Big names didn't mean much in Labor Day weekend racing.
Sun King, Flower Alley and long-ago Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide all were victimized in Saturday's $500,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga. And, across the continent at Del Mar, Bob and John and Brother Derek -- both early contenders for this year's Derby -- also fell to an upsetter in the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds.
None of the results did anything to bring clarity to the prospective field for the upcoming $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
In the Woodward, after pressing the pace most of the way around, 31-1 shot Premium Tap just got by on the outside to win by 1/2 length. Second of June, sent off at 21-1, finished 3/4 length in front of the favorite, Sun King. Flower Alley finished seventh and Funny Cide was eighth. Premium Tap, a 4-year-old son of Pleasant Tap, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.65 for jockey Kent Desormeaux.
"He's been kind of under the radar for quite some time," said winning trainer John Kimmel. Although Premium Tap is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, he said, "There are plenty of good races ... . Maybe we can take a trip to Dubai with him next year."
Premium Tap has won five of 14 starts. He came into the Woodward off a fifth-place finish in the Whitney, won by Invasor.
In the El Cajon at Del Mar, jockey Corey Nakatani took Cindago out to the lead and nobody could catch him. Bob and John got within 1/2 length at the wire, with Da Stoops well back in third. Brother Derek pressed the pace, tired and faded to finish a well-beaten fourth, inflating the show payoffs. Cindago, a Kentucky-bred son of Indian Charlie, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.51.
"This is a horse of unlimited potential," Nakatani said. Trainer John Sadler "had him right where he wanted him." Sadler added the colt had some knee problems earlier in the year "and we had to stop on him. But he's come back really well and it looks like we should have a fun horse."
In other races with potential implications for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Churchill Downs:
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- Pomeroy raced with the leaders early in Saturday's $250,000 Forego Stakes at Saratoga, forged to the lead as the field turned for home and won off by 2 1/4 lengths over War Front. Friendly Island finished third and the favorite, Commentator, finished 10th of 11 in a dull effort. Pomeroy, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Boundary, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.39 with John Velazquez up for trainer Marty Wolfson. "We just sat there and waited," Velazquez said. "The first two or three jumps out of the gate went pretty good. By the fourth jump, he was in the bridle and I didn't have to do much with him." Wolfson said had "really only planned on running him two or three times this year. So we might train him into the (Sprint)."
-- In England, Reverence picked up his second Group 1 win in less than two weeks with a victory in the Sprint Cup Stakes Saturday at Haydock Park. The 5-year-old son of Esteem doubled up his Aug. 24 victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. At the end of Saturday's test, Reverence was a neck to the good of Quito, whose erratic going in the final yards may have cost him the decision. Reverence now has eight wins from 14 starts, though he didn't start until he was 4. Trainer Eric Alston said he will move on to the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp on Oct. 1.
$2 million Emirates Airline Distaff
-- Sea Siren, the longest chance on the board at nearly 15-1, went right to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 Arlington Matron at Arlington Park and just kept on running. At the wire, she was 4 lengths in front, with Stop a Train second and Sunset Kisses third. Sea Siren, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:49.19 on a fast track for jockey Mark Guidry. "She broke real good," Guidry said. "I was a little worried on the backside because I thought we were going pretty quick. But, turning for home, I punched on her and she took off."
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Circular Quay rallied from last of five to win Monday's $250,000 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, finishing 4 1/4 lengths ahead of stablemate Scat Daddy. Unbridled Express, Pegasus Wind and Irish Ace completed the order of finish. Circular Quay, a son of Thunder Gulch, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23 under Garrett Gomez. "I thought both horses ran extremely well," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "Scat Daddy broke a half-step slow and rushed up and had to steady a bit and was part of that speed duel ... . I think this puts both horses right at the top of the class." Circular Quay now is 3-for-3 and Pletcher said that makes him "the divisional leader at this stage."
-- Passport started a drive at the top of the stretch in Monday's $200,000 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes at River Downs and was just up at the wire to win by a neck over Izzie's Halo. Bold Start, the early leader, held on to save third. Passport, a Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:46. Corey Lanerie was in the irons for trainer Frankie Brothers. Passport has won both his starts.
-- Xchanger rallied from last of seven to win Monday's $150,000 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park by 3/4 length over Actin Good. Buffalo Man was third and the favorite, Air Lord, was fourth after getting trapped in traffic on the turn. Xchanger, a Florida-bred son of Exchange Rate, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.68. Joe Bravo applied the winning ride. Winning trainer Mark Shuman said he is looking at the Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 23. "We don't want to push him," Shuman said. "But if he goes to Belmont and does well, we might take a chance at the Breeders' Cup."
-- Straight Faced, the odds-on favorite, pressed the early pace in Saturday's $150,000 Florida Stallion Stakes Affirmed Division, got to the leaders at mid-stretch and ran on well to win by 1/2 length over Villainage. Green Vegas was third. Straight Faced, a bay son of Straight Man, remains undefeated after four starts. He ran 7 furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:26.03 with Manoel Cruz up for trainer Stephen DiMauro. DiMauro said he has had trouble with Straight Faced's feet. "Now, we have six weeks to the ($400,000 In Reality Division), which gives a little more time to work with the foot ... . If all goes well, that's where we're headed," DiMauro said.
-- Spot the Diplomat and stablemate Street Lights finished 1-2 in Monday's $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes for Cal-breds at Del Mar. Zoning In was 6 1/2 lengths farther back in third. Spot the Diplomat, a son of Worldly Manner, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.56 under Victor Espinoza.
-- Chief Officer jumped to the lead right out of the gate in Monday's $250,518 New York Breeders' Futurity for state-breds at Finger Lakes and ran off to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Horse Thief was second and Solid Strike third. Chief Officer, a son of Officer, got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.16 for Fernando Jara. Bill Mott trains the colt for Zayat Stables.
-- Legal Move made a brisk move at the eighth pole in Monday's $125,000 (Canadian) Simcoe Stakes at Woodbine, circling the leaders and driving off to win by 5 1/4 lengths. Mutakinmove was second and Backgammon third. Legal Move, an Ontario-bred son of Bold Executive, negotiated the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:17.76. Patrick Husbands was up for trainer Mark Casse.
-- Going Ballistic broke last of 11 in Saturday's $100,000 Skyy El Jovan Stakes at Retama Park in Texas, came five-wide around rivals into the stretch and took off like a rocket, just up at the wire to win by a neck. Western Prize finished second and Locomotion was third. Going Ballistic, a Florida-bred colt by Lite the Fuse, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.29 for jockey M. Berry.
$2 million Juvenile Fillies
-- Appealing Zophie cruised to a dominating victory in Sunday's $250,000 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, leading from the start and winning by 5 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Cotton Blossom. X Star finished third. Appealing Zophie, a Florida-bred daughter of Successful Appeal, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:23.79 for Shaun Bridgmohan. The filly now has two wins from three tries -- the only loss being a second-place finish at Mountaineer Park. "She's got a very good turn of foot," said winning trainer Steve Blasi, "and I do think she'll go far. She's got the best quality you can have. And that's speed." Cotton Blossom's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said jockey John Velazquez reported his mount "struggled with the track."
-- Point Ashley got to the lead at mid-stretch in Monday's $250,000 Del Mar Debutante and held on despite running a bit erratically through the final furlong to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Untouched Talent. She's Included was included in the top three. Point Ashley is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Point Given, out of the Slew o' Gold mare Golden Thatch. Point Ashley, with Victor Espinoza up for trainer Bob Baffert, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:23.34. Espinoza won a record seven races on the Del Mar holiday card. "She's a good horse, maybe a great horse," Espinoza said. "She sure made me happy today."
-- Adhrhythm came from a pace-stalking position to assume the lead turning for home in Saturday's $150,000 Florida Stallion Stakes Susan's Girl Division, then simply ran away from her six rivals, winning by 8 1/2 lengths. Silkily was best of the rest and Snow Lady finished third. The favorite, Graeme Central, finished sixth in a steady fade. Adhrhythm is a daughter of Adhocracy, out of the Prospector's Halo mare Relic Rhythm. She ran the 7 furlongs in 1:26.77 over a sloppy, sealed track with Manoel Cruz aboard. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had three fillies in the race. "Going in, I had all three rated just about the same. But this one ran a big race and looks like she wants to go a distance," he said. He added Adhrhythm will go on to the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division on Oct. 14.
-- Devil House set a pressured pace into the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Pepsi Bassinet Stakes at River Downs in Ohio, got clear at the top of the stretch and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Taletobetold. Beautiful Venue and V.I.P. Princess dead-heated for third and fourth. Devil House, a Kentucky-bred filly by Chester House, got the 6 furlongs in 1:12.20 with Rodney Prescott in the irons. She went to the post as the even-money favorite. "She broke sharp again today and maybe got a little more pressure early," said Prescott. "But she's a first-class filly."
-- Our Fantene dueled around the course with odds-on favorite Eternal Grace in Sunday's $100,000 Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park, exchanged some bumps in the process and was just up at the wire to win by a head. Lia's Luck was well back in third. Our Fantene, a New Jersey-bred daughter of Touch Gold, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.45 with Eddie Castro up. "We've always been very high on her and she did everything right today," said winning trainer Cal Lynch. "I'm not sure where we'll go with her just yet."
-- Only If Split moved to the lead on the backstretch in Monday's $125,000 (Canadian) Muskoka Stakes at Woodbine and held on to win by 1 length over Simply Stylish. Midnight Shadow was the show horse. Only If Split is an Ontario-bred daughter of One Way Love. She ran 6 1/2 furlongs for Jono Jones in 1:18.99.
-- Irene's Bonus Baby got the jump on a half dozen rivals in Sunday's $100,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes at Emerald Downs in Washington and held on to win by 3/4 length over Cascade Rose. The favorite, Judicature, stayed close but couldn't close any ground in the stretch and got home third. Irene's Bonus Baby, a Washington-bred daughter of Free At Last, got the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37 under Ben Russell.
-- Stage Stop rallied from last of 12 to win Saturday's $100,000 M2 Technology La Senorita Stakes at Retama Park by a neck over Glamorous Cat. Miss Atlantic City finished third. Stage Stop, a Texas-bred filly by Valid Expectations, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.79 under jockey Larry Taylor.
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
-- Get Funky dueled for the lead early in Sunday's $400,000 Del Mar Derby, got to the front turning for home and edged clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Obrigado. Union Avenue finished third and the favorite, Porto Santo, closed too late, finishing fourth. Gete Funky, a Florida-bred colt by Straight Man, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.39. Jose Valdivia Jr. was up for trainer John Sadler. Valdivia said when Get Funky was challenged on both sides, he "swelled up and got really competitive. He liked that. Then when I called on him, he really gave it to me. What a horse."
-- Another Ascot led from gate to wire in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Vice Regent Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds at Woodbine, winning by a neck over the favorite, Uncle Max. I'm Spectral finished third. Another Ascot, a gelded son of Ascot Knight, ran the 1 mile on "soft" turf in 1:38.09 under Constant Montpellier.
$3 million John Deere Turf
-- Rock Lobster had to weave through traffic at a couple crucial stages of Sunday's $100,000 Saranac Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga but overcame everything and was just up at the wire to win by a neck over Devil's Preacher. Murch finished third. Rock Lobster, a Florida-bred colt by Mt. Livermore, ran 1 3/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:57.36 under jockey Eibar Coa. "I was saving ground and the horses in front of me were slowing down," said Coa. "I had to stop on him a little and he jumped up and overreacted. When I was able to straighten him out and get him outside, he just too off." Michael Dickinson trains the colt.
-- Librettist, a star in the Godolphin firmament, led all the way to a 1/2 length victory in Sunday's Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. The 4-year-old Danzig colt now is undefeated in five starts this season and has won seven of eight career starts. He did not start last year because of injuries. The colt is expected to try next in the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot on Sept. 23 and then move along to the Breeders' Cup Turf.
-- Prince Flori finished ninth in the Deutches Derby but made up for that effort with a huge upset in Sunday's Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden at Iffezheim Racecourse. Moving to the front with under 500 meters to run, Prince Flori scored by 3 lengths over Oriental Tiger, with Saddex third. The favorite, Deutches Derby winner Schiaparelli, finished sixth in what was expected to be a warm-up for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 1 at Longchamp. Prince Flori got the 2,400 meters in 2:33.98 over "good" turf.
-- Don'tbotherknocking rallied strongly down the stretch to win Monday's $150,000 Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup at Remington Park by 1 1/2 length over Major Rhythm. Mad Adam was third. Don'tbotherknocking, an 8-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Farma Way, ran 9 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:48.14 for jockey Quincy Hamilton.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Mea Dominga made all the pace in Saturday's $200,000 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar and then held on gamely to win by a neck over Three Degrees. Island Fashion finished third and the favorite, Shining Energy, was home fourth. Mea Dominga, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Dance Brightly, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:39.67 under Tyler Baze.
-- Noble Stella stalked the pace in Monday's $100,000 Glens Falls Handicap at Saratoga, easily went to the lead on the turn and drew off to win by 2 lengths over Latice. Louve Royale finished third. Noble Stella, a 5-year-old, German-bred daughter of Monsun, ran the 1 3/8 mile on the inner turf in 2:16.02 with Mike Smith up for trainer Roger Attfield.
In other racing on the long Labor Day weekend:
Golden Gate Fields
Spellbinder was out to an early lead in Monday's $150,000 Berkeley Handicap, was headed in deep stretch but came again to win by a neck over Sharp Writer. Cooperation was third. Spellbinder, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Tale of the Cat, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:43.07. Roberto Gonzalez rode for trainer Richard Mandella.
Sip One for Mom rallied between horses on the turn in Sunday's $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap for Cal-bred fillies and mares, survived some late bumping and was just up to win by a nose as all six starters finished within 3 lengths separation. Moscow Burning, the heaviest of favorites, finished second and Janzig Moon was third. Sip One for Mom, a 4-year-old daughter of Bartok, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.46 under David Cohen.
Essential Edge went with the leaders in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ontario Colleen Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, took the lead at the top of the stretch and ran off to win by 4 lengths over Strike Softly. Like a Gem finished third. Essential Edge, an Ontario-bred filly by Storm Cat, got the 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:35.96 with Jono Jones in the irons.
Raise the Bluff rallied from well back in the field to win Monday's $100,000 Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby by 1 length over Zillah's Knight. Exclusive Eagle, the favorite, was third after breaking from the outside post position. Raise the Bluff, a Maryland-bred colt by Pine Bluff, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49 4/5. Nathan Chavez rode for trainer Junior Coffey.
My Lucky Free got to the lead on the turn in Sunday's $100,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes for fillies and mares and drew off in the stretch to win by 3 lengths. Summer Sting finished second and Gipsy Limits was third. My Lucky Free, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Mazel Trick, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.13 for jockey Joe Bravo.
Monday, Who's the Cowboy was the come-from-behind winner of the $125,000 Icecapade Stakes, closing five-wide to score by 1 length over Weigelia. Gold and Roses finished third. Who's the Cowboy, a 4-year-old, Jersey-bred gelding by Intensity, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.03 under Edwin King Jr.
Calder Race Course
Rehoboth rallied from second-last and was all-out to win Monday's $80,000 Carterista Handicap by 1/2 length over How's Your Halo. Cheiron was third. Rehoboth, a 3-year-old, Florida-bred son of Wagon Limit, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:45.93. Manoel Cruz was aboard for trainer Frank Gomez.
Runaway Julie rallied from well back with a wide move into the stretch and went on to win Saturday's $75,000 Rose DeBartolo Memorial for Ohio-bred fillies and mares by a neck over Bright Pyrite. The latter then was disqualified to fifth, promoting Bold Passage to second and Misty Tab to third. Runaway Julie, a 5-year-old mare by Left Banker, ran 9 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:54.90 for jockey Rigo Sarmiento.
Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort
Stormina got through on the rail on the turn in Monday's $75,000 Summer Finale Stakes for fillies and mares and took charge in the lane, winning by 5 lengths over Island Escape. Miss Hamma finished third. Stormina, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Gulch, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:37.49 with Joe Espinoza up.
Cherokee Prince led from gate to wire in Monday's $75,000 Labor Day Stakes, winning by 2 3/4 lengths over Yucatan. Donald's Pride finished third and the favorite, Tiganello, got home sixth. Cherokee Prince, a 6-year-old son of Cherokee Run, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:37.09 under Mike Allen.
Erroneous I D had plenty of credentials in Saturday's $75,000 Sport City Handicap. After breaking alertly, the 5-year-old son of Subordination sat off the pace, got to the front with an outside move entering the turn and took off, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over One Tuff Fox. Waupaca finished third as the favorite. Erroneous I D got the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:40.17 with Donald Simington aboard.