Zac Purton landed four winners on Sunday's program at Sha Tin in Hong Kong, including trainer John Moore's first winner of the young season. Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club
Sept. 16 (UPI) -- It was a huge weekend of Thoroughbred racing around the globe with Stradivarius and Magical winning in Ireland, Logician remaining undefeated and Longchamp in Paris providing a preview of Arc weekend.
Things heated up in Japan and Hong Kong, too, while Australian fans absorbed a rather shocking upset in a Cox Plate preview.
And, there were some stunning performances by 2-year-olds, with potential impact on the Breeders' Cup's first day.
The Juddmonte Farms-John Gosden-Frankie Dettori fairy tale continued Saturday at Doncaster as Logician rolled home first by 2 1/4 lengths in the Group 1 William Hill St Leger at Doncaster -- his fifth win without a loss. The Frankel colt trailed early, moved to the lead 2 furlongs from home and wasn't endangered thereafter as Dettori obviously had all the confidence in the world.
Logician, unraced at 2, has moved steadily up the class ladder this year. While he hasn't faced the likes of champion stayer Stradivarius (see below), he has handled everything put in the starting gate against him. And Stradivarius, after all, only finished third in the St Leger in his 3-year-old year, behind Capri and Crystal Ocean.
"He's come on a long journey to win a Leger in track-record time," Gosden told Racing Post. "We'll put him away until next year now. I don't want to be taking advantage of him in any way."
Tough to figure out where to start here with huge races at both Leopardstown and the Curragh. But, since we're focusting on the young 'uns, lets go with them first.
Pinatubo simply exploded in the final furlong of Sunday's Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, winning by 9 lengths to collect his fifth win without a loss. The Godolphin homebred son of Shamardal blew the socks off both trainer Charlie Appleby, who called him "the best 2-year-old I've ever trained," and jockey William Buick, who proclaimed the result "felt as good as it looked."
Appleby said Pinatubo likely will seek a sixth win in the Darley Dewhurst Oct. 12 at Newmarket, which would leave ample time for a trip to Santa Anita should Sheik Mohammed choose.
Speaking of going to Santa Anita, Mogul, a full brother to Group 1 Juddmonte International winner Japan, was a roaring first Saturday in the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown, a "Win and You're In" for Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The Galileo colt struck the front inside the 2-furlongs marker and won by 1 1/2 lengths for his second straight victory.
Sunday at the Currah, Ryan Moore sent Love to the lead in the final furlong of the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and went on to win by 3/4 length. The favorite, Daahyeh, was second, another 3/4 length in front of So Wonderful. Love, a Galileo filly, scored her third win from six starts.
There was so much more on the Emerald Isle.
Magical, freed from the chore of chasing Enable, was a decisive winner of Saturday's Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and bids fair to lead a formidable group of Coolmore runners to November's Breeders' Cup -- once the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is settled. The Irish Champion was a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf but Magical might not be the only participant heading for the Santa Anita greensward.
It was an all-Coolmore affair at Leopardstown as Magical led home stablemates Magic Wand and Irish Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck. Japanese runner Deirdre had some traffic issues early in the stretch and came running late to finish fourth and would be a live chance for whatever follows.
For Magical, what follows is another chance against Enable. She has finished third behind the mighty mare in their last three meetings, starting with last year's Breeders' Cup Turf and most recently the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks. She was 10th in the 2018 Arc as Enable won the race for the second straight year.
"Obviously it's important when the best horses are around that they run against each other whenever they can, and there is no sidestepping anyone," trainer Aidan O'Brien said. "That's what makes racing. Everyone wants to see the good horses running against each other, win lose or draw."
Since Enable is dead certain to wrap up her career in the Arc, win lose or draw, Magical won't have her to beat in the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita Nov. 2. But she might have company in the form of Anthony Van Dyck. "It was great to see him come back like that," O'Brien said of the Leopardstown effort. "He is in the Arc but he could go straight to America and the lads said they might keep him in training next year, which would be very exciting for us."
And then there's Iridessa, upset winner of Saturday's Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown -- a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The Ruler of the World 3-year-old upset not only the favorite, Laurens, but also four Aidan O'Brien runners. Iridessa, trained by Aidan's son, Joseph Patrick, has been inconsistent but has defeated the likes of stablemates Hermosa and Magic Wand. Both O'Briens have plenty of experience in the Breeders' Cup. Aiden has saddled 138 starters while Joseph Patrick has trained two and ridden several, including 2011 Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey.
With yet another Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" spot on the line, Fairyland held off stablemate So Perfect by a short head at the wire to win Sunday's Group 1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five at the Curragh. Invincible Army was third and the favorite, Soffia, was fifth. Fairyland, a 3-year-old Kodiac filly, won the Group 1 Juddmonte Chevely Park Stakes a year ago but hadn't scored in six previous tries this season. So Perfect, a 3-year-old Scat Daddy filly, was third in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint but had gone 1-for-6 earlier this year.
"You'd be delighted with both of them," Racing Post quoted trainer Aidan O'Brien. "I imaging the two of them will go to the Abbaye." The reference is to the 5-furlongs Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Longines for 2-year-olds and up on the Arc undercard Oct. 6. That would be an interesting choice as 2-year-olds have won the race but not since the 1970s.
The Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint could have another Irish contender as trainer Richard Fahey was quoted as saying Saturday's Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes winner Space Traveller could be California-bound.
Sunday's Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St. Leger was full of proven stayers but it was 10-1 shot Search For a Song who got the lead a mile out and rolled home comfortably in front, winning by 2 1/4 lengths from 2018 William Hill St Leger winner Kew Gardens. Southern France was third and the favorite, Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup winner Cross Counter, settled for fourth in the 1 3/4-miles test. Search For a Song, a 3-year-old Galileo filly owned and bred by Moyglare Stud, scored her third win from five starts but first in a Group event.
"The world could be her oyster next year, Search For A Song's trainer, Dermot Weld, told Racing Post, "but I'd imagine this will probably be it for this season ... It was a very good performance against such highly rated older horses."
On Friday at Doncaster, Stradivarius recorded his 10th straight win, taking the Group 2 Magners Rose Doncaster Cup by 1 3/4 lengths under a supremely confident ride by Frankie Dettori. After leading early in the 2 1/4-miles event, the 5-year-old son of Sea the Stars gave up the lead to Cleonte and trailed him until near the final furlong. At that point, Stradivarius went on about his business, resumed the lead and won with authority. Cleonte held second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Max Dynamite. Dee Ex Bee, who had finished second behind Stradivarius in three straight races, was a non-starter due to the firm going.
Trainer John Gosden said he hadn't planned to run Stradivarius but he was so full of himself, he needed the work. Also, Gosden said, the 5-year-old won't run on British Champions Day if the Ascot turf is too soft, so seizing the opportunity seemed the thing to do. His last defeat came in the 2017 British Champions Long Distance Cup over soft ground although he has handled that condition twice since.
Also Friday, A'Ali was along in the final furlong to win the Group 2 Wainwright Flying Childers Stakes for 2-year-olds going 5 furlongs on the good to firm Doncaster turf. The Society Rock colt, with Dettori up for trainer Simon Crisford, won for the third time in five starts. The earlier wins included the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at the same trip at Royal Ascot.
Sunday was Arc preview day at Longchamp and if Waldgeist's performance in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Foy was an indication, he's another force to be reckoned with in three weeks' time. The 5-year-old son of Galileo was shaken up 2 furlongs out by jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, led a furlong from home and won by 2 lengths from Way to Paris. Kiseki, another in the long line of Japanese Arc hopefuls, was another 1 length back in third and just a head in front of Silverwave in fourth. It was Waldgeist's first start since he chased Enable and Crystal Ocean home in the King George in June.
Gosden and Dettori struck again in the Qatar Prix Vermeille for fillies and mares, as Irish Oaks winner Star Catcher led throughout and kept on to win by 3/4 length. A pair of Andre Fabre runners, Musis Amica and Ligne D'Or, finished second and third. Star Catcher, a 3-year-old Sea the Stars filly, was making her first start since the triumph at the Curragh and now has four wins from five starts this season racing in the Anthony Oppenheimer black, white and red colors.
Sottsass dropped back to trail four rivals in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Niel for 3-year-olds, needed room when the time came and found it, then drove home first by 1 1/4 lengths. Mutamakina. Coolmore's Mohawk, the only foreigner in the field, finished third. Sotsass, a Siyouni colt, was making his first start since winning the Group 1 QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, June 2. Jean-Claude Rouget trains the colt and Christian Demuro had the winning ride.
A funny thing happened on the way to Cox Plate. Gatting, at triple-digit odds, led the hot favorite, Mystic Journey, across the line in Saturday's Group 1 Pfd Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington, winning by 3/4 length. Mr Quickie was third, also at long odds, and Hartnell was fourth. Gatting, last in a minor-league handicap in his previous start, stalked the leaders, led 100 meters out and kept going. Mystic Journey, riding a seven-race win streak and the early Cox Plate favorite, gained on the others to take second but was no threat in the final yards. "You couldn't ask for a better run," said winning rider Jamie Kah. "I kept waiting for something to come past me and he just kept getting stronger and stronger."
Danon Fantasy won the Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile fillies to wind up her 2-year-old season, then took the Grade 2 Tulip Sho to get started at 3. But then she disappointed twice, finishing fourth in the Oka Sho or Japanese 1,000 Guineas, then fifth in the Yushun Himba or Japanese Oaks. After a break, she returned Sunday to win the Grade 2 Kansai Telecasting Corp Sho Rose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies as the odds-on favorite. Beach Samba and Victoria were a close second and third. Danon Fantasy, a daughter of Deep Impact with Argentine genes on the bottom of her pedigree, now could be a candidate for the Grade 1 Shuka Sho for 3-year-old fillies at Kyoto Oct. 13.
Reigning champion rider Zac Purton tallied four wins and trainer John Moore got his first of the young season Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse in the New Territories. Purton's four-bagger included a vicory in the Fakei Cup Handicap aboard Solomon's Bay -- a to-date underperforming British import -- and Buddies in the Swallow Handicap. The latter got Moore off his seasonal duck and Purton did the same for trainer Dennis Yip in the day's first race.
Purton was blanked Wednesday night at Happy Valley, ending a 26-meeting winning streak. Sunday's four wins give him eight wins with top rival and former champion Joao Moreira holding at six.
"All of us have got off the mark -- (John) Size, (Frankie) Lor, myself -- we're all off the mark today. It's good," Moore said. "A lot of mine had breaks, a few went to Conghua (the HKJC training center on the Mainland) and had nice breaks in the paddock. They've come back a bit above themselves in condition but I think that did them the world of good."
Around the ovals:
Raki rocketed to the lead in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Miss Gracie Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by 1 length. Beechwood Ella rallied from last of 10 to finish second, 1/2 length in front of the favorite, Zarina. Raki, a daughter of Two Step Salsa, ran about 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:28.89 with Carlos Lugo aboard.
Phat Man got the lead in the stretch in Sunday's $75,000 Good Magic Mile and survived a late bid by the odds-on favorite, No Dozing, winning by a head. V.I.P. Code was well back in third. Phat Man, a 5-year-old Munnings gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.19 for jockey Angel Suarez.
Oak Bluffs took the outside route to triumph in a four-way photo in Saturday's $76,500 Joey P. Handicap for New Jersey-breds, winning by 1/2 length over Pnutbutter Special. Like What I See and Saucy Don were a nose and a neck farther back in third and fourth. Oak Bluffs, a 9-year-old Defrere gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.59 seconds with Paco Lopez in the irons.
Zestful had to fight for the lead in Sunday's $75,000 Los Alamitos Special but, once the advantage was well in hand, the 4-year-old Ghostzapper gelding took off and won by 6 lengths over the favorite, Acker. Meistermind finished third. Zestful, with Joe Talamo in the irons, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:01.93. The Mark Glatt trainee ran his winning streak to six, including victories at Golden Gate, Pleasanton and Del Mar.
The Minnesota track settled in for the long Minnesota winter, wrapping things up Friday with a pair of stakes, including The Shakopee Juvenile (see above). In the other, 1-5 favorite Astronaut Oscar did the expected in the $60,000 MTA Stallion Auction Stakes, winning by 1 1/4 lengths from Mas Tekela.
On the meeting's penultimate day Friday, Sky Promise came from last of four to win the $50,000 John Bullit Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths as the even-money favorite and Hot Shot Kid got the job done in deep stretch to win the $50,000 Tom Metzen H.B.P.A. Sprint by 1 length as the odds-on pick.
Hot Shot Kid was named Canterbury's Horse of the Year and both top older horse and sprinter.
E J's Gold pressed the pace in Saturday's $80,000 Casey Darnell Stakes for New Mexico-breds, rallied to the lead when asked and led home a parade of longshots with Forger second and Slewacide Squad third. The only thing that saved a boxcars payoff in the trifecta was Slewacide Squad's disqualification from third to fourth, elevating the even-money favorite to the show position. E J's Gold, a 6-year-old Quinton's Gold gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.75 with Luis Rodriguez up.
Coulterberry was along late to win Sunday's $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic for Washington- or British Columbia-breds by 1 3/4 lengths. Trump Itz was second with Hit the Beach a head farther back in third. Coulterberry, a BC-bred, 6-year-old gelding by Finality, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:41.71 under Amadeo Perez.
No Talking Back captured the Washington Cup Filly & Mare Stakes under similar conditions, rallying from well back to score by 3/4 length from Under Par. Dontkissntell was third. No Talking Back, a BC-bred Flatter mare, reported in 1:43.73 with Scott Sevens up.
News and notes:
We don't often deal with breeding and sales because they are totally different subjects than racing. Well, sort of. But we'd be remiss if we didn't note the quite impressive results from Keeneland's sales pavilion this week. Amid a strong market, it seemed Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's $4.1 million purchase of a colt by Curlin, after a spirited bidding battle with Coolmore, was the eye-popper of the sale. But then on Thursday, veteran horsewoman Mandy Pope turned away both of the global superpowers, outbidding them to get an American Pharoah filly, a half-sister to both Beholder and Into Mischief, for $8.2 million. "She was the only thing in the sale I really wanted," Pope said.