Only a few months ago, Summer Doldrums was a Kentucky Derby hopeful. After winning Saturday's $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs in Virginia, the colt suddenly is one of the country's top turf runners.
Summer Doldrums, racing exclusively in New York, won the Whirlaway in February, finished a respectable third in the Gotham and then finished fourth in the Wood Memorial. After that effort, trainer Richard Violette Jr. gave the Kentucky-bred son of Street Cry a few weeks off and switched him to grass.
In his first start on the new surface, Summer Doldrums just missed winning a minor stake at Belmont on May 23 -- a good, off-the-pace try that came up a nose short of Strike a Deal. And that brought him to eastern Virginia and the first leg of a potential $2 million bonus.
With Jose Lezcano up for the first time, the colt saved ground until the final turn of the Colonial Turf Cup, angled out six-wide for running room into the stretch and was just up in time, this time, to win by a head over the favorite, the same Strike a Deal who just held off Summer Doldrums in their last start. Souvenir Slew finished third as the 1 3/16 miles went in 1:55.68.
To win the $2 million bonus, Summer Doldrums must go on to win the Virginia Derby on July 21, the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 11 and the $3 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Monmouth on Oct. 27. Whether he can climb that mountain or not, Saturday's victory in the third running of the Colonial Turf Cup portends good things. The two previous winners, English Channel and Showing Up, both turned into top-rank turf runners.
And, with the Triple Crown now in the history books for another year, racing thoughts turn to the Breeders' Cup World Championships -- expanded this year to include 11 races over two days.
-- Saturday's $200,000 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs may produce more contenders for the $2 million John Deere Turf on Championship weekend. In that race, Inca King led from gate to wire, beating odds-on favorite Duveen by 3 lengths, with Jazz Quest third. Like the Colonial race, the Jefferson Cup was restricted to 3-year-olds. Inca King, a Kentucky-bred gelding by Sir Cat, ran the 1 1/8 mile on the firm Matt Winn turf course in 1:48.94 with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard for trainer Steve Asmussen. Brett Brinkman, racing manager for Heiligbrodt Racing, which owns Inca King, said he's not sure what's next for the gelding. "We'll definitely keep him long on the grass," he added.
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Monmouth Park:
$5 million Classic, powered by Dodge
-- Flashy Bull came from mid-pack to take the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, opened a daylight lead and then went all-out to hang on at the end and beat Magna Graduate by a diminishing head. Diamond Stripes was another 1/2 length back in third. The favorite, Master Command, showed little and finished sixth. Flashy Bull, a 4-year-old, gray son of Holy Bull, finished the 9 furlongs in 1:48.63 with Robby Albarado up for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Flashy Bull won his fourth consecutive race but his first Grade I. He has five wins from 18 starts. "It was fabulous," said McLaughlin, who also handles newly named "No. 1 horse in the world" Invasor. "This horse is just a different horse this year. It's just amazing what a different horse he is from last year -- from 3 to 4 years old." Last year's campaign for Flashy Bull ended with a dismal seventh-place finish in the Haskell at Monmouth in August. McLaughlin said he will "probably look at the Whitney" as Flashy Bull's next stop. "Luckily," he added, "we have another top one in the barn and we'll be able to split 'em up because we'll know where Invasor is going at all times."
-- Chelokee, Zanjero and Sam P., all refugees from the Triple Crown trail, finished in that order in Saturday's $200,000 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs. Chelokee, a Kentucky-bred colt by Cherokee Run, stalked the pace, then battled head-to-head with Zanjero through the final furlong before prevailing by a neck. Sam P. raced behind the leaders to finish 2 1/4 lengths farther back. Chelokee, with Ramon Dominguez up for trainer Michael Matz, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.46 on a fast track. Matz said he hasn't made any decisions about where to run Chelokee next. "I think the distance doesn't matter," he said. "I always said this horse was going to improve with racing and experience. And he has a disposition like no other."
-- Trainer David Hofmans thought Desert Code's last race would convince everyone he was just a sprinter. Hofmans thought different. So he told jockey Richard Migliore to take Desert Code right to the front in Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park, slow things down as much as possible and let nature take its course. After a half mile in 48.79 seconds and 6 furlongs in 1:12.26, Desert Code was home free, coasting down the stretch a 1 3/4-lengths winner. Albertus Maximus gave chase but suffered from the paceless race. Cobalt Blue finished third with Time to Get Even and Awesome Gambler dead-heating for last. Desert Code, a Kentucky-bred colt by E Dubai, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.21.
$2 million Emirates Airline Distaff
-- Indian Vale forced the early pace in Saturday's $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs, moved to the lead after 6 furlongs and drew off, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Asi Siempre. Kettleoneup finished third and the favorite, Ermine, was fourth. Baghdaria broke slowly, pulled up at the top of the stretch and was vanned off. Indiana Vale, a 5-year-old, Ontario-bred daughter of A.P. Indy, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.12 under John Velazquez. She is trained by Todd Pletcher and now has two wins from three starts this year and seven from 10 career starts. "She's a very game mare," Pletcher said, "and of course we're very pleased. I'm going to speak to Mr. Melnyk regarding her next start. We've got a decision to make: either the Go For Wand or the Delaware Handicap for $1 million. I'll let Mr. Melnyk make that decision."
-- Take D' Tour pressed the pace in Saturday's $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park, surged to take a big lead at the top of the stretch and then just held on to win by a neck over Ginger Punch. Promenade Girl finished third. Take D' Tour, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Tour d'Or, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.39. Trainer David Fawkes gave Eibar Coa the leg up on the mare.
-- Moon Catcher found room on the rail on the first turn in Saturday's $175,000 Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Delaware Park, battled for the lead and then drew off in the stretch to win by 2 lengths. Winning Point, the favorite, stuck around as long as she could, then held on to finish second. Greenstreet was third. Moon Catcher, a Maryland-bred filly by Malibu Moon, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.90. Carlos Marquez Jr. rode for trainer Timothy Ritchey.
-- Peak Maria's Way stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Obeh Handicap for fillies and mares at Delaware Park, surged to the lead when asked by jockey Joe Rocco and pulled away to win by 2 lengths over Unbridled Belle. Lila Paige was third. Peak Maria's Way, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Pyramid Peak, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.38. Joe Rocco rode for trainer Michael Gorham. "We are going to nominate to the Delaware Handicap," Gorham said. "She really likes this surface, which is a big plus." Peak Maria's Way now has seven wins from 17 starts, with five of those wins coming in seven races at Delaware.
$2 million TVG Sprint
Indian Flare battled down the stretch with Oprah Winney in Sunday's $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, exchanged the lead and then edged clear in the final yards to win by 1/2 length. Any Limit was far back in third. Indian Flare, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Cherokee Run, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:09.61 with Javier Castellano up for trainer Bobby Frankel.
$1 million Filly & Mare Sprint (new race)
-- Lady Belsara, a Polytrack specialist, led from gate to wire in Saturday's $175,000 Chicago Handicap, winning by 1/2 length over Trendy Lady. Dimple Punch completed a $896 trifecta. Lady Belsara, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Boundary, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.10 under E.T. Baird. Lady Belsara -- the name is a shortened conglomeration of Belmont and Saratoga -- now has four wins from seven starts, all on Polytrack, and her first stakes try. Baird said he was instructed to try to get the filly to change leads. "I tried a couple of times but she was stubborn about it. So I figured I'd better go ahead and start riding her," he said. "She finally switched leads about 10 yards from the wire."
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Karen's Caper, the even-money favorite, came three-wide into the stretch run of Saturday's $150,000 Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park and ran on gamely to win by 1/2 length over late-running Redaspen. Roshani finished third with Rahy's Appeal fourth. Karen's Caper, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by War Chant, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in course-record time of 1:39.48 under Brice Blanc. Bobby Frankel trains the mare, who was making her first start of the year. "I knew she had a good late kick," Blanc said. "When I asked her to pick it up, she showed it. I really like this mare."
-- In Saturday's $150,000 All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs, Silver Charades trailed most of the field down the backstretch, came five-wide around the turn to engage the leaders, then drew clear and won off by 1 1/4 lengths. Humoristic was second and Bridge Game came from well back to be third. The favorite, Ballet Pacifica, raced evenly to finish fifth. Silver Charades, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Broad Brush, ran 9 furlongs on the firm outer turf course in 1:49.62 under Jose Valdivia Jr. Marty Wolfson trains the mare for Live Oak Plantation.
-- Quite a Bride led from gate to wire in Saturday's $150,000 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs, winning by 2 1/4 lengths with little urging from jockey Robby Albarado. Magnificent Song was second and Danzon, the odds-on favorite, checked in third. Quite a Bride, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Stormy Atlantic, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in course-record time of 1:40.70. Bill Mott trains the filly for Haras Santa Maria de Araras. The victory was the seventh for Quite a Bride in 11 tries on the grass. She was a close second in the Churchill Downs Handicap on Derby Day. Mott assistant Ken McCarthy said it was "great to see a new track record for her ... . We have been kind of knocking on the door here all meet long. It's nice to get big one." He said he expects Mott will seek a race for the filly at Saratoga.
-- In Saturday's $200,000 Regret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs, Good Mood rallied along the rail in the final furlong to overtake the leaders and win by 1 3/4 lengths. You Go West Girl, closing on the outside, was second with pace-setter Dashes N Dots holding on for show money. Good Mood, an Irish-bred filly by Danehill Dancer, ran the 9 furlongs in 1:47.57 under Edgar Prado. Patrick Biancone trains the filly. "I think we're going to run at Saratoga in the Lake George or the Lake Placid or races like that," Biancone said of Good Mood's next race.
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Kodiak Kowboy, the odds-on favorite, stayed close early in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoria Stakes at Woodbine, challenged three-wide at the top of the stretch and then dominated the stretch run to win by 2 lengths over Lacadena. Yes It's Bull finished third. Kodiak Kowboy, a Kentucky-bred colt by Posse, ran 5 furlongs on the all-weather track under Emma-Jayne Wilson in 59.44 seconds. Steve Asmussen trains the bay colt.
In other weekend racing:
Sea the Joy led from gate to wire in Saturday's $60,000 Crank It Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, setting an unchallenged pace and holding on at the end to win by 1 length over Changeisgonnacome. Ticket to Seattle finished third. Sea the Joy, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Stormy Atlantic, ran the "about" 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.39. Joe Bravo was in the irons for trainer Steve Asmussen.
In Sunday's $60,000 Restoration Stakes for 3-year-olds, Red Giant rallied from fifth place in a field of six to win by a nose over Chaluiwitcane. Encaustic finished third. Red Giant, a Kentucky-bred colt by Giant's Causeway, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:34.82.
Also Sunday, Fishy Advice rallied three-wide into the stretch in the $70,000 Battlefield Stakes, collared runaway leader Shake the Bank and won by 1/2 length over that rival. Ballonenostrikes and Silent Roar dead-heated for third and fourth. Fishy Advice, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Woodman, ran 9 furlongs on a turf course upgraded to firm in 1:46.08 with Eddie Castro up.
And also Sunday, Fagedaboudit looked like he had early in the $60,000 Bernie Dowd Handicap for Jersey-breds, lagging far behind early. But after being steadied at the three-quarters mark, the 4-year-old Yarrow Brae colt came on like a rocket, drawing off to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Meadow Blue. The 1 mile and 70 yards went in 1:42.27.
Stormin Away rallied smartly down the stretch to win Saturday's 1 3/4-mile, $75,000 Round Table Handicap by 3/4 length in course-record time of 2:54.75. Stormin Away is a 5-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Skip Away. Spring House led most of the way and held on gamely to finish second. Runaway Dancer used a late move to finish third as the favorite.
Akronism was right out to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Jostle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, brushed off a challenge from even-money favorite Cantrel and accelerated through the stretch to win by 7 3/4 lengths. Cantrel held second with Richwoman third and Acadia Breeze completing the order of finish. Akronism is a Kentucky-bred filly by Not For Love. Anthony Black rode for trainer Timothy Richey, completing the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.08.
Jet Away Jane rallied through the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Russian Rhythm Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares by 1 length over Mis Blue Tye Dye. Manukai was another nose back in third, beating Buck Trout's Niece by only another nose. Jet Away Jane, a 4-year-old Unbridled Jet filly, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 58.77 seconds.
Bear Now moved to a clear lead on the backstretch in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Hill 'N' Dale Stakes for fillies and mares and kept on going to win by 9 3/4 lengths. Like a Gem was best of the rest and Top Notch Lady finished in the third notch. Bear Now, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Tiznow, got the 1 1/16 mile on the all-weather track in 1:43.78 under Emile Ramsammy.
Sur Sandpit took charge at the quarter pole in Saturday's $75,000 Cyclones Handicap for Iowa-bred colts and geldings and drew off in the stretch run to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Crimson King Cat. Diginandrun finished third. Sur Sandpit, a 7-year-old Sandpit gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.71 with Alex Jimenez aboard.
Amazin Blue rallied from last of 10 to win Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Alberta Derby by 1/2 length over Footprint. The favorite, Ookashada, hung in the stretch and was third home. Amazin Blue, a Kentucky-bred colt by Marquetry, ran 1 1/16 miles on a muddy, sealed track in 1:46 2/5.
Calder Race Course
Cher Ami had things all her own way in Saturday's $50,000 Swept Away Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, sweeping to the lead when asked and then drawing off to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Banda Victoria. Appealing Runner finished third. Cher Ami, a Florida-bred filly by Lost Soldier, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.02 under Carlos Olivero.
Mach Ride also led most of the way in winning Saturday's $50,000 Champali Stakes for 3-year-olds and up. After quickly showing the way, the 4-year-old, Florida-bred son of Pentelicus stepped smartly away, winning by 7 1/2 lengths over How's Your Halo. Electrify finished third. Mach Ride, with Elvis Trujillo in the irons, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.16.
Shesgoldincolor was solid gold in the winner's circle after Saturday's $50,000 No Winking Stakes for fillies and mares. After sitting well off the pace, the 21-1 longshot circled four-wide on the turn and was up in time to win by 3/4 length over Flying Circle. The favorite, True and True, finished third, another 1/2 length back. Shesgoldincolor, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Touch Gold, ran the 5 furlongs in 58.76 seconds under Julia Garcia.
And in the day's fourth stakes race, Brother Joey pressed the early pace in the $50,000 B L's Sweep Stake for 2-year-olds, then was just up at the wire to win by a nose over Casino Gambler. Viva La Slew finished third. Brother Joey, a Florida-bred son of B L's Appeal, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.23 under Eduardo Nunez.
Sunday, Finallymadeit made it into the winner's circle after the $50,000 Valid Video Stakes for 3-year-olds, stalking the lead, getting first run into the stretch and easily holding off the favorite, Yesbyjimminy, by 3 lengths. Frosty Secret finished third. Finallymadeit, a Florida-bred colt by Concerto, got the 6 furlongs on a sloppy and sealed track in 1:10.92 with Eduardo Nunez up.
Also Sunday, Cheiron rated behind the early pace in the $50,000 Band is Passing Stakes, then drew off in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Rehoboth. Teofilo was thid. Cheiron, a 6-year-old, California-bred son of Maria's Mon, ran 1 1/16 miles on the a fast track in 1:45.82 under Roimes Chirinos.
Truly Blushed led most of the way in Sunday's $55,000 Candy Eclair Stakes for fillies and mares, hanging on at the end to win by a nose over Top Ten List. Coli Bear was another nose back in third, Wild Berry a neck farther back in fourth and Keep on Talking another neck back in fifth in a dramatic finish. Truly Blushed, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Yes It's True, ran the "about" 5 furlongs in 57.83 seconds under Roberto Alvarado Jr.
Molly's Pride pressed the early pace in Saturday's $50,000 Dr. O.G. Fischer Memorial Handicap, rallied down the stretch and won by a neck over Water Park. A Bit of Pressure finished third. Molly's Pride is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Maria's Mon. She ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23 with Alfredo Juarez Jr. in the irons.
The Potters Hand ranged up to challenge for the lead on the turn in Saturday's $50,000 Sydney Gendelman Memorial Handicap for Ohio-breds and was just up at the wire to beat Catlaunch by a neck. Acts Like a King finished third. The Potters Hand, a 7-year-old Bound By Honor gelding, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41 2/5.
Lil Red checked in seventh in his turf debut Saturday at River Downs -- making up a lot of ground after breaking last of 12 but not enough to have an impact. He keeps on plugging away.
Sugarbuzz was quickly out front -- then far out front -- in Saturday's $50,000 Lady Charles Town Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then held on well to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Swampoodle. Snow Way finished third. Sugarbuzz, a Florida-bred daughter of Notebook, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:27.75 with J. Acosta up for trainer Scott Lake.
Tens Holy Spirit came from off the pace, five-wide around the leaders, and went on to win Saturday's $45,000 Minnesota H.B.P.A Mile for fillies and mares by 1 length over On Safari. Kindling finished third. Tens Holy Spirit, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred daughter of Holy Mountain, got the 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:35.91 under Paul Nolan.