Bold Chieftain fought to the lead turning for home in Saturday's $250,000 California Cup Classic and held off Celtic Dreamin in the final sixteenth to win by 1/2 length while Lava Man, once the king of California, continued a downward spiral with a fading, sixth-place finish.
Seminole Native rallied from well back to finish third in the 9-furlong marquee event of the California Cup at Santa Anita's Oak Tree Meeting. Bold Chieftain, a 4-year-old Chief Seattle colt, finished in 1:47.23 under Russell Baze.
"A mile and an eighth is probably as far as my horse wants to run," Baze said. "But we wanted to get position early and have something left when we turned for home. So it was kind of a balancing act … I was able to get him out when I wanted to and he made a heck of a run."
Lava Man's jockey, Corey Nakatani, said his mount actually ran well, showing interest for the first time in his past few races. "There's no question in my mind that this was a big step forward," he said, " because he is trying to run."
But trainer Doug O'Neill said the old warrior "definitely will be sent to the farm" for a rest and perhaps a nuclear scan. "Right now, he's a sound horse," O'Neill said. "He might be a little deflated, energy-wise, from such a long campaign. But, knock on wood, he's sound."
In the $175,000 Cal Cup Mile, Unusual Suspect saved ground until the stretch turn, then came out and rallied to a 1 3/4-lengths victory over Epic Power. Swift Winds finished third. Unusual Suspect, a 3-year-old Unusual Heat colt, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.89 with Joe Talamo up for trainer Barry Abrams.
Bilo jumped to a quick lead in the $150,000 Cal Cup Sprint, turned back a stretch bid from Bonfante and went on to win by a 1/2 length over that rival. Wind Water faded a bit after pressing the pace and finished third. Bilo, a 7-year-old Bertrando gelding, completed the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:07.87 with Talamo up.
Gentle Charmer came from next-to-last to capture the $150,000 Cal Cup Distaff by 1 3/4 lengths over Lady Gamer. Excessiveobsession also rallied late to finish third. Gentle Charmer, sent to the post at odds of 54-1, ran the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12.31 with Kyle Kaenel aboard. She is a 5-year-old Bertrando mare.
Romance is Diane was all run in the $150,000 Cal Cup Matron. After pulling her way to the lead, the 3-year-old In Excess filly angled in on the turn and opened up, winning off by 6 1/4 lengths over Bai and Bai. Swiss Current and Purfectly Fitting dead-heated for third and fourth. Romance is Diane, with Michael Baze in the irons, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.38.
Runforthemoneybaby did just that in the $125,000 Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies, charging three-wide into the stretch and running on to a 5 1/2-length win over Always in Style. Shes a Real Keeper finished third. Runforthemoneybaby, a daughter of Unusual Heat out of the Dynaformer mare Andover the Money, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.15 with Tyler Baze riding.
Sierra Sunset stalked the pace in the $125,000 Cal Cup Juvenile, got the lead on the turn for home and won a hard-fought, 1 1/2-length victory. My Redeemer finished second and Harlene was third. Sierra Sunset got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.65 under Russell Baze. The winner is a son of Bertrando.
Imagine waited behind the pace in the $100,000 Cal Cup Distance, took the lead leaving the second turn and held on despite drifting out to win by 3/4 length over Rockella. Easy Obsession finished third. Imagine, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway filly out of the Bertrando mare Smooth Player, ran the 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:01.9 with Corey Nakatani in the irons.
In other weekend racing:
Hawthorne Race Course
Longshots came spinning out of the turn in Saturday's 7th annual Phil Georgeff Festival of Racing for Illinois-breds. The festival is named for the retired race analyst and caller whose trademark phrase was, "Here they come, spinning out of the turn."
Carts Italian Rose (at 8-1 odds) stalked the pace in the $100,000 Showtime Deb for 2-year-olds, got the lead in the stretch, was headed but came again to win by a head over My Facts. Carbella was third. Carts Italian Rose, a chestnut daughter of Cartwright, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.32 with Israel Ocampo in the irons. "She's a good filly with a good heart and when she gets the lead, she never quits," Ocampo said.
Mighty Rule (6-1) put in a late stretch bid to catch pace-setting favorite Shrewd Operator and win the $100,000 Lightning Jet Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths. High Expectations was third. Mighty Rule, a 4-year-old Gilded Time gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.58 for jockey James Graham. "He relaxed where he was and he picked them up when I called on him," Graham said.
Lampoon (7-1) waited for room in the $100,000 Illini Princess Handicap for fillies and mares and, once she got through, accelerated to win by 4 lengths over Stop a Train. The favorite, Boudoir, rallied to take third. Lampoon, a 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:45.83 under Israel Ocampo. "When we were turning for home, I really thought I got her stuck," Ocampo said. "But we got through and she just kept going."
He's Hammered (6-1) led all the way to a 6 3/4-length hammering of seven rivals in the $100,000 Buck's Boy Handicap. Stonehouse finished second and Win Me Over was third. He's Hammered, a 7-year-old Rubiano gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.77 for Eduardo Perez. "I was comfortable the whole way," Perez said.
Dakota Rebel (44-1) won the $100,000 Sun Power Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings by 1 length over River Bear (34-1), with Billy's Bar Buddy (5-1) third, producing a $13,713.20 return on a $2 trifecta ticket. The favorite, Chief What, broke through the gate before the race and ran off. Once collared, he didn't run much in the race, finishing ninth of 11. Dakota Rebel, a son of Kugelis, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.83 for jockey Randal Meier.
Denoun and Deverb (16-1) completed the parade of longshots in the $100,000 Powerless Handicap for fillies and mares, rallying from far back to win by 3/4 length over Modjadji. Pretty Jenny finished third. Denoun and Deverb, a 5-year-old daughter of Denouncer, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.68 for jockey Paul Nolan.
The $1 Pick 9 returned $25.90 -- requiring only six winners to collect.
Rolling Sea rolled to a 1/2-length victory over High Heels in Saturday's $200,000 Chilukki Stakes for fillies and mares, hanging tough in the final strides to preserve the win. My Chickadee rallied from last to be third at the wire. Rolling Sea, a 4-year-old, Illinois-bred filly by Sefapiano, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.02 under Robby Albarado. It was her sixth victory in 10 starts this year. "She has put together a great year," said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. "She was solid at the beginning of the year and won a couple of graded stakes. She's an excellent filly and great to be around."
Istan, coming off a disappointing effort on the Keeneland turf, powered to an 8 3/4-length win back on the main track in Saturday's $200,000 Ack Ack Handicap. After tracking the leaders, the 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Gone West opened up in the lane and finished the 1 mile in 1:34.08, ridden out by jockey Kent Desormeaux. Sun King was second and Ryan's for Real finished third. "Wow. That was such a brilliant effort on the horse's part," Desormeaux said, adding he had to make Istan wait to run. "He did a fantastic job of sprinting to the wire."
Smart Enough rallied smartly through the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 Cherokee Run Handicap by 3 1/4 lengths over Chihulykee, with Fort Prado another 1 length back in third. Smart Enough, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Horse Chestnut, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.53 seconds with Christopher DeCarlo up.
Also Sunday, Sugar Swirl pressed the pace in the $100,000 Very Subtle Stakes for fillies and mares, then took charge and won off by 3 lengths over Generosity. Country Diva finished third. Sugar Swirl ran the 6 furlongs on a fast main track in 1:09.9 with Rafael Bejarano aboard. The winner is a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred filly by Touch Gold, trained by Bobby Frankel.
On the first day of Standard Time, Sugar Shake rallied from a pace-pressing trip and dominated the stretch run to win the $100,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap for fillies and mares by 2 lengths over Cindy's Mom. Victory Pool finished third. Sugar Shake, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Awesome Again, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.02.
Saturday's Aqueduct card was canceled due to strong, gusty winds.
Kesagami surged to a substantial lead in Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Coronation Futurity, set a very modest pace and held on to win by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths over Cool Gator. Deputiformer finished third. Kesagami, an Ontario-bred Carson City colt, ran the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:53.4 with Patrick Husbands up for trainer Sid Attard. "It's nice to have what looks like another chance at the Queen's Plate," said Jim Lawson, son of owner-breeder Mel Lawson. "It's a real tribute to my father and the breeding program that he's had over the years."
Financingavailable took charge in the stretch run to win Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ontario Fashion Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 lengths over Count to Three. Lyrically finished third. Financingavailable, a 6-year-old, Ontario-bred mare by Kiridashi who was a 2006 Sovereign Award winner, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:08.56 under James McAlenney. "I just try to stay out of the way with her," said winning trainer Lorne Richards. "I just keep her happy. That's pretty much all I've got to do."
Naissance Royale came four-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap for fillies and mares and ran away from nine rivals, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Black Mamba. Meribel finished third, a nose farther back. Naissance Royale, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Giant's Causeway, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.14. Garrett Gomez was in the irons for trainer Christophe Clement.
Tin Cup Chalice battled for the lead early in Saturday's $50,000 Finger Lakes Juvenile, got the advantage and edged clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Scary Trip. Scary Trip then was disqualified to third for an incident at the start, promoting Say Toba Sandy to the place money. Tin Cup Chalice, a New York-bred gelding by Crusader Sword, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.25.
Suave Jazz put a head in front of pace-setting Banjo Picker at the wire to win Saturday's $100,000 Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial. Bound Notebook finished third. Suave Jazz, the even-money favorite, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.24 on a fast track under Ramon Dominguez. The winner is a 4-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Suave Prospect.
Awfully Smart ran awfully fast in Sunday's $55,000 Stymie Stakes, drawing off in the stretch to win by 9 1/4 lengths over Better Than Bonds. Smart Growth finished third. Awfully Smart, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Anees out of the Black Tie Affair mare Awful Smart, ran the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.56. Ramon Dominguez rode the winner and Rosemary Homeister Jr. had the mount on Smart Growth.
Putmeinyourwill got the lead with a furlong to go in Saturday's $60,000 Seabiscuit Handicap, then dueled to the wire before winning by a neck over Heroi Do Bafra. Mulcahy finished third. Putmeinyourwill, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Old Trieste, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.71 for jockey Roberto Gonzalez. Jerry Hollendorfer owns and trains the winner.
Indy Wind drew off smartly in the stretch to win Saturday's $60,000 Alysheba Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths over Sleek John. Angelic Aura and Chucker completed the short order of finish. Indy Wind, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.21. Mario Madrid rode.
Chatain saved ground down the backstretch in Saturday's $60,000 Livingston Stakes, angled out on the turn and ran on to win by a head over Mr. Umphrey. Divisa finished third. Chatain, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Forward Wildcat, got the 6 furlongs in 1:08.58 under Cornelio Velesquez.
Sumfu was the best of just three starters in Sunday's $58,500 Lea County Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds, rallying around the turn and through the stretch to win by 8 lengths. Datrick was second and Hunters Wine was 9 1/2 lengths farther back in third, completing the semblance of a race. Sumfun, a Kentucky-bred Menifee gelding, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.8 under Casey Lambert.