July 1 (UPI) -- One Bad Boy came from California to win the Queen's Plate in Canada Saturday while 2017 Plate winner Holy Helena came from a 13-months layoff to win the Dance Smartly Stakes on the same card.
Stormy Embrace gets a chance to redeem herself from last year's disappointment in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint by taking a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" at Gulfstream Park for this year's renewal.
Jumping right in:
The Queen's Plate
One Bad Boy went straight to the lead in Saturday's $1 million (Canadian) Queen's Plate at Woodbine, turned back a persistent Avie's Flatter at mid-stretch and ran on to win Canada's signature race by 3 1/2 lengths. Avie's Flatter held second, 3 1/4 lengths to the good of Tone Broke. The favorite, Sky Wire, was cut off in a traffic jam right out of the gate and never recovered, finishing 11th of 14.
One Bad Boy, a Twirling Candy ridgling, ran 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather track in 2:02.98 with Flavien Prat in the irons for trainer Richard Baltas. One Bad Boy was bred in Ontario but all four previous starts came in California. In his last race, he won the Alcatraz Stakes on the Golden Gate Fields all-weather.
Prat said he had his eye on Avie's Flatter throughout the 10 furlongs. "He was next to me so I knew he was the horse to beat," the rider said. "By the eighth pole, I asked him to re-engage and and he drove away. So from that point I thought I was going to win."
Prat won the Kentucky Derby on Country House thanks to the disqualification of Maximum Security and becomes the first jockey to win both that race and the Queen's Plate since Kent Desormeaux in 1998 with Derby winner Real Quiet and Plate champion Archers Bay. Bill Hartack won both races with Northern Dancer in 1964.
Javier Castellano, who rode Avie's Flatter, said his colt gave it his all. "I was in perfect position in the race, the race was slow and I was right next to him (One Bad Boy) but I couldn't get by," Castellano said.
Filly & Mare Turf
Holy Helena, the 2017 Queen's Plate winner, returned to action for the first time in 13 months in Saturday's $210,000 (Canadian) Grade II Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine and the wait proved worthwhile. After tracking the pace under Javier Castellano, the 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare swept past the leaders inside the sixteenth pole and kicked away to a 1 1/4-lengths victory. Starship Jubilee was second, a neck in front of Art of Almost. Holy Helena ran 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 2:02.08.
"I liked the way she did it today, the way she settled," said Castellano. "I just sat still and made one run. The way she did it -- phenomenal. The way she finished -- unbelievable."
"I'm saying the Canadian air does a lot of good for her," said owner Frank Stronach.
Valiance stalked the pace in Sunday's $80,000 Open Mind Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park, closed quickly in deep stretch and won by 1 1/4 lengths from Her Royal Highness. Ellyb was third. Valiance, a Tapit, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:41.84 with Nik Juarez up. The Todd Pletcher trainee now is 3-for-3.
Valiance, like Kimari, runner-up in the Group 2 Queen Mary at last week's Royal Ascot, is a product of the relatively new China Horse Club International breeding program. "Kimari and Valiance hint at what we are trying to achieve at the China Horse Club," said Michael Wallace, head of bloodstock and racing for the CHC. "We want to buy and race elite racehorses and we want to breed and sell elite racehorses."
Wet Your Whistle was away last of nine in Saturday's $360,000 (Canadian) Grade I Highlander Stakes at Woodbine, came off the rail rounding the turn and passed them all in the stretch, winning off by 1 1/2 lengths. Extravagant Kid held a brief lead in the lane and salvaged second, 1/2 length in front of White Flag. Wet Your Whistle, a 4-year-old Stroll gelding, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:07.88 with Alex Cintron in the irons. It was his fourth straight win but first in any graded stakes.
Both Cintron and Michael Trombetta said Wet Your Whistle's recent success stemmed from his ability to control his emotions.
"You know he just learned to settle himself down just enough," said Trombetta. "He's a high-strung type of individual and he's learned to run when he's supposed to and it's been a lot fun." Cintron added the gelding got a better break in the Highlander than in his last few starts and, after that, "I just left him alone ... I think he ran better than last time. I was impressed with the last quarter of a mile. He was flying. He floated."
With plenty of room for new talent in the North American turf ranks, Trombetta said Wet Your Whistle might have what it takes to fill that bill. "He is one of those kind of horses. He can do five-and-a-half (furlongs) and probably up to a mile. I think he definitely prefers one turn, but there's lots of options for him. You know, he will do synthetic as well. So there are lots of choices," the trainer said.
In Florida, Saturday's $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint was rained off the turf -- little concern for Lady's Island, who sprinted to the lead and never looked back, winning by 2 lengths over Mr French. Soldollie was third. Lady's Island, a 5-year-old Greatness mare, ran 5 furlongs on the sloppy main track in 57.22 seconds for jockey Emisael Jaramillo.
Uni returned to action for the first time since Del Mar in December with a last-to-first victory in Saturday's $100,000 Perfect Sting Stakes for fillies and mares at Belmont Park. With Joel Rosario up for Chad Brown, the 5-year-old More Than Ready mare came around rivals into the stretch, got to the front by the sixteenth pole and outfinished Mrs. Ramona G., winning by 1 length. Bellavais was third. Uni finished the 1 mile on firm going in 1:32.84.
"She went easy most of the way and then towards home she took me for a ride" Rosario said of Uni. "She finished well."
Synchrony rallied with perfect timing to take Saturday's $210,000 (Canadian) Grade II King Edward Stakes at Woodbine by 1 length, snatching the win from Curlin's Honor. Say the Word came late to finish third, another 3/4 length back. Synchrony, a 6-year-old son of Tapit, finished 1 mile on good turf in 1:32.95 under Javier Castellano. Synchrony, trained by Michael Stidham, is a multiple graded stakes winner from New Orleans to the Jersey shore but was making her first start in Canada.
The Black Album rallied through the closing yards of Saturday's $120,000 (Canadian) Charlie Barley Stakes for 3-year-olds at Woodbine, edging pacesetting Inventing Blame by a head. The favorite, was bumped out of the gate, closed down the stretch but could do no better than third, a further 1/2 length in arrears. The Black Album, a French-bred colt by Wootton Bassett, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.01 with Flavien Prat riding for trainer Rodolphe Brisset.
The Black Album shipped from France after a Group 3 win last fall at Longchamp but ran eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Saturday's victory was his first in four starts this year.
Dunbar Road, the prohibitive favorite, rallied smartly in the late going to win Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Mother Goose for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park by 2 1/2 lengths. The early leader, Classic Fit, held second with Jeltrin another 4 lengths back in third. Dunbar Road, a Quality Road filly residing in the Chad Brown barn, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.54 with Jose Ortiz riding. It was her third win from four starts.
"I personally feel rewarded for having a little patience having missed out on not getting into the field for the Kentucky Oaks," said Dunbar Road's owner, Peter Brant. "I know Chad really wanted to go in that race and wherever he wanted to go is fine with me. But when she didn't get in I wanted to come back to New York."
Are You Kidding Me outfinished the favorite, Special Forces, by 1/2 length in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine. The early leader, Pumpkin Rumble, finished third with the other two well up the track. Are You Kidding Me, a 9-year-old entire son of Run Away and Hide, completed 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather track in 2:04.28 with Rafael Hernandez at the controls. The Roger Attfield trainee was third in the 2017 and 2018 runnings of the Dominion Day.
"He's an old, classy dude," Hernandez said of Are You Kidding Me. "He knows what he's doing. He knows how to win races and he showed up today. The other years he's been doing the same thing."
Diamond Oops came running five-wide down the stretch in Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Smile Sprint Stakes, surged past embattled pacesetter Jalen Journey and went on to win by 3/4 length over that rival. Fast Pass rallied even farther out in the track from last of seven to finish third and spoil a bunch of trifecta tickets at odds of 25-1. Diamond Oops, a 4-year-old Lookin At Lucky gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:09.92 with Julien Leparoux in the irons.
Diamond Oops, a Patrick Biancone charge, won for the fourth time from eight starts. The victory was his first in a graded endeavor as he exited a pair of starts on the turf.
"He broke very, very sharp and I kind of let the speed go a little bit," Leparoux said. "I sat behind them around the turn. It got tight so he sort of stepped back a little, but when I gave him a little room he gave me a big run."
Biancone said Diamond Oops's future does not include the green course. "He's a better horse on the dirt," the trainer said.
Line Judge, rated patiently through the turn, advance around the leaders heading for home in Saturday's $120,000 Kelly's Landing Stakes at Churchill Downs and kicked clear, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Transatlantic was second, 2 3/4 lengths better than Kowboy Karma, and the favorite, Uncontested, settled for fourth. Line Judge, a 5-year-old entire son of Spring At Last, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.35 with the meet's champion jockey, Corie Laniere, riding for trainer Peter Miller.
"He's been doing very well since we claimed him," said assistant trainer Felipe Nickel. "It was a very good race for him to step up in competition."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Stormy Embrace emerged from a three-way pace duel to win Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Princess Rooney Stakes at Gulfstream Park by 2 lengths over Trenchtown Cat. Royal Asscher was third. Stormy Embrace, a 5-year-old daughter of Circular Quay, ran 7 furlongs on a good track, upgraded from sloppy earlier in the card, in 1:22.99 with Wilmer Garcia up for trainer Kathleen O'Connell.
Stormy Embrace, the odds-on favorite, won last year's Princess Rooney and, since then, has missed the board only once in six starts -- that an 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs. Saturday's race was a "Win and You're In" for this year's Breeders' Cup, affording her another chance.
"This business, sometimes you catch a buzz saw and sometimes you are the buzz saw," said owner Matt Vuscovich. "Thank God, with Kathleen and Wilmer, we were the buzz saw today."
Vuscovich noted Stormy Embrace did not have a great trip in the Breeders' Cup and defeated the winner of that race, Shamrock Rose, in the Grade III Hurricane Bertie Jan. 26. "We feel if we can get a good trip in the Breeders' Cup we can have a legitimate chance," he said.
My Mertie outfinished odds-on favorite and defending champion Hotshot Anna in Saturday's Grade III Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park as locally trained horses had it all over invaders from Kentucky and Indiana. Heavenly Hill finished third in the 7-furlong dash for fillies and mares while Excessivespending, coming north from Kentucky, stumbled at the start and tired late to finish fifth.
My Mertie, a 7-year-old, Illinois-bred daughter of Magna Graduate, broke last of eight under Carlos Marquez Jr., began to pick up rivals around the turn and overhauled Hotshot Anna nearing the sixteenth before edging away to a 1 1/4-lengths victory. She finished in 1:22.44 on a warm and humid day in the Chicago area.
Winning trainer Michele Boyce admitted she was a bit surprised at the outcome. "I didn't exactly think it was the best spot for her but there wasn't anywhere else to run her," she said. The same issue applies to what's next for the mare who has hit the board in 11 of 12 starts on synthetic surfaces.
"I would love to keep her here," Boyce said. "There haven't been many opportunities, though ... She loves it here at Arlington. She's a very game and consistent mare."
Phantom Boss joined the dueling leaders early in the stretch run in Saturday's $125,000 Grade III Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs, slowly gained the advantage and inched clear in the final yards to win by 3/4 length. Rowdy Yates and Verb, the early leaders, kept rollin, rollin, rollin to finish second and third. Phantom Boss, a Shackleford colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.78 with Rafael Bejarano up. His two previous starts -- a second and a win -- came at Santa Anita.
"When we debuted this horse in open company and he only got beat a nose I knew we had something special," said Phantom Boss's trainer, Jorge Periban. "I told the owners that he could have a very bright future. Today's performance was unbelievable. I love Kentucky and can't wait to come back."
Sunday at Gulfstream Park, Positively Awesome powered to a 2 3/4-lengths victory in the Kodiac Island Stakes, kicking away from the favorite, Absolute Grit, through the final furlong. Positively Awesome, by Awesome of Course out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.95 with Edgard Zayas up for trainer Ralph Nicks. "He was pretty awesome after he got in the clear," Zayas said. The colt, a half-brother to Jackson Bend, likely is headed toward the Florida Sire Stakes series. Jackson Bend swept that series in 2009.
Magic Dance, the odds-on favorite, wore down the stretch leader, Cholula Lips, in the late going to win Saturday's $100,000 Debutante at Churchill Downs by 1 1/4 lengths. Lady Glamour finished third. Magic Dance, a More Than Ready filly owned and bred by Three Chimneys Farm, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.26 under Ricardo Santana Jr. She now is 2-for-2 with both wins coming under the Twin Spires.
"This is a very special win for us and for Three Chimneys Farm," said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. "And this horse was broke at my parents' ranch in Laredo, Texas. She proved today that the three-quarter distance was no problem."
Around the ovals:
Take Command eased by pacesetter Jackson inside the furlong marker in Saturday's $75,000 Carry Back Stakes for 3-year-olds and drove clear, winning by 4 lengths over that foe. Union's Destiny was third and the favorite, Well Defined, tired to finish fifth. Take Command, a Field Commission colt, ran 7 sloppy furlongs in 1:23.54 for jockey Miguel Vasquez. "We are thrilled," said owner Bonnie Thompson. "We did not expect this. We are like the Mine That Bird owners."
Itsmyluckycharm was along late to take Saturday's $75,000 Azalea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3/4 length from Calinas Song. Dizzy was third, another 1 3/4 lengths behind. Itsmyluckycharm, by Itsmyluckyday, finished the 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:24.85 with Albin Jiminez in the irons.
Speedy Soul sped to the lead in the lane in Sunday's $225,000 (Canadian) Bison City Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies and kept going, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Bold Script, the favorite, led early and held second, 3/4 length in front of Intanga Rose. Speedy Soul, a Souper Speedy filly trained by Mark Casse, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.51. Patrick Husbands had the mount.
Desert Isle was along in the final furlong to capture Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Zadracarta Stakes for Ontario-bred fillies and mares by 3/4 length over Miss Sea. Zestina was another 3/4 length back in third. Desert Isle, a 4-year-old Bernardini filly, ran 7 furlongs on good turf in 1:21.28 with Junior Alvarado in the irons. Trained by Graham Motion, it was Desert Isle's third career win and followed an allowance score at Delaware Park.
On Friday at the suburban Toronto facility, Ciuri made the early pace and held off the favorite, Sav, by a neck in winning the $100,000 (Canadian) Lady Angela Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies. Brookies Bear was third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Sav. Ciuri, a daughter of Souper Speedy, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.40 with Erico Da Silva in the kip.
Visionary Ruler dueled to the lead in Saturday's $78,000 Friendly Lover Stakes for New Jersey-breds, opened a lead and barely held onto the advantage as Prendimi fell a nose short under the wire. Cozy Lover was third. Visionary Ruler, a 9-year-old Pollard's Vision gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.86. Isaac Castillo rode the 20-1 long shot winner.
Mr. Buff proved to be Mr. Tough in Sunday's $100,000 Saginaw Stakes for older New York-breds, opening up a vast lead and coasting home first by 6 1/2 lenths. Dynamax Prime and Sea Foam were the others on the tote board. Mr. Buff, a 5-year-old Friend or Foe gelding, toured 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.21 with Junior Alvarado at the controls.
Los Al takes over from the star-crossed Santa Anita meeting and the first stakes race was Saturday's $100,000 Bertrando, for California-breds. Queen Be to You surged to the lead on the backstretch and held on to win by a nose over Tule Fog with the favorite, Grecian Fire third. "She was doing it all on her own early, so I just let her do her thing," said jockey Ruben Fuentes. Perhaps as notable as that outcome: We've seen the last of Soi Phet. The 11-year-old, running for the final time, finished last of six.
Send Me On was sent on through the final furlong by jockey Gerardo Corrales and rallied to win Saturday's $75,000 Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds by 3 1/2 lengths. The odds-on favorite, Diamond Dust, who held a comfortable lead before the winner took flight, held second. Manga Man was third. Send Me On, a Hold Me Back gelding, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:54.40.
Gunners One won a three-way dash to the wire in Saturday's $85,000 O.D. McDonald Handicap for New Mexico-breds, beating Blazing Navarone by a neck with pacetter Forger tiring to finish third. Gunners One, a 4-year-old Diabolical gelding trained by his owner-breeder, Tommy Gunstream, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.14 with Luis Negron up.
Walker Stalker stalked the pace in Friday's $50,000 Duke City Sprint for 3-year-olds, dueled through the stretch with the favorite, Myhotrodlincoln, and prevailed by a head bob. It was another 6 1/2 lengths back to Sidney's Hope in third. Walker Stalker, a Stroll gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.53 with Alejandro Medellin in the irons.
Good Luck to You said good bye to her rivals in the stretch run of Sunday's $75,000 (Canadian) Shirley Vargo Handicap for fillies and mares, racing off to win by 3 lengths. Blues Roar and Raider were next under the wire. Good Luck to You, a 5-year-old Bellamy Road mare, ran 1 mile on a good track in 1:39.27 with Rigo Sarmiento riding.
Gem Alta rallied from next-last of eight to post the upset victory in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Fred Jones Handicap. Sir Bronx and the early leader, Stone Carver, were second and third. Gem Alta, a 4-year-old Gemologist gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the good track in 1:45.98 under Prayven Badrie.
Anyportinastorm sailed smoothly through Sunday's $50,000 Budweiser Stakes, leading all the way and extending the margin to a 6 1/2-lengths victory. Oh Marvelous Me was second, holding off Hit the Beach by a neck. Anyportinastorm, a 5-year-old son of City Zip, got 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.35 with Juan Hernandez up. Anyportinastorm and Oh Marvelous Me also finished 1-2 in their previous start, the Governor's Stakes on June 2, with Anyportinastorm just 3 1/2 lengths in front on that occasion.
Explode lived up to his name in the stretch run of Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Chris Loseth Handicap for 3-year-olds. After rating patiently for jockey Amadeo Perez, the Trappe Shot gelding quickly took the lead and blasted clear to a 6-lengths win. Whiskey Bound and Ring of Kerry were second and third. Explode ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.93.