New York, Texas, Illinois and California combined for Memorial Day previews of some likely racetrack showdowns later this year.
At Lone Star Park in Texas, the Lone Star Park Handicap, the Dallas Turf Cup and the Ouija Board Distaff provided an early peek at the flat mile, middle-distance turf and female turf divisions. Hollywood Park's Gamely Breeders' Cup and Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile foreshadowed those divisions for the October World Championships at Santa Anita.
In New York, Belmont Park's Metropolitan Handicap was another early test at the mile. And Arlington Park near Chicago offered the Arlington Matron, another glimpse at the fillies and mares division.
Giant Gizmo rallied nicely in the stretch to win the $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap by 2 lengths over Zanjero with Stella Mark third. Giant Gizmo, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Garrett Gomez, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:43.01. Giant Gizmo picked up his sixth win in his 11th career start and his second consecutive graded stakes victory. In his last outing, the 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway won the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 2.
In the $600,000 Met Mile at Belmont, Divine Park rallied nicely through the stretch to catch pace-setting favorite Commentator and won by 2 lengths. Lord Snowden finished third. Divine Park, a 4-year-old Chester House colt, covered the distance in 1:36.91 on a fast track. Alan Garcia rode for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Divine Park now has won all but two of his eight starts and had excuses in the others. His wins included the Westchester Handicap on Belmont's opening day. "This race was a little close to the Westchester, but when you have a prestigious race like the Met Mile, whether 22 days or 26 days, you just have to go for it," said McLaughlin. "He's a great horse."
In the turf wars, Church Service rallied from last of eight to win Monday's $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup by a nose over the favorite, Storm Military. Red Rock Creek was third. Church Service, a 5-year-old Pulpit gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a firm course in 1:50.54. Brice Blanc rode for trainer Mike Mitchell.
Among the female grass runners, Brownie Points pulled off a mild upset in the $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff Handicap in Texas, sweeping to the far outside to run down the leaders in the deep stretch and win by 1 3/4 lengths over Tears I Cry. Even-money favorite Costume Ball was third. Brownie Points, a 5-year-old Forest Wildcat mare, finished 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.82 under Luiz Quinonez.
And at Hollywood Park, Precious Kitten stalked the pace set by Diamond Diva, went by entering the stretch and easily won the $200,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup by 2 1/4 lengths. Diamond Diva held second with Rutherienne third. Precious Kitten, a 5-year-old daughter of Catienus, got the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:45.23 for jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Daytona rallied by pace-setting Ever a Friend to win the $250,000 Shoemaker Mile by 1 1/2 lengths. Hyperbaric finished third. Daytona, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred gelding by Indian Ridge, ran the distance in 1:33.44 on firm turf. Alex Solis had the ride for trainer Dan Hendricks.
Indescribable got through some traffic problems on the turn in Monday's $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap and got up just in time to win by 1/2 length over Leah's Secret. Lady Carlock finished third with the favorite, Tessa Blue, second-to-last of seven starters. Indescribable, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Pleasant Tap, ran 1 1/8 miles on the all-weather track in 1:49.82 with Jeremy Rose riding. Winning trainer H. Graham Motion said the Polytrack surface made the difference. "She's like night and day on Polytrack," he said.
In other weekend racing:
Packing Winner finally got the better of Viva Pataca in his fourth try of the season, Sunday's Citi Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. In three previous attempts, Viva Pataca had handled Packing Winner. This time, Viva Pataca drew almost even with his foe a furlong from the finish of the 2,400-meter event. But that's as close as he got, as Packing Winner dug deeper and won by 1/2 length. Win Practitioner was third, 6 lengths farther in arrears. Packing Winner, ridden by Douglas Whyte and trained by Peter Ho, finished fourth in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in his last race. "His last two runs were very good, especially in the QEII, because he wasn't quite 100 percent fit that day," Ho said. "Here, it was his first time over 2,400 meters but I didn't have any worries about him staying." Viva Pataca will get a short rest and may head to the Cox Plate in Australia in October. Ho said Packing Winner will target the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase at the same distance in December.
Lone Star Park
Stealth Cat led all the way to a 5-lengths win in Monday's $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes for fillies and mares. Starry Pie rallied to finish second, 1/2 length ahead of odds-on favorite, Tres Dream. Stealth Cat, a 4-year-old, Texas-bred filly by Magic Cat, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.71 under Luis Quinonez.
Storm Mesa battled for the lead early in Monday's $100,000 Cinemine Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then drew off sharply to win by 13 1/2 lengths over Sky Mom. The favorite, Euphony, took third. Storm Mesa, a daughter of Sky Mesa, ran 7 furlongs in 1:21.56 with Eddie Martin Jr. handling the reins.
Boss Lafitte, last nearing the stretch, came six-wide around his rivals to win Monday's $100,000 USA Stakes for 3-year-olds by 3/4 length over Golden Yank. Ablaze with Spirit was third. Boss Lafitte, a Kentucky-bred colt by Dynaformer, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.47 with Garrett Gomez up.
Wild Gams rallied past pace-setting favorite Fancy Diamond with a sixteenth to run in Saturday's $250,000 My Juliet Stakes for fillies and mares and won by 1 length over that foe. Jet Away Jane was 2 lengths back in third. Wild Gams, a 5-year-old, New Jersey-bred mare by Forest Wildcat, covered the 6 furlongs in 1:09.81 under Alan Garcia. Benjamin Perkins Jr. trains Wild Gams for New Farm. Wild Gams was fourth in the Madison Stakes at Keeneland in her seasonal debut but had won graded stakes in each of her last two years.
Meal Penalty led all the way to a 3/4-length upset victory in Saturday's $150,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds. Prime Realestate got second with a late rally, beating Mr. Mischief by a neck. Sporting Art, the odds-on favorite, ran evenly to finish fifth. Meal Penalty, a Kentucky-bred colt by Tale of the Cat, ran 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:41.97. Jose Velez Jr. rode for trainer Todd Pletcher. "He was very sharp coming off the three-quarters of a mile race," said Velez. "They came to me at the top of the stretch and when I asked him to go, he responded pretty good."
Much Obliged launched a rally at mid-stretch in Saturday's $200,000 American 1000 Guineas Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and surged to a 1/2-length over Scolara. Seemingly was third. Much Obliged, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Kingmambo, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.96 with Chris Emigh riding. Trainer Malcolm Pierce said Much Obliged "showed us she was a nice filly down this winter in New Orleans. I'm just glad now she's a stakes winner."
Coragil Cat rallied from next-last to win Saturday's $100,000 Hanshin Cup Handicap by 3 lengths over Morada Key. Steve's Double finished third and the favorite, Lovango, settled for fourth after leading briefly. Coragil Cat, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Forest Wildcat, ran the 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:34.86 with Diego Sanchez in the irons.
Victoriana stalked the pace in Sunday's $50,000 Fit for a Queen Stakes for fillies and mares, seized the advantage late in the stretch and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Featherbed. Mini Sermon finished third. Victoriana is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Tale of the Cat. James Graham rode the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.50.
Graeme Six battled to the lead at midstretch in Monday's $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes for fillies and mares and won by 1 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Miss Macy Sue. Change Up was third. Graeme Six, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Graeme Hall, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.17.
Lattice prompted a slow pace in Saturday's $150,000 Louisville Handicap, came to the leaders on the inside entering the stretch and edged to the fore, winning by 3/4 length over Transduction Gold. Birdbirdistheword finished third with a late run. Lattice, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Arch, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:31.13. Robby Albarado had the mount for trainer Albert Stall Jr. "There was an obvious question about the third turn and the trip," Stall said. "But I figured that if he stayed the trip, he was certainly competitive."
Looky Yonder closed strongly through the stretch to win Sunday's $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap for fillies and mares by 1 length over tiring pace-setting favorite Dream Rush. Baroness Thatcher finished third. Looky Yonder, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Johnannesburg, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.63. Garrett Gomez rode for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "I told Garrett in the paddock to hope for second and plan on that," said Dutrow. "I didn't like the timing of the race for us. I did think we had a legitimate chance to be second or third. It worked out better than we hoped."
Mauralanka took charge with a strong stretch move in Saturday's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap, winning by 3 lengths over Herboriste. Hostess finished third. Mauralanka, a 5-year-old Muhtathir mare, covered the 1 3/8 furlongs on firm turf in 2:14.69 with Kent Desormeaux up for trainer Christophe Clement. The mare has been sold for breeding and is expected to ship to Australia later in the year. Meantime, Clement said, she is not quite done racing. "The plan is for her to be covered by Sept. 1, and then go to Australia," he said. "So, we will be looking a the Beverly D (on Aug. 9 at Arlington Park). "Of course, things could change."
By the Light rallied from last of five to win Saturday's $75,000 Pearl City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 1 1/2 lengths over Throbbin' Heart. Overandabeauty finished third. By the Light, a New York-bred daughter of Malibu Moon, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10 under Edgar Prado.
Backbackbackgone drew off in the stretch to win Sunday's $75,000 Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes for 2-year-olds by 4 lengths over Conclusive. Fassnacht was third. Backbackbackgone, a Florida-bred colt by Put It Back, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:03.04. Corey Nakatani rode for trainer Peter Miller.
Trifecta King stalked the pace, then took over in the stretch to win Sunday's $75,000 Cinderella Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 3 3/4 lengths over Atka. Upper Manhattan finished third. Trifecta King, a Kentucky-bred Peace Rules filly, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.49 under Rafael Bejarano. Doug O'Neill trains.
Trevor's Clever rallied from last to win Saturday's $75,000 Alydar Stakes for 3-year-olds by a neck over Madeo. Exuma finished third. Trevor's Clever, a Florida-bred colt by Stephen Got Even, ran the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:48.88. Joe Talamo rode for trainer Ted West.
Golden Gate Fields
McCann's Mojave took charge in the stretch in Monday's $150,000 Berkeley Stakes, drawing off to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Desert Code was second in an all-desert hunch exacta and Pass the Heat appropriately completed the trifecta. McCann's Mojave, an 8-year-old son of Memo, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.06 with Frank Alvarado up.
Sky Cape won a three-horse sprint to the wire in Saturday's $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes for 3-year-olds, scoring by a neck over Mr Keppel. Captain Roy was a nose farther back in third after leading much of the way. Sky Cape, a Kentucky-bred colt by Najran, ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:46.04 with Julio Garcia aboard.
Anne's Purse dueled for the early lead in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Lady Angela Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then took charge in the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Nicki Knew. Kaleidoscope Kerry finished third. Anne's Purse, an Ontario-bred daughter of Porto Foricos, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track under Eurico da Silva in 1:23.23. Trainer Earl Barnett is hoping his filly, now 2-for-2, can mature to the Woodbine Oaks June 8. "We're going to take that one step at a time," he said. "She's bred to go long so we would like to try it if she's comfortable."
Sunday, Rahy's Attorney got the lead at the top of the stretch in the $150,000 (Canadian) Connaught Cup Stakes, opened up a comfortable lead and held off Society's Chairman at the end by 1/2 length. French Beret finished third and the favorite, Royal Oath, came home fifth. Rahy's Attorney, a 4-year-old, Ontario-bred gelding by Crown Attorney, got the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:39.53 for jockey Slade Callaghan.
Buddy's Humor stalked the pace in Saturday's $70,000 Elmwood Stakes, took over on the final turn and went on to win by 1/2 length over Yankee Master. Icy Atlantic finished third. The race was marred by a three-horse accident sparked when the favorite, Silent Roar, fell, causing two other horses to lose their riders. Buddy's Humor, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bed colt by Distorted Humor, finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.14 under Jose Lezcano.
Joey P. led all the way to a 2 1/4-lengths win in Saturday's $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for Jersey-breds. Who's the Cowboy was second and Hey Chub finished third. Joey P., a 6-year-old Close Up gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.06 with Joe Bravo up.
El Sultry Sun rallied by pace-setting favorite Prussian in the late going to win Sunday's $65,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds by a nose. Run Sully Run finished third. El Sultry Sun, a Florida-bred colt by Eltish, got the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.01 under Eddie Castro.
For Kisses rallied from last to win Sunday's $70,000 Monmouth Beach Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 lengths over Adorable Jane. Prop Me Up, the even-money favorite, finished third. For Kisses, a 5-year-old, Maryland-bred mare by Not For Love, finished 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:41.71 for jockey Carlos Marquez Jr.
Heckuva Good Time rallied past pace-setter Pure Disco in the stretch run of Monday's $60,000 Open Mind Handicap and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Talkin About Love was third. The winner, a 4-year-old son of Afternoon Delites, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.73 for Jose Lezcano.
Social Queen came from last of nine to win Monday's $70,000 Politely Stakes for fillies and mares by a neck over Medley. Royalties was third. Social Queen, a 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer, got the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.88 under Jose Lezcano.
Missmekissme took back at the start of Saturday night's $55,000 Bob Bryant Stakes for Iowa-bred, 3-year-old fillies, then came on again strongly into the stretch and went on to win by 3 1/2 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Judy Faye. One Car Funeral got organized late and closed to finish third. Missmekissme, a daughter of Sir Cat, completed the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.64. Richard Monterrey rode for trainer Kelly Von Hemel.
Julie B rallied from mid-pack to win Saturday night's $50,000 Shy Native Stakes for West Virginia-bred fillies and mares by 3 1/4 lengths over Gene's Reality. She's Pretty Fancy finished third. Julie B, a 5-year-old Eastover Court mare, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:28.45 with Larry Reynolds up.
Forty Acres led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 Barksdale Stakes, holding off favorite Got the Last Laugh by 3 lengths at the end. Air Lord was third. Forty Acres, a 4-year-old, Arkansas-bred gelding by West Acre, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:31.67 under Lonnie Meche.
Lone Star Special was bumped at the start of Saturday's $50,000 Incredible Ease Stakes for 3-year-olds, steadied in traffic on the turn and still had enough to win by 1 1/4 length over the favorite, Mr Bubba. Friday Morning led early and held third. Lone Star Special, a Kentucky-bred colt by Malabar Gold, ran the "about" 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.97 seconds with Quincy Hamilton up.
Nice Inheritance raced in mid-pack until the quarter pole in Saturday's $50,000 Top Corsage Stakes for fillies and mares, then move up between horses, swung out into the stretch and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Pleasantly Blessed. Ruling Class completed the tri. Nice Inheritance, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Pure Prize, got the 7 1/2 grassy furlongs in 1:29.87 for Donnie Meche.
Steamy Ridge led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 Beach Party Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over Great Precision with Havana Special third. The favorite, Elocution, was fourth. Steamy Ridge, a Florida-bred daughter of Snow Ridge, ran the "about" 5 furlongs on the green course in 57.28 with Donald Simington in the irons.
Chief of Thestreet came wide into the stretch in Sunday's $50,000 Norgor Derby, got the lead and won by 1 length over Mr. Golden Ruler. Quiet Again was third. Chief of Thestreet, a Texas-bred gelding by City Street, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.6 with Miguel Perez up.
Star Prospector had 'em all the way in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Hoofprint on My Heart Handicap for 3-year-olds, winning by 2 lengths over Cool Ventura, with Papa Time third. Star Prospector, a British Columbia-bred gelding by Millennium Allstar, ran the 1 mile on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:40.4 with Quincy Welch up.
Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Lilac Handicap for 3-year-old fillies was a drawn-out parade. Lady Lev came from last of just four starters and left 'em gasping in the stretch as she won off by 15 1/2 lengths over Spicy Candy. Belle Cherie Mary was third, another 14 lengths back and the favorite, Littlemiss Allison, was another 18 lengths back in last for a total of 37 1/2 lengths of spread in a four-horse finish. Lady Lev, an Alberta-bred Othello filly, finished the 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:40.20.
Calder Race Course
Charlie Papa set a pressured pace in Saturday's $36,000 Cool Air Stakes for fillies and mares, edged clear midway through and went on to win by 1 length over Bereba. Ben's True finished third. Charlie Papa, a 7-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Indian Charlie, ran the 5 furlongs on "good" turf in 56.24 with Sebastian Madrid riding.
Orinoquia rallied from last of five to win Saturday's $36,000 Harmony Lodge Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3 3/4 lengths over Banga Ridge. Ariel Bright finished third. Orinoquia, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Whywhywhy, ran the 6 furlongs on the sloppy, sealed main track in 1:12.71 under Eduardo Nunez.
Aly's Wheat was quickly in front in Saturday's $36,000 Blazing Sword Stakes, extended the advantage and won by 5 1/2 lengths over Delightful Kris. Fancy Silver finished third. Aly's Wheat, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred Wheaton mare, ran 1 mile on the sloppy track in 1:39.99 under Wesley Henry Sr.
Eclisse outclassed six rivals in Sunday's $36,000 Sara's Success Stakes for fillies and mares, leading all the way to a 3 1/2-lengths victory. Annabill finished second as the favorite and Sweet Exchange was third. Eclisse, a 4-year-old, French-bred filly by Ski Chief, ran 1 mile on wet-fast track in 1:40.64 under Javier Santiago.
In Monday's $36,000 Memorial Day Stakes, Finallymadeit led from gate to wire, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Rehoboth. Voorhee's Ballad finished third. Finallymadeit, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Concerto, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.1.
Eternal Star was the best of just three starters in Monday's $55,000 Damitrius Stakes, drawing off to beat the favorite, Cavallo Pazzo, by 6 1/4 lengths. Joey Carson was third and last. Eternal Star, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Five Star Day, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.96 under Julian Pimentel.
Lookinforthesecret, the heavy odds-on favorite, had 'em all lookin' for him in Monday's $50,000 Honor the Hero Turf Express, leading all the way to a 2-lengths win. Pimm's O'Clock was second and Joni's Justice took third. Lookinforthesecret, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred son of Cimarron Secret, got the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.94 seconds.