Itsaknockout, International Star and Far Right advanced along the Kentucky Derby trail with weekend victories though none scored anything like a knockout.
Meanwhile, Main Sequence continued his domination in the turf ranks and heads off to Dubai undefeated in five U.S. starts.
A cloudy Kentucky Oaks picture cleared a bit with commanding wins in New York and New Orleans.
Internationally, there was noteworthy action in Japan, Singapore, England and, of course, Dubai. In Hong Kong, a throng wagered with all available hands on Saturday, ushering in the Year of the Goat.
All hands on deck for the following report.
The Road to the Roses
Itsaknockout, thanks to the Gulfstream Park stewards, remained undefeated in three starts with a victory in Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth. Itsaknockout appeared well beaten by Holy Bull winner Upstart. But Upstart, under left-handed whipping by jockey Jose Ortiz, came out in front of Itsaknockout inside the sixteenth pole and Luis Saez took up just enough to give the officials grounds for the disqualification. Frammento added blinkers after finishing nearly 19 lengths back in the Holy Bull and was up for third in the Fountain. The big disappointment on a generally disappointing day for Godolphin Racing, was Frosted. The runner-up in the Holy Bull had the lead turning for home Saturday and looked like he was rolling. But he hit the wall and finished fourth. The 1 1/16 miles went in 1:46.28 and none of the contenders looked ready for much more. Itsaknockout earned 50 points toward a Kentucky Derby start, should that be in the cards for trainer Todd Pletcher. "The thing I'm most proud of is for this horse to run this well in his third lifetime start, first time around two turns and first time in a stake," Pletcher said. "It was a very, very good effort. He was in between horses in a situation he hasn't been in before, so it was a big effort." He said Itsaknockout is likely for the Florida Derby. Upstart's trainer, Rick Violette, said, "Bad call. It's disappointing. The horse ran great. We just didn't get credit for it." Frosted's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, said that colt's performance was a mystery. "He looked like he just pulled himself up. He shortened stride on his own ... We thought we were a winner turning for home." Horse Racing Radio Network analyst Jude Feld (horseracingradio.net, popejude.com) said he thought Frosted "got a little lost when he made the lead" and is a Florida Derby candidate.
International Star was impressive in the stretch run of Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Risen Star at Fair Grounds, advancing on the inside of the leaders to win by 1 length over War Story. Keen Ice, enjoying the long New Orleans stretch, rallied for third and the pacesetter, St. Joe Bay, held on for fourth. In Godolphin's second disappointment of the afternoon, the favorite, Imperia, showed little interest and finished fifth. The 1 1/16 miles went in 1:43.82. International Star, a Fusaichi Pegasus colt owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, appeared to cut in front of War Story and his rider, Kent Desormeaux, in some traffic on the first turn but winning rider Miguel Mena said he was clear at the time of the incident. "I was impressed because I moved at the five-sixteenths pole to get through and he came through a tight hole and then another one at the quarter-pole and kept running and drawing away," Mena said. "I think more distance will be no problem. He rates well, he loves the rail. It doesn't matter how tight the hole is – he goes for it." The winner's first two victories came on the turf and the all-weather. He now has back-to-back wins on the dirt after earlier taking the Grade III LeComte and earned 50 Kentucky Derby points. Ken Ramsey said the points won't go to waste. "I'm looking forward to going back to Kentucky with a real, live Derby prospect," said Ramsey, the Eclipse Award-winning owner and breeder. "I'll be 80 years old on Nov. 3 and this is my shot at the Derby. This has been a dream of mine since I was 5 years old -- trying to figure out some way to win that Kentucky Derby." Mike Smith, who rode Imperia, said that colt didn't handle the surface. "When I asked him to pick up, he just started swimming," Smith said.
In Sunday's $300,000, Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, rescheduled from Monday, Far Right came from far back to win by 3/4 length over long shot The Truth Or Else. The favorite, Mr. Z, showed the way early over the sloppy, sealed track and yielded only grudgingly, finishing third, a nose farther in arrears. Previously undefeated Hillbilly Royalty attended the early pace but faded to finish fifth. Far Right, a Notional colt, ran 1 1/16 miles under Mike Smith in 1:47.50. Smith said he dropped Far Right to the inside for the stretch run, "which didn't seem like the place to be today but he made it look good ... He didn't handle the mud as well as I thought he would so with that and the added distance, I think he's just going to get better." Ron Moquette trains Far Right, who won the Smarty Jones over the same Hot Springs track in his only previous start as a 3-year-old. Last year he finished fourth in the Grade II Futurity at Belmont Park and third in the Grade III Delta Downs Jackpot. "Everything's good in the hood," Moquett said. "It was exactly like the Smarty Jones, except we were giving seven pounds to everybody. That's something that nobody printed anywhere. That's kind of a lot to give to a little guy."
At Sunland Park in New Mexico, Where's the Moon ran by pacesetting favorite Cinco Charlie in the final sixteenth of the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths over that rival. Dirt Monster pressured Cinco Charlie around the turn and into the top of the lane, then held on gamely to finish a nose farther back in third. Where's the Moon, a Malibu Moon gelding coming off a maiden win, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.80 under Enrique Gomez and now is a candidate for the Sunland Park Derby. Cinco Charlie, winner of six of nine previous starts, was making his first try past 1 mile.
Why Two forged quickly to the fore in Saturday's $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby in Arizona and held sway. Ride Hard Kowboy made a bit of a late run but could do no better than second, 1 length in arrears. Our Brother B A ran well but faded to finish fourth. Why Two, a Bob and John colt visiting from Southern California, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.39 with Aaron Gryder in the irons.
Outside the stakes arena, yet another Pletcher trainee made a Triple Crown-worthy impression Sunday at Gulfstream Park. Khozan, a half-brother to champion mare Royal Delta, won an optional claimer by 12 3/4 lengths, finishing the one-turn mile in 1:38.07 under Javier Castellano. He won his first start last month by 3 3/4 lengths going 7 furlongs. He is by Distorted Humor out of Delta Princess, by A.P. Indy. "We'll discuss it," said Pletcher, "but I think the logical next race probably would be the Florida Derby."
For those keeping track, International Star now leads in the Churchill Downs points standings used to make up the Kentucky Derby field if more than 20 are entered. With Saturday's 50 points, he now has 71. Itsaknockout is second with 50, trailed by El Kabeir with 25, War Story with 24 and Far Right with 22.
I'm a Chatterbox backed up her impressive victory in last month's Silverbulletday Stakes with an equally dominating win in Saturday's $175,000, Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds. The 2 1/2-lengths win over Lovely Maria moved I'm a Chatterbox up on the list of Kentucky Oaks contenders, all of whom are chasing Take Charge Brandi. I'm a Chatterbox, with Florent Geroux capping a stakes triple, rallied from last of 10 to take charge late in Saturday's race. Forever Unbridled and Angela Renee both had every chance midway down the stretch but flattened out to finish third and fourth. The 1 1/16 miles on a fast track took 1:44.10. Trainer Larry Jones said he was worried about the No. 10 post as an outside draw "will kill you here." But, he said, the Munnings filly "has a world of talent."
Ekati's Phaeton led all the way to a hard-fought win in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, beating Birdatthewire by a neck and the favorite, Eskenformoney, by another neck. Cavorting finished ninth. Ekati's Phaeton, sent off at 27-1 odds, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.66 with Luis Saez aboard. The Tale of Ekati filly won the Grade III Old Hat Stakes over the same track going 6 furlongs on Jan. 3, then faded to finish fourth going 7 furlongs in the Grade II Forward Gal three weeks later. Birdatthewire won the latter race. "This filly has the most speed of any filly I've ever trained," said Bill Kaplan. "And I trained Musical Romance to win the Breeders' Cup." He said Ekati's Phaeton will keep moving up the ladder. "She's carried her speed a mile and I don't see why she can't carry it further," he said.
Condo Commando ran to her notices in Saturday's $100,000 Busher Stakes at Aqueduct. With Junior Alvarado up, the Tiz Wonderful filly quickly overcame a stumble after the start, rushed to an easy lead, set a comfortable pace and extended her advantage to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Paulassilverlining beat the others with Sweet On Smokey a further 13 3/4 lengths back in third. Condo Commando ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:46.52. She now has four wins from five starts with the others including the Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga and the Grade II Demoiselle at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving weekend. The Busher was her 3-year-old debut. "She didn't break that clean, but I thought she was a little better than these fillies and she did it very impressively," said winning trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "She's been very special to us and hopefully she continues to impress us. I'm going to talk with the owners and discuss the next plans for her and hopefully she'll continue to do a little better."
In Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park, Main Sequence picked up right where he left off in last year's Eclipse Award and Breeders' Cup championship season. Just as he did in all four of his 2014 starts, the 6-year-old Aldebaran gelding bided his time through most of the 1 3/8 miles, then came with a rush down the stretch, beating familiar rival Twilight Eclipse by 3/4 length. With Rajiv Maragh aboard, Main Sequence got home in 2:15.06. Change of Command was best of the rest. In last year's campaign, Twilight Eclipse ran second twice and third twice behind Main Sequence. "He was awesome. It's a huge relief," said winning trainer Graham Motion. "I was a little concerned at the top of the stretch because it looked like he kind of asked him and they motored away from him a little bit. But once he got that turn of foot going, he's gone. There's not much stopping him." Main Sequence now is ticketed for Dubai and a start in the Group 1 Sheema Classic on World Cup night March 28.
Chocolate Ride, in his first stakes effort, scored a front-running win in Saturday's $125,000, Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap. With Florent Geroux up, the 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding opened a 3-lengths margin on the field and got to the wire first by 1 1/2 lengths over Glenbard. Pyrite Mountain was third and the favorite, Skyring, faded to finish last of 10. "My horse broke sharp and I just let him do his thing," Geroux said. Chocolate Ride, claimed last November at Churchill Downs for $40,000, earned $75,000 while finishing about 9 furlongs on firm going in 1:48.84, only about a half second off the course record.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Irish Mission parked right behind pacesetting favorite Riposte in Saturday's $150,000 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park, got by in the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Riposte held second, a neck in front of Tabreed and another neck better than Caroline Thomas. Irish Mission, a 6-year-old Giant's Causeway mare, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:18.66 for jockey John Velazquez. Irish Mission finished last of 11 in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf but then came back to win her final start of 2014. Trainer Christophe Clement said owner Robert Evans had been planning to bring Irish Mission back to Kentucky to the breeding shed. After the race, Clement said, "There are two choices: One, she goes to Kentucky next week, where it's very cold and awful weather, or she can stay in the sunshine here and run back in the Orchid at Gulfstream on March 28. But I'm sure Mr. Evans will make up his mind and let me know next week."
Betty's Bambino powered to the lead midway down the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes for California-breds down the Santa Anita hillside and went on to win by 1 length from the favorite, Ambitious Brew. Boozer and Spirit Rules dead-heated for third and fourth. Betty's Bambino, a 5-year-old Unusual Heat gelding, ran about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.65 with Martin Garcia riding.
Jewel of a Cat blasted off from the launch pad in Saturday's $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park, opened a daylight lead early in the stretch run and survived some erratic running late to win by 1/2 length over the favorite, Good Deed. Zamquick was third at long odds. Jewel of a Cat, a 5-year-old mare by Wildcat Heir, finished 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.14 seconds with Paco Lopez up.
Long On Value was all of that in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park, kicking clear in the stretch run to win by 1 3/4 lengths at better than 10-1 odds. Grand Tito came from far back to finish second while Aripeka got show money and the favorite, Jack Milton, finished fourth after starting a step behind the others. Long On Value, a 4-year-old Value Plus colt, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.26 for jockey Joel Rosario. He hasn't run a bad race since finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Hutcheston a year ago, behind the likes of Wildcat Red and C. Zee.
Speaking of C. Zee, he stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes, then got clear in the stretch to win by 2 3/4 length. Happy My Way battled for the lead but eventually settled for second, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Speechify. The favorite, Weekend Hideaway, finished a dull fifth. C. Zee, a 4-year-old colt by Elusive Bluff, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.84 with Edgard Zayas up. "He's that kind of horse," said said winning trainer Stanley Gold. "I knew he was capable of it."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Spring Included dueled to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes and finally worked clear in the late going to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Heykittykittykitty came from last to finish second and Haveyougoneaway was third. Spring Included, a 4-year-old filly by Include, completed 5 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:04.96 with Joe Rocco Jr. up. Perhaps the combined names of the race and winner add up to a harbinger of warmth and sunshine.
House Rules rallied from off the pace to win Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park by 1 1/2 lengths over Sheer Drama. The favorite, Wedding Toast, was a head farther back in third. House Rules, a 4-year-old filly by Distorted Humor, got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.93 with Javier Castellano in the irons. She now has won three of her last four starts. Winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he likely will take House Rules back to New York for her yet-to-be-determined next start. "All of her races in Florida have been terrific," he said. "We just have to get her to duplicate them in New York."
Street Babe rallied from just off the pace to upset Saturday's $125,000, Grade III Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds, beating early leader and fellow long shot Mystery Train by 3/4 length. The favorite, Red Rifle, finished third, 2 1/2 lengths farther back. Street Babe, a 4-year-old Street Sense gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.58 with Kerwin Clark in the irons. It was only his third career start, following a maiden win in November at Aqueduct and a second at Gulfstream Park on New Year's Eve. "You're going to see a lot of this horse," Clark said. "He was just playing around." Trainer Michael Dilger noted Street Babe "is a late starter. But we still don't know how good he is."
North Slope rallied by pacesetter Village Warrior in the stretch run of Sunday's $100,000 Evening Attire Stakes and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over that rival. Turco Bravo finished third and Micromanage, running as an entry with Village Warrior, was fourth. North Slope, a 5-year-old Elusive Quality gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the muddy inner track in 1:45.45 with Junior Alvarado up for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He's an improving horse," said McLaughlin assistant Arthur Magnuson. "Kiaran made the right call by shipping him north after a lackluster performance on a turf course at Gulfstream Park that he didn't really like."
Across the various ponds:
Dubai (Richard Gross)
The ladies took to the Meydan stage Thursday in the featured Balanchine over 1,800 meters of turf and Cladocera was on pointe turning in a virtuoso performance 1 3/4 lengths in first position ahead of Anahita with Zurigha a length behind in third. The 4-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream is having a dreamy season with a second Group 2 triumph after waltzing away a winner in the Cape Verdi on the Jan. 29 program over a briefer 1,600 turf meters. The German ballerina's performance was choreographed by French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre and partnered by Christophe Soumillon who held his mount well behind the corps before loosening the reins in the stretch. "She has a lovely turn of foot," the Belgian rider complimented, "and is going to improve with age and racing experience."
That improvement had best come quickly. The other two fillies who completed the Cape Verdi and Balanchine pas de deux were Sun Classique in 2008 and Sajjhaa in 2013, with that pair going on to win the Sheema Classic and the Duty Free respectively on Dubai World Cup night.
In the program's other big dance, Hunter's Light shone brilliantly for Godolphin as the 7-year-old son of Dubawi, sired by the race's namesake, fittingly won the Dubai Millenium stakes over 2,000 meters of turf for trainer Saeed bin Suroor while breaking the course record in 2:00.67 and besting Umgiyo by 1 3/4 lengths despite being eased near the finish. Mr. Pommeroy was 4 1/4 lengths behind in third. Winning rider James Doyle was exhuberant. "I was happy with the way the race unfolded," said the English helmsman. "I couldn't be more pleased with the way things are going. He has the options of the Dubai Turf and Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night, so we will all sit down and put our heads together." Bin Suroor added, "His next target will be the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday. Then we will see about Dubai World Cup night."
Trainer Doug Watson captured his second double in as many weeks. Layl gave no gifts to 14 opponents in 1,600 meters over a fast surface to unwrap Giftorm by 1 1/2 lengths in the Sobha dirt handicap with Romansh shown no love 4 1/4 lengths back in third. Storm Belt cinched the double for Watson, finishing first in the District One after 2,000 dirt meters with Toolain too late by 1 1/4 lengths and Distorted Humor colt Artigiano, named after the sandals worn by gladiators, finishing in a bad mood, a flat-footed 3 1/4 lengths back.
Caspian Prince sailed to a regal win by 1 length over a cooler Hototo with Banaadeer a neck back in the 1,000-meters Sobha turf handicap. The evening's closing District One turf handicap saw grey gelding Dark Emerald shine brightly a second time this Carnival season for Ireland and countryman trainer Brendan Powell with a polished 2 1/2-lengths edge over Fils Anges while Free Wheeling rolled a neck back in a full field of 16 contenders.
The traditional opening Bani Yas for purebred Arabians over 1,400 meters on dirt was notable for what did not happen as heavily favored Bigg N Rich looked small and poor carrying heaviest weight, finishing second a whopping 9 1/4 lengths behind French winner Manark.
Next week's busy Carnival program features racing on both Thursday and Saturday including the $250,000, Group 3 UAE Oaks on dirt, the $200,000, Group 3 Nad Al Sheba on the turf, and the $250,000 Group 2 Zabeel Mile on grass as trainers, horses and riders prepare for the penultimate Super Saturday matches March 7 and the climactic Dubai World Cup day March 28.
Last year, Copano Rickey won as the longest shot on the board in the Group 1 February Stakes. In this year's edition on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse, he was the favorite and repeated as winner. With Yutaka Take up, the 5-year-old son of Gold Allure sailed home 1/2 length to the good of Incantation while finishing 1,600 meters in 1:36.3. Best Warrior was third. Hokko Tarume, Japan's top dirt horse, sat this one out while preparing for a run in the Dubai World Cup next month over the new dirt course at Meydan. Take got Copano Rickey away well, sat a good pace-stalking trip and had enough when he needed run. "I'm happy and relieved since he was the favorite," the jockey said. "We're fortunate there was a pacesetter. He had so much left at the top of the stretch and was so confident and eager."
We're paying attention to the All-Weather Championships for several reasons. First, with the all-weather tracks gone from Meydan, Keeneland, Del Mar and Santa Anita, these races provide just about the only growing opportunity for horses who prefer this type of surface. That would include some Godolphin runners who otherwise might already be in Dubai. Second, the races are interesting in and of themselves once you get past the unfamiliar concept of English racing not on the greensward. But most important, any innovation designed to move the sport forward is worth notice. So, we look forward to the All-Weather Championship Finals Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.
Those races likely will include Grendisar and Rivellino, winners of Fast-Track Qualifier races Saturday at Lingfield. Grendisar held off late runs by Lamar and Cloudscape to take the 10-furlongs Winter Derby Trial by a short head. That earned him a spot in the Coral Easter Classic on finals day. "Grendisar hasn't stopped improving and loves the all-weather," said trainer Marco Botti. He said the 5-year-old will move on to the Group 3 Winter Derby itself before tackling the Good Friday assignment. Rivellino, shaking off any rust from a 217-day vacation, took Saturday's 6-furlongs feature by a head over Glen Moss. He will return to the sprint feature on finals day -- a race in which the 5-year-old finished third last year.
Ryan Moore, taking his first call of the year in Britain this year, won the first race on the card aboard Nigel's Destiny.
Lankan Rupee swept to the lead in the late going to take Saturday's Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington by a dominating 2 3/4 lengths over Brazen Beau. Deep Field was third. Lankan Rupee, with Craig Newitt up, completed the 5 furlongs on good turf in 56.29 seconds. The victory confirms the 6-year-old Redoute's Gelding's position among the world's top sprinters. The race was the first of 10 in the Global Sprint Challenge, which offers a US$1 million bonus to a horse winning three legs in three different racing jurisdictions. The series next moves to the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night, then visits Japan, Singapore, England for three races, Japan again, Australia again and finally concludes with the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin on Dec. 13.
Nice weather and the dawn of the Year of the Goat drew more than 91,000 fans to Sha Tin on Saturday. Real Specialist, with Joao Moreira up, won the day's feature, the Chinese New Year Cup. But the real attraction was a holiday at the race track. "Our priority is the customer experience so I'm very happy with the attendance today," said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. "We had a good-sized crowd without it feeling too full, which has been a bit of a concern in past years." The club also was pleased with a turnover of HK$1.7 billion, or about US$219 million. That represented an increase of 12.8 percent over the year-ago handle as Hong Kong ushered in the Year of the Horse.
Parranda waited behind the pace before pouncing for the win in Sunday's inaugural CECF Singapore Cup at Kranji -- a race pitting horses owned by various syndicates within the China Horse Club. Zululand was along for second and Ming Zhi Cosmos finished third. "It was a dream run," said Christophe Soumillon, who rode the Christophe Clement trainee over 9 furlongs in 1:48.53. Parranda, a 6-year-old English Channel mare, shipped in from Florida, where she won the Grade III Marshua's River last month. She finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf last fall.
Meanwhile, back in the States:
Florent Geroux got his Saturday stakes triple going by booting home Eden Prairie in the $60,000 Bayou Stakes for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old daughter of Mizzen Mast tracked the favorite, Istanford, through much of the race, got by and won by 1 1/2 lengths over that one. Samiam was a head farther back in third. Eden Prairie ran about 1 1/16 miles on the grass in 1:42.56. She's been in the money six of her last seven starts.
Bet Seattle might have been a bad idea in the Super Bowl but it paid off in Saturday's $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes. Bet Seattle took the early lead and held off the odds-on favorite, Delaunay, by 3/4 length at the end. Too Dim was third and Take It Like a Man completed the order of finish. Bet Seattle, a 6-year-old Seattle Fitz gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.83 with Francisco Torres up. Bet Seattle's only loss in his previous six starts had been to Delaunay.
Distinctiv Passion led all the way to a 4 1/4-lengths victory in Sunday's $75,000, off-the-turf Joe Hernandez Stakes. With Edwin Maldonado up, the 5-year-old son of With Distinction covered 6 1/2 furlongs on a wet-fast track in 1:14.33. Seeking the Sherif was second and Chief Lion third. Half the eight-horse field was scratched after the surface switch.
Rousanne was elevated to victory in Sunday's $50,000 Island Fashion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies when the first under the wire, Suva Harbor, was disqualified to last for interference on the first turn. Synkros and We Need Art were moved up to second and third by the ruling. Rousanne, a Daughter of Desert Party, finished 2 3/4 lengths second with Ry Eikleberry up. The 1 mile on a fast track went in 1:38.20.
Ghost Is Clear rallied from far back and was up in the final stride to take Saturday's $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup from Daybreak Dreamer by a nose. The favorite, Rise Up, finished third. Ghost Is Clear, a 7-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.86 with Deshawn Parker in the irons.
Tampa Bay Downs
You Bought Her was up in the final yards to win Saturday's $50,000 Minaret Stakes by 1/2 length over the favorite, R Free Roll. Puddifoot was 4 1/2 lengths farther back in third. You Bought Her, a 5-year-old Graeme Hall mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.92 with Brian Pedroza riding.