After the weekend's races, Game On Dude and Royal Delta look like favorites for the Breeders' Cup Classic and Ladies' Classic.
Point of Entry is a strong contender for the Breeders' Cup Turf and Marketing Mix is likely to be, well, in the mix along with a bunch of Europeans for the Filly & Mare Turf.
All of that, of course, is subject to change as a result of next weekend's results at Hawthorne Race Course, Keeneland, Belmont Park and elsewhere.
On the international front, Sunday's Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama in Japan probably killed any chance for a Global Sprint Challenge winner but may well have turned up a new international sprint star.
Cinch up that girth and let's get into the starting gate.
Flat Out caught pacesetter Stay Thirsty in the final yards to win Saturday's $1 million, Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup by a head. The favorite, Fort Larned, finished third in the Belmont Park fixture and Ron the Greek finished sixth. Flat Out raced in mid-pack behind a good pace over the drying-out track, came wide into the lane and was just up after a long stretch battle with Stay Thirsty. He finished the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.44 with Joel Rosario riding. Flat Out had been winless in six starts since winning the Gold Cup last year. But since he shifted to Bill Mott's barn after finishing fifth in the Donn Handicap, his performance has done a 180-degree turn. "He's a relatively fresh horse," Mott said of Flat Out. "He had a little break late spring and he was up for it today." Of his other charge, Ron the Greek, he added, "Hopefully it will be the case where he just had an off day. We know that he likes Santa Anita and maybe five weeks from now it will be his day." Stay Thirsty's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said he will consult with owner Mike Repole about going to the Breeders' Cup. "It's his call," Pletcher said. Fort Larned's trainer, Ian Wilkes, noted many good horses have lost the Gold Cup and won the Breeders' Cup. "We'll go to the Breeders' Cup," he said. "It doesn't pay to win this race and win the Breeders' Cup."
But those moving along from the Gold Cup to the Breeders' Cup will find someone waiting for them in California. (Insert scary music!).
That would be Game On Dude. With Rafael Bejarano replacing Chantal Sutherland in the irons, "the Dude" sat patiently right behind the early lead in Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, surged right to the lead when let go and kicked clear, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Nonios was up for second. Richard's Kid was third, synthetic specialist Rail Trip fourth and turf specialist Suggestive Boy fifth. Game On Dude ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.98. The 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding now has three wins and a second since his unsuccessful detour to the Dubai World Cup in March. He also is 5-for-5 over the Santa Anita strip, which should be a warning sign for Breeders' Cup Classic visitors. Baffert said the key to the race was Bejarano finding a good spot for Game On Dude. "He found a seam right away and got him to the outside," Baffert said. "They slowed it down, so he just sat there and waited, then asked him to run in the stretch. It was the prep that you want for a horse like this."
Politicallycorrect got by Willie Beamin in the final jumps to win Sunday's $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park by 3/4 of a length. Called to Serve was just another head back in third. Prospective finished fifth and Daddy Nose Best was sixth. Politicallycorrect, a Kitten's Joy gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.23 with Kent Desormeaux up for trainer Wesley Ward. It was just his third win and came on the heels of a seventh-place finish in the Grade II Amsterdam at Saratoga. Before that, Politicallycorrect was second in the Grade III Ohio Derby.
Royal Delta warmed up for an expected defense of her Breeders' Cup title with a convincing victory in Saturday's $400,000, Grade I Beldame at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old Empire Maker filly kicked clear of long-time rival It's Tricky at the top of the stretch and romped home a winner by 9 1/2 lengths. It's Tricky held second, 1 1/4 lengths better than Go Unbridled. Maristar finished fourth and Cash for Clunkers, who missed the break, finished last. Royal Delta, geared down for the last 100 yards by jockey Mike Smith, finished the 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:48.80. Royal Delta was bouncing back from a second-place finish behind longshot Love and Pride in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga, where she got a wide trip. Smith said the poor start for Cash for Clunkers meant he had to provide a pace challenge for It's Tricky -- and found his mount more than ready for that. By the end, he said, "I geared her down probably two or three gears. She was doing it so easy and we've got another big race coming up. I certainly didn't want to make her do any more than she had to."
Last time out, Love and Pride upset both Royal Delta and It's Tricky in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga -- at long odds. Saturday, she whipped the best the West Coast had to offer in the $250,000, Grade I Zenyatta at Santa Anita. With Martin Garcia up, Love and Pride led from the start and kicked clear at the end to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Joyful Victory was second and Include Me Out finished third. The favorite, Amani, finished fifth. Love and Pride got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.09. While her recent climb to the top of the class ladder has been sudden, it should not be unexpected, given her regal breeding. She is by A.P. Indy, out of the Storm Cat mare Ile de France. Mike McCarthy, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher, said, "This filly, when she gets a chance to settle into a rhythm, she's obviously able to finish off her races. I think you saw that today. Provided everything goes well, I believe this filly ... will stick around" for the Breeders' Cup.
Sticks Wondergirl opened a good lead in Sunday's $250,000 Remington Park Oaks, shook off a challenge turning for home and then held off the even-money favorite, Jemima's Pearl, to win by 3/4 of a length. Yankee Union finished third. Sticks Wondergirl, a Stevie Wonderboy filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.05 under Jon Court. It was just the fourth career start for Sticks Wondergirl, who now has three straight wins at three different tracks.
Shackleford set a blistering pace over a drying-out track in Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park -- too blistering as it turned out as Jersey Town ran by at the top of the stretch and went on to post a big upset win. Shackleford, after a half in 45.02 and 6 furlongs in 1:09.31, was good enough to save second and Trickmeister was along for third. To Honor and Serve was fourth. Jersey Town, who ran the mile in 1:35.24, had not visited the winner's circle since the 2010 Cigar Mile. But trainer Barclay Tagg said he was confident the 6-year-old son of Speightstown had been working hard and was ready to go. "He's a real hefty horse," Tagg said. "He needs to train hard, but he really doesn't have the legs and feet to train hard on. You have to hit a happy medium and things were just coming together real nicely for him this fall, so we took a shot at it." He said he's ready to ship west for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
The Lumber Guy chased a hot pace into the stretch run in Saturday's $400,000, Grade I Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park, worked his way to the lead inside the final furlong and withstood a late, outside run from Caixa Eletronica to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The pressured early leader, Poseidon's Warrior, held on for third. The Lumber Guy, a 3-year-old Grand Slam colt, was coupled in the wagering with Sean Avery, who finished fifth. John Velazquez rode the winner over 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:09.22. The Lumber Guy had been sidelined since finishing sixth in the Peter Pan back in May after winning three of his first four starts. Winning owner Barry Schwartz said the Breeders' Cup is next on the agenda. "It's just a question of which one -- the Sprint or the Mile. I'm kind of inclined to think he's a miler."
Alsvid won a head-bob decision over Apprehender to take down the winner's share of Sunday's $200,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup. Que Posse finished third. Alsvid, a 3-year-old Officer gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.46 with Chris Landeros riding. He now has won four of his last five starts.
Snow Fairy, incredibly talented but injury-prone, is hurt again and will miss what promised to be a late-season globetrotting romp through France, America and Asia. After her final work before an expected start in next weekend's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, trainer Ed Dunlop said Snow Fairy was found to have heat in her foreleg. He said the injury is different from the one that knocked her out while training for last year's Hong Kong Cup and, all things being equal, she can be expected back in training in 2013.
Point of Entry overcame a yielding course, a crawling pace and a bit of an eventful trip to win Saturday's $600,000, Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park. Treasure Beach surged to the lead on the turn, then floated Point of Entry out to the middle of the course but couldn't deny the winner and settled for second with a good effort. Kindergarden Kid rode the rail to a third-place finish. Arlington Million winner Little Mike, stepping out beyond 1 1/4 miles for the first time, had enough on the stretch turn and faded badly, finishing fifth. Point of Entry finished in 2:33.73. The 4-year-old Dynaformer colt now has won five straight races and four straight graded stakes. Treasure Beach, an Irish-based 4-year-old son of Galileo, hasn't won since last summer's Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington but has been racing in top circles around the world. Winning trainer Shug McGaughey, commenting on Point of Entry rounding into form, said, "We always thought he was a nice horse. We just had to be patient with him. I don't think this soft course today was his game but he ran a good race ... . I knew it would be a walking race, and he's got enough tactical speed where he can lay where he wants to, and it worked out fine. I hope he comes back fine, and we'll go out there [to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita] and catch a firm turf out there, and I think they'll really see what he can do."
Slim Shadey jumped out to a big lead in Sunday's $150,000, Grade II John Henry Turf Championship, found more in the stretch run and won by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths. The favorite, Turbo Compressor, gave chase but couldn't make much headway late. Interaction was third with a bit of a late run and Bourbon Bay was a no-show, finishing next-to-last of 10. Slim Shadey, a 4-year-old, British-bred Val Royale colt, finished the 10 furlongs on firm turf in 1:59.17 with Garrett Gomez riding. Slim Shadey had finished fifth in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park and the Grade I Eddie Read at Del Mar in his two previous starts. Winning trainer Simon Callaghan said Gomez called the tactical shots. "It wasn't the plan to be in front, but with someone like Garrett, when he rides for you, you leave it to him," the trainer said. He added that Slim Shadey has "shown that he's a very good horse today and we'll look forward to the Breeders' Cup now."
Filly & Mare Turf
Marketing Mix atoned for her second-place finish in this summer's Beverly D. with a stretch-running, 2 1/4-length win in Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita. With Garrett Gomez up for trainer Tom Proctor, Marketing Mix stalked the pace, took over when asked and finished the 1 1/4 miles of firm turf in 1:59.20. Nereid and Stormy Lucy came from well back to finish second and third. Among the better-fancied locals, Let's Go Cheyenne faded from the lead to finish eighth and City to City never contended and finished 10th. Marketing Mix, a 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly, now has won seven of her last 10 starts -- all but one of them in graded stakes. "She's easy to train," Proctor said. "She's handled everything we've ever done to her. Last year, we hauled her back and forth to Canada four times, I think. When we discussed after the Beverly D. what to do, I [said], "It don't matter what you do. She makes you look good.'"
Nahrain rallied between rivals to win a tight, four-way sprint to the finish in Saturday's $600,000, Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park. Zagora got the lead early in the stretch and held on for second, a half length behind the winner and a nose better than the favorite, Dream Peace. Beverly D. winner I'm A Dreamer came from last to finish fourth, just another 1/2 length in arrears. Nahrain, a 4-year-old, British-bred Selkirk filly, ran the 1 1/4 mile over the yielding inner turf course in 2:05.56. She finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare turf, caught at the end by Perfect Shirl. Trainer Roger Varian has brought her along slowly in England and Ireland this summer and Saturday's win was her first this year. "We're in [the Breeders' Cup] now, aren't we?" Varian asked, referring to the "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup berth Nahrain secured with the Flower Bowl victory. "We were second last year. From when she was second last year we were keen to have another toot at it this year. She's shown up today, hasn't she?"
Clarinet got by a stubborn leader, Janicellaine, in the final sixteenth of Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine and won by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Smart Penny finished third. Clarinet, a 5-year-old Giant's Causeway mare, ran the "about" 1 1/2 miles on firm going in 2:32.35 with Eurico Da Silva up.
Unbridled's Note stalked the pace across the main track and into the stretch in Friday's $100,000, Grade III Eddie D Stakes down the Santa Anita hillside turf course, got by pacesetting long shot Chosen Miracle, and went on to win by 11/4 lengths over that rival. Mensa Heat was along for third and Comma to the Top finished fourth. Unbridled's Note, a 3-year-old Unbridled's Song colt making his first start on the grass, finished the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.45 with Corey Nakatani up. Unbridled's Note came into the race off third-place finishes in the Grade II Amsterdam and Grade I King's Bishop at Saratoga. Scott Blasi, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen, said, "First time on turf but Unbridled's Songs generally like it. This puts us in a position to make the Breeders' Cup with him. I just told Corey to put him in a good spot and see if he liked it or not."
Byrama out-finished Charm the Maker to win Saturday's $75,000 Unzip Me Stakes for 3-year-old fillies down the hill at Santa Anita. The winning margin was a half length and it was the same back to Starry Skies in third. Byrama, a British-bred daughter of Byron, got the "about" 6 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:12.53 under Rafael Bejarano, who capped a very, very good day.
Lockout got up to a narrow lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $125,000 Remington Green and was all out to hold on and score by a head over the late-running Golden Yank. Global Power finished third. Lockout, a 3-year-old Limehouse colt, got the 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:42.21 with Jermaine Bridgmohan in the irons. It was his first stakes win and overall, Lockout has posted a record of three wins, five seconds and one fourth from nine starts.
It was a three-way scramble for the lead in Saturday's $250,000, Grade I FrontRunner at Santa Anita and trainer Bob Baffert saddled two of them. At the end, it was Power Broker who went by the other two and won off by 6 1/2 lengths. Know More finished second and Capo Bastone came from the clouds to finish third. Carving, owned by Baffert's wife, Jill, and celebrity skier Bode Miller, dueled for the lead but faded to finish fourth. Power Broker, a Pulpit colt out of the Wild Again mare Shop Again, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.44 under Rafael Bejarano in his first start on real dirt. He now has two wins and a second from four starts. Know More has a win and two seconds, all in graded stakes. And Carving suffered his first loss after two wins. Baffert said Power Broker was a disappointment at Del Mar. "Then he came back and he didn't work that well. Then he worked really well the other day. I was thinking of putting him on the grass. After that last race, I switched him up. It worked out." Asked about Power Broker's Kentucky Derby chances, Baffert said, "It's too early." Know More's trainer, Leandro Mora, noted it was that colt's first time on real dirt. "This is a great test," Mora said. "I was hoping to finish 1-2-3 on dirt. We'll stay here for the entire month before Breeders' Cup." The top four all earned points in the new Kentucky Derby points system (see more later in this section).
Overanalyze overcame some troubles in Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Futurity at Belmont Park, raced widest of all into the stretch and still charged home first by 3 1/4 lengths. Carried Interest got the lead at the top of the lane but was powerless against the winner's advance. Weekend Hideaway raced evenly to finish third. Overanalyze, a Dixie Union colt, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.46 with John Velazquez up, bouncing back from a fourth-place finish in the Three Chimneys Hopeful at Saratoga. And he is only one of a barn full of 2-year-olds Pletcher can send west for the Breeders' Cup so it's no cinch Overanalyze will be one of them. "We have a few things to figure out with a few of these and see how he comes out of it and go from there," Pletcher said after the race.
Steeler became a Kentucky Derby footnote when he finished strongly to win Saturday's Group 1 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket in England by 1 length over Artigiano. Al Waab finished third and Birdman was fourth. The race was the first-ever in Churchill Downs's new scheme to decide which 3-year-olds will be allowed in the starting gate for next year's Run for the Roses. In the past, the 20-horse field was sorted by which horses had the most graded stakes earnings. Now, Churchill awards points on a sliding scale in 36 predetermined races. Steeler, an Irish-bred Raven's Pass colt owned by Sheik Hamdan and trained by Mark Johnson, gets 10 points for the win. The next three finishers get 4, 2 and 1 points, respectively. Winning rider Kieren Fallon commented about Steeler, "He will come into his own next year and could be a Derby horse." But he was not referring to the Kentucky Derby.
West Hills Giant got first run to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $250,000 New York Breeders' Futurity for state-breds and held off the favorite, In Harm's Way, to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Saint Arthur finished third. West Hills Giant, a Frost Giant colt, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.81 with Jose Espinoza up.
Heaven's Runway led from the early jumps in Saturday's $100,000 Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial at Presque Isle Downs and held on at the end to score by a half length over Uptown Boy. Triple Cross finished third. Heaven's Runway, a Run Away and Hide colt, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:17.30 for jockey Harry Vega.
Brave Dave led from the start in Saturday's $100,000 Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder Race Course and drew off at the end to win by 4 3/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Sr. Quisqueyano was the best of the rest with Singanothersong third. Brave Dave, a Put It Back colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.51 under Paco Lopez. He was coming off a win in the Grade III Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park and now is 3-for-4 in his young career.
The Drifter battled hard for the lead in Friday's $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes at Remington Park, finally got the edge and inched clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Westernator. Estrickator finished third. The Drifter, a Seeking a Home gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.65 for jockey Cliff Berry.
There was no one left to run with Executiveprivilege after Beholder was scratched from Saturday's $250,000, Grade I Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita -- at least, to run effectively. And so Executiveprivilege led all the way to a 6 1/4-length victory, extending her unbeaten record to five straight. Scarlet Strike made up some ground at the end to finish second and Miss Empire took the show money. Executiveprivilege, with Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Bob Baffert, finished the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.95. "She's just a really good filly," Baffert said. "We just got to keep her healthy. That's the whole thing." To win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, he added, "You need a lot of horse and a little luck. You need all that. But she's special."
Back at Belmont, another of Pletcher's juvenile stars, Kauai Kate, had it all over a quartet of rivals in Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Matron. After briefly trailing the early speed, the Malibu Moon filly pulled away when asked by jockey Rosie Napravnik and quickly drew off to win by 7 1/2 lengths. Baby J was second and Seasoned Warrior finished third. Sweet Shirley Mae was a late scratch. Kauai Kate, winner of two at Saratoga, ran Sunday's 6 furlongs in 1:11.26. Pletcher and winning owner Barbara Banke said the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint or the Juvenile Fillies might be on the agenda. "We're going to plot our strategy," Banke said. "We'll hear from Todd maybe tomorrow and see how she's doing. She did this easy. I hope she got something out of it. She was huffing a little bit."
Unhedged rallied to the lead along the rail in Saturday's $100,000 Presque Isle Debutante, opened a sizable lead and held on grimly to win by a neck over 30-1 long shot Tiny Bear. Eddington's Note finished third. Unhedged, a Broken Vow filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.73 with Mario Pino up.
Crysta's Court rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victorian Queen Stakes by 1 length over the odds-on favorite, Cryptic Message. Strut the Course finished third. Crysta's Court, a daughter of Silent Name, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.64 with Luis Contreras riding.
Dreaming of Sophia stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Cassidy Stakes at Calder Race Course, moved to the lead at the top of the lane and edged clear, winning by 2 lengths over Touch Magic. Crumb was third. Dreaming of Sophia, a Lewis Michael filly out of the A.P. Indy mare Liz on Polk Street, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:12.81 with Manoel Cruz up and now has won twice in three starts.
Martha's Moon led all the way to a mild upset victory in Saturday's $75,000 Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park, beating Danalake by 1 3/4 lengths. The odds-on favorite, Kimono, settled for third. Martha's Moon, a Malibu Moon filly out of the Danzig mare Smolensk, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.93 under Javier Santiago. It was her first start beyond 6 furlongs and her first start outside Florida.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Waterway Run, winner of the Group 3 Sakhee Oh So Sharp Stakes on Saturday at Newmarket, could be a starter in the Breeders' Cup. The American-bred daughter of Arch now has three wins from four starts for trainer Ralph Beckett.
Across the various waters:
Only two horses were making progress at the end of Saturday's Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket and it was the French raider Siyouma who got the better of Elusive Kate for the win. With Gerald Mosse up, the 4-year-old, Irish-bred Medicean filly got home 3/4 of a length the best. Elusive Kate finished second, another 3/4 of a length behind Laugh Out Loud, who set a brisk pace for the first 6 furlongs. Chachamaidee, Up and Beauty Parlor finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Trainer Francois Doumen said he is tempted by the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine for a quick runback for Siyouma. "Otherwise, there's the mile races in Japan and Hong Kong," he added. "I'm not very tempted by the Breeders' Cup." Elusive Kate finished eighth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs for trainer John Gosden.
Certify toted the Godolphin Blue across the finish line well in front of her rivals in Friday's Group 1 Shadwell Fillies Mile at Newmarket. Despite talk she might target the Breeders' Cup next month at Santa Anita, racing manager Simon Crisford said she has, with four wins from four tries, done enough to be put away for next season's 1,000 Guineas. "She's a lady we should look after," added trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni. After racing in the second half of the pack, Certify got through along the inside rail and quickly spurted clear. Roz was a non-threatening second and Amazonas finished third. Certify, an Elusive Quality filly, ran the 1 mile on good going in 1:38.19.
Penitant chugged to the front a furlong out in Friday's Group 2 Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket and held on to win by a neck over Side Glance. Premio Loco finished third and the favorite, Most Improved, faded from the lead to finish seventh. Penitant, a 6-year-old Kyllachy gelding, ran the mile on good ground in 1:36.32. It was his first win since April at Sandown.
Rosdhu Queen won her fourth straight race in Saturday's Group 1 Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Newmarket. Leading from the start, the daughter of Invincible Spirit got home a length to the good of Winning Express. Baileys Jubilee was third. Rosdhu Queen, with Johnny Murtagh up, got the 6 furlongs in 1:11.10.
Lord Kanaloa shadowed defending champion Curren Chan in mid-pack through much of Sunday's Group 1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama. As the field hit the straight, both accelerated to the front but it was Lord Kanaloa with the stronger late punch, finishing first, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Curren Chan. Dream Valentino finished third. Among the foreigners, Hong Kong-based Little Bridge, hoping to set up for a Global Sprint Challenge bonus, instead struggled home 10th. Fellow Hong Kong runner Lucky Nine missed the break but finished well to get home fifth and Singapore's Captain Obvious finished next-last of the 16 starters. Despite a strong crosswind from the approaching typhoon, Lord Kanaloa finished the 1,200 meters on firm going in course-record time of 1:06.7 and looks to be a force in the remainder of this year's Asian sprints. The 4-year-old colt by King Kamehameha out of the Storm Cat mare Lady Blossom won his first Group 1 race in the Group 3 Keihan Hai last November, then won right back in the Group 3 Silk Road Stakes. He was third behind Curren Chan in the Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen earlier this year, then second in the Group 2 Centaur Stakes. Takayuki Yasuda, who trains both Lord Kanaloa and Curren Chan, said the winner had "improved considerably" since the Centaur Stakes, "so I was quite confident this time. He gave a great record-breaking performance. I will have to see how he pulls out of this race and future plans will have to be discussed with the owners -- possible overseas challenge included. With a victory, either Curren Chan or Little Bridge could have been set to claim the Global Sprint Challenge's $1 million bonus with a win in either the Group 1 Patinak Farm Classic in Australia Nov. 10 or the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint Dec. 9.
Piero had no trouble landing Friday's Bill Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley but the bigger implication is that he's primed and ready for the Oct. 27 Cox Plate over the same ground. With Nash Rawiller up, Piero took back behind a long shot leader and waited until it was time, then went on to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Rawiller said the trial set Piero up perfectly for the big race. The 3-year-old Lonhro colt, bred by Darley and trained by Gai Waterhouse, now is undefeated in seven starts.
Another Waterhouse trainee, More Joyous, had an equally easy time of it landing Saturday's Group 3 Golden Pendant and also is likely to line up in search of Cox Plate glory.
Magic Broomstick flew home down the stretch in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Avowal Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 3 lengths over Chokurei. Silent Moon was third and the favorite, Atlantic Hurricane, checked in a fading fifth. Magic Broomstick, a 6-year-old More Than Ready mare, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:21.99 with Emma-Jayne Wilson riding.
Moonlit Beauty led all the way in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Classy 'n Smart Stakes for fillies and mares and kicked clear late to win by 4 3/4 lengths. It's Gail was second and the favorite, Reconnect, settled for third. Moonlit Beauty, a 6-year-old daughter of Perigee Moon, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.54 with Eurico Da Silva up.
Our Pedroia drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Curlin Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds by 4 lengths over Always For You. Our Pedroia, a Catienus colt, ran the 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:13.47 with Nazario Alvarado in the irons.
Matchmadeinheaven rallied from well back to win Saturday's $51,100 Rachel Alexandra Stakes for state-bred 2-year-old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths. E. Schifty finished second. Matchmadeinheaven, a daughter of Utopia, got home in 1:14.40 with John Davila Jr. up.
Toccetive rallied from far back to engage the leaders in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Speed to Spare Stakes and prevailed by a neck. Real Dingo was second and Senor Rojo finished third. Toccetive, a 3-year-old Toccet gelding, got the 1 3/8 miles on a fast track in 2:23 under Rafael Zenteno.
Presque Isle Downs
Noble Charlotte came from last of 10 to win Saturday's $100,000 H.B.P.A. Stakes for fillies and mares by a length over the favorite, Hooh Why. Mystic City finished third. Noble Charlotte, a 4-year-old Include filly, finished 1 mile and 70 yards on the all-weather track in 1:42.24 under Mario Pino.
Racing for Gold outfinished Tempered Sapphire and Dance with the Wind to win Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) CTHS Sales Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The top three were separated by a pair of necks. Racing for Gold, a daughter of Finality, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.59 with Amadeo Perez up.
Ruffy Joe stalked the pace in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) CTHS Sales Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings, took the lead in the stretch and won by a length. Alberta Breeze was second as the favorite with a late run. Ruffy Joe, a Gilded Time colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.05 with Antonio Reyes in the irons.
Skedee outfinished Oopsville Slew to win Sunday's $50,000 Ladies on the Lawn Stakes for Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares by a head. Miranda Diane finished third. Skedee, a 7-year-old Sefapiano mare, got the 7 1/2 furlongs on good going in 1:31.08 under Benny Landeros.