Get ready for a Kentucky Derby contender named Goldencents and for the home team to be tough in Hong Kong's big races.
Those were some of the signposts raised in weekend racing. Meanwhile, experience taught youth a lesson in West Virginia, Zenyatta's little sister looked a lot like her older sibling in California and there was a mild upset in Japan's top weekend race.
Intrigued? Here's what we're talkin' about:
Goldencents got the best of a field of runners from all points of the compass in Saturday's $1 million, Grade III Delta Jackpot. With Kevin Krigger up for trainer Doug O'Neill, Goldencents went right out to the lead, set a reasonable pace and had plenty left at the end to win by 1 3/4 lengths. The favorite, Bern Identity, came from last of nine with a big rush but settled for second. Mylute was third and Hightail, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, checked in fourth. Bern Identity and Mylute had finished 1-2 in the Jean Lafitte Stakes, the local prep for this event. Goldencents, a colt by Into Mischief, got the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.89 and now moves squarely into next year's Kentucky Derby picture. Saturday's win followed a second-place finish in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont and the colt now is 2-for-3 in his budding career. "Kevin kept him out of trouble and didn't fight him and it worked out perfect," O'Neil said. Asked about how he will point Goldencents to the Kentucky Derby, he said, "I don't know the exact path but we'll probably look somewhere at Santa Anita after the first of the year, maybe the Bob Lewis Stakes. This horse has been in New York and Louisiana in two of his three starts, so he travels great."
The race was the apex of a rich day at the Louisiana track. Other action on the card:
Rose to Gold had too much for Touch Magic in the final yards of Saturday's $500,000, Grade III Delta Downs Princess, outfinishing that rival for a half-length victory. Sittin At the Bar finished third with a belated effort. The favorite, Madame Cactus, was a non-threatening fourth. Rose to Gold, a Friends Lake filly, ran the mile on a fast track with Paco Lopez riding for trainer Sal Santoro. Rose to Gold now is 3-for-4. All her wins came on dirt tracks at Calder and Delta. She finished a dismal 12th in the Grade I Darley Alcibiades on the Keeneland all-weather surface.
Bella Medaglia stalked the pace in the $150,000 Treasure Chest for fillies and mares, took the lead in the lane and won by 1 3/4 lengths over late-running entrymate Little Ms Protocol. She's Prado's Idle finished third and Pretty Not came from last to fill out the trifecta. Bella Medaglia, a 5-year-old mare by Medaglia d'Oro, ran the mile in 1:38.52 with John Jacinto up.
Prospective came five-wide in the stretch run to snatch victory in the $150,000 Delta Mile, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Bretheren. Hurricane Ike finished third. The favorite, Pants On Fire, never did fire and finished next-last of seven. Prospective, a 3-year-old Malibu Moon colt running against older foes, finished in 1:38.57 under Miguel Mena. Prospective won the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby this spring and the Grade III Ohio Derby this July. In between, he finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby.
Westernator rallied wide from far back to take the $150,000 Louisiana Legacy for state-bred 2-year-olds by 3/4 of a length. Heitai led briefly in the stretch run but had to settle for second. Unbridled's Score finished third and the favorite, Palmy Bay, faded from the lead to finish eighth. Westernator, an Intimidator gelding, got the mile in 1:41.16 with Mark Guidry up.
Hometown Gossip moved to the lead in the lane in the $150,000 Louisiana Jewel for state-bred 2-year-old fillies and easily got away to a 3 1/4-length victory over She Loves Runnin'. The favorite, Snappy Girl, led early and held on for third. Hometown Gossip, a Milwaukee Brew filly, got home in 1:41.06 under Chris Rosier.
Lucky Nine, an unlucky fifth in the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes in Japan in his last outing, mustered enough courage to win the Jockey Club Sprint, holding on by a head over Time After Time. Admiration was third. Lucky Nine got home in 1:08.83. Winning trainer Caspar Fownes sounded a warning for foreign hopefuls for the Longines Hong Kong Sprint that Lucky Nine should be better on December Nine. "It's always hard when we come back from Japan," he said. "The horses tend to lose their coats and go off the boil a little bit. He did the same again this year but he wasn't as bad as last season. I felt he was just starting to come and today I reckon I had him about 85 percent, so there's quite a bit of improvement there for the big day." Lucky Nine also shows third-place finishes this year in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen and the Group 1 BMW Mile, the latter over the same Sha Tin course. Little Bridge, winner of the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in England, finished ninth Sunday, more than 5 lengths behind the winner.
Glorious Days got the better of two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon in the Jockey Club Mile, scooting away in the late going as his rival was unable to find the needed next gear. Ambitious Dragon, however, held on for second and his handlers now have to decide whether to stick to the Mile on Dec. 9 or return to their runner's more accustomed distance of ground in the Longines Hong Kong Cup. Glorious Days, meanwhile, was benefitting from a 5-pound weight differential and the addition of blinkers. Of the latter, trainer John Size said, "We were thinking about them as soon as he got into Group company, when he started to look as though he was intimidated a couple of times in defeat." Reviewing Sunday's effort with an eye three weeks down the road, the trainer added, "Hopefully he might repeat. I think if he just repeated that run that would be enough. To ask him to step up after a run such as that would be asking too much."
California Memory prepped for a defense of his title in the Longines Hong Kong Cup with a head-bob victory over Irian in Sunday's Jockey Club Cup. Zaidan was only another short head back in third. California Memory, a grey horse with a history of leg issues, broke from gate No. 13 and sat well off a quick early pace. He came running entering the stretch and just did get to the wire on time. He finished in a good 2:01.51. "I was confident he was coming here with a great chance today," winning trainer Tony Cruz said. "So long as he pulls up sound again tomorrow, we're in for a serious race again on the big day."
Sadamu Patek got the inside position right behind the leader as the field turned for home in Sunday's Group 1 Mile Championship at Kyoto, charged to the lead and barely held off Grand Prix Boss to win by a neck. Donau Blue, a full sister to Gentildonna, was a close third and the pacesetter, Silport, finished fourth. Real Impact finished fifth in a field which included no foreign entrants. Sadamu Patek, a 4-year-old colt by Fuji Kiseki, ran the mile on good going in 1:32.9. Yutaka Take was up for the first time on the winner, who now has four wins from 14 career starts. Both of the top two finishers are considered likely for the Longines Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 9.
The old guy took the young upstart to the woodshed for a little lesson in Saturday's $50,000 A Huevo Stakes for West Virginia-breds. For a change, 6-year-old Russell Road wasn't the favorite. But he didn't know that and went right on out to defeat the odds-on choice, 3-year-old upstart Lucy's Bob Boy, by a late-running 1 length. Lively Reparations was third. Russell Road, long a terror on the regional circuit, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.21 with Luis Perez in the irons. The 6-year-old Wheaton gelding now has won 23 of his 38 starts and been in the money in 32 of the 38 and has earned almost $1.4 million. Lucy's Bob Boy came into the race off six straight wins and has never been worse than second in 11 career starts.
Called to Serve came calling on pacesetting favorite Willy Beamin in the stretch turn in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds, ran right on by and went on to win by 4 3/4 lengths. The favorite held second, just a head better than Stephanoatsee and another nose in front of Adirondack King. Called to Serve, an Afleet Alex gelding, got the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.77 with Joel Rosario in the irons. He scored his first stakes win, following third-place finishes in the West Virginia Derby and Oklahoma Derby and a second in the Temperence Hill Stakes at Belmont. "The last three weeks he's made great strides, put on weight, filled out, and he was doing super," winning trainer Nick Canani said. "Around the turn he was in the clear and didn't have any traffic trouble."
Sunny Desert, the prohibitive favorite, kicked clear in the stretch run of Wednesday's $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 2 3/4 lengths over Lady On the Run. Jitney rolled home third. Sunny Desert, a 3-year-old Wild Desert mare, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.00 with Ramon Dominguez up.
Sportswriter, an even heavier favorite, also rallied to a lead in the stretch in the companion $100,000 event and held on to win by 3/4 of a length over Anaphylaxis. Maggie's Hadder finished third. Sportswriter, a 3-year-old Maybry's Boy gelding, finished in 1:24.22 for jockey Javier Castellano.
Centre Court sat right behind the early pace in Saturday night's $150,000, Grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, went on to the lead when asked by jockey Leparoux and won by a comfortable 2 lengths. Leading Astray and Colonial Flag both made up ground in the lane but could do no better than second and third under the wire. Centre Court, a Smart Strike filly, finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.54. Centre Court finished fifth in her debut race in July of 2011, then was sidelined until March at Gulfstream. This year, she has four wins and four seconds with most of the action in graded stakes for trainer Rusty Arnold. "She's been there all year," winning trainer Rusty Arnold said. "She's had eight starts on the turf and has never been worse than second. I haven't had one much more consistent. She just hasn't run a bad race on the grass ... . She's going to Palm Meadows but she won't run 'til April. We'll point her to the Jenny Wiley [during the spring meeting at Keeneland]."
Lea tracked the pace in Saturday evening's $100,000, Grade III Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds, quickly shot to a big lead at the top of the lane and lasted at the end, winning by 3/4 of a length over King David. Lockout was third. Lea, a First Samurai colt out of the Galileo mare Greenery, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:42.27 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up. He came into the race off a third-place finish in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby, his first graded stakes try, and now has three wins from five starts. "He left there like he normally does and he fought Brian just a hair, which he does," winning trainer Al Stall Jr. said. "Once he came back to Brian, it was his race to win or lose. He opened up and then started waiting, but that's what turf horses do, especially ones that lay close ... . He'll go to South Carolina and then prep for something in the summer."
Greed and Fear hit the front early in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and survived the late bid of the favorite, Holiday Soiree, to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Los Ojitos finished third. Greed and Fear, a Florida-bred Bob and John filly, ran the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.13 with Horacio Karamanos in the irons. "We saw a lot of speed in the race. I was to put her wherever she was comfortable, a couple of lengths behind. I did that and my filly did the rest," Karamanos said.
Blue Heart was all heart in winning Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Jammed Lovely Stakes for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies. After tracking the pace, the Exchange Rate filly hooked up with late-running Acting Naughty at mid-stretch and just did get the better of that rival, winning by a head with Part the Seas just another head back in third. Blue Heart, with Luis Contreras up, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.93. "She's won on the 'Poly', but she ran big on the grass too," Contreras said. "It doesn't matter to her. She's just a great filly and she tries hard all the time."
Nipissing came from off the pace to take the lead in the stretch in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) South Ocean Stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-old fillies, then drew off late, winning by 4 lengths. Otonabee was second. Dancing Bay finished third. Nipissing, a daughter of Niigon, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.79 with Steven Bahen up. The victory backed up a win in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. "She loves to run. She wants to run all day long," Bahen said.
Captain Genius made his backers look smart with an 8 1/2-length win in Tuesday's $85,000 Sophomore Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds. After battling for the lead under Deshawn Parker, the Simon Pure colt easily kicked away in the final furlong. Jasizzle was the best of the rest with Fleet Eagle third. Captain Genius got the 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:10.61.
Eblouissante, a half-sister to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, won her first start Friday, running much like her elder sibling. Eblouissante raced near the back of the field for the first half mile of the $45,000 maiden event at Hollywood Park, came out for running room when urged by jockey Corey Nakatani, and shot by the leaders in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths -- A running style similar to the pattern that got Zenyatta 19 straight wins. Both are daughters of the mare Vertigineux. Eblouissante is by Bernardini. Zenyatta was sired by Street Cry. John Shirreffs, who trained Zenyatta, also handles Eblouissante. Shirreffs said Sunday she came out of the race well and likely will start once more this year.
Killer Bear came running in the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 On Trust Handicap for state-breds, killing the hopes of chalk players with a 1/2-length win over the favorite, Macho Dorado. Mensa Heat finished a brilliant third. Killer Bear, a 5-year-old son of Northern Devil, got the 7 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:29.94 with Tyler Baze up.
Going For a Spin came from near the back of the pack to win Sunday's $75,000 Cat's Cradle Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares by 3 3/4 lengths. Cayanna was second, Willa B Awesome third and the favorite, Sparkling Style, next-last of seven. Going For a Spin, a 4-year-old Ministers Wild Cat filly, finished 7 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:31.62 with Rafael Bejarano up.
Rip n' Run ripped right to the front in Saturday's $50,000 Ohio Freshman Stakes for staste-bred juveniles and ran right on to the wire, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Deniro's Saint. Plain Ol' Willard finished third. Rip n' Run, a Mercer Hill colt, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.54 with Perry Ouzts up.
News and notes:
Trainer Dale Romans has won the 2012 Big Sport of Turfdom Award presented annually by the Turf Publicists of America. Romans has had an excellent year with the likes of Little Mike, Shackleford, Dullahan and Tapitsfly. "Dale has had a tremendous year in racing," noted TPA President Bill Knauf. "Throughout the season he has always made himself available to the media, as well as continually marketing the sport."