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Higher Power, Dunbar Road win Grade I events in weekend horse racing

By
Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Jockey Jose Ortiz celebrates Dunbar Road's victory in the Grade I Alabama on a rainy Saturday at Saratoga. Photo courtesy of New York Racing Association
Jockey Jose Ortiz celebrates Dunbar Road's victory in the Grade I Alabama on a rainy Saturday at Saratoga. Photo courtesy of New York Racing Association

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Higher Power upset in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar while Dunbar Road prevailed as the favorite in the Alabama at Saratoga in the co-features of weekend horse racing.

There was plenty of other action, too, as Tone Broke racked up two-thirds of a Canadian Triple Crown and promises to make further waves in the coming months and Mr Vargas won the Green Flash at Del Mar with Stormy Liberal finishing third.

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Here's the scoop:

Classic

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The favorites were nowhere to be found at the end of Saturday's $1 million Grade I TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar. In fact, Higher Power was more or less all alone at the finish, winning by 5 1/4 lengths after a pace-stalking trip. Draft Pick beat the other eight, a neck in front of Mongolian Groom. The favorite and second-favorite, Seeking the Soul and Quip, reported seventh and ninth, respectively.

Higher Power, a 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro colt, delivered his first-ever stakes win. Seeking the Soul and Quip, by contrast, were first and second in the Grade I Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs in their last start. Higher Power, with Flavien Prat in the irons, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.43. He won for the fifth time in 13 starts.

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"The second time is just as sweet," said trainer John Sadler, who won last year's Pacific Classic last year with Accelerate. "It developed pretty much the way we thought. We thought there would be some speed on the inside and the plan was to stalk. It came out the way we thought it would."

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Distaff

It was all Dunbar Road in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Alabama at Saratoga. The Quality Road filly, with Jose Ortiz up, lingered at the back of the seven-filly field into the stretch turn, then came out confidently to the middle of the track, ran by everyone and won off by 2 3/4 lengths despite drifting in through the final furlong. Point of Honor was second, a nose in front of Street Band. Dunbar Road ran 1 1/4 miles on a sloppy track in 2:04.07.

Dunbar Road, trained by Chad Brown for Peter Brant, now has five wins and a second from six starts, missing perfection by 1/2 length to Champagne Anyone in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks March 30. Champagne Anyone faded from the lead in the Alabama to finish sixth. It was Jose Ortiz's third straight Alabama win, following Elate in 2017 and Eskimo Kisses last year. He joined Jerry Bailey and Mike Smith as the only winners of three consecutive Alabamas.

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"It wasn't how I would have drawn it up," Brown said. "We got shuffled back early and I really wasn't certain down the backside, with how far back she was, that we would win from there. She was just so much the best today. She was able to overcome everything."

At Del Mar, Fighting Mad blitzed to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and kicked away smartly at the end, winning by 8 lengths as the favorite. Hollywood Hills and Into Chocolate were second and third. Fighting Mad, a New Year's Day filly, got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.61 with Joe Talamo riding for trainer Bob Baffert. It was her third win from five starts.

"We were hoping she could get a mile," Baffert said of Fighting Mad. "I've been taking my time with her, but the way she's been working and the way she's showed she loved this track, we were hoping it would turn out the way it did."

Back east, troubles continued for 2018 Breeders' Cup and Eclipse Award winning juvenile filly Jaywalk. The Cross Traffic filly set a pressured pace as the odds-on favorite in Saturday's $165,000 Grade III Monmouth Oaks, then couldn't hold off the late bid of Horologist, who got through on the rail to win by 3/4 length. It was 2 1/4 lengths farther back to Sweet Sami D, who applied the early pressure. Horologist, a New Jersey-bred daughter of Gemologist, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.44 with Angel Suarez up.

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The Oaks was the fourth straight win for Horologist. Jaywalk, by contrast, is 1-for-5 since her Breeders' Cup win last November at Churchill Downs. The win was a 9-lengths romp in the Delaware Oaks in her previous start. "I had a lot of confidence in her today," said Horologist's trainer, John Mazza. "But I didn't think she could beat Jaywalk."

At Thistledown in Ohio, Mylady Curlin took the lead in the lane in Saturday's $200,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes, then held on gamely to win by a nose over Gotham Gala. The favorite, Escape Clause, led and faded to get home third. Mylady Curlin, a 4-year-old Curlin filly, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.40 with Shaun Bridgmohan up for trainer Brad Cox. It was her fifth straight win, a run that includes the Grade III Alaire Dupont Distaff at Pimlcio.

Turf

Tone Broke scored a rather remarkable victory Saturday in the $300,000 (Canadian) Breeders' Stakes on the Woodbine grass. Not only did the Broken Vow colt nail down two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown, but he did it in his first start on the turf and despite a challenging trip. After tracking the pace under Rafael Hernandez, Tone Broke was caught in a seemingly impenetrable box at the top of the straight. As the others went on, Hernandez had to steer Tone Broke out five or six paths, rekindle momentum and chase down apparent winner Avie's Flatter. And that's what he did, getting there first by a handy 1 1/2 lengths. He's a Macho Man edged a tiring Avie's Flatter for third. The 1 1/2 miles on yielding turf took 2:30.43.

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"I was okay all the way, just at the three-eighths I had to wait, you know, I was stuck there," Hernandez said. "It's a good thing we have a long stretch. All you have to do is be patient. I used my patience and as soon as I put him clear, he did the rest. He has a big heart."

Normally, with no Triple Crown on the line, the Breeders' Stakes would be of passing notice. Not with Tone Broke. Racing for the Steve Asmussen conglomerate, he broke his maiden at Remington Park in Oklahoma, then was part of the early Asmussen invasion of Dubai, where he failed to make much of a mark. Back in North America, he finished second in the Sir Barton on the dirt at Pimlico, then third in the Queen's Plate on the Woodbine all-weather, the first leg of the Triple Crown. He was a rather easy winner on the dirt at Fort Erie in Leg 2, the Prince of Wales Stakes.

At Del Mar, Acclimate took a quick lead in Saturday's $250,000 Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association, opened a daylight advantage in the stretch and held on to score a 1-length victory. Oscar Dominguez was making up ground quickly from the back of the seven-horse field but could do no better than second, 1 length in front of Ritzy A.P. The favorite, The Great Day, reported fifth. Acclimate, a 5-year-old Acclamation gelding, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:12.71 for jockey Florent Geroux.

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"He had been breezing up a storm, so I knew he was in good form, trainer Phil D'Amato said of Acclimate. "But you're up against a lot of nice horses and it's great that he proved the best today."

Filly & Mare Turf

Varenka and Regal Glory hit the wire in a dead heat in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, a neck in front of pacetting Blowout. The top two both came from well behind the dawdling pace and finished the 1 1/16 miles on good going in 1:43.68. Javier Castellano rode Varenka, a Ghostzapper filly from the Dynaformer mare Dynamic Cat. Luis Saez was aboard Regal Glory, an Animal Kingdom filly.

Varenka's trainer, Graham Motion, said, "I thought we had it right before the wire and right after the wire, but I wasn't sure on the line." Regal Glory's trainer, Chad Brown, said, "Both horses finished great to run into a slow pace like that ... I really have to take a look at that photo. I hope they show it in full."

Motion trained the versatile Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and nodded to the up-and-coming sire. "Animal Kingdom has had three winners today, so you have to make a big deal about that," Motion said.

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Cambier Park took back from the No. 1 gate in Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Oaks Presented by the Jockey Club, then came five-wide into the stretch with a late run that saw her home first by 1 1/4 lengths. Hidden Message and Lady Prancealot also showed good late foot to finish second and third. Cambier Park, a Medaglia d'Oro filly, finished 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.75 with John Velazquez up. It was her fourth win from seven starts and followed a third-place finish behind Concrete Rose in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational. Trainer Chad Brown continued to roll.

"It sure is nice to ride one like this," Velazquez said of Cambier Park. "When you ask for it, they give it to you. We were in a good spot the first time by the wire and comfortable. When we went past the three-quarters, I shifted her out to where she was comfortable. We'd already saved enough ground and I wanted to get her going. She took care of it from there."

Giovanna Blues rallied from last of seven to win Sunday's $120,000 (Canadian) Flaming Page Stakes a Woodbine. War Cabinet finished third. Giovanna Blues, a 7-year-old Gio Ponti mare, ran 1 1/2 miles on yielding turf in 2:29.54 with Gary Boulanger in the irons. It was her first win since April of 2017 -- an allowance event at Laurel Park.

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Siberian Iris found a good late burst of speed in Friday's $100,000 CCT and TOC Stakes for fillies and mares on the Del Mar turf, rallying from last of seven to win by a neck from Over Thinking. The favorite, Pantsonfire, was 3/4 length farther back in third. Siberian Iris, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Excelebration, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm going in 2:13.45 with Rafael Bejarano up.

A side note: The other Pants On Fire, who won the 2011 Louisiana Derby with Rosie Napravnik riding, was still racing at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh as recently as February. After being away from the track through all of 2016 and 2017, the son of Jump Start failed to make much of an impression in six starts at the Saudi track.

Turf Mile

Prince Earl led a long shot parade across the line in Saturday's $200,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap, winning by 3/4 length over Sharp Samurai. Grecian Fire was only a nose farther back in third and the favorite, Bowies Hero, checked in fifth when his late rally ran into some traffic issues. Prince Earl, a 4-year-old Paddy O'Prado gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.13 with Geovani Franco in the irons.

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Prince Earl was making just his fifth start and first since posting a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Hollywood Derby last December. "I thought a lot of him as a 3-year-old," said winning trainer Phil D'Amato. "He had some unlucky trips in some pretty strong races his last two as a 3-year-old. We gave him plenty of time off, did a minor throat procedure on him and he's come back with a vengeance as a 4-year-old."

Turf Sprint

Mr Vargas showed the way in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Green Flash at Del Mar and edged clear in the final furlong, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Eddie Haskell. Reigning Breeders' Cup winner Stormy Liberal was third in his first start since Dubai and Undrafted drafted behind those to finish fourth. Mr Vargas, a 5-year-old Midshipman gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.15 seconds with Joe Talamo in the irons. He was making his first stakes start for trainer Brian Koriner. "When they came for him he just went on," Talamo said. "I was afraid they were going to be closing on us, so I went for it and he responded very well. He's a really nice horse." Koriner agreed -- "A fast, fast horse."

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Oleksandra came running late from last of seven to take Saturday's $100,000 Smart and Fancy Stakes for fillies and mares at Saratoga by 1 length over Miss Gossip. Ruby Notion was a neck farther back in third with the favorite, Morticia, fourth. Oleksandra, an Australian-bred mare by Animal Kingdom, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:00.40 with Joel Rosario riding. "She just ran by everybody," Rosario said. "I waited a little bit just to have a little extra finish at the end. I didn't want to let loose just to save a little bit."

Juvenile

Rowdy Yates battled for the lead in Sunday's $100,000 TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile, then shook clear and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths. He was followed by Letmeno and Night Time. Rowdy Yates, an Oklahoma-bred colt by Morning Line, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.70. Tyler Baze had the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen. Rowdy Yates now has two wins and a second in the Grade III Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs to show for three career starts. He is owned by Oklahoma-based L and N Racing, which has won the race three years of the past four, including 2016 winner Lookin at Lee, who went on to win the 2017 Kentucky Derby.

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"He's a nice horse, a very good horse, right spot for him at the right time," Asmussen said. "I think L and N and the Ellis Park Juvenile have gotten along really well the last few years. That's a pretty good streak."

Muncey was along in the final strides to deny long shot Harbors Rule by a neck in Sunday's $50,000 W.T.B.O.A Lads Stakes at Emerald Downs. Wilson to Lockett was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Muncey, a Munnings colt, traveled 6 furlongs in 1:11.78 under Javier Matias.

Juvenile Turf

Another Miracle tracked breakaway leader Montauk Daddy, through the early furlongs of Friday's $100,000 Skidmore Stakes at Saratoa, blew by that one and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Proven Strategies edged Montauk Daddy for third. Another Miracle, an American Pharoah colt out of the Medaglia d'Oro mare Retraceable, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.61 under Manny Franco. He has posted back-to-back wins after finishing second in his career bow.

"I don't know that I need to stretch him out because of the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Turf) Sprint facing us," said winning trainer Gary Contessa. "We'll have to win one of those "Win And You're In" races, so probably Keeneland next out." That would be the $200,000 Indian Summer on Oct. 6.

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Mr. Hustle dueled for the early lead in Sunday's $120,000 (Canadian) Soaring Free Stakes on the Woodbine greensward, gathered himself in the lane and kicked clear, winning by 2 1/2 lengths. Pleasecallmeback finished second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Cucina. Mr. Hustle, a Kentucky-bred Declaration of War gelding, got 6 1/2 furlongs on firm footing in 1:13.20 with Rafael Hernandez aboard, upping his record to 3-for-3.

Juvenile Fillies

Green Destiny fought for the lead early in Sunday's $100,000 TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile Fillies, finally wrested control and ran on to a 4-lengths victory. Monedas de Oro, the early antagonist, held on for second, 2 lengths in front of His Glory. Green Destiny, a daughter of Super Saver, came home in 1:26.21 with Tyler Baze up for Steve Asmussen. She now has two wins in a row and track officials said they will check that time, which seemed slow.

"I thought she handled the race really well," Asmussen said of Green Destiny. "She broke sharply. A long shot ran up inside her. She rated right off that horse and kicked clear into the stretch and looked good through the wire." He said the Grade II Pocahontas at Churchill Downs could be the filly's next assignment.

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Cakewalk led the way in Sunday's $50,000 Barbara Shinpoch Stakes at Emerald Downs outside Seattle and drew off late, winning by 3 1/2 lengths. Windy Point was best of the rest with You Go Girl a further neck in arrears third. Cakewalk, a daughter of Majesticperfection, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.84 with Javier Matias up.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Fair Maiden surrendered the early lead to the favorite, Fast Scene, in Saturdays $75,000 (Canadian) Catch a Glimpse Stakes at Woodbine, regained the advantage in the lane and zoomed away to a 7 1/2 lengths victory. With Fast Scene quickly fading from the scene, Western Taffy and Saratoga Vision finished second and third. Fair Maiden, a Street Boss filly trained by Eoin Harty for Godolphin, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:15.64. Emma-Jayne Wilson rode.

The Catch a Glimpse is the local prep for the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes, a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series event, on Sept. 15 and Harty said that race will be considered for the Arlington Park-based filly. "She's kind of going through a growth spurt right now and she's got a bit more leg than she does belly," Harty said. "But I'll go easy on her after this and if she's doing well for the Natalma, she'll be back."

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Around the ovals:

Saratoga

Blue Prize finally got a little class relief in Sunday's $100,000 Summer Colony Stakes for fillies and mares at Saratoga and took advantage, eking out victory by a neck over Vexatious. The race was restricted to non-winners of a stakes race in 2019 and Blue Prize qualified in spades after finishing third, second and third in graded stakes in her three previous starts of 2019. She finished last year with a fourth-place showing in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, too. Sunday, the 6-year-old Pure Prize mare had to rally six-wide around traffic to get the lead late, finishing 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.58. Jose Ortiz rode for trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Correas.

Century Mile

Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Canadian Derby was not a good experience for the visitors. Journeyman, last seen at Arlington Park, was first across the line but disqualified to second for drifting in during the stretch run. That promoted Explode to first and Final Jeopardy, a New York invader sent off favorite, to second. Explode, the adjudged winner, a Kentucky-bred Trappe Shot gelding based at Hastings Park, won his fourth straight race and sixth from his last seven starts. Journeyman, an Animal Kingdom gelding, trains at Arlington for Godolphin. Final Jeopardy, by Street Sense, was second in the Grade III Dwyer at Belmont in his previous start.

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Gato Guapo stalked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 (Canadian) Century Mile Handicap, then outfinished deep closer Coulterberry to win by 3/4 length. Apalachee Bay was third. Gato Guapo, a 4-year-old Factum gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.16 with Orlando Mojica in the irons.

Im Evin Im Leavin stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Century Casino Oaks, took over in the lane and drew off to win by 2 lengths over Whoop It Up. Summerland was a further 3 1/2 lengths back in third. Im Evin Im Leavin, a daughter of Can the Man, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.93 with Prayven Badrie in the irons. The name reminds us of the guy who walked into the track, muttering to himself, "I hope I break even today. I need the money."

Smart Fix rallied from last of nine to take Saturday's $85,000 (Canadian) Northlands Distaff Handicap by 4 lengths over Raider. Port Protection was third. Smart Fix, a 6-year-old Kissin Kris mare, ran 9 furlongs in 1:48.73 with Rigo Sarmiento up.

Monmouth Park

Standard Deviation started last of five in Sunday's $75,000 Jersey Derby, passed them all and went on to win by 3 1/4 lengths as the solid favorite. Current was second, a neck in front of War Treaty.Standard Deviation, a Curlin colt trained by Chad Brown for Klaravich Stables, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.70 with Jersey Joe Bravo in the irons. He exited a seventh-place finish in the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational.

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Laurel Park

Where Paradise Lay got through between rivals early in the stretch run and went on to win Saturday's $75,000 Star De Naskra Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds by 1/2 length from Tappin Cat. Hall Pass was another 1/2 length back in third. Where Paradise Lay, an Into Mischief colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.69 with Feargal Lynch in the irons.

My Sistersledge swung around the leaders in Saturday's $75,000 All Brandy Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares and outfinished Ghoul's night out for a 1/2-length victory. Sunrisebernsteini was third. My Sistersledge, a 5-year-old Etched mare, ran 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:41.81 with Julian Pimentel riding.

English Minister collared pacesetting Taxable Goods in the final strides to win Saturday's $75,000 Find Stakes for Maryland-breds by a neck. O Dionysus was third. English Minister, a 9-year-old English Channel gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the green course in 1:40.85 with Pimentel at the controls.

Introduced concluded the day's stakes activity with a 1/2-length victory over the early leader, Bunting, in the $75,000 Miss Disco Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies. Past Perfect was 3 1/4 lengths farther back in the well strung-out field. Introduced, by El Padrino, got 6 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.14, making it a really nice day for Pimentel.

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Colonial Downs

Mr. Jagermeister held a narrow lead through the first half mile of Saturday's $100,000 Chesapeake Stakes, eked out a bigger advantage down the stretch and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Lewisfield. Speightsong was third, 4 3/4 lengths farther back. Mr. Jagermeister, a 4-year-old, Minnesota-bred colt by Atta Boy Roy, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.69 with Leandro Goncalves in the irons.

Extravagant Kid outfinished the favorite, Justaholic, by 1 length in Saturday's $75,000 Da Hoss Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Dubini was third, another 1 length in arrears. Extravagant Kid, a 6-year-old Kiss the Kid gelding, finished in 1:02.08 with Sheldon Russell riding.

Charles Town

Saturday's $50,000 Robert G. Leavitt Stakes for West Virginia-bred 3-year-olds came down to a prolonged duel between K Town Brass and Rush to the Castle, with the former prevailing by a neck. Hero's Man was third. K Town Brass, a Windsor Castle gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.97 under Arnaldo Bocachica.

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