Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Ten-race winning streaks came to an end in weekend international horse racing as Stradivarius succumbed to soft ground in England and Beauty Generation bowed under the weight in Hong Kong.
The diverse weekend also included some sparkling work by favorites, including Magical and Star Catcher.
World Premier jumped up to win the third leg of Japan's Triple Crown and another 3-year-old, Yes Yes Yes, took down Australia's richest race.
In North America, with the Breeders' Cup just two weeks away, it was a weekend for state-breds to shine.
But we start in the antipodes with:
Yes Yes Yes came from near the back of the field to capture Saturday's TAB Everest, Australia's richest race, by 1/2 length over Sana Ana Lane. Trekking was third while last year's winner, Redzel, reported eighth. Well-touted invader Ten Sovereigns didn't run worth a farthing, finishing last of 12.
Glen Boss, recently returned from a four-year stint riding in Singapore, had the mount on Yes Yes Yes for trainer Chris Waller and rode the 3-year-old Rubick colt like he owned him. Still well back approaching the 400-meters mark, Boss asked Yes Yes Yes for another gear and the saw immediate response. With 200 meters to go, he was passing the tiring speed while Santa Ana Lane was finally getting running room. Santa Ana Lane was closing smartly at the end but ran out of ground.
"He was taking me everywhere I wanted to go," Boss said. "When I peeled out there and when I asked him, his turn of foot was Group 1 quality ... I couldn't believe the turn of speed he showed."
It was the fourth win from eight starts for Win Win Win. While the Everest is not graded, it quickly has achieved the status of one of Australia's most important races, with attendant value for later breeding rights.
Meanwhile, at Caulfield, Japanese invader Mer De Glace came with a late run well outside the big field to land the Group 1 Caulfield Cup, edging away at the end to win by 1 length. Vow and Declare was second and Mirage Dancer third. Coming just two weeks after Japan suffered yet another crushing disappointment in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Mer De Glace's victory produced a ray of hope the Melbourne Cup might be a target within reach.
The 5-year-old son of Rulership came to the antipodes with five straight wins in Japan but questions about how that record would stack up against the local form. Mer De Glace and jockey Damian Lane provided an emphatic answer in the final 200 meters of the 2,400-meters test.
"He's not much to look at but he's just a tradesman at turning up and winning," Lane told the Herald Sun. "I'm just so rapt he's done the job for everyone today. I'm just forever grateful that they brought him out here."
Upsets outnumbered pure form on British Champions Day Saturday at Ascot with one of the two top fancies tasting defeat and two posting dramatic victories.
No upset was bigger than Stradivarius being nipped at the finish in the Group 2 Qipco British Champion Long Distance Cup. But the two winning favorites, Magical in the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes and Star Catcher in the Group 1 Qipco British Champion Fillies & Mares, provided a hugely positive spin.
Stradivarius, with Frankie Dettori up, looked well on his way to his 11th straight win as he took over the lead from Kew Gardens through the final furlong, then was unable to hold off another late bid by that rival in the final jumps as Kew Gardens put his nose on the wire first. It was another 5 lengths back to Royal Line in third. Donnacha O'Brien rode Kew Gardens, a 4-year-old Galileo colt, for his father, Aidan O'Brien.
The result was an upset but hardly a fluke as Kew Gardens, last year's William Hill St Leger winner, entered off three straight seconds, including the Group 1 Irish St. Leger and the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom, while Stradivarius would have preferred less testing footing than the good-to-soft of the Ascot course and. Full marks to trainer John Gosden and owner Bjorn Nielsen for sending out Stradivarius in those conditions.
The two could meet again in the Gold Cup at next year's Royal Ascot as Nielsen already has announced his standard bearer will return and Aidan O'Brien said the lads at Coolmore "will decide if he stays in training but if he does, we'll hopefully be back here next June." Kew Gardens missed this year's Gold Cup with an injury.
One race later on the glittering card, Dettori, Gosden and Star Catcher were the ones with a nose in front of an O'Brien runner. Star Catcher, a 3-year-old Sea the Stars filly running in the Oppenheimer colors, moved from well back in the field to challenge in the final furlong and just outfinished pacesetter Delphinia by a short head. Sun Maiden was third in the about 1 1/2-miles tilt.
Star Catcher entered on the back of consecutive wins in the Group 1 Kerrygold Irish Oaks and the Group 1 Qatar Prix Vermeille and, with Stradivarius, was one of the day's most solid selections.
Dettori posted his 18th Group 1 win of the year and the 250th of his illustrious career but was still grumbling about the previous race as he dismounted Star Catcher. "From crying to smiling in half an hour. I'm still a bit sour about Stradivarius," Dettori said. "The ground is much worse than we thought."
For O'Brien, however, the star of the day was Magical, a filly he described after her Champion Stakes win as "the ultimate racehorse." The Galileo filly, bouncing back just two weeks after finishing fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, tracked the pace, led with a furlong to run and held off a late bid by Addeybb by 3/4 length. Japanese runner Deirdre was a gallant third while winding up her summer in Britain. With Ryan Moore riding in Australia, Donnacha O'Brien again had the winning ride.
Magical, aside from chasing Enable home all five times she has faced that mighty mare, has had quite the Magical career. She won the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes earlier in the season so Saturday's victory gave here the "Champion Double." She also won the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May and finished second to Crystal Ocean in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"She is the ultimate racehorse. That is what she is," O'Brien said. "I would say the Breeders' Cup is definitely a strong possibility. And if she does go, I would imagine she'll run in the Fillies & Mares because Anthony Van Dyck has been going to the Turf for a good while." Last year, Magical was second to Enable in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf.
And the trainer campaigned hard to keep Magical in training for another season, although that probably would pit her against Enable at least one more time. "The (Coolmore) lads haven't kept fillies in training at 5 before but it doesn't mean that won't change as nothing is ever written in stone," he said.
Deirdre, meanwhile, could be headed to Hong Kong, where she finished second in last December's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup.
King of Change powered to the front 2 furlongs out in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by Qipco and held on for a 1 1/4-lengths victory over The Revenant despite hanging left badly in the late going. Safe Voyage was third, Dettori was 13th aboard King of Comedy and the favorite, Godolphin star Benbatl, never successful on heavy going, tired badly late to finish last.
King of Change, a 3-year-old colt by Farhh, was second in the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas, had a break and returned with a win in preparation for this tilt and must be seen as a coming attraction. Richard Hannon trains the colt for Ali Abdulla Saeed.
"I think it will be a shorter winter on the back of something like that," the trainer said. "We'd be thinking Queen Anne Stakes (at Royal Ascot), something like that."
In the day's opening race, the Group 1 Qipco British Champion Sprint Stakes, it was Donjuan Triumphant posting the 33-1 upset win with Sylvestre De Sousa up for trainer Andrew Balding. The 6-year-old son of Dream Ahead had to clear traffic to get a run in the final furlong but made the most of it, reporting first by 1 length from joint favorite One Master. Donjuan Triumphant scored his first win since last November and only the seventh of his 37-race career. Dettori was seventh aboard joint favorite Advertise.
World Premier rallied to the lead turning for home in Sunday's Grade 1 Kikuka Sho, or Japanese St. Leger at Kyoto Racecourse, and held on to win by a short neck over the onrushing favorite, Satono Lux. Velox was third, lacking a late bid. The first two finishers were sired by Deep Impact, who died earlier this year.
World Premier was away alertly but was taken in hand quickly by Yutaka Take as Caudillo made the early going. Take moved his mount into a challenging position nearing the final bend of the 3,000-meters test and, when the leaders separated, he got first run to the lead. Satono Lux and Velox both were left with too much to do.
"He came into the race in good condition and we had a good draw," Take said. "So I was concentrating on giving our best race. He was a bit keen at first but was in hand nicely during the race ... He's still got a lot to improve so I'm looking forward to his future races."
World Premier, trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, had a modest run-up to the Kikuka Sho, winning twice from five previous starts. In his most recent outing he reported third in the Kobe Shimbun Hai at Hanshin, a 2,400-meter (about 1 1/2 miles) affair won by Saturnalia. The Kikuka Sho was his first Grade 1 start.
All good things come to an end and so it was Sunday at Sha Tin for Beauty Generation's 10-race winning streak. The reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year was victimized by post position, pace and weight in the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy, reporting third behind Rise High and Waikuku. Beauty Generation was caught in an unfavorable running slot from and inside gate and was toting 133 pounds, conceding weight to all rivals, including 14 to the winner.
"Just forgive him for it," said Beauty Generation's trainer ,John Moore. "Wait for set weights and see what happens."
But if Moore is eager for the next step toward the Dec. 8 Longines Hong Kong International Races, so too is the winner's trainer, Caspar Fownes.
"I'm very emotional, very happy," Fownes said. "I've been saying it for a while -- I think Rise High is the next big thing in Hong Kong.
"Saddling-up today he was on, he was really on, he nearly hurt himself. He was kicking his back legs and just kept knocking the inside of his hock. I was like, 'Ease up dude!' But he's well and once we get him to the right trip it's exciting times ahead. I've said it for a while."
Rise High and Beauty Generation won't meet in December. Fownes said he will decide between the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup at 2,000 meters and the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase at 2,400 meters for Rise High. Beauty Generation is targeted for a repeat in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile.
Seasons Bloom won the afternoon's second feature, the Group 2 Premier Bowl Handicap at 1,200 meters.
In North America:
Xenobia opened a huge lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Athenia Stakes for fillies and mares and coasted home first by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths. Sweet Bye and Bye was second, 1/2 length in front of Andina Del Sur. Xenobia, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Falco, ran 1 1/16 miles on the firm inner turf course in 1:41.21. John Velazquez rode for trainer Jonathan Thomas, who praised the effort.
"It was a beautiful ride," Thomas said. "His ride into the first turn was a masterpiece. That's where I think he won the race."
Gentle Ruler dallied near the rear of the field into the stretch turn in Sunday's $125,000 Grade III Rood & Riddle Dowager Stakes for fillies and mares, got running room outside rivals and blasted home first by 2 1/2 lengths. Elysea's World came from even farther back to finish second, another 1 1/4 lengths back. Gentle Ruler, a 4-year-old Colonel John filly, finished 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:31.95 under Chris Landeros.
"She's done for the year now," trainer Ian Wilkes said of Gentle Ruler. "We'll bring her back next year and we'll give her a shot at some better company. I just didn't think she was quite ready this year. She's doing really great but next year we'll give her a shot and see how good she can get. We'll let her dictate everything."
Bell's the One came from last of 10 to upset Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Lexus Raven Run Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, edging away to score by 1 1/4 lengths over First Star. The favorite, Indian Pride, held a brief lead but finished third, another 2 1/4 lengths behind. Bell's the One, a daughter of Majesticperfection, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.97 under Corey Lanerie. It was her fifth win from nine starts and first in a graded stakes.
Lady Prancealot raced well back in a big field in Friday's $150,000 Grade III Pin Oak Valley View Stakes for turf-running 3-year-old fillies, mounted her challenge turning for home and ran by pacesetting favorite Blowout in the closing yards for a 3/4-length victory. The Mackem Bullet was only a nose farther back in third in a promising effort. Lady Prancealot, an Irish-bred daughter of Sir Prancealot, pranced 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.25 under Jersey Joe Bravo. She was coming off a sixth-place finish in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park but earlier in the season won the Grade III Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita. "We've been lucky here," said winning trainer Richard Baltas. "These are the best horses in the country so we're lucky we got her home today."
Jean Elizabeth sprinted to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Ontario Fashion Stakes for fillies and mares and kept going to a 3/4-length win over Special Relativity. Heavenly Hill was third. Jean Elizabeth, a 4-year-old, Illinois-bred filly by Adios Charlie, finished the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.26 with Eurico Da Silva riding for trainer Larry Rivelli.
The rest of the weekend action was primarily state-bred festivals, with big money at stake. Here's how that worked out with the main track fast and the turf firm:
Saturday was Empire Showcase day with the main track fast and the turf firm.
Mr. Buff led most of the way to a 1-length win over Dynamax Prime in the $300,000 Empire Classic. Mr. Buff is a 5-year-old Friend or Foe gelding. Ratajkowski, 5-year-old Drosselmeyer mare, stalked the pace in the $250,000 Empire Distaff, then outfinished Our Supernova, winning by a head with Jose Ortiz up for one of his three stakes winners on the day.
The sprinters: Build to Suit, a 5-year-old Dominus ridgling, kicked clear of a duel late to win the $150,000 Hudson Stakes and 4-year-old Giant's Causeway filly Pauseforthecause was an easy winner in the $150,000 Iroquois under Ortiz. Both were run at 6 1/2 furlongs.
On the turf: Gucci Factor put a nose in front of pacesetting favorite Voodoo Song on the wire to win the $200,000 Mohawk Stakes. The winner is a 6-year-old Gio Ponti gelding. And Fifty Five was along late to win the $200,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares by 1 length from Wish Upon. Fifty Five is a 5-year-old Get Stormy mare.
The youngsters: Captain Bombastic, a Forty Tales colt with Ortiz riding, pulled a minor upset in the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow, edging Cleon Jones by a head with the favorite, City Man, reporting fourth. And Critical Value, a Bodemeister filly, drew off smartly to win the $250,000 Maid of the Mist by 5 1/2 lengths. Bodemeister this week was sold to the Jockey Club of Turkey.
It was Maryland Million Day Saturday at Laurel. Fast track. Firm turf.
Forest Fire, a 4-year-old Friesan Fire gelding, tracked the pace set by Prendimi in the $150,000 Classic, then got by that one and went on to win by 1/2 length. In the $100,000 Distaff, Anna's Bandit ran well late to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Conjecture. Anna's Bandit is a 5-year-old daughter of Great Notion.
On the grass: Mr. d'Angelo led a trio of long shots across the line in the $125,000 Turf. The 3-year-old Seville gelding rallied from far back to win by 1 3/4 lengths, keying a 50-cent trifecta payout of $2,161.65. In the $125,000 Ladies, Zonda got first run to the late lead and held off the late bid of the favorite, My Sisersledge, by 1 1/2 lengths. Zonda is a 3-year-old Scat Daddy filly.
Taco Supream rallied by pacesetting favorite Call Paul in the closing furlong of the $100,000 Sprint and won by 3/4 length over that one with Lewisfield third. Taco Supream, a 4-year-old El Padrino gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.80.
And the juveniles: Ournationonparade, a Cal Nation gelding, kicked away in the stretch run to win the $100,000 Nursery Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths from long shot Stone Courageous. And Hello Beautiful, a Golden Lad filly, dominated the stretch run in the $100,000 Lassie, winning by 3 3/4 lengths.
Friday night was Oklahoma Classics Night.
Shogun Kowboy, the heavy favorite, ran to his notices in the $175,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup, winning by 6 1/4 lengths over Tuff Kid. The 7-year-old Kodiak Kowboy gelding, with David Cabrera riding, got 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:44.72. Inagoodway led most of the way in the $145,000 Oklahoma Classics Distaff and denied the favorite, Lady Orchid, who settled for second, 2 1/4 lengths in arrears. Inagoodway is a 6-year-old mare by Save Big Money.
The night's heaviest favorite, Welder, was an easy winner in the $130,000 Sprint as the 6-year-old gelding kicked away to a 4 1/4-lengths victory over Mr. N. The $130,000 Distaff Sprint went to Three Chords, a 4-year-old daughter of Euroears who rallied to a 1 1/2-lengths win over Create a Star with the odds-on favorite, Okie Diva, beaten into third.
Cowboy Mischief, a 3-year-old Into Mischief colt, won the $130,000 OKC Turf Classic by 1/2 length from Hallelujah and Alternative Slew drew off late to take the $130,000 Distaff Turf by 4 1/4 lengths over Sunday Night Miss.
In the 2-year-old races, Rowdy Yates, a Morning Line colt, was a popular winner of the $100,000 Juvenile and Zapit, an Itsmyluckyday filly, took he $100,000 Lassie.
Not exactly festivals, but for state-breds, nonetheless:
Hawthorne Race Course
Blue Sky Kowboy dueled down the lane in Saturday's $50,000 Buck's Boy Handicap, swapped the lead with Cammack and got there first by a nose. Don'task Don'ttell led most of the way and finished third, another 3/4 length in arrears. Blue Sky Kowboy, a 5-year-old Kodiak Kowboy gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.78 with Carlos Marquez Jr. up for trainer Michele Boyce. Chris Block trains both Cammack and Don'task Don'ttell.
On Friday, Bramble Queen saved ground into the turn in the $50,000 Illini Princess, shifted wider for running room and got there first by 1 1/4 lengths. Kool Kate finished second but was demoted to third for interfering with Lovely Loyree shortly after the start. Bramble Queen, a 4-year-old daughter of Silent Name, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.16 with Marquez in the irons for trainer Michael Dini.
Castle showed the way in Saturday's $100,000 California Flag Stakes for California-breds and clung to the lead at the end, winning by a neck over Grinning Tiger. King Abner was third and the favorite, Tribalist, reported fifth. Castle, a 6-year-old Slew's Tiznow gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.51 under Abel Cedillo.
Relentless Dancer was much the best in Saturday's $100,000 Legacy Stakes for Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds, kicking away in the lane to win by 10 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite. X Clown and Richard Ronald filled the trifecta slots. Relentless Dancer, a Midshipman colt, was coming off a maiden win at Churchill Downs.
Sebs Princess rallied from next-last of eight in Friday night's $100,000 Louisiana Jewel for state-bred 2-year-old fillies and kicked clear at the end, winning by 4 3/4 lengths. Film Study was second, 1 1/2 lengths to the good of Schiff's Corner. Sebs Princess, a Khozan filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:29.42 with Diego Saenz up.
Rooster strutted by pacesetting A Little Irradic in the stretch run to win Saturday's $75,000 ITOBA Stallion Season Stakes for 3-year-old, Indiana-bred colts and geldings by 1 1/2 lengths. Love That Surprise was third. Rooster, a City Weekend gelding, finished 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.28 with Kendal Sterritt riding.
Fireball Baby hit another gear in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Julee Rodriguez Memorial ITOBA Stallion Season Fillies Stakes, winning off by 5 1/2 lengths after a stalking trip. Runninawaywithit was best of the rest. Fireball Baby, a Noble's Promise filly, got 1 mile in 1:38.71 for jockey Marcellino Pedroza.