Mike Fox, a colt whose previous efforts had not matched his excellent pedigree, made a late run down the stretch in Sunday's $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine and just caught pace-setting Alezzandro at the wire.
The margin was 1/2 length with the favorite, jigs Coz, another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Mike Fox, a son of Giant's Causeway, ran the 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather track in 2:05.45, toting Emma-Jayne Wilson, who became the first female jockey to win the oldest continuously run stakes event in North America.
Despite his pedigree, Mike Fox seemed an unlikely choice. In his last actual Queen's Plate prep, the Queenston Stakes in early May, the colt was defeated by 7 lengths. He came back in an optional claiming race May 23, winning by 1 1/4 lengths at odds of 10-1.
Wilson said she was worried on the turn that Mike Fox wasn't moving well enough.
"I said, 'Ah, geez, buddy. We've got to dig in deep ... But he gave another spurt and wanted it just as bad as I did. I knew I had it. He was moving so strong coming to the wire."
Winning trainer Ian Black called the victory "a wonderful thing ... I was concerned around the turn. But I knew he'd run all the way so if anyone stopped in front of him, he would keep running."
Mike Fox is expected to move on to the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie on July 15. The series concludes with the Breeders' Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on the turf at Woodbine Aug. 5.
The series has yet to have an impact on the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, powered by Dodge, but conceivably could do so. There were no other logical prep races for the Classic this weekend. However:
-- Any potential preps for the Classic were overshadowed by a career-ending injury suffered Saturday by defending Classic champion and Horse of the Year Invasor. Invasor suffered a cracked sesamoid bone in his right hind leg during a morning workout. The injury is not life-threatening and Invasor will be retired to stud at Shadwell Farm in Kentucky. "He came back fine from the workout," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "But when we went to wash his feet, he took a couple of funny steps and we noticed some swelling in his right hind leg. We had him X-rayed shortly thereafter and that is when the fracture was detected." Coming back from his Horse of the Year campaign, Invasor won the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February and the Dubai World Cup in March. He was training for Saturday's Suburban Handicap at Belmont.
-- Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense posted his first work in more than three weeks, breezing a half-mile on Sunday at Churchill Downs. Street Sense, defeated by Curlin in the Belmont, is expected to start next in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga July 28, then in the Aug. 28 Travers. Curlin is expected to contest the Aug. 5 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth.
In other weekend racing with potential implications for the Breeders Cup World Championships Oct. 26 and 27 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey:
$1 million Dirt Mile (new race)
-- Gotcha Gold shot out to a big lead in Saturday's $150,000 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and 1-10 favorite Lawyer Ron came up a neck short as he chased the leader down the lane. Indy Wind was well up the stretch in third. Gotcha Gold, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Coronado's Quest, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.25. Charles Lopez was aboard for trainer Ed Plesa Jr. Gotcha Gold just missed in his last outing, the Frisk Me Now Stakes on May 28, got going too fast on the lead that day," Plesa said. "Today, he was able to settle down a little bit more. After a quarter, he was 6 to 7 lengths slower than his last out, and the same at the half-mile pole."
$2 million NetJets Mile (turf)
-- Worldly stalked the leaders to the far turn in Saturday's $150,000 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park in California, surged to the lead at the top of the stretch and then held off the late charge of the favorite, Golden Balls, to win by 1 length. Tycoon Doby finished third. Worldly, a British-bred gelding by Selkirk, finished in 1:47.40 with Victor Espinoza up for trainer Ben Cecil. "Everything went great," Espinoza said. "He's a young horse that's getting better each time he runs." Cecil said Worldly "could go to the Virginia Derby (Colonial Downs), the American Derby (Arlington Park) or we might just wait for Del Mar, depending on how he comes out of the race." The gelding now has won four of his six starts and all three since he shipped to the United States.
-- Tune of the Spirit broke from the rail in Saturday's $100,000 Sussex Stakes at Delaware Park, went right to the lead and held on at the end to win by a head over Dreadnaught. Giant Wrecker, the favorite, was another 3/4 length back in third at the end. Tune of the Spirit, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Concorde's Tune, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:42.35. Robarto Alvarado Jr. rode for trainer Stacey Parker.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Makderah rallied from last of six to win Saturday's $250,000 New York Stakes at Belmont Park by 4 lengths over Masseuse. Hostess finished third and the favorite, Jade Queen, faded to finish fourth after pressing the pace. Makderah, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred filly by Danehhill, ran 1 1/4 miles on the firm inner turf course in 2:00.07. Alan Garcia was aboard for owner Shadwell Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Makderah now has a second-place finish at Keeneland and two wins at Belmont since shipping to the United States. "Alan did a great job of getting her back off the pace early," McLaughlin said. "I have to look ahead now. I haven't planned anything for her beyond this."
-- Silkwood, making just her fourth career start, sat behind the leaders in Thursday's Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, went to the lead with about a furlong left and ran away from the pack to win by 5 lengths. All My Loving, off to a poor start, finished second and Dalvina was third. The 12 furlongs went in 2:30.23 on "good to firm" going. Unraced as a 2-year-old, Sheikh Mohammed's Singspiel filly broke her maiden on an all-weather course, moved up to handicap events at Sandown and Kempton and then made the big jump to Royal Ascot.
-- In Friday's Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, Indian Ink evidently enjoyed the soft going resulting from a brief storm just before post time. Shrugging off competition from several Group 1 winners, the Indian Ridge filly romped home a 6-lengths winner. Mi Emma, an easy winner of the German 1,000 Guineas in April, was second with Darjina, winner of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, in third. Indian Ink finished the 1 mile in 1:42.26.
$3 million John Deere Turf
-- Pleasant Strike angled out into the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park, came by the leaders and drew off, winning by 3 3/4 lengths over Lovango. Quasicobra finished third. Pleasant Strike, a Virginia-bred colt by Smart Strike, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.05 with Rene Douglas riding for trainer Todd Pletcher. "In the stretch, the horse really took off," Douglas said. "Todd did a good job with this horse. I was just the pilot." The Classic is a prep for the American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's, July 21 and the Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day Aug. 11. Asked if Pleasant Strike could be a contender in those events, Pletcher assistant Mike Dilger said, "That depends on how he comes off (the Classic). "That depends on what the boss wants to do."
-- At Royal Ascot, Manduro and Dylan Thomas dueled through the final quarter mile of Wednesday's Prince of Wales Stakes but Manduro got the first jump and Dylan Thomas could never get to him. At the wire, Manduro was 1 1/4 lengths ahead, with Notnowcato third. Manduro, with Olivier Peslier up, finished the 10 furlongs over good to firm turf in 2:05.91. Trainer Andre Fabre reportedly is pointing the 5-year-old Monsun horse to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Oct. 7.
-- The Breeders' Cup may not have a race long enough for Yates. The 6-year-old showed no signs of his age as he dominated Royal Ascot's Gold Cup for the second year, turning back a late challenge from Geordieland to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Le Miracle, shipped in from England, was third. After winning the 2 1/2-mile Gold Cup, trainer Aiden O'Brien said he is eyeing the Melbourne Cup for his son of Sadler's Wells, and perhaps a return to Ascot next year to try for a third sip from the Gold Cup.
$2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies
-- Nijoom Dubai broke her maiden in style, winning Friday's Albany Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Royal Ascot. With a clear trip, Nijoom Dubai got to the lead and held on to beat the heavy favorite, You'resothrilling, a full sister to Giant's Causeway, by 1 1/4 lengths. You'resothrilling broke poorly, then experienced traffic problems. Nijoom Dubai, a daughter of Noverre, went to the post at nearly 50-1 odds.
In other weekend racing:
Smart Enough was in front all the way in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian) Scotts Highlander Stakes, winning by a 1/2 length over Heros Reward. Stradivinsky, the favorite, checked in third. Smart Enough, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Horse Chestnut, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:08.53 under Patrick Husbands.
Pellegrino rallied from off the pace to win Sunday's $100,000 Singspiel Stakes by a head over Royal Challenger. French Beret finished third. Pellegrino, an 8-year-old, Brazilian-bred son of Nugget Point, ran 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf in 2:27.79. Jono Jones rode for trainer Roger Attfield.
Lady Gamer got the early lead in Sunday's $75,000 Valkyr Stakes for Cal-bred fillies and mares and just kept on going, beating odds-on favorite Getback Time by 2 1/4 lengths at the wire. Vaca City Flyer finished third. Lady Gamer, a 4-year-old Game Plan filly, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.86 under David Flores.
Street Sass came from last of seven to win Saturday's $65,000 She Rides Tonite Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths over Cammy's Choice. Nordberg finished third after pressing the early pace. Street Sass, a daughter of Street Cry, got the 6 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:09.71 under Garrett Gomez.
In Sunday's $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds, Chief's Lake battled for the lead, got it, then extended the advantage to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Stunt Man. Dr. V's Magic finished third. Chief's Lake, a son of Yonaguska, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.14 with Garrett Gomez up.
In Summation rallied down the stretch four-wide in Saturday's $60,000 Sneakbox Stakes, winning by 1 length over Mr. Silver. Vicarage finished third. In Summation wrapped up the 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.85 under Chris DeCarlo. The winner is a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Put It Back.
Exchanging Fire, at odds of nearly 30-1 led from gate to wire in Saturday's $60,000 Without Feathers Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. After setting an unpressured pace, the Florida-bred daughter of Exchange Rate romped home 5 3/4 lengths to the good of Coy Coyote, with Ethan's Car third and the favorite, Perfect Forest, fourth. The 1 mile on a fast track took 1:35.05.
Jennie R. led from gate to wire in Saturday's $45,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Chic Dancer. Jennie R., a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Awesome Again, ran the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.09 with E.T. Baird up for trainer Michelle Boyce.
Sunday, Snowblind Friend swung out into the stretch for running room at the end of the $45,000 Native Dancer Stakes for 3-year-olds and was just up in time to win by a neck over Galloping Home. Harrow Land finished third as the even-money favorite. Snowblind Friend, a Kentucky-bred colt by Langfuhr, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.81 with Jesse Lantz up.
Financingavailable came around the leaders on the turn for home in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ballade Stakes for fillies and mares, quickly seized the lead and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Executive Flight. The early leader, Shot Gun Ela, held third. Financingavailable, a 6-year-old, Ontario-bred mare by Kiridashi, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.31. Todd Kabel rode for trainer Lorne Richards.
Good Looker R F pressed the pace early in Saturday's $62,000 Aztec Oaks for New Mexico-breds, took the lead on the turn and drew clear easily, winning off by 7 1/4 lengths. The early leader, Tricky Irish, held on for second by 1 length over Nimble Band. Good Looker R F, a daughter of Silver Season, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17 2/5 under Jorge Bordieu.
Camela Carson stalked the pace through the early furlongs in Saturday's $70,000 Hawkeyes Handicap for Iowa-bred fillies and mares, surged to the lead on the turn and held on to win by 3/4 length over Thekatcamehome. Elite Lady finished third. Camela Carson is a 5-year-old daughter of Lord Carson. With Perry Compton up, she ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.76.
Royal Regan came from last in a field of eight to win Saturday's $60,000 Buckland Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 1/4 lengths over Chinchilla. Privately Approved finished third. Royal Regan, with Nick Santagata in the irons, had to wait behind horses, then swung seven-wide for room before making her winning move. She is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Royal Academy. The 5 1/2 furlongs went in 1:03.10 over firm turf.
Lone Star Park
Indian Breeze sat behind a pair of dueling leaders in Saturday's $50,000 Nevil/Kyocera Stakes for fillies and mares, closed the gap through the stretch and was just along in time to win by 1/2 length over Seneca Song. Most Beautiful ranged up to take third, just another nose behind. Indian Breeze, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Indian Charlie, got the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57 seconds under M. Berry.
Cajun Conquest swung out around rivals on the turn in Saturday's $50,000 Seeking the Gold Stakes for 3-year-olds and was up just in the final strides to win by a head over Slew by Slew. Forty Acres finished third. Cajun Conquest, a Kentucky-bred colt by Came Home, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:39.31 with Elvis Perrodin up for trainer Patrick Moulton.
Venomous, sandwiched between two rivals during a long stretch drive, put his nose in front at the wire to win Saturday's $50,000 Temperence Hill Stakes, with Express News just another head back in third. Venomous, a 5-year-old, Texas-bred horse by Rare Brick, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:10.31 in another victory for Perrodin and Moulton.
D Fine Okie tracked runaway pace-setter Comalagold through most of Saturday's $50,000 River Cities Stakes for fillies and mares, came to her at the top of the stretch and went on by, opening up to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Comalagold held gamely for second and Boundus finished third. D Fine Okie, a 5-year-old, Oklahoma-bred mare by Burbank, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.65 under Quincy Hamilton.
Middleweight had to come around a pack of rivals on the turn to challenge for the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Barksdale Handicap, then fought between horses down the stretch before winning by a nose over Ruckus. Erroneous I D finished third. Middleweight, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Grand Slam, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:40.59 with John Jacinto in the irons.
Summer Sensation was quickly on the lead in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Journal Handicap, set a respectable pace and cruised home on top, winning by 1/2 length over the obvious hunch bet in a race named for a newspaper, Plagiarist. Tiger Energy was third. Summer Sensation, a 5-year-old, California-bred gelding by Siberian Summer, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a "good" track in 1:18.
Calder Race Course
Fearless Eagle was just up in the final strides to win Saturday's $50,000 Lord Juban Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1/2 length over Sparkling Notion. Unbridled Music finished third. Fearless Eagle is a Florida-bred colt by Invisible Ink. He ran the 1 1/16 miles on "good" turf in 1:45.15 with Roimes Chirinos riding.
Who's Happy rallied from far back to win Saturday's $60,00 Foxy J.G.S. Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred, 3-year-old fillies. Holy Christmas was second, 1 1/2 lengths back, with Syd N Carly's Rose third. Who's Happy, a daughter of Caller I.D., got the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:43.29 under Oliver Castillo.
Heezafrequentflyer flew to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Red Legend Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and glided home an easy winner, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Another Vow. Norjac finished third as the lukewarm favorite. Heezafrequentflyer, a Maryland-bred gelding by Aaron's Concorde, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:28.61 under David Cora.
Monashee drew off in the stretch to a dominating, 5 1/2-length victory over Starlight Strike in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Strawberry Morn Handicap for fillies and mares. Avenging Kat finished third. Monashee, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred mare by Wolf Power, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.61 under David Wilson.