Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome fizzled badly in his weekend comeback while Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable sizzled -- at least by comparison.
That left last year's 2-year-old champion Shared Belief a likely favorite for the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Classic -- provided he passes one more semifinal -- and Bayern, winner of the Pennsylvania Derby, as a question mark for trainer Bob Baffert.
Also, Oaklawn Park is offering incentives for horses that win without Lasix.
We're off and running with no more stimulation than another cup of coffee ...
Saturday's $1 million, Grade II Pennsylvania Derby was all about Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome -- until the running started. At that point, Bayern shot out to the lead, set a leisurely pace for the first half mile and then hit high gear nearing the stretch turn. He was never seriously threatened after that and kept on going for the full 9 furlongs to win by 5 3/4 lengths, finishing in track-record time of 1:46.96. Two serious runners, Tapiture and Candy Boy, were well in his wake while finishing second and third. California Chrome, despite pre-race assurances from trainer Art Sherman that he had never been better, showed little. After running third most of the way, he had no response in the final furlong and got home sixth -- a performance more reminiscent of his Belmont Stakes failure than his Derby and Preakness triumphs. Jockey Victor Espinoza said he was targeted and boxed in through much of the race. Bayern now has won five of nine lifetime starts, from 7 furlongs to 9 furlongs. In his lone try at 1 1/4 miles in the Grade I Travers, the distance of the Breeders' Cup Classic, he stopped badly and was virtually eased in the stretch. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "When Bayern runs like that, nobody's going to beat him. Like in the Haskell. If you look at him, he doesn't look like a horse that's going to run a mile and an eighth, a mile and a quarter; he's sort of a compact horse. He must have a big heart and a big set of lungs and he carries his speed." Baffert second-guessed his decision about sending Bayern to the Travers, adding, "It's the Travers and he was going to be the speed ... and afterward, I said, 'Why didn't I stick to my original plans?'" He did not address plans for Bayern's next start, back home at Santa Anita. Sherman, asked about his plans for California Chrome, said, "Almost sure we will go to the Classic ... Race under his belt, he'll be a lot stronger."
Florida Won came from last of seven to win Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Ontario Derby at Woodbine by 1 1/2 lengths over Prince of Wales Stakes winner Coltimus Prime. Breeders' Stakes winner Ami's Holiday finished third. Florida Won, a Kentucky-bred colt by Birdstone, ran 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:50.80 with Patrick Husbands up. He picked up just his second career win in his seventh start.
This division, after the recent retirements of Game On Dude and Will Take Charge, now looks ripe for the plucking by someone -- a 3-year-old like Shared Belief or an adventurous European.
Untapable tracked the pace established by Jojo Warrior in Saturday's $1 million Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Parx Racing, came three-wide to take the lead at the quarter pole and held on to win by 1 length over Sweet Reason despite drifting in and out during the final sixteenth. Jojo Warrior held on for second, 1 length behind Sweet Reason. Stopchargingmaria was a late scratch. Untapable, a Tapit filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.71 with Rosie Napravnik up. Untapable kicked off her season with four straight wins, including the Kentucky Oaks and the Grade I Mother Goose at Belmont Park, before finishing fifth against males in the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park. The winner of the Haskell, Bayern, came back to beat Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome and others in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby. "I was extremely pleased to have her back in the winner's circle where we feel she belongs," said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. "I think a lot of little things added up to (the Haskell) not being her day. I was very proud that she came out of a tough race like that, tough circumstances, to win a Grade I." He said she will ship to California immediately to begin preparations for the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Sweater Weather outran Unspurned in the final sixteenth to take Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) La Lorgnette Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine by 1 1/2 lengths. Llanarmon finished third. Sweater Weather, a Milwaukee Brew filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.70 with Patrick Husbands up. She has never finished worse than third in nine career starts, including four wins.
Favorite Tale was hustled to the lead in Saturday's $300,000, Grade III Gallant Bob Stakes for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing after a slight bobble at the start. From there, he wrested the lead from the odds-on favorite, Fast Anna, and went by to win by 2 1/2 lengths over that foe. Bump Start finished third, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Pure Sensation. Favorite, Tale, a Tale of the Cat gelding, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.16 for jockey John Bisono. He now is undefeated in four starts at Parx and 1-for-6 at other venues.
Paso Doble stalked the early pace in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Overskate Stakes at Woodbine, took over midway down the backstretch and grimly held on to win by a head over San Nicola Thunder. The favorite, Pender Harbour, was bottled up for much of the race, made a bold, late run and finished third, just another head back. Paso Doble, an 8-year-old Bold n' Flashy gelding, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:21.43 with Eurico Da Silva in the irons. It was his second straight win, following the Shepperton Stakes over the course last month. "He's on his game right now and he's a happy horse," Da Silva said. "He feels like he's a 2-year-old."
Pants On Fire fired late in Saturday's $100,000 Wild and Wonderful Stakes at Charles Town, rallying from mid-pack to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Good Lord. Handsup Moneydown finished third. Pants On Fire, a 6-year-old son of Jump Start, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.77 under Paco Lopez. Pants On Fire finished seventh in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, then contested the Japan Cup Dirt unsuccessfully. After a six-months break, he had finished third, then twice second, in east coast stakes events.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Thank You Marylou roared to the lead turning for home in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs and kicked away to a 6 1/2-lengths win. Henny Jenney rallied from well back to take second, Milam finished third. Birdmaker, owned by Marylou Whitney, was fourth and the odds-on favorite, Fiftyshadesofgold, faded from the lead to finish fifth. Thank You Marylou, racing in blinkers for the first time, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.19. "They put blinkers on her for a reason I guess," said winning rider Miguel Mena,"because from the get-go she took me in a perfect position." Trainer Mike Maker said an outside post position might have had as much impact as the blinkers because in her last start, Thank You Marylou had the inside slot "and she only got beat a couple length but she was pretty intimidated." Asked if owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey might be persuaded to send the filly to the Breeders' Cup, Maker said, "I don't think I'd have to twist his arm too hard. You never know."
Artemis Agrotera trailed the field midway through Saturday's $300,000, Grade II Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, was forced five wide into the lane and still got up in the final yards to win by a head over pacesetter La Verdad. Willet was along for third. Artemis Agrotera, a 3-year-old Roman Ruler filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.49 with Rajiv Maragh up. She has won three straight races since she was returned to sprinting. Looking forward to the Breeders' Cup, winning trainer Mike Hushion mused, "Now we have six weeks. We can take our time. She has this under her belt. Like Rajiv said, he learned a lot about her today."
Miss Behaviour didn't mess around in Saturday's $300,000, Grade III Charles Town Oaks, breaking smartly and right to the lead, then spurting clear in the lane to score by 9 3/4 lengths. Kiss to Remember beat the others, finishing 1 length to the good of Nesso. Miss Behaviour, a Jump Start filly, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.69 for jockey Jevian Toledo. She was coming off three straight second-place finishes in tough races -- the Grade Grade II Victory Ride at Belmont Park, the Grade I Test Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade II Prioress, also at the Spa.
Geeky Gorgeous stalked the early pace in Saturday's $100,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes at Charles Town, took over when called upon and prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths. Flattering Bea finished well to be second and Table Three Ten was third. Geeky Gorgeous, a 5-year-old Devil His Due mare, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.41 with Angel Serpa up. She has been a consistently successful performer in minor stakes but finished seventh in her lone try at the graded stakes level -- the Grade I Ballerina at Saratoga this summer.
Divine Oath saved all the ground in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park, led in the stretch and won by 3/4 length over Bashart. Other Cheek was always close to the action and held on for third. Divine Oath, a Broken Vow colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.78 with Jose Caraballo in the irons. He was coming off a sixth-place finish in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park and before that, won the Grade III American Derby over the Arlington greensward. "We had a great trip," Caraballo said. "He broke right there with them without me asking him. From there on, it was just about waiting and finding room and he took over."
Trainer Chris Waller took down both of the weekend's Group 1 fixtures as Foreteller won the Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes at Caulfield while Sacred Falls was victorious in the George Main Stakes at Sydney. The stablemates now are ticketed to face off in the Group 1 Cox Plate. Foreteller ran by pacemaker Crackerjack King in the final 100 yards and outfinished Happy Trails to win by 1/2 length. Crackerjack King held third while The Offer, a favorite for the Melbourne Cup, finished second from the back after a tardy break. Waller saddled the 1-2 finishers in the George Main as Sacred Falls, with Hong Kong-based Zac Purton up, got home 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Royal Descent.
Those looking for clues to the upcoming Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp could cast an eye to the result of Sunday's Group II Kansai Telecasting Corp. Sho Rose Stakes at Hanshin. There, Nuovo Record prevailed by 1 1/2 lengths as the favorite. The relevance: Nuovo upset Arc contender Harp Star in that filly's last start, the Yushun Himba. Harp Star is one of three Japanese contenders for this year's Arc as Japan tries to finally break through after three second-place finishes in the iconic race. It's also worth noting Denim and Ruby won the Hanshin fixture last year en route to a very close second behind Gentildonna in the Japan Cup.
In other action:
Saratoga Heater threw a fastball at a quintet of rivals in Sunday's $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds, sprinting off to a 4-lengths win. Bullheaded Boy finished second and the favorite, Market Conduct, finished third. Saratoga Heater, a Temple City colt, ran 7 furlongs on a muddy, sealed track in 1:24.63 with Joel Rosario in the irons.
Temper Mint Patty obviously loved the mud in Sunday's $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma Stakes for state-bred 2-year-old fillies, opening a monumental lead in the stretch run en route to a 13 1/2-lengths victory. The favorite, My Super Nova, burned brightly enough to beat the other three with Hard to Stay Notgo third. Temper Mint Patty, a Congrats filly, got home in 1:23.78 with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding.
Edge of Reality edged to the lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds, then held on to win by 3/4 length over Roadhog. Page McKenney finished third. Edge of Reality, a 4-year-old Lawyer Ron colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.62 with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.
Ol Donyo got through inside the leaders on the turn in Saturday's $90,000 Musical Romance Stakes for fillies and mares and scooted clear, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over Flores Island. Kipling's Joy finished third. Ol Donyo, a 4-year-old Curlin filly, got 7 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:23.73 with Jilver Chamafi in the irons.
Seeking the Sherif stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Katella Stakes, swept by Distinctiv Passion when asked by jockey Edwin Maldonado, and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Spirt Rules was third all the way and Drill finished fourth. Seeking the Sherif, a 5-year-old Officer gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in track-record time of 1:08.40.
Irish Presence came from last in a field of four to take Sunday's $75,000 Las Madrinas Stakes for fillies and mares by 1/2 length over Legacy. The favorite, My Happy Face, and Zilber completed the order of finish. Irish Presence, a Midnight Lute filly, got 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.86 under Kent Desormeaux.
Harlan's Destiny kicked loose in the stretch run to win Saturday's $50,000 Rachel's Turn Stakes for West Virginia-bred 2-year-old fillies by 5 1/4 lengths. My Sister Caro was best of the rest, a neck in front of Just a Real Cat. Harlan's Destiny, a Harlan's Holiday filly, ran 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 53.53 seconds with Rafael Hernandez up.
Hear the Chatter got by pacesetter King of the Castle at the sixteenth pole in Saturday's $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial for state-bred 2-year-olds and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over that one. One More Time finished third. Hear the Chatter, a Mass Media gelding, ran 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.26 second with Gerald Almodovar in the irons.
Greenway Court led from the early stages in Saturday's $50,000 It's Only Money Stakes for West Virginia-breds and triumphed by 1 length over Mr. Ripken. Halter Off finished third. Greenway Court, a 5-year-old Windsor Castle gelding, got 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.68 for jockey Antonio Lopez.
Isn't He Clever not only won Sunday's $100,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths after leading all the way, but did it in track-record time of 1:48.13 over a fast track. The favorite, Code West, finished second and Forest Mouse was third after pressing the early pace. Isn't He Clever, a 5-year-old Smarty Jones gelding, was ridden by Enrique Gomez.
Burning It rallied from last of 11 to win Sunday's $60,000 George Maloof Futurity for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds by a neck over L Dandy. Gator Heat finished third and the favorite, French Lyon, faded from the lead to finish sixth. Burning It, a Roman Emperor gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.22 with Elvin Gonzalez up. The top two went off at odds of 52-1 and 37-1, returning $2,282.20 for a $2 exacta ticket.
Sunday's $60,000 Dessie and Fern Sawyer Futurity for state-bred juvenile fillies was more formful with the favorite, Humarumba, leading all the way to a 1/2-length victory over Hello Texas. Desert Gambler was along for third. Humarumba, a Diabolical filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.07 with Brian Theriot riding.
Ghost Realms led all the way to an upset win in Saturday's $60,000 New Mexico State Fair Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds. Desert Mystery was second, 3/4 length in arrears, and the odds-on favorite, Mays or Mantle, slid in third. Ghost Realms, a Ghostly Moves gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.30 with Felipe Valdez up.
Lively Vision got a big lead in the stretch in Friday's $50,000 Te Ata Stakes Oklahoma-bred 3-year-old fillies and coasted home first by 2 lengths over Cheyenne Blues. Okie Smokey finished third but was disqualified to fifth for interference, promoting 41-1 shot Zeta Zody to show money and significantly inflating the trifecta payout. Lively Vision, a Pollard's Vision filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.36 with Ramon Vazquez up.
Alpha and Omega led at the beginning and the end of Saturday's $50,000 Tishomingo Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings. Stomin Scat was second, 2 1/2 lengths back and a neck in front of Top Notch Slew. Alpha and Omega, an Omega Code gelding, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.71 with Luis Quinonez in the irons.
(Saturday results for horses foaled in Alberta; each worth $50,000 Canadian; track fast)
Wild Legend dueled Awesome Legend into submission, then went on to win the Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds by 17 1/2 lengths over that rival. Dark Fusion finished third. Wild Legend, a Gold Legend gelding, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.81 for jockey Scott Williams.
Tiny Giant worked to the lead in the Red Diamond Express Handicap and prevailed by 2 3/4 lengths over Gone in a Flash. Bond James Bond finished third. Tiny Giant, a 7-year-old Lost Canyon gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.16 with Rico Walcott up.
Ginger Smash rallied from behind a fast early pace to emerge a 5 1/4-lengths winner in the Sturgeon River Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Wild Deuces ran well late to be up for second, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of Last Flight. Ginger Smash, a Cape Canaveral filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:20.53 with Walcott in the irons.
Centrefire rallied five-wide to the lead in the Alberta Premier's Futurity for 2-year-olds and shook loose from nine rivals to win by 6 lengths. R Valentino was best of the rest, 2 1/2 lengths to the good of Xtreme Denigray. The favorite, Wild Tactics, faded to finish seventh. Centrefire, a North Light gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:19.79 with Williams aboard.
Brady's Tomboy dueled down the stretch with Tempered Sky in the Fall Classic Distaff before scoring by head over that rival. It was 8 3/4 lengths back to Canaveral Leader in third. Brady's Tomboy, a 6-year-old Crafty Shaw mare, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.30 with Williams in the irons.
Barfly's Survivor hooked up with pacesetter Silver Baubles in the final furlong of the Alberta Breeders' Handicap, took a 1-length lead and then held off that rival's second effort to win by a nose. The odds-on favorite, For Cash, finished third, 1 1/4 lengths farther back. Barfly's Survivor, a 5-year-old gelding by Survivalist, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.63 under Nela Mohammed.
Saint Sassy Sue took command in the stretch in the Albert Oaks, driving clear to win by 6 1/2 lengths over Pick a Prize. Brookes Magic was third and the favorite, Rosavita, settled for fourth. Saint Sassy Sue, a daughter of Saint Stephen, finished 1 mile in 1:40.81 with Williams riding.
Lord Rosberg had to battle for the lead in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Jack Diamond Futurity for Canadian-foaled 2-year-olds. But once he got there, he worked clear to win by 3 lengths over Merlot with Forestry's Devil a fast-closing third. Lord Rosberg, a Rosberg gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.28 for jockey Richard Hamel.
Finality's Charmer took command entering the stretch turn in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Sadie Diamond Futurity for Canadian-foaled 2-year-old fillies and held on to win by 1/2 length over Splendid Scat. Rockport Dancer rallied from the rear to be third. Finality's Charmer, a daughter of Finality, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.09 with Hamel up.
Floral Sky circled the field and was up in the final yards to win Sunday's $50,000 Scarlet and Gray Handicap for Ohio-bred fillies and mares by a neck over Crafty Blue Kat and another neck from Pyrite Blues. The odds-on favorite, Sky Crew, led early but finished fifth. Floral Sky, a 4-year-old Sky Mesa filly, 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.64 with Jason Lumpkins in the irons.
News and Notes:
During its 2015 season, Oaklawn Park will provide a 10 percent bonus to the winner's share of the purse for all horses that run and win without Lasix. The incentives will range from $1,080 for the minimum purse of $18,000 up to $60,000 for the $1 million, Grade I Arkansas Derby. The total potential bonus supplement will be $1.4 million. "We know some horses do, indeed, need Lasix in order to run to potential and I want to make this very clear: we are not advocating that horses who need Lasix, race without it." said Oaklawn owner Charles Cella. "However, it is also our belief that many of the horses running on Lasix may not need it. We think it is in the best interest of the sport and the breed to find a way to have more horses run without Lasix. Our hope is this program will be a step in the right direction." Mark Lamberth, an Arkansas racing commissioner and chairman-elect for the Association of Racing Commissioners International, applauded the decision as "a positive step toward trying to reduce race-day therapeutic medications."