Camelot's Triple Crown miss was offset by weekend races promising thrills in the upcoming Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Breeders' Cup.
Could last year's Japanese Triple Crown winner be favored for this year's Arc? Could there be a "new Goldikova" in the Breeders' Cup Mile? What will become of Camelot now? And when will all those quality 2-year-olds begin to sort out?
And we mourn the demise of the Thoroughbred Times.
Inquiring minds want to know, so read on:
Camelot came up short in his bid to become the first English Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970. The question now: What next?
Encke jumped to the lead early in the straight in Saturday's Group 1 Ladbrokes St. Leger and Camelot simply could not catch him. At the line, Encke held on to win by 3/4 of a length, adding Camelot's name to those of nine previous Guineas and Derby winners who failed in the 1 3/4-mile St. Leger.
Critics quickly blamed jockey Joseph O'Brien, who kept Camelot on the rail until the critical time while Encke moved to the front on the outside. Still, it appeared Camelot had every chance -- until it took too long for him to get going when he saw daylight.
Now, the options for Camelot seem constrained. The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe may be too soon after such a tough race as the St. Leger. The Champion Stakes at Ascot would mean a showdown with Frankel -- although what a race that would be! And trainer Aidan O'Brien already has defending champion St Nicholas Abbey for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The racing world might like another option: Call it a year and bring Camelot back in 2013.
Encke, meanwhile, presents Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin operation with any number of choices -- especially as he is represented by the up-and-coming young team of rider Mickael Barzalona and trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni.
"I would imagine that the Arc is very unlikely and this will probably be his last race of the year," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. "But we will see what Sheik Mohammed wants to do. I would think that he will want to sit with Mahmood and make a plan geared around next summer."
After Camelot's quest, two key prep races for the Breeders' Cup Mile provided the most sparks in weekend racing.
No Breeders' Cup fan can forget Goldikova, who dominated the Mile three straight years between 2008 and 2010. Well, she now is retired but trainer Freddy Head seems to have found a convenient successor in Moonlight Cloud. The 4-year-old Invincible Spirit filly, who nearly ended Black Caviar's undefeated run at Royal Ascot, won a tight duel with Farhh in Sunday's Group 1 Qatar Prix de Moulin de Longchamp, scoring by a head over the Godolphin rival. Farhh now has finished second in four straight Group 1 events, two of them behind Frankel. Moonlight Cloud got by Fahrr to take the lead with a furlong to go and was all out to hold her rival safe to the end. She finished the mile on good to soft going in 1:36.90 under Thierry Jarnet. "She'll miss the Foret and go to Santa Anita," Head said after the finish. "She's a quite extraordinary filly who has evolved. She has a lot of speed and now over a true test at a mile she has reproduced her best running." Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said Farhh likely will go in either the mile or 10-furlong event on British Champions Day at Ascot.
But if Moonlight Cloud is going to win this years' Mile at Santa Anita, one of the ones she'll have to get by is Wise Dan, the impressive winner of Sunday's $1 million (Canadian), Grade I Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Wise Dan, a 5-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding, tracked the pace to the top of the stretch, quickly shot to the lead for jockey John Velazquez and wasn't about to be caught. At the wire, he was 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Hunters Bay, who made a late move along the hedge. Globetrotting second-favorite Cityscape made a bid on the outside but flattened out and settled for third. Wise Dan got the mile on firm turf in 1:34.07. He now has won seven of his last nine starts and three of four attempts going 1 mile on the grass. The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Mile and owner Morton Fink said immediately after the race, "He'll be there." But trainer Charles Lopresti said there is still some question whether Wise Dan might go in the Breeders' Cup Classic, rather than the Mile. "We'll see how he comes out of it and take it from there," he said. "I think he is better on synthetic and turf. I honestly do." This year's Classic will be run on the Santa Anita dirt track. Hunters Bay, meanwhile, is one to watch as Sunday's race was his first effort on the turf.
If Sunday's Group races at Longchamp, sponsored by Qatar, were a preview of next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, that's going to be one heck of a race. And remember, defending Arc winner Danedream already won her prep at Baden Baden and is awaiting the challengers. Those include:
Shareta, second in last year's Arc at better than 60-1 odds, proved again that she is no fluke by dominating the Group 1 Prix Vermille. After staying up close to the leaders, the 4-year-old Sinndar filly took the lead 2 furlongs out and was never seriously threatened thereafter under only minimal urging from jockey Christophe-Patrice Lemaire. Pirika chased the winner home, finishing 2 lengths back. Solemia was third. Galikova was fifth. The 1 1/2 miles on good to soft going went in a sparkling 2:29.06. Shareta, who was third in this race last year, made it two in a row after taking the Yorkshire Oaks in her last previous outing. She now has five wins from 14 starts and has missed the top three only twice. Winning trainer Alain Royer-Dupre cautioned the Arc could present different challenges for his filly. "She loves the fast ground and she needs a good pace to show her true worth," he said. "For the Arc, we'll have to follow what happens with the ground because if the track is heavy, that changes everything."
In the Group 2 Prix Foy, Japanese star Orfevre got the Arc prep his connections wanted with a comfortable, 1-length victory over Meandre. Joshua Tree finished third. Orfevre is a Stay Gold colt who, among other accomplishments, won last year's Japanese Triple Crown. He now has eight wins from 13 starts but Sunday's win was his first outside Japan. With Christophe Soumillon up for trainer Yasutoshi Ikee, Orfevre moved to the front of the short field inside the final 2 furlongs and was never seriously threatened. He got the 1 1/2 miles on good to soft going in 2:34.26. Before the race, Soumillion said of Orfevre, "I think he's on a level with Frankel ... . He understands what I'm asking him and he and I have gotten to know each other well." After Sunday's race, he added, "The pace was a bit slow and he was a bit fresh. Hopefully, he can improve a bit, as he needs to. But the trainer has done a perfect job."
And in the Group 2 Prix Niel, Saonois burst through traffic in the final 100 yards and ran on to post a minor upset, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Bayrir. The favorite, Last Train, was third, a short head farther back after attending the early pace. Saonois, a 3-year-old Chichicastenango colt, previously more successful over the all-weather surface, finished the 1 1/2 miles on the grass in 2:35.31.
Sole Power, taking a big drop in class, overcame traffic problems to win Wednesday's listed Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster by 1 1/4 lengths. With Johnny Murtagh up, Sole Power appeared caught with a furlong to run but finally got clear and past the early leaders, Jwala and Excelette, for the win. Sole Power finished third behind Little Bridge in the Group 1 King's Stand at Royal Ascot, but then was seventh last time out in the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Wednesday's confidence booster, said trainer Edward Lynam, will set up Sole Power for the Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc day at Longchamp, where he finished third last year, and the Longines Hong Kong Sprint in December at Sha Tin, where he got home ninth in 2011. "It's a long way to the Abbaye, Hong Kong and Dubai which will be his targets," Lynam said. "After he ran at York last time, he was very buzzy at home and just needed a run to settle him down and get his confidence back."
Libranno got by the leaders on the outside in Saturday's Grade 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster and held off Pastoral Player at the end to win by a half length. Lethal Force was third and the favorite, Strong Suit, was only suited for fourth. Libranno, a 4-year-old Librettist colt, was winning for the third time in his last five races for trainer Richard Hannon. With Kieren Fallon up, he ran the 7 furlongs in 1:23.16.
Hannon also sent out the winner of the Group 2 One Call Insurance Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds at Doncaster as Toronado made all the going and scored by a half length over Dundonnell. Tha'Ir finished third for Godolphin. Toronado, a High Chaparral colt, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.88.
Royal Diamond came from behind pacesetting favorite Fame and Glory to upset Saturday's Group 1 Irish St Leger, winning by a head over Massiyn at 16-1 local odds. Brown Panther was third and Fame and Glory faded to finish sixth over the yielding ground. Royal Diamond, a 6-year-old King's Best gelding, ran the 1 3/4 miles in 3:08.47.
Dawn Approach scored another for Godolphin, winning his fifth straight race without a loss in Saturday's Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien Stakes for 2-year-olds at the Curragh. The New Approach colt sat nicely behind the very quick pace, advanced when called upon by jockey Kevin Manning and won easily. Designs on Rome was 4 3/4 lengths back as runner-up with Leitir Mor third. Aidan O'Brien's two runners, Nevis and Flying the Flag, finished next-last and last.
Back in North America:
Wigmore Hall bounced back from a dud in the Arlington Million to win Sunday's $500,000 (Canadian) Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine by a neck over the favorite, Al Khali. Forte Dei Marmi was third. Wigmore Hall, with Jamie Spencer up, raced well off the pace until the field hit the stretch turn, moved up and took the lead from Al Khali with about a furlong to go. From there, it was a sprint to the wire. The 5-year-old High Chaparral gelding ran the 1 1/2 miles on good going in 2:28.28. Wigmore Hall won this race last year but had been winless since, racing in England, Dubai, France and Chicago before his return trip to Canada for Sunday's event. He also made an appearance last year in the Singapore Airlines Singapore Cup. "He loves Canada, especially," said assistant trainer Gillian Dolman. "He's not so great on the soft turf, but he loved the conditions here today." He has won only seven of his 27 lifetime starts but his earnings now total nearly $2 million.
Ioya Bigtime led from the start of Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs and Rahystrada could never quite get by, finishing second by a half length. Kindergarten Kid was third. Tahoe Lake and Lake Drop completed the order of finish. Ioya Bigtime, a 5-year-old, Illinois-bred son of Dynaformer, ran the 1 1/2 miles on the firm Euro-style course in 2:30.06 with Jeffrey Sanchez riding for Team Block. Ioya Bigtime, a fixture on the Chicago grass, came into the race off a second-place finish in the inaugural American St. Leger on Arlington Million day. Before that, he won the Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington on Bastille Day. Overall, he has six wins from 17 starts but his recent success came after trainer Chris Block moved him out to longer distances and put Sanchez up. The top two could meet again in the 1 1/2-mile, Grade III Sycamore at Keeneland Oct. 18.
A three-horse spill marred Saturday's $250,000 PTHA President's Cup at Parx Racing but did not affect Stormy Lord, who rallied from just off the pace to win by 2 3/4 lengths, taking the race for the second straight year. Freud's Honor finished second but was set down to last for interference at the three-eighths pole that caused the chain-reaction spill. That promoted Kara's Orientation to second and Nibiru's Return to third. Stormy Lord, in from Woodbine, covered the 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:53.00 with James McAleney up. None of the three horses involved in the spill reportedly was injured. The three riders suffered only relatively minor injuries.
Filly &Mare Turf
Samitar battled down the final sixteenth inside Somali Lemonade in Saturday's $300,000, Grade I Garden City for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park and held on to win by a head. Tannery finished third. Samitar, a British-bred Rock of Gibraltar filly, got the 9 furlongs on firm going in 1:48.74 with Ramon Dominguez up. It was her second start in the United States, following a third-place showing in the Grade II Lake George Stakes at Saratoga. She began her career in England and Ireland. Somali Lemonade won her first two career starts but has been winless in seven succeeding efforts, all graded stakes. "I was happy to see her get 1 1/8 miles," winning trainer Chad Brown said. "That was my one reservation, watching her train and in her races. She has the quality to do it, but I needed to see it, and I saw it today, which is great." He said he is eyeing the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 13 at Keeneland.
It was quite the cavalry charge down the Arlington Park stretch in Saturday's $175,000, Grade III Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, with virtually the entire field in with a chance until the final sixteenth. When all was sorted out, it was Leading Astray leading the pack across the wire just a neck in front of Miss Cato. It was a head farther back to Virginia Oaks winner Volcat in third and another half length to Treasured Up in fourth. The favorite, Italian import Angegreen, didn't fire and finished last of 12. Leading Astray, an Illinois-bred daughter of Belong to Me, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.28 with Eddie Perez riding. The victory backed up a win in a division of the Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day. "She had run through her conditions and she got a little better with each start," winning trainer Chris Block said. "Then in the Hatoof, I told my dad [owner David Block] this would be the test to see if we were good enough for the Pucker Up. She stepped up that day."
Naples Bay took first run at the leaders in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Noble Damsel Stakes at Belmont Park, led in the stretch and got home first by 1 1/2 lengths over Dealbata. The pacesetter, Silver Screamer, held on for show money. Naples Bay, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway filly, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:33.96 under Jose Lezcano. "It's a big deal, because she's a half-sister to Medaglia d'Oro, so she's very well-bred and she's a graded stakes winner," winning trainer Christophe Clement said, adding he had not yet formulated a schedule for Naples Bay. "Let's just enjoy that a bit."
Barefoot Lady bobbled at the start of Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian), Grade II Canadian Stakes at Woodbine, chased the pace and then surged by the leaders to post a 7-1 upset win. All Star Heart finished 1 1/2 lengths back in second and Stars to Shine was third. The favorite, Kapitale, raced in the middle of the pack and got up for fourth with a belated stretch run. Barefoot Lady, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred daughter of Footstepsinthesand, ran 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:45.89 with David Moran up, subbing for Jamie Spencer, who reportedly did not make the assigned 113 pounds. She was in from England, where she had won infrequently, and an assistant to trainer Richard Fahey indicated Barefoot Lady will return to Woodbine Oct. 24 for the $1 million (Canadian), Grade I E.P. Taylor Stakes, at 1 1/4 miles on the grass.
Maid of Heaven stuck close to the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Marathon, hooked up with Charming She Is in the final furlong and prevailed by a head over that rival. Fleur de Lilly, the early leader, held on for third, just another neck back. The favorite, Claire Skies Ahead, finished fifth. Maid of Heaven, a 4-year-old Empire Maker filly, finished 1 5/16 miles of firm turf in 2:14.06 under Leandro Goncalves.
Stealcase raced well behind the leaders in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Ontario Derby at Woodbine, came four-wide into the lane to advance and kicked home first by 1 1/4 lengths. Any Given Royal got first run to the lead but settled for second. River Rush finished third. Stealcase, a Kentucky-bred Lawyer Ron colt out of the Cat Thief mare Steal the Show, ran 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:50.56 with Patrick Husbands aboard. He had been knocking on the door in the States earlier in the year, finishing third in the Grade III Derby Trial at Churchill Downs and third in the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth. However, he came into Sunday's race off a seventh-place showing in the Travers at Saratoga. He does, however, have victories over both dirt and all-weather surfaces, giving trainer Mark Casse options for the rest of his campaign.
Awesome Feather, undefeated in nine career starts, will prep for the Breeders' Cup in an overnight stake Thursday at Belmont Park. She has been lightly raced because of a tendon issue but trainer Chad Brown said the 4-year-old Awesome of Course filly is ready to roll. "The race is good timing before the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic. I have roughly six weeks," Brown said. "She's training super. Her weight is very good, her coat is great, and her works have been perfect." She was not nominated to the Grade I Beldame on Sept. 29.
Itsmyluckyday ran by pacesetting favorite Sr. Quisqueyano in Saturday's $100,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder and went on to win by 3 lengths over that rival. It was another 5 3/4 lengths back to Joshua's Comprise in third. Itsmyluckyday, a nicely bred colt by Lawyer Ron, finished the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:45.45 with Manoel Cruz up. He now has three wins from five starts. "My horse can go to the lead, but there were a couple of others that wanted the lead, so I let them go and was happy to keep my horse covered up," Cruz said.
Here's another Bob Baffert juvenile to watch: Carving. The Any Given Saturday colt tracked the pace in Wednesday's $50,000 C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex, surged to the lead when shaken up a bit by jockey Martin Garcia and got off to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Monument was the best of the rest with Lovmeister third. Carving, owned by Baffert's wife, Jill, and Olympic champion skier Bode Miller, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.62. He won at first asking at Del Mar on Aug. 23.
Portales just caught pacesetting Tigger Town in the shadow of the wire in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Winnipeg Futurity at Assiniboia Downs, winning by a nose. John Q finished third. Portales, a Kentucky-bred Sharp Humor filly running against males, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13 4/5 under Rohan Singh.
I'm Boundtoscore bounded right out to the lead in Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian), Grade II Summer Stakes at Woodbine, opened a comfortable lead in the stretch and survived a late run by Are You Kidding Me to win by a half length. Indiano Jones and Best Play completed the superfecta. I'm Boundtoscore, an Indiana-bred Even the Score colt, ran the mile on firm going in 1:37.75 under Sarah Rook. He now has three wins, a second and a third from five career starts for trainer Troy Rankin. The Summer Stakes is a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event. "The Breeders Cup was on there all along," Rankin said of his plans. "His first start at Keeneland, we knew he was good. But each time he stepped up and showed us how much better he was.
"But we didn't think we'd go to the front and hold it all the way. We were very surprised but he's got a mind of his own and living up to his name."
Ruler of Love, with Calvin Borel in the irons, led all the way to a 3-length win over Central Banker in Saturday's $50,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes. Midas Dancer finished third. Ruler of Love, a Florida-bred Peace Rules colt, ran the 7 furlongs over the firm going in 1:24.38.
Rose to Gold really rose to the occasion in Saturday's $100,000 Brave Raj Stakes at Calder, jetting off at the end to win by 13 1/2 lengths. Caraquista was the best of the rest with Nicki Starshine third. Rose to Gold, a Kentucky-bred Friends Lake filly, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:45.24 with Jesus Rios up. The win was her second in as many starts, backing up a 13-length victory in the Lindsay Frolic Stakes on Aug. 25. She was purchased at auction for $1,400. "Everything went perfect, just the way I wanted it to," Rios said. "She's a tremendous filly."
Butterfly Soul rallied from last of 10 to pull off a nearly 25-1 upset in Friday's $50,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at Fairplex Park. The Henny Hughes filly, coming off a win at first asking at Golden Gate Fields, ran right by the rest of the field through the stretch run and won off by 3 lengths. Renee's Titan was second and the favorite, Fightin Mean Mad, settled for third. Butterfly Soul ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.79 under Jorge Carreno
Juvenile Fillies Turf
If you bet 'em by the names, as suggested here Thursday, you cashed the $66 exactor on Spring Venture over Spring in the Air after Saturday's $250,000, Grade II Natalma Stakes at Woodbine. Spring Venture, a Kentucky-bred Spring at Last filly, stalked the early pace, got through between rivals heading for home and got clear late to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Spring in the Air came from far back to finish second, a neck in front of Nancy O. (Our other suggested exactor of Kitten's Dumplings and Coconut Shrimp finished fourth and fifth, another neck and neck in arrears). Spring in the Air ran the mile on firm going in 1:37.27, toting Patrick Husbands. Spring Venture, unbeaten in two starts, earned a berth in the Breeders' Cup through the "Win and You're In" program.
Oscar Party got to give the acceptance speech after Saturday's $50,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Dixie Union swept around the field through the long stretch run and got home first by 3 lengths over Zip Cash Back. Moonwalk finished third. Oscar Party, with Kent Desormeaux up, ran 7 furlongs of firm turf in 1:25.64.
Charged Cotton came to the lead four-wide in Saturday's $100,000 All Brandy Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares and got off to a 1 1/4-length win over Grant Park. Daydreamin Gracie finished third. Charged Cotton, a 3-year-old daughter of Dehere, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.05 under Horacio Karamanos.
Sunny Desert led from the start in Friday's $80,000 Judy Soda Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies, opened up a huge lead in the lane and coasted home first by 6 1/4 length. I Bet Toni Knows finished second with Shesabronxbomber third. Sunny Desert, a daughter of Wild Desert, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:35.75 with Ramon Dominguez riding.
Spring to the Sky stalked the pace set by the favorite, Sum of the Parts, in Thursday's $80,000 Groovy Stakes for 3-year-olds, then went by late to win by a half length. Artest finished third. Spring to the Sky, a Langfuhr colt, got the 6 furlongs on the firm inner turf in 1:07.84 with Javier Castellano up.
Madame Giry came to the lead four-wide at the head of the stretch in Wednesday's $80,000 Smart N Fancy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and kicked clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Sweet Cat. Anna Sophia finished third. Madame Giry, a daughter of Castledale, ran 6 furlongs on the firm inner turf in 1:07.98 for jockey Eddie Castro.
The Pizza Man delivered in Saturday's $65,000 Tex's Zing Handicap for Illinois-breds, winning a stretch duel with Tazz by a nose. Mavericking finished third The Pizza Man, a 3-year-old English Channel gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.97 with Seth Martinez riding.
Kepi rallied from last of five to win Saturday's $65,000 Lady Lionel Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares. At the wire, the 4-year-old Strategic Mission filly was a length better than Cumulonimble with Katie the Lady third. Kepi, with James Graham riding, ran mile of firm turf in 1:36.12.
Calder Race Course
Awesome Belle led from the start in Saturday's $75,000 Judy's Red Shoes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and crusied home first by 4 3/4 lengths over Jazz. Fine Silver finished third. Awesome Belle, a daughter of Awesome of Course, ran the 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.46 with Fernando Jara in the irons. She now has won three straight stakes at Calder.
Mucho Mas Macho rallied from last of eight to win Saturday's $75,000 Needles Stakes for 3-year-olds by a neck over the favorite, Empire Builder. Musical Flair finished third. Mucho Mas Macho, a Macho Uno gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.29 with Juan Leyva up. He now has won three of his last five starts.
Smoke the Devil rallied wide into the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap for New Jersey-breds and was up to win by 1 length over Uncle Otto. Hermosillo finished third. Smoke the Devil, a 5-year-old Devil His Due gelding, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.89 with Elvis Trujillo riding.
Ima Jersey Girl, appropriately, won Saturday's $62,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for state-bred distaffers with authority. With Trujillo up, the 4-year-old Lightnin N Thunder filly kicked clear, scoring by 12 1/2 lengths. Gracefully Mean finished second and Y to Kat was third. Ima Jersey Girl ran the 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:46.44.
Javerre set a pressured pace in Saturday's $60,000 New Jersey Breeders Handicap for state-breds, then edged clear in the late going to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Chief Carlson. Richiefromshoprite finished third. Javerre, a 3-year-old Outflanker gelding, got the 6 furlongs over the fast main track in 1:11.50 under Angel Arroyo.
Welcome Dance waltzed right to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Christiana Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and drew clear at the end to win by 3 lengths over Filare l'Oro. Zucchini Flower finished third. Welcome Dance, a Henny Hughes filly out of the Dynaformer mare Choreograph, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.76 with Joe Rocco Jr. up.
Only four faced the starter in Saturday's $50,000 Thomas Clifton Stakes for 3-year-olds and Gentlemans Code proved best of those. Making all the going while dogged by the favorite, Wildcat Creek, Gentlemans Code finally edged clear of that rival to win by a half length. Golden Wheels and Bull H completed the order of finish. Gentlemans Code, a Florida-bred Proud Accolate gelding, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.18 seconds with Julio Garcia riding.
Plus One set a pressured pace in Friday's $50,000 Alison McClay Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got clear in the lane and then held on to win by a nose over Thisdaneistaken and another neck over Ruttzy Tuttzy. The winner, a Bluegrass Cat filly, got the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.24 seconds under William Otero.
Bares Tripper kicked clear from the field early in Saturday's $100,000 Barretts Debutante, winning by 6 1/4 lengths over Qiaona. Miss Derek was third. Bares Tripper, a Sky Mesa filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:18.14 with Martin Pedroza up. The race was restricted to 2-year-old fillies sold at a Barretts sale.
Color Blind started last in Saturday's $50,000 Jack Betta Be Rite Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares, rallied to the lead in the stretch and won off by 2 3/4 lengths. Floating Along finished second and Clean Jean was third. Color Blind, a 3-year-old Giacomo filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.19 under Jaime Rodriguez.
Friday's $50,000 Remington Park Turf Sprint came off the turf and onto the good main track -- no problem for Conkigo, who led all the way and won by 4 3/4 lengths. Steal Your Face was second and Stickrossmountain finished third. Conkigo, a 6-year-old Confide gelding, ran the 5 furlongs in 58.50 under Martin Escobar.
Danger Rules led from the start in Friday's $50,000 (Canadian) J.W. Sifton Stakes for 3-year-old Manitoba-breds and won by 4 1/2 lengths over Calitor. Gunton Road was third. Danger Rules, a Going Commando colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:56 2/5 under Tyrone Nelson.
Miss Victoriana rallied from last of 10 to win Friday's $50,000 (Canadian) Matron Stakes for fillies and mares by 6 1/2 lengths over Ruby's Big Band. City Splash finished third. Miss Victoriana, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred Explicit mare, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:55 2/5 with Fernando Perez riding.
Balooga Bull dominated Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Gold Cup, drawing off to win by 12 lengths after making all the going. Pleasant Closing finished second, a half length ahead of Cherokee's Goal. Balooga Bull, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Flashy Bull gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51 4/5 with Paul Nolan up.
News and Notes:
No one is going to confuse Arlington-based Team Block with Godolphin. But the two operations had pretty good weekends on their respective terms. The royal blue of the Dubai juggernaut not only beat Camelot in the St Leger with an up-and-coming Encke but also won the Group 1 Vincent O'Brien Stakes for 2-year-olds at the Curragh with Dawn Approach. Fahrr ran second in the Prix Moulin at Longchamp behind Moonlight Cloud. Tha'ir was third in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. Team Block, meanwhile, won the Group III Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs with Ioya Bigtime and the Group III Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington with Leading Astray. Well done.
A very sad note this week: Thoroughbred Times, one of the few U.S. publications devoted to horse racing, declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy and ceased operations. Twenty-seven full-time employees of the publication, created in 1985 and based in Lexington, Ky., were terminated by the parent corporation. As is usually the case with editorial bankruptcy, the journalistic quality of the publication had nothing to do with its business-related woes. We wish only the best for the suddenly out-of-work journalists.