A big upset at Baden Baden in Germany, a return to form by Vicar's In Trouble and Za Approval and a successful return to action by Don't Tell Sophia highlighted weekend racing.
There were a couple upsets in early-season racing in Australia.
And there was plenty of action among the 2-year-olds and in the Dirt Mile division.
Let's dive right in.
Sea the Moon went into Sunday's Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden undefeated and, in some quarters, the early favorite for next month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. But the Sea the Stars colt had been idle for more than two months, since a cakewalk triumph in the Group 1 Deutsches Derby and had no answer when the unheralded Ivanhowe came to challenge in the stretch Sunday. The Soldier Hollow colt, with only two previous wins from five starts, quickly erased Sea the Moon's 2-lengths lead, blew by the favorite and went on to win by 3 lengths. Sea the Moon did hold second, 2 lengths to the good of Night Wish. Sea the Moon had won his first four career starts and remains a viable candidate for the Longchamp race.
In France, Full Mast led from the start in Sunday's Group 3 Prix de la Rochette at Longchamp and could represent another starter for trainer Criquette Head-Maarek. The conditioner, who was not present for the race, also has last year's winner, Treve, preparing for the Arc and that 4-year-old filly should be at or near the top of the list after Sea the Moon's upset in the Black Forest.
Pether's Moon worked his way to the lead in the late going in Sunday's Group 2 International Bosphorus Cup at Velifendi, hit the lead and was comfortably in front by 1 length under the wire. Village Wind was second-best with Vif Monsieur third. Germany's Nymphea, who set a good clip on testing ground, finished fourth and Godolphin's Excellent Result was fifth. Pether's Moon, ridden by Richard Hughes and trained by Richard Hannon, ran 1 1/2 miles on turf rated "very soft" in 2:36.60.
Sunday's 1-mile International Topkapi Trophy went to Glory Awaits, who made the lead and awaited a challenge that never really materialized. At the end, the 4-year-old Choisir colt was 1/2 length in front of Our Channel with Toormore third. Glory Awaits, with Neil Callan in the irons, finished in 1:39.76. It was his third win from 17 starts.
Bright Emblem captured Saturday's Group III Sapporo Nisai Stakes for 2-year-olds by 1 1/4 lengths over Meiner Chevalier. Let's Go Donki finished third. Bright Emblem, a Neo Universe colt, ran 1,800 meters on firm turf in 1:50.0.
Sunday's Group 3 Kokura Nisai Stakes for 2-year-old fillies went to Omi Alice, by a nose over Leopardina. Snow Angel was just 3/4 lengths farther back in third. Omi Alice, a White Muzzle filly, got 1,200 meters on firm turf in 1:08.4.
Back in North America with detours to a few other continents:
The Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Classic is looking more and more like a promising opportunity for the 3-year-olds with the retirement, announced Thursday, of Palace Malice. Dogwood Stables President Cot Campbell said the multiple Grade I-winning son of Curlin was found to have a deep bone bruise in his left hind leg after finishing a lackluster sixth in the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga last month, ending a four-race, all-graded win streak. Campbell said examining veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage advised Palace Malice likely could return to top form next year as a 5-year-old but the decision was taken to call it a career. He said Dogwood is discussing options for standing Palace Malice.
Speaking of 3-year-olds, Louisiana Derby winner Vicar's In Trouble returned to his home state Saturday and waltzed off with a 7 1/4-lengths victory in the $400,000, Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Eight-eight-to-1 long shot Declan's Fast Cat rallied boldly to beat the other nine with Victory Nor Defeat along for third. Vicar's In Trouble, an Into Mischief colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.38 with Rosie Napravnik handling the reins. It was the colt's first win since the Louisiana Derby. In the interim, he finished 19th and last in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Grade III Iowa Derby and third again in the Grade II West Virginia Derby. Trainer Mike Maker said Saturday's win put him in mind of Vicar's In Trouble's effort in the Louisiana Derby, adding the $500,000, Grade II Indiana Derby on Oct. 4 still is on the horizon for him.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome worked a zippy 6 furlongs on Saturday at Los Alamitos, prepping for his return to the races later this month in the Pennsylvania Derby. The colt has not raced since he was injured while his Triple Crown hopes were dashed in the Belmont Stakes. Should he return to form in time for the Breeders' Cup, a matchup with current division leader Shared Belief would provide a fitting climax to the World Championships on Nov. 1.
In Saturday's Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, G Force, who forced his way through an opening between rivals a furlong out and went on to victory by 3/4 length over last year's winner, Gordon Lord Byron. Music Master finished third and the favorite, Sole Power, got home fourth, lacking the needed punch in the late going. G Force, a 3-year-old, Irish-bred colt by Tamayuz, out of a mare called named Flanders, ran 6 furlongs on good to soft ground in 1:12.92 with Daniel Tudhope in the irons for trainer David O'Meara. The colt was winning for just the third time in eight starts. He finished sixth in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York two weeks ago -- a race won rather handily by Sole Power. The winner and Sole Power are both ticketed for Longchamp, though for different races, with Sole Power then headed for Hong Kong in December, then Dubai.
Down Under, Lankan Rupee suffered the fate that so often befalls would-be stars prepping for bigger races when he was nipped at the end in Saturday's Group 2 Mitty's McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley by the unheralded filly Angelic Light. Lankan Rupee, by some reckoning, was the world's top sprinter going into the event, his first race since April. The two are expected to have a rematch later in the month.
My Afleet led from the start in Saturday's $250,000 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs, was headed by Medal Count in the long, long stretch run but came again to win by a nose over that one. Can'thelpbelieving was another 4 lengths back in third. My Afleet, an Afleet Alex gelding, ran 1 5/16 miles on firm going in 2:14.10 with Leandro Goncalves up. He was making his first stakes start after winning a 1 1/2-miles grassy allowance at Saratoga.
Red Rifle pressed the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Yankee Affair Stakes at Belmont Park, took over from Elnaawi when asked by jockey John Velazquez and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Reflecting. Elnaawi held third. Ducks Dock and Slim Shadey completed the order of finish. Red Rifle, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.49. The winner had been running on the main track until two races back. He posted a pair of seconds on the green course before Saturday's breakthrough. Byron Hughes, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher, said Pletcher "wanted to stretch him out and see if a mile and a half would be best for him, and it all paid off. This race came up just right for him."
Prince Bishop had the best kick in the final furlong of Saturday's Group Totescoop6 September Stakes over the Kempton all-weather course and went on to win by 2 lengths, ridden out. Secret Number, returning from a long layoff, made it a 1-2 finish for Godolphin Racing. Those were followed by Battalion, Dandino, Cat o' Mountain, Robin Hood's Bay and Red Cadeaux. The 1 1/2-miles event was an odd mixture of comebackers like Secret Number, and those looking forward to international engagements like Red Cadeaux and Dandino. Several of the also-rans pointed to the surface, a slowly run race and the direction of the heat.
Lankan Ruppe wasn't the only favorite to falter Saturday in Australia. The Offer, widely regarded as a top local prospect for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, finished fifth in his seasonal debut in Saturday's Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at 1 mile at Mooney Valley. The winner was The Cleaner, who now targets the Cox Plate.
Za Approval led all the way in Sunday's $100,000 Real Courage Stakes at Belmont Park, turned back a pair of challengers and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Fredericksburg was along for second and Pass the Dice rolled home third. Za Approval, a 6-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:20.93 under Joel Rosario. The win was his first since the Grade III Knickerbocker at 9 furlongs over the Belmont turf nearly a year ago. He followed that race with a gritty second-place finish behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile but had not won in four starts earlier in 2014. Winning trainer Christophe Clement admitted the season to date had been a tad disappointing "and I'm not really sure why. I don't think he likes the heat. Today was a bit of a cooler day, and I think he enjoyed that." Clement said going to the lead was not part of the game plan. "But that is why I use Joel. "He is a very good rider and can adapt to that kind of a race."
Bradester battled to the lead in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs and edged clear late to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Carve was second, well in front of Flashback in third. Right to Vote and Politicallycorrect completed the order of finish. Bradester, a 4-year-old Lion Heart colt, got the one-turn mile in 1:34.54 with Corie Lanerie up. He hadn't won since January at Gulfstream Park but recently finished second in both the Grade III Salvator Mile and the Grade II Monmouth Cup, both "down the shore" in New Jersey. "He's matured and developed and I think he's a better horse than he was and he's still improving," said winning trainer Eddie Kenneally. "It took him a while to get more professional in his races ... He's just better with age, perhaps." He said he probably will send Bradester in the $400,000, Grade II Kelso at Belmont on Sept. 27 "and see how he does off of that. But that Breeders' Cup race (Dirt Mile) is a possibility."
Soi Phet kicked clear in the final furlong in Saturday's $200,000 Los Alamitos Mile, winning by a convincing 7 1/4 lengths over the even-money favorite, Masochistic. Tonito M. finished third. Soi Phet, a California-bred Tizbud gelding, finished in 1:33.95 over a fast track and under Kent Desormeaux. Soi Phet had won two of his last three previous races but has not fared well when sent against graded stakes company. He did, however, show promise a year ago while finishing third in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes, going 9 furlongs at Santa Anita.
Decisive Moment led from the early stages in Sunday evening's $200,000 Presque Isle Mile and held on late to win by a head over Allie's Event. Viva Lad was third and the favorite, Joha, checked in fourth. Decisive Moment, a 6-year-old son of With Distinction, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.66 with Willie Martinez up.
Opening day at Belmont on Friday found some very recognizable names competing in the $100,000 Left Bank Stakes at 1 mile around one turn on the dirt. When they were done, it was Golden Ticket a neck in front of the Favorite, Pants On Fire, with Integrity third, followed by Stormin Monarcho and Alpha. Golden Ticket, with Joel Rosario up, finished in 1:35.00 on a fast strip after trailing the field by as much as 7 lengths down the backstretch while Integrity blazed away on the lead. Trainer Kenny McPeek said Golden Ticket, as a Speightstown colt out of a Deputy Minister mare, "I think this is his best distance. It's tricky. It's hard to find. We actually had the choice of running in the Ack Ack Handicap tomorrow at Churchill or here. Being that this a restricted race, we thought it'd be a bit easier, but there were bears in here." Indeed there were. Golden Ticket and Alpha dead-heated for victory in the 2012 Travers. Pants On Fire is a multiple graded-stakes winner who seems none the worse for his trip to Japan last fall that produced a 12th-place finish in the Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin.
On Sunday at Belmont, it was the distaffers turn and Toasting popped up from off the pace to take the $100,000 Sky Beauty Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over Katie's Garden. The early leader, Montana Native, finished third. Toasting, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly trained by Tom Albertrani, ran the one-turn mile in 1:34.49 with Javier Castellano up.
Don't Tell Sophia raced last of six, saving ground, through the early furlongs of Saturday's $100,000 Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill Downs, swept five-wide around the field on the turn and kicked clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Molly Morgan and Frivolous completed the trifecta with the favorite, On Fire Baby, cooling down from the lead to finish last. Don't Tell Sophia, a 6-year-old Congaree mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.93 with Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons. Don't Tell Sophia, who had been idle since March, has been a money-maker for owner/trainer Phil Sims, winning 11 of 22 starts with 18 in-the-money finishes. "She's been doing well and she's training fine," Sims said. "We went into this race with a lot of confidence." About her next race, he added, "There's the Spinster that could be a possibility. We'll just see. This filly ran a game race to Close Hatches at Oaklawn. We'll see." The $500,000, Grade I Juddmonte Spinster is Oct. 5 at Keeneland.
Lucky Player and Bold Conquest battled down the stretch in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs, swapping the lead before Lucky Player prevailed by a neck. Hashtag Bourbon was bottled up on the rail into the stretch and could do no better than third when he got uncorked. The favorite, Mr. Z, led but cashed in his chips in the lane, finishing a well-beaten fifth. Lucky Player, a Lookin At Lucky colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.76 with Ricardo Santana Jr. riding, earning a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He won at first asking at Churchill Downs in the spring meet, then finished fourth in the Grade III Bashford Manor and second in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile before the Iroquois. Bold Conquest, a Curlin colt, broke his maiden on the second try at Saratoga. The top two are both trained by Steve Asmussen. "I thought they both looked well, they looked good under the wire, they maintained the margin and I think both horses will get better with experience," the trainer said. The top three also earned points toward starting in next spring's Kentucky Derby, for anyone keeping track of that at this point.
Recount led from the start in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park, shadowed all the way by Private Prospect. But the latter could not get by and Recount won by a head over that one with One Go All Go ranging up late to finish third, just another head in arrears. Recount, an Illinois-bred Limehouse gelding, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:24.25 for jockey Emmanuel Esquivel. He now is 2-for-2 at Arlington and finished third in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile in between the Chicago starts.
Conquest Boogaloo overcame a slow start to win Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Swynford Stakes at Woodbine by 2 lengths. Glenville Gardens, the favorite despite making his first start, finished second and early leader Honky Tonk Man was third. Conquest Boogaloo, an Ontario-bred Scat Daddy colt, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.97 with Patrick Husbands up.
Twotwentyfive A rallied by pacesetting favorite Sing Praises late to win Saturday's $250,000 Affirmed Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Gulfstream Park by a neck. Jaiden's Best was best of the rest. Twotwentyfive A, an Awesome of Course colt, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.69 under Abdiel Jaen. Twotwentyfive A advanced his record to 2-for-2 while Sing Praises saw a two-race winning streak snapped.
Tiz Time to Shine bided his time in Saturday's $125,000 Aspirant Stakes for New York-bred juvenile colts and geldings at Finger Lakes, then took the lead in time to win by 3/4 length over the late-running Summer Brother. Deputy Busterstone loomed a threat but weakened to finish third. Tiz Time to Shine, a Tiznow colt, ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:13.31 as a fast early quarter slowed to a late crawl. Jaime Rodriguez had the ride.
Mr. L. S. Shoe battled his way to the lead in Saturday's $90,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes at Louisiana Downs and finally edged clear in the final sixteenth, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Salute the C. Contangold finished third. Mr. L. S. Shoe, a Forefathers gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.00 for jockey Richard Eramia.
On the turf
Croninthebarbarian rallied from last of 10 with a wide move down the stretch to win Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile by 2 lengths over the favorite, Luck of the Kitten. Czar was third. Croninthebarbarian, a Kentucky-bred colt by Stroll out of the Tale of the Cat mare Sweet Ober Melissa, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:26.10 with Leandro Goncalves in the irons. He now is 2-for-3, having notched his first win at Ellis Park a month ago.
My Point Exactly stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs, then won a three-way sprint to the wire, beating Sylvan Hills Boy by a neck and Ride n' Reel by another 1/2 length. My Point Exactly, a Concord Point gelding, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.40 with Juan Leyva riding.
Cristina's Journey set a pressured pace in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, finally edging clear in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Pangburn overcame an awkward start to finish second, 2 1/2 lengths better than Milehigh Butterfly. The favorite, Take Charge Brandi, tired late and got home fifth. Cristina's Journey, a daughter of Any Given Saturday, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.37 under Miguel Mena. She's now 2-for-2, also showing a win at Ellis Park in a maiden affair. "A bunch of fillies were all kind of the same," winning trainer Dale Romans said of the field. "I'm sure everybody liked their filly but you don't know until you line them up and she ran the way we were hoping." He said he will consider the $400,000, Grade I Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 3 as a prep for the Breeders Cup although, "She's the type of horse who could train right into a big race like that."
Quality Rocks pressed the pace set by Sarah Sis in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie at Arlington Park, then went on by to win by 3 1/2 lengths over that rival. Happy to Go rallied from last of seven to take show money. Quality Rocks, a Florida-bred Rock Hard Ten filly, covered 7 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:24.88 with Rosemary Homeister Jr. riding. She's now 2-for-2 with the initial win coming at Presque Isle Downs.
Saturday's $250,000 Susan's Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Gulfstream Park promised to be a wide-open affair and the $1 trifecta payout -- $2,828.50 -- bore that out. The 42-1 winner, Holywell, prevailed by a nose over 6-1 chance Moment of Delight. The favorite, Leap Year Luck, ran well late to salvage second or the payout would have been even higher. Holywell, a daughter of Exclusive Quality, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:28.62 with Orlando Bocachica in the irons. She had finished sixth it the Desert Vixon Division of the FSS in her last previous start.
Dunn Listening came running late to catch the pacesetter, Evrybdymstgetstonz, in the final jumps of Saturday's $140,000 Lady Finger Stakes for state-bred juvenile fillies at Finger Lakes. Evrybdymstgetstonz held second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Irish Heroine. Dunn Listening, a daughter of Intidab, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.73 with Angel Arroyo up.
Kylie's Cutie led from the start in Saturday's $90,000 Louisiana Stallions Stakes for juvenile fillies at Louisiana Downs and cleared the rest late, winning by 6 3/4 lenths. Persuade Me was second and Z Smoke was along for third. Kylie's Cutie, a Pirate's Vow filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.85 with Patrick Johnson in the irons.
Eustacia quickly dusted a quartet of would-be challengers in Friday's $50,000 (Canadian) Bird of Pay Stakes at Northlands Park, leading all the way to a 7-lengths win. Quality Lane and She's It Again filled the triactor. Eustacia, a Kentucky-bred Forestry filly out of the Marquetry mare Sparkling Pink, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.01 with Rico Walcott aboard. It was her second straight win over the course.
On the turf:
Nicky's Brown Miss raced in mid-pack in Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile
Fillies, then rallied outside the leaders down the long stretch and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Aunt Sherri. Late Spring held the lead briefly before settling for third. Nicky's Brown Miss, a Big Brown filly out of the Successful Appeal mare Nicksappealinglady, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:26.35 with Francisco Torres handling the reins. She previously was 0-for-4 while sprinting at Belmont and Monmouth Park.
Naval Command stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Happy Ticket Stakes at Louisiana Downs, worked her way to the lead in the lane and then was all out to hold on by a neck over La Rambla. Know It All Anna finished 3 lengths farther back in third. Naval Command, a daughter of Midshipman, covered 1 mile on firm going in 1:37.24 with Juan Leyva up.
In other action:
Sheer Drama left little suspense at the end of Saturdays $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes for fillies and mares, clearing her six rivals to win by 3 lengths. South Andros was second and Made Up made up a lot of ground to get show money. A Korean-bred mare, Speedy First, was pulled up in the stretch and walked off. Sheer Drama, a 4-year-old daughter of Burning Roma, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.75 with Trevor McCarthy riding.
Bern Identity dueled around the track with King Henry in Saturday's $100,000 Dave's Friend Stakes, winning by 1 length over that rival. Trickmeister was along to get third, just a nose farther back. Bern Identity, a 4-year-old Bernstein colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.99 with Charles Lopez up.
Legendary took care of business in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes, rallying by the leaders to score by 2 1/4 lengths over Under Control. Hamp finished third. Legendary, a 5-year-old, British-bred gelding by Exceed and Excel, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.52 under Sheldon Russell.
Vielsalm rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $100,000 All Brandy Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares by a neck over pacesetter Nashly's Vow and another neck over the favorite, Joy. Vielsalm, a 4-year-old daughter of Fairbanks, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:49.88 with Julian Pimentel in the irons.
Geeky Gorgeous rallied to the lead three-wide in Saturday's $60,000 Eleven North Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares and cleared, winning by 1 length over P J's Superego. More Than a Party led early and held on for third. Geeky Gorgeous, a 5-year-old Devil His Due mare, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.74 with Angel Serpa riding.
Maybe Tonight circled the leaders turning for home in Saturday's $60,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for state-bred distaffers and got there first by 1 1/2 length over Long Blooming Rose. Stiffed finished third. Maybe Tonight, a 4-year-old Defrere filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.34 with Paco Lopez in the irons.
Disco Rhythm took over late in Saturday's $60,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap for state-breds and won by 2 lengths over Gadget Man. Silent Appeal was 3 lengths farther in arrears in third. Disco Rhythm, a 6-year-old Flatter gelding, covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.25 with Ramon Moya riding.
Rainbow Heir aired it out in the stretch run in Saturday's $60,000 New Jersey Breeders' Handicap for state-breds, winning by 12 1/2 lengths. Partyallnightlong was second, 1 length better than Magical Fire. Rainbow Heir, a 4-year-old colt by Wildcat Heir, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:09.83 with Serpa riding.
Patriots Rule overtook Eddie's First in the final stride to win Friday's $75,000 E.B. Johnson Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds. Arctic Code was a long shot third. Patriots Rule, a Tribal Rule gelding, got 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.60 with Fernando Perez in the irons.
Aunt Ellipsis surged to the lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Dr. Teresa Garofalo Memorial for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old fillies and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Pixie Dust. Disco Chick finished third. Aunt Ellipsis, a daughter of Successful Appeal, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.29 with Inoel Beato riding.
Merry's Honor and Oklahoma Crude caught pacesetting Atlantic Seaboard in the final yards of Saturday's $75,000 Marshall Jenny Handicap for state-breds with the former winning by a nose. Oklahoma Crude took second by a nose over Atlantic Seaboard, who was a neck in front of This Ain't No Bull. Merry's Honor, a 5-year-old Congressionalhonor gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 58.10 seconds with John Bisono up. Rustler Hustler stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Banjo Picker Sprint for state-breds and outfinished the odds-on favorite, Res Judicata, winning by 3/4 length. Officer Alex and Last Heartbreaker were third and fourth, a pair of noses farther in arrears. Rustler Hustler, a 6-year-old son of Ecton Park, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.26 with Jorge Vargas Jr. in the irons.
Traffic Light led from the first jumps in Saturday's $75,000 Roanoke Stakes for state-breds and went on to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Keepmeinstitches. The favorite, Sailor's Revenge, settled for third. Traffic Light, a 5-year-old Peace Rules gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.42 for Bisono.
Appealing Cat stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Mrs. Penny Stakes for state-bred distaffers, found room late and rallied to a 1 1/2-lengths victory over Lenape Rim. Previous Honor finished third. Appealing Cat, a 5-year-old Successful Appeal mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.63 with Eriluis Vaz riding.
Sassy Kitten led all the way in Saturday's $75,000 River Cities Stakes for fillies and mares, opened a big lead in the lane and coasted home first by 3 3/4 lengths over Malibu Yankee. Anahauc finished third. Sassy Kitten, a 4-year-old Kitten's Joy filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.37 with Rosie Napravnik up.
Benwill was awarded the victory in Saturday's $75,000 Unbridled Stakes when Coalport, who crossed the wire first, was set down for stretch interference for drifting out into his rival's path. The early leader, Well's Gold, finished third. Benwill is a 5-year-old son of Leestown out of the Dynaformer mare Dynaspice. The 1 1/16 miles on firm turf took 1:40.71 with Donnie Meche on Benwill and Rosie Napravnik aboard Coalport.
Beau Wizer came running four-wide in the stretch run of Sunday's $60,000 O.D. McDonald Stakes for New Mexico-breds, got by the leaders and won off by 3 lengths. Storm's Surprise, the early leader, held second with Playin Tough rallying to take third. Beau Wizer, a 6-year-old Premeditation gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.09 with Casey Lambert up.
Wine Police pressed the pace set by Homerun Berti in Sunday's $75,000 Premier Cup Handicap, went by that one late and scored a 1 3/4-lengths victory. Rhetorical finished third, far back of Homerun Berti. Wine Police, a 6-year-old Speightstown gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:04.93 under Enrique Gomez.
Capitalism went quickly to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Birdcatcher Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings and drew off in the stretch, winning by 6 lengths. Purple Heaven was best of the rest with Dr Hook McCracken third. Capitalism, a Cape Canaveral gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.05 with Rico Walcott riding.
Noosito, the prohibitive favorite, won Sunday's $50,000 Chinook Pass Stakes for Washington-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings by 4 lengths. Trick Or Retreat was second with Money Cat and Hoody completing the order of finish. Noosito, a Harbor the Gold colt, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.13 with Leslie Mawing up.
Trackattacker, another prohibitive favorite, won Sunday's $50,000 Daily Racing Form Dennis Dodge Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings by 9 1/4 lengths. Private Boss and Moby completed the trifecta. Trackattacker, a Harbor the Gold gelding, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.27 under Mawing.
Madame Pele, another odds-on favorite, opened a big lead in Sunday's $50,000 Pegasus Training Center Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares and coasted home first by 2 1/2 lengths over Castinette Dancer. Finding More led early and finished third. Madame Pele, a Salt Lake filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.90 with Juan Gutierrez riding.
The long shots finally struck in Sunday's $50,000 Northwest Farms Stakes for Washington-bred 2-year-old fillies as Seattle's Best Copy, at 20-1 showed the way to a 3-lengths win over Fine Red Wine. The odds-on favorite, Pippa Bou Peep, ran third after being forced six-wide on the turn. Seattle's Best Copy, a Demon Warlock filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.08 under Rocco Bowen.
Chou and You led throughout Sunday's $50,000 Comcast Sportsnet Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, then held on to score by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Mylast Sweet Pea. Among the Stars got home third. Chou and You, by You and I, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.06 with Gutierrez up.
Mike Man's Gold came from off the pace to win Sunday's $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic by 2 1/2 lengths with Dare Me Devil second and the favorite, I Keep Saying, third. Mike Man's Gold, a 4-year-old Liberty Gold gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:41.13 with Javier Matias in the irons.
Silver Tongued came from far back to take Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Buckeye Cup for Ohio-breds by 1/2 length over Fuzzy Dee Jay. The early leader, Stormin Larry, checked in 3 lengths farther back in third. Silver Tongued, a 4-year-old Flatter gelding, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:07.06 under Albin Jimenez.
Presque Isle Downs
Duff rallied to the lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $75,000 Mark McDermott Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 2-year-olds and eked out a 3/4-length win over the early leader, Adventurous Fox. I Say I Will was 6 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Duff, a Candy Ride colt, got 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.59 with Huber Villa-Gomez up.
News and notes
We're asked sometimes why we (generally) use sponsor names attached to races. Having been on both sides of that equation, we know sponsorship funding is important to the industry and that it depends on doing its job -- getting the sponsor's name into news reports. But, really, there should be limits and this paragraph from the media guide to the upcoming "Ladbrokes St Leger Festival" might exceed them:
"The Festival also features a number of high-class supporting races, with the highlights being the John Smith's Original Scarbrough Stakes and Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Charity Race on John Smith's Opening Day (Wednesday), the DFS Park Hill Stakes on DFS Ladies' Day (Thursday), the Socialites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup on Socialites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup Day (Friday), plus the At The Races Champagne Stakes and OLBG Park Stakes on Saturday."
Speaking of difficult, the "Scoop 6" bet in England rolled over again on Saturday and is expected to be worth something like 4 million pounds sterling next weekend. The bet is structured to be incredibly difficult, incorporating races with big, hard-to-handicap fields. The magnitude of the task is illustrated by the revelation that only a single ticket was live after the first four legs of this weekend's races and that hope was snuffed in the fifth leg, even before G Force upset the Group 1 Sprint Cup in the final heat. Still, it's better odds than the Powerball game and lots more fun to watch.