Eagle Mountain peaked at the right time Sunday, rallying smartly down the stretch to win the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup by 1 1/2 lengths over Balius.
The victory by the 4-year-old Rock of Gibraltar colt capped a season that included a tough second-place finish in the Breeders Cup Turf at Santa Anita.
Jockey Kevin Shea kept Eagle Mountain well back and out of a traffic jam that caused some contact throughout the stretch run at Sha Tin Race Course. When asked to run, the colt responded willingly and won with relative ease. Linngari was third, just edging Viva Pataca, who took the worst of the contact.
Many of the riders complained about the rough riding.
"I was hammered at the 1,000-meter mark," said Viva Pataca's rider, Darren Beadman. "We were knocked around from pillar to post." Brett Prebble, who finished ninth on Hawkes Bay, said, "It was crazy. Worst-run race I've ever ridden in." And Olivier Peslier, aboard 11th-place finisher Artiste Royale, added, " It was like an apprentice race. Interference all over and I got no breaks at all."
Shea said Eagle Mountain was "mucking about a bit" so he pulled him to the outside turning for home and avoided all the trouble.
"He's been really good here all week and I was confident that he'd be competitive," Shea said. "We know what it's like to lose. We've been second in the Arlington Million (with Archipenko) and in the Breeders' Cup Turf. That was a tough pill to swallow. So we'll celebrate this one."
De Kock said Eagle Mountain, owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, will head back to Dubai for one of the races in the Dubai international carnival in March. Ultimately, he said, he will point the horse to Royal Ascot. Eagle Mountain now has five wins, six seconds and a show from 16 lifetime starts.
In the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile, Good Ba Ba prevailed for the second straight year, this time setting a Sha Tin course record of 1:32.71.
Running from behind the leaders under Christophe Soumillon, Good Ba Ba shot down the final few hundred meters to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Able One. Egyptian Ra was third, providing a 1-2-3 finish for the home team.
Armada was the favorite but finshed sixth. Kip Deville was ninth of 14.
"Winning this race today for the second time makes him the best miler in the world," Soumillon said.
Winning trainer Andreas Schutz said he expects to keep Good Ba Ba in Hong Kong next year. "But we will think about going to Dubai for the Duty Free," he said.
Kip Deville's rider, Cornelio Velasquez, said the right-hand turn "was just the wrong way around for him and he was never tracking comfortably. He was on the wrong lead."
The Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase went to French superstar Doctor Dino, who also won the race last year. After tracking a slow pace, Doctor Dino kicked into gear in the stretch and was just up in time to win by a nose over Purple Moon. Jaguar Mail finished third.
"He takes a little time to wind up," said winning rider Olivier Peslier, "but the horse who came at me on the outside (Jaguar Mail) also helped me."
Trainer Richard Gibson said Doctor Dino is "a very unique, powerful athlete and he has joined an elite band of horses to win this race twice."
In the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint, Inspiration posted a huge upset, beating Green Birdie by a neck with Australian favorite Apache Cat third.
Posted at odds of 67-1, trainer John Moore said he entered Inspiration almost on a whim. "We put him in for the run," he said. "It's amazing. It's a surprise but it was a gem of a ride from Darren (Beadman) as he was able to tuck in behind them."
While Inspiration's victory was a surprise, it was no shock that a Hong Kong-based horse won the Sprint. The home team now has seven straight scores in the event.
Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said wagering on the day's races was the best since 2002, "and that is sensational … The day had everything: Brillian winners, hard-luck stories and fairy tales. We believe these are the Turf World Championships and it's great to see the meeting going from strength to strength."
In other weekend racing:
Calder Race Course
Presious Passion led throughout Saturday's $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap, winning by 2 lengths over Logic Way. Always First was third. Presious Passion, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Royal Antham, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:25.64 with Elvis Trujillo aboard. Winning trainer Mary Hartmann said she told Trujillo he "might end up finding himself on the lead, and if so, not to worry about it. I don't know what's next. He is a Florida-bred and could run in the Sunshine Millions (Turf, Jan. 24 at Santa Anita). He's always been a good shipper and can run a middle distance as well as longer ones."
Herboriste dueled down the stretch with J'ray in Saturday's $150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap for distaffers, then got a head in front at the wire. Lamentation finished third. Herboriste, a 5-year-old, British-bred mare by Hernando, ran the 1 1/2 miles on the grass in 2:25.47. Julien Leparoux rode for trainer Michael Matz. "The plan is to breed her next year," Matz said. "But she might have another race before then at Gulfstream if she comes out of this okay."
Finallymadeit led all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap, winnng by 1 1/4 lengths over a late-closing Dream Maestro. Actin Good was third and the favorite, Gotcha Gold, tired to finish fourth after prompting the pace. Finallymadeit, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Concerto, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.75 with Eduardo Nunez up. "He just loves to run," said winning trainer Javier Negrete. "When Gottcha Gold didn't go for the lead and we were in front in 48 and change (half-mile), I thought he'd go on." Negrete said Finallymadeit will go on to the Sunshine Millions.
Yesbyjimminy got past the leaders in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over It's a Bird. Hypoctite finsihed third. Yesbyjimminy, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by Yes It's True, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.71 under Elvis Trujillo. It was the sixth straight win and fourth straight stakes win for Yesbyjimminy. "I can't say I remember having a horse win six in a row, certainly not at this level," said winning trainer Ed Plesa Jr. "It took him a couple of races to find his best stride and get his confidence back when he came back this year after surgery." He said he is looking at the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint Jan. 24 at Santa Anita, adding, "I think we have to try it."
Laragh atoned for her third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with a front-running, 1-length score in Saturday's $429,500 Hollywood Starlet. A pair of Bob Baffert-trained misses, Wynning Ride and Toro Bonito, were second and third at double-digit odds. Laragh, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapit, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:41.96. Edgar Prado rode for trainer John Terranova. "She's a real classy, talented filly and I think over time and natural maturity she'll be able to relax a little bit," Terranova said. "She's pretty game. Right now she's going to get a nice break, no real plans yet. We're going to be hopefully pulling for the Kentucky Oaks, which will be our main goal."
The five starters in Sunday's $75,000 On Trust Handicap for California-breds stayed pretty tightly bunched , with Star Nicholas getting to the fore in the final furlong and holding on to win by 1/2 length. Partywithlarryz was second, another 1/2 length ahead of Dancing in Silks. Star Nicholas, a 5-year-old Poteen gelding, ran the 7 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:27.46 with Michael Baze riding.
Researcher got even with the early speed a furlong from the wire in Saturday's $100,000 Queens County Handicap and got along to win by 1/2 length. Brilliant Son was second, well in front of Dry Martini. Researcher, a 4-year-old, Virginia-bred gelding by Two Smart, ran the 1 3/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:55.87. Michael Luzzi rode for trainer Jeff Runco.
In Sunday's $75,000 Ladies Handicap, Borrowing Base rallied to win by 3 lengths over Nijinsky Bullet, then survived both an inquiry and an objection resulting from erratic running in the stretch before the result was posted official. Julie B was third. Borrowing Base, a 5-year-old, New York-bred mare by Personal Flag, ran 1 1/4 miles on the fast inner track in 2:07.30. Javier Castellano rode.
Hawthorne Race Course
Summer's Empire stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity for state-breds, got the lead early in the stretch and held off Last Demand to win by 3/4 length. Ocean Ace finished third. Summer's Empire, a bay son of Empire Maker, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a "good," sealed track in 1:45.33. Jesse Campbell rode for trainer Anthony Mitchell. "There wasn't a lot of speed in the race so we stayed close," Campbell said. "I actually thought about going for the lead coming out of the far turn but I tried to show a little patience. The horse showed some heart and he obviously has a lot of talent." The race is named for the former Illinois governor, also a leading owner and breeder, primarily of Standardbreds.
Autobeacat pressed the pace set by favorite Star Production in Saturday's $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, then got by at the end to win by 3/4 length. Southern Invasion finished third. Autobeacat, a 5-year-old Autocracy gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.72 with Donnie Meche up for trainer Eric Heitzmann.
Star Guitar rallied down the stretch to win the $100,000 Sprint by 3/4 length over Mr. Barracuda. Star Guitar, a 3-year-old son of Quiet American, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:11.07 with Robby Albarado up. Wildrally did just that in the $100,000 Turf, charging up in the final furlong to win by a neck over Desert Wheat, finishing the "about" 1 1/16 miles on "soft" turf in 1:48.76. The 4-year-old Wild Event gelding had Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons.
Superior Storm came from off the pace to win the $100,000 Ladies by 2 lengths over Sammie Sam. Superior Storm, a 3-year-old daughter of Stormy Atlantic, got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.87 under John Jacinto. Coach Mike got the job done in the stetch run in the $100,000 Ladies Sprint, rallying to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Sax Appeal. Tortuga Flats was third. Coach Mike, a 4-year-old daughter of Toolighttoquit, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.66 under John Jacinto.
Break Up rallied from near-last to post a 70-1 upset in the $100,000 Juvenile, winning by 1 length over Cocktail Clarence. The odds-on favorite, Foreign Production, faded to third after gaining the lead at the top of the lane. Break Up, a son of the Japanese-bred stallion Sunday Break, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:12.02 with Corey Lanerie up.
Master Link led from gate to wire in winning the $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths over Warrior Maid. Master Link, a Dance Master filly, got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.70 with Robby Albarado handling the reins.
Golden Gate Fields
Will O Way took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Corte Madera Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, drawing off to win by 5 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Cherokee Echo was second and Digestivo finished third. Will O Way, trained by Vladimir Cerin and ridden by Russell Baze, ran the 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.90. "I had a lot of horse the whole way and I had a lot of horse left," Baze said. "She did it very easy. She's kind of tiny but she feels like a big horse when she starts running." Cerin asaid Will O Way will return to Santa Anita with an eye on the Las Virgenes stakes "or a 1 1/16-mile race or even the Sunshine Millions Oaks."
Canela was up in the final yards to win Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes by 3/4 length over Timeless Fashion. Omaggio was third and the favorite, Extreme Supreme, finished fifth. Canela, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred ridgling by El Corredor, ran the 1 1/8 miles on the all-weather track in 1:52.12 under Victor Lebron.
Tampa Bay Downs
Game N Laughin' battled for the lead throughout Saturday's $65,000 Lightning City Stakes for fillies and mares before prevailing by a neck over Jazzy. Cahrlie Papa was only another head back in third and the favorite, Taletobetold, was another neck behind in fourth. Game N Laughin', a 5-year-old, Maryland-bred Distorted Humor mare, got the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.21. Dean Butler rode.
Red Rock Creek rallied from last to win Sunday's $75,000 Governor's Cup Stakes by 1 length over Prom Shoes. Slew by Slew finished third. Red Rock Creek, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Numerous, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.16. Luis Quinonez had the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Reel Chrome had things all her own way in the stretch drive in Sunday's $50,000 Black Mesa Stakes for Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares, drawing clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Annieville. Strawberry Chase finished third. Reel Chrome, a 4-year-old Reel On Reel filly, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.15.
Okie Time rallied from last to upset Sunday's $50,000 Silver Goblin Stakes for Oklahoma-breds, wining by 2 1/2 lengths over Fifth Date. The favorite, Marq French ran evenly to finish third. Okie Time, a 5-year-old Mutakddim gelding, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.62 under Donald Pettinger.
Broadway Producer came from a stalking position to win Saturday's $50,000 Jennings Handicap for Maryland-breds by 3 lengths over the favorite, P V Lightning. Easy Red finished third. Broadway Producer, a 5-year-old son of Not For Love, ran "about" 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.73 with Dale Beckner in the irons.
Wind Water stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 KLAQ Handicap, got the lead early in the stretch run and held on to win by 2 lengths over Ducky Drake. Loves Bonus was third. Wind Water, a 6-year-old, Cal-bred gelding by Gold Badgett, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.14 under Ken Tohill.
Peppers Pride won her 19th straight race Sunday, taking the $125,000 New Mexico Staste Racing Commission Handicap with east, drawing off at the end to win by 5 3/4 lengths over Negotiablafections. The 5-year-old mare finished the 6 furlongs in 1:09.54 and likely finished her career, as well. Owner and breeder Joe Allen said he is all but positive he will retire Peppers Pride with her record unblemished. He also will enjoy the more than $1 million his mare has earned. All 19 of Peppers Pride's victories came in the Land of Enchantment, starting with her first race in July 2005 at Ruidoso Downs.