just seems to chuck it a little bit at that distance."
Saturday, Catcominatcha upset the $100,000 Iroquois Stakes for 2-year-olds, rallying through the stretch to catch High Cotton at the 16th pole and win by a neck. Mondavi was third and the favorite, Mr. Pinstripe, finished fifth with a late rally, unable to overcome a bad start and some traffic trouble. Satcominatcha, a Kentucky-bred son of Tale of the Cat, got the 1 mile in 1:36.38 with Rafael Bejarano riding for trainer Eddie Kenneally. The colt has two wins and two seconds in six starts. "He's never run a bad race, really," said Kenneally. "He's improving all the time. He's a gutsy little horse."
French Park challenged for the lead with a furlong left in Saturday's $100,000 Pocahontas Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, dueled for another furlong and then edged clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Trippi Street. Coolwind was third. French Park, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Ecton Park, ran 1 mile under Mark Guidry in 1:37.19. She was coming off a 12 1/4-length victory in her first career start at Keeneland. "I just thought it was a big jump to go from a maiden win to a stake like this," said winning trainer Helen Pitts. "She certainly proved to us at Keeneland in winning by 12 1/4 that we had good reason to try something like this."
Retribution opened a daylight lead on the backstretch in Sunday's $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes Cormorant Division and held on nicely to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Unnerving. Red Down South was third under the wire. Retribution, a 3-year-old son of Rob 'n Gin, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.33.
Champagne Ending led early and drew clear late to win the $100,000 Perfect Arc Division for fillies and mares by 6 3/4 lengths over Forbidden Sea. Square Dancing was third. Champagne Ending, a 3-year-old Precise End filly, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.95 for Pablo Fragoso.
In the $125,000 Great White Way Division, for juvenile males, Classic Pack dueled with Surfing Ian most of the way around, then worked clear to beat that rival by 1 1/2 lengths. Trick Meeting was third. Classic Pack, a son of Regal Classic, completed the 6 furlongs in 1:11.30.
And in the $125,000 Fifth Avenue Division for juvenile fillies, Princess Sweet came from just off the pace, got the lead on the turn and drew off to win by 4 3/4 lengths over No Reason. The favorite, Little Miss Zip, zipped to the lead and then faded to finish third. Princess Sweet, a daughter of Precise End, got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.60.
On Saturday, Olaya rallied smartly along the rail and just got up to win the $150,000 Long Island Handicap by a neck over Spotlight. Kate Winslet was 1 length farther back in third. Olaya, a 3-year-old daughter of Theatrical, ran the 1 1/12 mile on firm turf in 2:30.28 with Edgar Prado up. "She relaxed most of the way," said Prado. "I had her covered up until it was time to go. When I found some room, she realy kicked in." It was Olaya's first start in the United States.
Also Saturday, Indian Vale led all the way to a for-fun, 9 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap. Tattinger Rose was second and Asti third. Indian Vale, a 3-year-old, Ontario-bred daughter of A.P. Indy, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.83. "A mile and an eighth is more her game, where she can just gallop along," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher, explaining the improvement since Indian Vale's third-place finish in the Cotillion at Philly Park a month ago.
Golden Gate Fields
Eastern Sand tracked Mr. Splash all the way around in Saturday's $100,000 Silky Sullivan Handicap for 3-year-olds, then just got up in the final stride to put a nose in front under the wire. Edgar Pharisien was third. Eastern Sand, a Florida-bred son of Line in The Sand, ran 1 1/8 mile on firm turf in 1:49.03. Victor Espinoza rode the winner.
Colonial Surprise posted a mild surprise finish in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ontario Fashion Handicap for fillies and mares. Racing from a pace-staking position, the 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Colonial Affair got to the lead with a furlong to go and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Search the Church. Tamara was third and the odds-on favorite, Silver Bird, was sixth after a troubled start. Colonial Surprise ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.89.
Ashby Hill rallied past pace-setting Dangerous Devon in the final 16th to win Saturday's $60,000 Lea County Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds. Dangerous Devon held second and Devon Rules finished third. Ashby Hill, a Washington-bred gelding by Cahill Road, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.80 with Ken Tohill in the irons.
Sunday, Rocky Gulch won the $140,000 New Mexico Cup Classic by 3/4 length over Cattleman Prospect. Off Shore Prospect was third under the wire. Rocky Gulch, a 4-year-old son of Dry Gulch, went quickly to the front and maintained a comfortable advantage under jockeyt Jorge Bordieu. He completed the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.
News and notes
Ellis Park reportedly suffered serious damage and at least three horses were killed in the Saturday night tornadoes that tore through parts of Kentucky and Indiana. The storm added to the woes inflicted by weather earlier on Fair Grounds and Calder Race Course. ...The 22nd Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park established records for total handle, Breeders' Cup-only handle and simulcast handle. Total all-sources handle for the 10-race, all-stakes card was $124,009,593.