Court Vision survived a couple of traffic jams on his way to an upset victory in Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile -- and likely a spot in one of the most contentious races in the Breeders' Cup World Championship lineup in November.
With Robby Albarado up, Court Vision lagged near the back of the field early, advanced along the rail on the stretch turn, then had to angle out for racing room. Briefly clear, Court Vision was blocked again at midstretch while one of the favorites, The Usual Q.T., surged to the lead. But once Albarado again found room, Court Vision finished full of run, easily passing The Usual Q.T. and scoring by 1 1/4 lengths.
Woodburne finished best of the local contingent, getting home third at better than 50-1.
"He ran an awful nice race today," Albarado said. "Court Vision is such a cool horse to ride. We were both coming off a long layoff but it worked out well for us. I just wanted him to settle in early … You give him a good trip, he's going to come home and he did."
Albarado returned to riding after suffering an injury early in the Saratoga meet.
Court Vision's victory, clocked in 1:34.62 over the firm turf, opens possibilities for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. Among them is the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. But that starting gate also is expected to include European-based Goldikova, seeking her third straight win, as well as The Usual Q.T. and other top international milers.
Court Vision was fourth behind Goldikova in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita and Dutrow said he is likely to try the race again.
This year, Court Vision, a 5-year-old son of Gulch, was awarded the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap by disqualification for his only victory. But he also was a close second in both the Makers Mark Mile Keeneland and Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
Also in potential preps for the Breeders' Cup Mile:
-- Strike the Bell struck paydirt in Sunday's $100,000 Noble Damsel Handicap at Belmont Park. After starting at the back of the eight-horse field, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Mizzen Mast filly passed them all and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Quiet Meadow. Scolara finished third. Strike the Bell, with Ramon Dominguez up, ran the 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:34.58. It was her first graded stakes win. "Even though Ramon was that far back, he was happy with his spot," said winning trainer David "Slam" Donk. "He knows she just has a big turn of foot. He trusts her and that's the biggest thing." Donk added he hasn't planned a next race for Strike the Bell. "I knew today was an important one because it's graded," he said. "It's a nice one to get out of the way. I hope that she's around another year and could be a pretty serious filly."
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs:
Redwood stayed in close contact with the pace in Sunday's $750,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine, launched his bid as the field turned for home and got past pacesetting Fifty Proof to win by 1/2 length. Windward Islands finished third. Redwood, a 4-year-old, British-bred High Chaparral colt, covered the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:28.97 with Michael Hills in the irons for trainer Barry Hills. It was his fourth win in 10 lifetime starts. "When I got to the rail, it was lovely," Hills said. "I took the inside run. The English horses like that. It was a perfect passage. I just told him, 'Go do your thing.' It's a beautiful track to ride on." Charlie Hills, son of Barry, said Redwood could return to Woodbine to contest the $2 million Pattison Canadian International on Oct. 16.
Violon Sacre raced under a snug hold, behind the leaders and saving ground, until there was but a furlong to run in Saturday's $250,000 PTHA President's Cup at Philadelphia Park. Then, when jockey Pablo Fragoso finally let the 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Stravinsky horse run, he quickly seized the lead and won off by 1 1/2 lengths. Rahy's Attorney held the lead briefly early in the stretch run and salvaged second, 4 lengths ahead of War Hoot. The favorite, Just As Well, finished fifth and was never in the mix. Violon Sacre ran the 9 furlongs of firm turf in 1:52.44. He now is 2-for-4 since coming to the United States from France.
Filly & Mare Turf
Miss Keller stalked the pace in Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian) Canadian Stakes for fillies and mares, advanced between horses early in the stretch run and got clear at the end to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Latin Love was second with Magic Broomstick completing the triactor. Miss Keller, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred Montjeu filly owned by Three Chimneys Racing, covered the "about" 9 furlongs on "good" turf in 1:45.84 with Javier Castellano up. "She likes to track horses," said winning trainer Roger Attfield. "When she gallops in the morning, she won't go very kindly on her own, but she'll track. She did very well today. When he asked her to go, she split horses and went through there very nicely." Miss Keller came into the Canadian off a third-place finish in the Ballston Spa at Saratoga, behind Dynaslew, with a late run. "She got a long way out of it, the last race at Saratoga, a bit too far out of it," Attfield said. "Then she came running very strongly. But the speed didn't come back that much and she had a lot of ground to make up. It was actually a very good race."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Check the Label rallied from last of seven in Saturday's $250,000 Garden City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, coming to the outside to find racing room, then outfinished Snow Top Mountain in the final yards to win by 3/4 length. Gitchee Goomie, despite the lack of any "big sea water," took third at a big price. Check the Label, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Stormin Fever, ran 9 furlongs on the yielding inner turf course in 1:51.41. Ramon Dominguez rode for trainer H. Graham Motion. It was her fourth straight win, with the previous three coming Grade II and Grade III events at Keeneland, Belmont and Colonial, but her first in a Grade I event. "On soft ground like this, it's very difficult to make up that kind of ground and she just overcame all the trouble," Dominguez said. "She gave me a great kick." Motion said he hasn't ruled out the Breeders' Cup for Check the Label. But he indicated the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 16 is a likely immediate target.
Derwin's Star stalked the pace along the outside in Saturday's $400,000 Charles Town Oaks, moved to the lead entering the stretch run and drew off nicely to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Bronx City Girl. C C's Pal was third while the favorite, Belle of the Hall, finished last of nine. Derwin's Star, a Florida-bred Forest Wildcat filly, completed the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.64 with Kendrick Karmouche in the irons. Derwin's Star came into the race off a poor effort at Woodbine. Before that, she was a good third in the Delaware Oaks, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner and division leader, Blind Luck.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
New Normal defended the home turf against the Todd Pletcher invasion in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian) Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. Leading from the start, the bay Forestry filly, trained by Mark Frostad, edged clear at the end, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over the odds-on favorite, More Than Real. Street Chimes was third. Pletcher brought both More Than Real and Street Chimes north from Saratoga. New Formal, with Javier Castellano up, got the 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:36.51. "We thought she'd be very competitive in here," said winning owner/breeder Evans. "She ran well her first time. We think she's a good filly." The race was a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Twelve Pack Shelly had 'em all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Miss Shenandoah Stakes at Charles Town, drawing off under light urging from jockey Harry Vega to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Catinatree was second, 1 1/2 lengths better than Mis Viscaya. Twelve Pack Shelly, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Deputy Storm, finished the 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 51.91 seconds. The versatile winner earlier this year was third against males in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
True Way of Grace rallied past odds-on favorite Dearly Concerned in the final jumps of Saturday's $110,000 Barretts Debutante, winning by 1/2 length over that rival. Lucy Wiggles was third as a first-time-starter longshot. True Way of Grace is a Florida-bred Yes It's True filly out of the Giant's Causeway mare Evil's Causeway. Paul Atkinson rode for trainer Alexis Barba.
Faisca pressed the pace set by the favorite, Belleofthebridle, in Friday's $50,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at Fairplex, charged to the lead in the stretch and won by 5 1/4 lengths over Swiss Wild Cat despite drifting out late. Lucky Sis finished third, Hi Ho Yodeler was fourth and Belleofthebridle faded badly, getting home next-last of seven. Faisca, a California-bred daughter of A. P. Warrior, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.53 with Alonzo Quinonez aboard for trainer Caesar Dominguez.
Little Widow Maker saved ground early in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Winnipeg Futurity at Assiniboia Downs, got through between horses and was just up in time to win by a neck over Paris By Night. The early leader, Quick Caper, was just another neck back in third. Little Widow Maker, a Kentucky-bred Orientate filly running against colts, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.6 under Rohan Singh.
Pluck showed some pluck in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian) Summer Stakes at Woodbine, sweeping by the early leaders to take the lead a furlong out and then holding off Rockin Heat late to win by 1 length. Stormy Rush finished third. Pluck, a Kentucky-bred More Than Ready colt from the Todd Pletcher operation, finished the 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:37.7. The Team Valor homebred was ridden by Garrett Gomez. "He always was traveling really well," Gomez said. "Once I put him on the outside, he just started hitting gears." The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Bandbox was a step slow out of the gate in Saturday's $100,000 Charles Town Juvenile, quickly raced into contention and showed his heels to the rest of the field, winning by 9 1/2 lengths. Unleash the Humor was the best of the rest, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the favorite, Star Zapper. Bandbox, a New York-bred Tapit colt, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.60 with Eric Camacho riding. The colt was making just his second start. In his career debut, he captured a 5 1/2-furlong grass event.
In other weekend racing:
Lubash led all the way to a 1 3/4-lengths upset victory in Friday's $60,000 Fifth Marine Stakes for 3-year-olds. With Jose Lezcano at the controls, the New York-bred Freud colt covered the 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:38.23 and was never seriously challenged. Lighthouse Sound and Asphalt completed the all-longshot trifecta. Aikenite finished fifth and the favorite, Nordic Truce, faded to finish sixth. Winning trainer James Ryerson said Lubash "had a little pressure" when he won the New York Stallion Stakes Cab Calloway Division on Aug. 11 at Saratoga. "That gave me some encouragement that it was better than it looked. When they let him loose a little bit today, that helped us," Ryerson said.
Mine Over Matter stalked the pace in Friday's $60,000 Salute Me Sir Stakes for state-breds, rallied outside turning for home and drew clear in the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Giant Moon. Naughty New Yorker was third and the favorite, Manteca, settled for fourth. Mine Over Matter, a 3-year-old Mineshaft colt, completed the 1 1/16 miles on "good" main track in 1:44.51 with Javier Castellano up.
Whatsthescript rallied through the stretch in Sunday's $60,000 Keep the Promise Stakes, got the lead and held stubbornly to beat Wesley by a neck. Leading On stalked the pace and survived the late rush to finish third. Whatsthescript, a 6-year-old, Irish-bred son of Royal Applause, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course rated "good" in 1:43.21 under John Velazquez.
Dabnabit set a pressured pace early in Sunday's $100,000 New Jersey Breeders' Handicap for state-breds, then shook clear and went on to win by 5 lengths over Unwritten. Hobbitontherocks was a nose farther back in third. Dagnabit, a 5-year-old Intidab horse, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.36 for jockey Paco Lopez.
Love That Dance ran away from her rivals in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Eleven North Handicap for state-bred distaffers, scoring by 8 1/2 lengths. Pascal's Paradox was the best of the rest, 1/2 length ahead of Cat Mistress. Love That Dance, a 4-year-old Not For Love filly, was clocked in 1:09.72 with Elvis Trujillo up.
Emily Allstar tracked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares, came to the front turning for home and battled gamely to win by a head over Way With Words. Lil Kiara finished third. Emily Allstar, a 5-year-old Defrere mare, got the 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:44.68 under Omar Figueroa.
Goombada rallied from near the back of the field to win Saturday's $100,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap for Jersey-breds, drawing clear in the stretch to beat pacesetting Hermosillo by 4 1/4 lengths. Bythebeautifulsea was third with an even effort. Goombada, a 3-year-old Yonaguska colt out of the Sea Hero mare Goombada Byda Sea, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.37 with Joe Bravo in the irons.
In Sunday's $75,000 Politely Stakes for fillies and mares, Starship Angel rallied from outer space to catch pacesetting Debonaire Darling in the late going and win by a neck. Ask the Moon finished third. Starship Angel, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Running Stag filly, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.79 with Eddie Castro in the irons.
Miss Dolce led all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares, crossing the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Miss Red Delicious. But the stewards ruled interference in the stretch run and reversed the order of finish. Double Espresso finished third. Miss Red Delicious, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Empire Maker mare, was ridden by Luis Perez. The 7 furlongs was timed in 1:25.76.
Alyssa's Native stalked the pace in Saturday's $70,000 Richmond Stakes for Indiana-bred fillies and mares, got by on the outside in the stretch run and drew off to score by 2 3/5 lengths over Bono Queen. Ms. Cat Princess finished third. Alyssa's Native, a 5-year-old Commemorate mare, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.4 with Leandro Goncalves up.
Motown Boy led through the early stages of Sunday's $87,000 Gus Grissom Stakes for Indiana-breds, was passed by the obvious hunch bet Unreachable Star in the stretch, then rallied to retake the lead and win by 1 1/2 lengths. Unreachable Star held second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Liepers Fork, Motown Boy, a 3-year-old Black Moonshine gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45 3/5 under Rodney Prescott.
Cherokee's Goal stalked the pace in Saturday's $72,500 (Canadian) Gold Cup Stakes, came to the lead a furlong out and worked clear to win by 2 lengths. Vindgari ran well from the back of the pack to take second, 3/4 length ahead of odds-on favorite Double Shuffle. Cherokee's Goal, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Cherokee Run colt, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.8 under Juan Crawford.
Major Hurricane stalked the pace in Saturday's restricted $50,000 (Canadian) J.W. Sifton Stakes for 3-year-olds, made up ground to take the lead early in the stretch run and held off longshot Farm Hand to win by a head. Applicant was third. Major Hurricane, a Manitoba-bred Hurricane Center gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:55.2 with Janine Stianson in the irons.