July 15 (UPI) -- In a form-full weekend of racing: Game Winner returned to his winning game, Elate elated her backers with another big win and trainer Chad Brown saddled the first three finishers in the weekend's biggest turf race.
We hit the ground running with:
The 3-year-old division is still very much up in the air with the $1.25 million Grade I Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 24 shaping up as a definitive race. But there were some major developments during the weekend leading up to that potential showdown.
Game Winner, for example, is back. Undefeated at 2 and winless in three starts this year, the Candy Ride colt made his comeback from a Kentucky Derby fifth, placed fourth, in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Los Alamitos Derby. Facing only three rivals, including pace-setting stablemate Kingly, the Candy Ride colt took charge in the stretch and went on to win easily, by 5 lengths. Parsimony got by Kingly for second and Feeling Strong completed the order of finish. Game Winner ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.30 with Joel Rosario up.
"I think this was a perfect race for him," Trainer Bob Baffert said of Game Winner. "I put the blinkers back on him because I wanted him to get a little bit more focused leaving the gate and into the race a little bit more. He was falling back a little too far ... I told [Rosario] to give him an easy out, but try to get something out of the race and have a little foundation. The plan right now is the Travers."
At Indiana Grand, Mr. Money stalked the pace in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Indiana Derby, rallied to the lead turning for home and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Gray Magician was second, 1 1/2 lengths to the good of Math Wizard. Long Range Toddy was fifth. Mr. Money, a Goldencents colt, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.80 with Gabriel Saenz in the irons. Since finishing fifth in the Louisiana Derby, Mr. Money now has won three straight races, all Grade III affairs.
Trainer Bret Calhoun said the Travers has not been ruled out for Mr. Money, although an easier path also is under consideration. "The West Virginia Derby is a little quick, coming back in three weeks," The Blood-Horse quoted Calhoun. "But then you get a good break to the Pennsylvania Derby. Or we can decide to go to Saratoga to go to the Travers and take on the top echelon."
Elate rallied from well back in the nine-horse field in Saturday's $750,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap, surged to the lead a furlong from home and kicked off to win by 4 1/2 lengths, easing up through the final strides. Escape Clause ran evenly to finish second, a head in front of Blue Prize. Elate, a 5-year-old Medaglia d'Oro mare, finished 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:02.51 with Jose Ortiz in the irons. The Bill Mott trainee won the race last year and entered Saturday's race off a win in the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.
"I think she is getting back to her old form," said Ortiz, who rode four winners on the card, all stakes. "Hopefully she will come out of here well and continue to get better. She loves a mile and a quarter. I am a little disappointed that there are not more races at the distance. She is the best horse in the filly and mare division going a mile and a quarter but I also think she can cut back to a mile and an eighth and make it work."
Mott joined Henry Clark and Todd Pletcher as the only four-time winners of the race. Mott won last year with Elate and in 2012 and 2013 with Royal Delta.
Street Band spotted the field a step or two in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand, quickly made progress and took command late, winning by 3 1/2 lengths after leading by more. Sundaysatthebeach and Chocolate Kisses filled out the trifecta and the favorite, Kim K, faded from the lead to finish fifth. Street Band, a daughter of Istan, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.01 for jockey Sophie Doyle.
Street Band and Doyle won the Fair Grounds Oaks and then were placed sixth in the Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Larry Jones said the plan now is the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga Aug. 17 and the Grade I Cotillion at Parx Racing on Sept. 21.
Up north at Woodbine, Pamina got first run to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Ontario Matron, then held off the favorite, Katie Baby, by a head. Giovanna Blues came from last of 11 to take show money. Pamina, a 4-year-old Street Cry filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.42 with Luis Contreras in the irons.
Bandua waited comfortably behind the pacesetter in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Arlington Handicap, moved to the lead when prompted by jockey Adam Beschizza heading into the final furlong and won by 1 3/4 lengths over the rallying The Great Day. Captivating Moon was flying late from far back to finish third. Bandua, a 4-year-old colt by The Factor, is out of the Seattle Slew mare If Angels Sang. He finished the 1 3/16 miles on firm going in the local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million in 1:53.16 -- a course record on a blazing-hot day Chicago summer day.
Bandua finished third in last year's Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington but has struggled this season while in top company. He most recently finished sixth, fading from the lead, in the Grade I Manhattan at Belmont -- a race swept by the Chad Brown trio of Bricks and Mortar, 2018 Arlington Million winner Robert Bruce and Raging Bull.
"Every race we've run him in, we've had a lot of confidence in him," trainer Jack Sisterson said. "This horse was training unbelievably, he deserves this win." Sisterton said he hopes to give Bandua a chance in this year's Million, where he likely will meet more from Brown's deep string of turf runners.
Faraway Kitten rallied to the lead a furlong out in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III American Derby at Arlington Park and held on to win by a neck from the dead-heating duo of The Last Zip and Crafty Daddy. The favorite, Flying Scotsman, flew to the lead, then faded to finish sixth. Faraway Kitten, a Kitten's Joy colt out of the Indian Charlie mare Far Isle, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:41.72, also with Beschizza at the controls. He racked up his fifth win from nine starts. Four of the wins have come on the turf, including a last-out triumph in the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park. He also has a victory on the Woodbine synthetic main track.
Filly & Mare Turf
Chad Brown saddled another trifecta in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Diana at Saratoga. Sistercharlie, Rushing Fall and Homerique all found good late foot to get by the leaders and finish in that order, 1-2-3, separated by 1 3/4 lengths and a neck. Sistercharlie, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Myboycharlie, ran 1 1/8 miles on good turf in 1:47.93 with John Velazquez up. She won this race last year, starting a four-race win skein that culminated in victory at the Breeders' Cup World Championships. The Diana was her first start of 2019.
"It's very special. We knew going into the race we had the top three choices, but then for all of them to run the way they did and finish one-two-three is remarkable," Brown said. "It's unfortunate any one of them had to lose. They all ran winning races, but that's why we ran them. We wanted to settle it on the track."
At Arlington Park, Juliet Foxtrot led all the way to a handy 1 3/4-lengths victory in the $150,000 Grade III Modesty Handicap. Vexatious got by the favorite, Simply Breathless, in the final yards to finish second. Juliet Foxtrot, a 4-year-old, British-bred Dansili filly -- a Juddmonte Farms homebred, ran 1 3/16 miles on firm turf in 1:54 for jockey Florent Geroux. The race is the local prep for the Grade I Beverly D. on Arlington Million Day.
Juliet Foxtrot was a graded stakes winner in Ireland and now is 3-for-3 in the U.S. for trainer Brad Cox. "She had two starts with us so far and we were always really high on her," Cox said. "We think a lot of her and we think she's got the talent to do some good things the rest of this year." He did not, however, specify what those good things might be.
Also on Saturday at Arlington, Indigo Gin dueled one rival into submission in the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, put away the favorite, Winning Envelope and outfinished Princess Carolina, winning by a head. Winning Envelope held third. Indigo Gin, a Lemon Drop Kid filly out of the Galileo mare Lady Bingo, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.71 with Flavien Prat aboard. "She's such a game filly," said trainer Eoin Harty. "At the sixteenth pole I though we were going to be third, but she fought back and that's who she is. She's a unique filly. She never forgets her target and always runs with a ton of heart." He said he has no firm plans for Indigo Gin but, "The longer, the better."
Mr Havercamp moved to the lead in the stretch run in Friday's $100,000 Grade III Forbidden Apple Stakes at Saratoga and survived the late bid of Hembree to win by 1/2 length. The favorite, Qurbaan, was only another head back in third. Mr Havercamp, a 5-year-old, Ontario-bred gelding by Court Vision, ran 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:37.50 with Junior Alvarado in the irons. It was his first start since last December at Gulfstream Park.
"He runs well fresh," said winning trainer Catherine Day Phillips. "This was probably a little steeper of a first race than we really wanted, but the Woodbine Mile is our goal, so we're backing up and this is what brought us here this weekend. This race was here and Saratoga is Saratoga. It's great to be here."
Break Even jumped to the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Coronation Cup for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga and held the advantage to the end, winning by 1 length over Eyeinthesky and remaining undefeated in six starts. Bohemian Bourbon was third. Break Even, by Country Day, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.59 with Shaun Bridgmohan up..
"She does it easy," said owner Robert Klein. "We've had a lot of nice horses but this may be the nicest we've ever had. To start 6-for-6. She's been at five different racetracks. She's been on the turf, slop, dirt, seven-eighths, three-quarters, five and a half. She'll do whatever you ask her to do."
Klein said he is considering the $250,000 Grade II Prioress on Aug. 31 at the Spa, then a turf sprint toward the end of the meeting.
At Laurel Park, Lexitonian won a three-horse battle to the wire in Sunday's $500,000 Concern Stakes, beating Royal Um by a neck and the odds-on favorite, Mind Control, by another nose. Lexitonian, a Speightstown colt, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.21 with Sheldon Russell up. Lexitonian won the Grade III Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Mind Control won the Grade III Bay Shore at Aqueduct in April.
By Your Side tracked pace-setting Tomato Bill through the early furlongs of Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Sanford at Saratoga, eased by that one and ran on to win by 3 lengths. Raging Whiskey finished third, 1 3/4 lengths back of Tomato Bill. By Your Side, a Constitution colt, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.22 with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. The colt won at first asking in June at Churchill Downs and now is 2-for-2.
"He's good but might be even better going long," said By Your Side's trainer, Eddie Kenneally. "He came to me at Keeneland in April and just continued on from there. He never did anything wrong. He has a very efficient, long stride, and his pedigree says that he wants to go longer. The way he relaxed will help the horse go longer as well."
Around the ovals:
Pink Lloyd is on another roll. The Old Forester gelding, who won 11 straight races in 2017-18, scored his third straight victory Sunday in the Grade III Vigil Stakes, driving by the early speed to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Sable Island and Wyatt's Town were second and third. Pink Lloyd, now 7, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:08.68 under Eurico da Silva.
Pioneer Spirit led from the start in Saturday's $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, was headed briefly at the eighth pole but came again to win by a head over persistent Silver Dust. Kukulkan, the former Mexican sensation, was third, another 1 length back. Pioneer Spirit, a 6-year-old son of Malibu Moon, covered 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:39.88 with Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons for trainer Brad Cox.
Mylady Curlin rallied to the lead three-wide in Saturday's $100,000 Mari Hulman George Memorial for fillies and mares and rolled home a winner by 3 3/4 lengths. Unbridled Class and Tough Irma were second and third. Mylady Curlin, a 4-year-old Curlin filly, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.04 with Bridgmohan and Cox again taking the bows.
On the turf, Real Story had 'em all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Warrior Veterans Stakes and won by 3 lengths for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. and trainer Ignacio Correas IV. Hello Don Julio was second, 1 length in front of Dot Matrix. Real Story, a 4-year-old Fast Bullet gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.34.
And it was Hernandez and Correas again in the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff as Viva Vegas rallied from mid-pack to get home first by 2 lengths over Hanalei Moon. The odds-on favorite, Limari, settled for third and Lovely Loyree was fourth. Viva Vegas, a 5-year-old mare by The Factor, ran 1 1/16 grassy miles in 1:40.05.
It was Jose Ortiz Day at Delaware Park. In addition to riding Elate to a stirring win in the big race, Ortiz won three of the four supporting stakes.
Bronx Beauty pressed the pace made by Locust Point in Saturday's $100,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, then was up in the final jumps to win by a neck. It was a bit of a wait for Le Weekend, who got show money 12 3/4 lengths later. Bronx Beauty, a 4-year-old Liaison filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.59 with Ortiz riding.
It was Ortiz again in the $100,000 Just a Kiss Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf as Capla Temptress came from last to first, winning by 1 lengths over Lift Up. Quick Witted was another 1/2 length back in third. Capla Temptress, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred filly by Lope de Vega, got 1 1/16 miles on good going in 1:44.35.
Altissimo led early and finished strong in Saturday's $100,000 Hockessen Stakes, winning by 5 1/2 lengths. No Dozing was second as the favorite, 1/2 length ahead of Always Sunshine. Altissimo, a 6-year-old Noble Causeway gelding, ran 6 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:09.31 for jockey Christian Pilares. Ortiz did not have a ride in this one.
Ortiz did have a mount in the $100,000 Glasgow Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass and booted home Parlor 1 length to the good of pacesetter Abiding Star. Paret was a neck father in arrears in third. Parlor, a 5-year-old Lonrho gelding, finished in 1:31.17.
Late Night Pow Wow, the odds-on pick, got the job done in Sunday's $75,000 Twixt Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Shimmering Aspen. Cairenn was third. Late Night Pow Wow, a 4-year-old Fiber Sonde filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.03 with Fredy Peltroche in the irons.
Stormy Blues opened a big early advantage in Sunday's $75,000 Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and coasted home first by 1 3/4 lengths over Change of Control with the favorite, Introduced, checking in third. Stormy Blues, a Kitten's Joy filly, finished 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.59 with Mychel Sanchez up.
Ghoul's Night Out started well back of the leaders in Sunday's $75,000 Jameela Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares, then came and got the, winning by a neck over A Great Time. Ghoul's Night Out, a 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.65 with Jorge Vargas Jr. up.
Oldies But Goodies led from the early stages of Sunday's $75,000 Ben's Cat Stakes for state-breds and held off the odds-on favorite, Dirty, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. Love You Much was third. Oldies But Goodies, a 4-year-old Macleans Music gelding, ran 5 1/2 grassy furlongs in 1:01.84 under Alex Cintron.
Lone Star Park
Gee She Sparkles did just that in Sunday's $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Futurity for state-bred 2-year-old fillies, drawing off to win by 5 1/4 lengths after an early stalking trip. Top Hat Charmer and Viv completed an all-long shot trifecta that paid $724.35 for a 50-cents investment. Gee She Sparkles, a Race Day filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:06.15 with Danny Sorenson up.
In the companion event for state-bred 2-year-old colts and geldings, Moro Said Ready showed the way and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths from Tale Twister. The odds-on favorite, Halfmoon Reef, was third. Moro Said Ready, a Moro Tap colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.53 for jockey Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez.
She's Our Fastest outfinished Brave Daisey in Sunday's $50,000 Valor Farm Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, winning by 3/4 length in 1:10.66 and Redatory drew off late to capture the $50,000 Assault Stakes at 1 mile on the turf by 3 lengths over Lethal Move in 1:35.39.
Twirling Devon came from last of 11 to win Sunday's $50,000 Irish Day Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over Mucho Amor. Northwest Factor was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. Twirling Devon, a Florida-bred daughter of Twirling Candy, toured 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.81 with Kevin Orozco in the irons.
Perfect Dude raced in mid-pack in Sunday's $50,000 Seattle Slew Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings, then out-kicked the favorite, Rally Cat, winning by a neck. Perfect Dude, a Majesticperfection gelding, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.19 with Orozco posting the stakes double.
Missmizz came from last of four in Sunday's $75,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Saint Moon was second; the odds-on favorite, A Bit of Both, was third; and Ella Nation faded from the lead to finish last. Missmizz, a Mizzen Mast filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:03.23 with Paco Lopez riding.
Catchacougar went out to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Spaghetti Mouse Stakes for 2-year-olds and drew off late, winning by 4 3/4 lengths from Porter Gent. Catchacougar, an Oklahoma-bred filly by Proud Citizen, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.39 with Enrique Gonzalez up.
He's the Reason was a gate-to-wire winner in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Lieutenant Governor's Handicap, reporting 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Brave Nation. He's the Reason, a 4-year-old gelding by The Factor, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.06 under Richard Hamel.
Here's Hannah led from the start in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) MonasheeStakes for fillies and mares, turned back a bid from Good Luck to You and went on to win by 4 lengths over that foe. Yukon Bell was a further 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Here's Hannah, a 4-year-old Numaany filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.78 with Hamel up.
Saturday's $50,000 John Henry Stakes was canceled because of Tropical Storm Barry.