While much of the weekend's racing attention was focused a week ahead on the Belmont Stakes, Delightful Kiss snuck up on the unwary to win Saturday's $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown at odds of nearly 25-1.
Delightful Kiss, a Florida-bred gelding by Kissin Kris, used a quick move near the middle of the 9-furlong event to surge to the front and got home 3 1/2 lengths ahead of fellow longshot Moyer's Pond. Reporting for Duty completed a $1,590 trifecta. Delightful Kiss, with Jeffrey Sanchez up, finished in 1:49.36.
The favorite, Illinois Derby winner Cowtown Cat, was in contention much of the way but faded to finish fourth. Officer Rocket, who was second to Curlin in the Rebel at Oaklawn this spring, finished seventh of eight in Saturday's race.
Delightful Kiss won for only the third time in 12 starts and the Ohio Derby was his first stakes win. Earlier he had finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby, won by Street Sense, and fourth in the Arkansas Derby, won by Curlin, so his long odds were a bit of a mystery.
In other weekend racing:
Frankie Dettori scored a weekend "Chunnel Double" by winning the Vodafone Epsom Derby aboard Authorized on Saturday, then also picking up the mount on Lawman to win the Mitsubishi Motors Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, on Sunday at Chantilly. Dettori had ridden in 14 previous Epsom Derbies and his failure to win the race had been an annoyance. In Sunday's renewal, he left no doubt, kicking home Authorized, a son of Montjeu, 5 lengths to the good of his nearest rival, Eagle Mountain. Sunday, Lawman's regular rider, Olivier Peslier, couldn't ride the colt because he is under contract elsewhere, so Dettori got the call. He took the son of Invincible Spirit right to the lead and was never headed, beating Literato by 1 1/2 lengths at the finish. "I don't feel anything any more," Dettori said after the Chantilly race. "I don't know how to express my feelings any more."
In Friday's Vodafone Epsom Oaks, Light Shift held on to beat Peeping Fawn by 1/2 length, giving trainer Henry Cecil his first classic victory in seven years. Under Ted Durcan, Light Shift went to the front with 2 furlongs to go and appeared in jeopardy in the final yards before holding sway. Light Shift is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Kingmambo.
And in Hong Kong, Viva Pataca not only beat the SAR's top-rated horse in Sunday's Champion & Chater Cup, but did it in course-record time. With Mick Kinane in from London for the ride, Viva Pataca came from off the pace to take the lead in the stretch and won off by 3 3/4 lengths over Vengeance of Rain, duplicating the outcome of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Viva Macau finished third in Sunday's fixture. The final time of 2:24.5 cut more than a half-second off a 13-year-old record. "My horse has thrived since that win and Mick knows the horse well," said Stanley Ho Hung Sun, who owns both Viva Pataca and Viva Macau. "The fact that he's willing to rush to Hong Kong after riding in the Epsom Derby shows just how much he thinks of my horse."
Two years ago, Buzzards Bay won the Santa Anita Derby at odds of 30-1, then went on to a respectable fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Since then, the son of Marco Bay has been inconsistent -- brilliant in winning the Oaklawn Handicap last year, then absent for the final half of 2006. After a third-place finish in last month's Mervyn LeRoy Handicap as a prep, Buzzards Bay was sent to the post as the favorite in Saturday's $250,000 Californian Stakes and ran to his odds. Despite providing jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. with a handful, Buzzards Bay stayed near the front of the 10-horse field, got the lead in deep stretch and just held on to beat Sun Boat by a nose, with A.P. Xcellent third. He got the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:49.72 and moved into contention for the June 30 Hollywood Gold Cup. "When he made the lead," said Valdivia, "he went to looking around a little. I got a little worried with that horse (Sun Boat) flying on the outside of him. But once he saw him coming, he was able to hold him off." Sun Boat, claimed two starts previously for Bongo Racing Stable, was stepping up to the stakes ranks after winning his last start in a $40,000 claimer. He now has four wins and seven on-the-board finishes from 11 career starts.
Hystericalady, the odds-on favorite, appeared to have Sunday's $175,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap put away at mid-stretch -- until Nashoba's Key unleashed her rally. Closing strongly with each stride, Nashoba's Key ran along side and past Hystericalady, winning by 3/4 length over that rival. Balance finished third. Nashoba's Key, a 4-year-old, California-bred filly by Silver Hawk, ran the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:42.16 with Joseph Talamo up for trainer Carla Gaines. Normally a turf runner, she was trying Hollywood's artificial surface for the first time. Gaines said owner Warren Williamson "decided to give the Cushion Track a whirl because she was training so well and in such good form we thought it would be a good move." Talamo, a 17-year-old apprentice rider, said, "All I had to do was guide her in the right direction. I've never been on a horse with that kind of acceleration." Hystericalady's rider, David Flores, agreed. "I thought the race was all over. That other horse came out of nowhere," Flores said.
On Saturday's undercard, Sindy with an S stalked the pace along the inside in the $75,000 Manhattan Beach Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got to the lead in the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over You Are the Answer. Desire to Excel finished third. Sindy with an S, a Kentucky-bred filly by Broken Vow, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:08.49 for jockey Michael Baze.
Jiggs Coz drew off in the stretch to score a dominating, 3 1/4-length win in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Plate Trial and set himself up for a run at the big prize, three weeks down the road. Marchfield was second in the Trial with Alezzandro third and Cobrador fourth. Jiggs Coz, a gray son of Cozzene, ran the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:50.77 under David Clark. "We just kind of planned to be wherever he was comfortable," said Clark. "We thought there would be a little more pace in the race and it didn't develop. And he was where he was very easily." Jiggs Coz came into the race off a similar victory, by the same margin, in the May 5 Queenston Stakes. Last year, he was two-for-three. Asked about the added furlong of the Queen's Plate, trainer Sid Attard said, "I don't think it will be a problem for him. The farther for him, the better."
Strike Softly, the odds-on favorite, rallied from a pace-stalking trip to win Saturday's $300,000 (Canadian) Nassau Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over May Night. Essential Edge finished third. Strike Softly, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred filly by Smart Strike, ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:39.90. Todd Kabel rode for trainer Mark Frostad. "I wanted to stalk the pace today and she broke sharply," Kabel said. "I had her nice and settled. She was all heart today."
Lady Joanne caught High Again with a sixteenth to run in Saturday's $150,000 Dogwood Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and drove to a 1-length victory over that rival. Upcoming Story came from far back to finish third. Lady Joanne, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Orientate, went to the post as the favorite and finished the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.35. Trainer Carl Nafzger gave a leg up to Calvin Borel, who rode the filly to her third consecutive win. Nafzger said he gave up on Kentucky Oaks plans for Lady Joanne when she was slow to work her way into competitive form. But he said he will step up her program. "She's ran great races and she's tough," Nafzger said. "But she's still got to beat the hammers -- and there are some hammers out there."
Fabulous Strike led from the git-go in Saturday's $150,000 Aristides Breeders' Cup Stakes and, with only mild encouragement from jockey Ramon Dominguez, increased the advantage to the wire, winning his fourth straight stakes event. At the end, the 4-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred son of Smart Strike was 2 lengths to the good of runner-up Cougar Cat. Gaff was third. Fabulous strike ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:07.64. Winning trainer Todd Beattie said the Breeders' Cup Sprint is in the long-distance plans, with the Smile Handicap at Calder's "Summit of Speed" as an interim step. "At this point, that's the direction we'll be going as long as everything's good. But that's five weeks away, so we'll let him tell us when he's ready," said Beattie.
Therecomesatiger came from last of just four runners in Saturday's $100,000 Opening Verse Handicap, survived some bumping during a wide move into the stretch, and came on late to win by 1/2 length over Icy Atlantic. Go Between was third and Free Thinking fourth and last. Therecomesatiger, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Tiger Ridge, ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.64. Four horses were scratched before the race. "When we hit the straight," said winning rider Jamie Theriot, "Icy Atlantic was only about a length and a half in front of me. He (jockey Ramon Dominguez) was kind of squeezing on him and it was just a matter of whether I could get out when I wanted to." Winning trainer Tom Procter said the Firecracker will be next, "I guess."
Rutherine came from far back and Bit of Whimsy from a pace-stalking trip in Saturday's $100,000 Sands Point Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the pair hit the wire together in a dead-heat. Classic Neal was 1/2 length back in third. Bit of Whimsy, a daughter of Distorted Humor, and Rutherine, a Pulpit filly, ran the 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:48.53. Garrett Gomez rode Rutherine and Edgar Prado was up on Bit of Whimsy.
Dr. V's Magic, under Kent Desormeaux, stayed close to the pace in Sunday's $75,000 New York Stallion Stakes Spectacular Bid Division for 3-year-old colts and geldings, came three-wide to the lead and went on to win by 3 lengths over the favorite, Stunt Man. Good Prospect finished third. Dr. V's Magic, a son of Raffie's Majesty, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.53.
Laurentide Ice came from off the pace, also toting Desormeaux, and won Sunday's $75,000 New York Stallion Stakes Cupecoy's Joy Division for 3-year-old fillies by 4 lengths over Smokin' Sarah with City in the Clouds third. Laurentide Ice, a daughter of Intidab, was clocked in 1:37.94.
Rosinka dueled for the lead in Saturday's $100,000 John W. Rooney Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares, got it and then easily proved best. At the wire, the 4-year-old, Irish-bred filly was 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Palmilla, with Omeya third. Rosinka, with Jeremy Rose up, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.48.
Golden Gate Fields
My Creed circled the field five-wide on the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Berkeley Stakes, then hit another gear in the stretch, winning off by 3 lengths over Visa Parade. Desert Boom finished third and the favorite, McCann's Mojave, led, bled and faded to finish last of eight. My Creed is a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Beau Genius. He ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:43.46 with Modesto Linares in the irons.
Marlas Golden Rose kicked into gear turning for home in Saturday's $75,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes for 3-year-old, Maryland-bred fillies and quickly accelerated away from five rivals, winning by 2 1/2 lengths. The favorite, Ziggly, came from last to finish second and Gentlemen's Locket was third. Marlas Golden Rose, a daughter of Eastern Echo, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:44.20 under Horacio Karamanos.
Call on Carson stalked the pace, went by pace-setter Immigration in the stretch and went on to win the $60,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap for 3-year-olds by 1/2 length. Immigration held second and Wild Cycle finished third. Call On Carson, a California-bred gelding by Lord Carson, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15 with Mick Ruis aboard.
Raging Rapids led virtually all the way to a 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $60,000 Caught in the Rain Handicap for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares. With Jose Flores up, the 6-year-old Roanoke mare ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.14. Halle's Girl was second while Queen's Request and J.D. Safari dead-heated for third and fourth.
Smart Enough was fast enough to lead most of the way to a 2 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $60,000 Wolf Hill Stakes. Mr. Silver was second and Bingobear finished third. Smart Enough, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Horse Chestnut, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:00.81 under Christopher De Carlo.
Nerve led all the way in Saturday's $60,000 Spend a Buck Stakes for 3-year-olds, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Saratoga Lulaby. Whiskey Lit was third and Ghost Orie completed the order of finish. Nerve, a Florida-bred gelding by Tour d'Or, ran 1 mile in 1:35.84 with Eddie Castro up for trainer Gary Contessa.
Sunday, Haddie Be Good stalked the pace along the rail in the $60,000 Candy Éclair Stakes for fillies and mares, closed to the lead on the outside of the front-runner and drew off to win by 1 1/4 length over Spanish Lullaby. Mohegan Sky finished third. Haddie Be Good, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Silver Deputy, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.54 under Joe Bravo.
Calder Race Course
Paradise Dancer led all the way to a handy, 3-length victory in Saturday's $50,000 Blazing Sword Stakes. The heavy odds-on favorite, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Langfuhr, set a pressured pace and finished the 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:38.95 under Elvis Trujillo. Fancy Silver was second and Hal's Image finished third.
Last year's 2-year-old filly champ, Dreaming of Anna, returned to the turf and to the winner's circle after a rocky winter and spring by winning Saturday's $45,000 Double Delta Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. With Rene Douglas up, the Rahy filly battled for the early lead, won that duel and then worked clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Nice Inheritance, who rallied from last. Lemonlime finished third. Dreaming of Anna finished the 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:37.96. "It was her first time back and she felt real comfortable on the grass," Douglas said. "Honestly, I got a little worried. I knew she could put them away but I wanted her to do it more on her own turning for home. She's only going to get better now."
Quiet Royal rolled from well back in the seven-horse field to win Saturday's $45,000 Reluctant Guest Stakes for fillies and mares by 3 lengths over Chic Dancer. Black Java finished third. Quiet Royal, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Royal Academy, got the 1 mile on the yielding Arlington turf in 1:36.36 with Rene Douglas up for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Sunday, Tiganello rallied down the stretch to win the $45,000 Mister Gus Stakes by 1 length over Rapid Proof. Come On Jazz finished third. Tiganello, a 6-year-old, German-bred gelding by Acatenango, ran the 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:37.88 with Rene Douglas again in the irons for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Patriot Act came from well back in Saturday's $50,000 Jim Rasmussen Memorial Stakes, took over the lead with an outside move a furlong from the wire and drew clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Wayzata Bay. Spellbinder finished third. Patriot Act, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:42.37.
Plaid stalked the early pace in Saturday's $50,000 Wild Rose Stakes for fillies and mares, easily swept to the lead on the turn and distanced her five rivals in the stretch. At the wire, the 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Deputy Commander won by 6 lengths over Elite Lady, with Turbulent Thinking third. Plaid ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.66 for Terry Thompson.
Pyrite Personal stalked the pace while saving ground early in Saturday's $50,000 Green Carpet Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds, then exploded through the stretch and won off by 8 1/4 lengths. Play the Hero was best of the rest and Smarty O finished third. Pyrite Personal, a gelded son of Bernstein, got the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:42 2/5.
The Holy One was the fastest one, too, in Saturday's $50,000 Turn Capp Stakes for fillies and mares. Breaking first, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Holy Bull filly was 2 1/4 lengths clear at the end, with Unlawful Spirit second and Julie B third. The Holy One, with Kendrick Carmouche aboard, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.89.