Oct. 28 (UPI) -- It was a very good weekend of horse racing for Japan as Lys Gracieux landed the Group 1 Cox Plate in Australia and Almond Eye returned to her dominant ways back home, opening up a world of prospects for her.
In England, the final Group 1 flat race of the year was postponed and moved to the all-weather track at Newcastle -- an historic first. In France, Frankie Dettori racked up possibly the easiest Group 1 win of his career.
And back in North America, Keeneland gave way to Churchill Downs while Belmont Park's final card of the year was washed out amid high wind and heavy rain. Maximum Security, disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby, returned to the winner's circle.
Step right up and read all about it:
Almond Eye returned from a summertime layoff to dominate a classy field in Sunday's Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at Tokyo Racecourse. With Christophe Lemaire up, the reigning Japanese Horse of the Year tracked the pace from a ground-saving spot and found just enough room inside early leader Aerolithe 300 meters out to get through to the lead. Seeing daylight, she quickly spurted clear, winning by 3 lengths.
Danon Premium, the 2017 2-year-old champion, returned to form while finishing second. Aerolithe held third. Two of the better-fancied after favorite Almond Eye, Wagnerian and Saturnalia, reported fifth and sixth, respectively.
Almond Eye, a 4-year-old daughter of Lord Kanaloa, finished the 2,000 meters in 1:56.2, just 0.1 second off the course record, to the cheers of 103,920 fans.
"She was well rested after a long break and showed her true strength today," Lemaire said. "We were able to follow Aerolithe and Saturnalia in a good position, found a good opening on the rails and she just stretched beautifully from there."
Almond Eye swept the 2018 Japanese filly Triple Crown, dominated older male rivals in an emphatic victory in the Grade 1 Japan Cup in November, the won the Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night at Meydan. She suffered just her second career loss in June,
finishing third in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (G1) after being compromised at the start.
Sunday's victory renewed speculation that Almond Eye next fall might the one to finally land the elusivie Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for Japan and trainer Sakae Kunieda said his filly appears up for further challenges.
"I think she has the ability to improve even more," he told Racing Post. "Her next challenge could be the Japan Cup or the Hong Kong Cup, but we'll see how she comes out of the race."
Japanese runners came up empty in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe but their countrymates are more than making up for it Down Under. Just a week after Mer De Glace landed the Group 1 Caulfield Cup, Lys Gracieux came charging down the middle of the course to win Saturday's Group 1 Cox Plate -- the race Winx won four straight years before her retirement.
Lys Gracieux, a 5-year-old mare trained by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by Damian Lane, circled most of the field turning for home and rallied strongly in the final 100 meters to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Australian 3-year-old Castelveccio was second, trailed by New Zealander Te Akau Shark and Ireland's Magic Wand, who led most of the 1 1/4 miles.
Lys Gracieux picked up a huge bonus as a result of winning the Cox Plate on the back of her victory last time out in the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen back home. Lane, meanwhile, now is situated to become the first jockey ever to win Australia's four top races (bar the Everest) in a single year. He earlier won the Golden Slipper aboard Kiamichi and rode Mer De Glace to victory in the Caulfield Cup.
"These Japanese horses are beasts," Lane said. "It's just great to be associated with them. I'll be back on Melbourne Cup Day with Mer De Glace, so let's hope we can do some more damage there."
Whilst the Irish raiding party came up short in the Caulfield Cup, it was a different story in Saturday's Group 2 McCafe Mooney Valley Gold Cup. Hunting Horn, with Ryan Moore in the irons, chased down the leaders in the late going and then showed his heels in the final 100 meters, winning by 1 1/4 lengths, ridden out. The favorite, Mr. Quickie, was second with Downdraft third. Aidan O'Brien trains Hunting Horn and his son, Joseph Patrick O'Brien, handles Downdraft.
Hunting Horn, a Coolmore standard-bearer, scored just his third win from 22 starts. But the 4-year-old Camelot colt could set all that right in his next start Nov. 5 in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Traveling head lad T.J. Comerford said Hunting Horn was unusually well-behaved in the pre-race and lauded Moore's ride.
"He was in great form coming into this and he should be suited by Flemington as he's fairly versatile," Comerford said. "It would be a big step up in trip for him but you don't know until you try it and Aidan is quietly confident that there's another good day in him."
On the down side Down Under:
Jockey Glen Boss has been handed a six-meetings suspension for careless riding that, barring a successful appeal, will prevent him from riding the Melbourne ante-post favorite, Constantinople. The South China Morning Post reports Hong Kong-based Joao Moreira is poised to take the reins if Boss is forced off he mount.
Drenching rain washed out Saturday's Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy for 2-year-olds at Doncaster, the final scheduled Group 1 of the English flat season. But the various racing interests quickly scrambled out a solution: The race will be run Friday over the all-weather surface at Newcastle, making it the first Group 1 in British history to be contested over anything other than grass. Entries were reopened for anyone wishing to join the six original declarations -- five of them by Aidan O'Brien.
The Newcastle Tapeta course was the site of Enable's debut in 2016.
Frankie Dettori doesn't have much trouble winning Group 1 events against big fields of quality opponents. So Sunday's Group 1 Criterium International for 2-year-old colts and fillies at Longchamp, with only one opponent, was a real "gimme". So much so, in fact, that Dettori guided Alson home first by 20 lengths, trailed by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Armory, with Donnacha O'Brien aboard.
Alson, a German-bred colt by Arelon, picked up his third victory from five starts for trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho.
Mkfancy made all over heavy going in Saturday's Group 1 Crierium de Saint-Cloud for 2-year-old colts and fillies, shook off a challenge and rolled home first by 3 lengths. Arthur's Kingom got by Mythical in the closing yards to finish second. Those two are trained by Aidan O'Brien. Mkfancy, a Makfi colt trained by Pia Brandt, won his second straight race after a career-opening third.
Meanwhile, back in North America:
Maximum Security, the colt disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby, led under pressure through most of Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Bold Ruler and then edged away to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Tale of Silence, the longest chance in the field of six, was along late to take second from True Timber. Maximum Security, a New Year's Day colt, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:20.76 with Luis Saez in the irons. It was his first start since winning the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park July 20.
Trainer Jason Servis said Maximum Security could be sent out for either the $600,000 Grade 1 Clark Handicap at 1 1/8 miles Nov. 29 at Churchill Downs or the $750,000 Grade 1 Cigar Mile Dec. 7 at Aqueduct.
"I've got to talk to the (owners, Gary and Mary West)," he said. "But probably the Clark or Cigar Mile. I have a barn here so it's convenient. A mile and a mile and an eighth are both good for him. This horse can run."
Seismic Wave came rolling from last of eight to win Saturday's $100,000 English Channel Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1/2 length from the favorite, Front Run the Fed. Halliday led through the middle furlongs of the 1-mile turf test and was just nipped for place money. Seismic Wave, a Juddmonte Farms homebred colt by Tapit, finished in 1:34.37 on good going with Jose Ortiz in the irons. It was his third career win.
Buy Land and See took the wide route to a narrow lead at mid-stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Awad Staks for 2-year-olds, then was all out to hang on and win by a neck from late-running Pixelate. Don Juan Kitten held a brief lead in the lane and salvaged show money. Buy Land and See, a Cairo Prince colt, negotiated 1 mile on good turf in 1:35.70 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, picking up his second win in his third career effort.
"With each race, he just continues to train well, and showed me today he's real," said Buy Land and See's trainer, Steve Klesaris. "He's going to Florida and in a couple weeks we'll map out where we want to go."
Sunday's card was canceled after the first race because of high winds and heavy rain. Pending regulatory approval, mandatory payouts will be carried over to Friday's card at Aqueduct. See www.nyra.com for details.
By the time we gather at Keeneland again, we'll have a pretty good idea of the Kentucky Derby field and the snow will be gone. Probably, on both counts.
Tom's d'Etat rallied to the lead at the three-eighths pole in the autumn meeting's final stakes, Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Hagyard Fayette, and drew off in the final furlong to win by 4 1/4 lenghs. Mr Freeze was second, 3 1/4 lengths better than Bal Harbour. Tom's d'Etat, a 6-year-old son of Smart Strike, got the 9 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:49.17 with Joel Rosario up for trainer Al Stall Jr. Competitive at a high level, it was his second win of 2019.
Stall said Tom's d'Etat is going to the $600,000 Grade I Clark on Nov. 29, the premier event of the Churchill Downs fall meeting. "I can't even give you any 'trainer speak.' We're headed for the Clark," Stall told Churchill Downs officials Sunday morning. "The Clark obviously sets up perfectly from the Fayette and will be a great next spot for this horse."
Sunday's all-juvenile card was topped by the $120,000 Rags to Riches Stakes for fillies and the open $120,000 Street Sense.
In the Rags to riches, Finite stalked the pace, easily took the lead when asked by Ricardo Santana Jr. and kicked away to win by 6 lengths. Lady Glamour was second, another 6 lengths in front of Gone Glimmering. The even-money favorite, Specially, led early and folded up, finishing last. Finite, a Munnings filly trained by Steve Asmussen, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.53. Asmussen said to look for Finite in the $300,000 Grade II Golden Rod under the Twin Spires Nov. 30.
South Bend found running room between rivals in deep stretch in the Street Sense, got through and won by 1 length over Fighting Seabee. The early leader, Silver Prospector, finished third. South Bend, an Algorithms colt trained by Stanley Hough, finished in 1:35.56 with Julien Leparoux at the controls. "It's always nice to have a horse show this much talent early in his career," Hough said. "He hasn't shown me anything yet that he can't stretch out around two turns so the Kentucky Jockey Club at the end of the meet would make sense." That's a $300,000 Grade II on Nov. 30 and is part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series.
Midcourt rallied five-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $75,000 Comma to the Top Stakes and was along in time to win by a neck over Two Thirty Five. Leading Score was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Midcourt, a 4-year-old Midnight Lute gelding from the French Deputy mare Mayo On the Side, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.89. Victor Espinoza rode for trainer John Shirreffs.
Keeper Ofthe Stars rallied by pacesetting Giza Goddess in deep stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 Autumn Miss for 3-year-old fillies. Mucho Unusual was third and the favorite, Hidden Message, reported fourth. Keeper Ofthe Stars, a Midnight Lute filly, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.70 with Abel Cedillo up.
Chapalu led throughout Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Grey Stakes for 2-year-olds, then was fully extended to hold the advantage at the wire, defeating Muskoka Gold by 1/2 length. Lookinatamiracle was another 1/2 length back in third. Chapalu, a Kentucky-bred Flatter colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.50 with Patrick Husbands aboard. He notched his first win three weeks earlier at Keeneland.
Cool Shadows was last midway through Saturday's $225,000 (Canadian) Princess Elizabeth Stakes for 2-year-old, Canadian-foaled fillies, rallied outside the leaders and got there first by a neck over Merveilleux and another head over Avie's Samurai. The odds-on favorite, Curlin's Voyage, was fourth, another 4 3/4 lengths in arrears. Cool Shadows, a Munnings filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.45 with Jerome Lermyte in the irons. She made it two straight wins after finishing third in her career bow.
Dixie's Gamble shadowed the early leader, took over near the top of the lane and ran on to win Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Overskate Stakes for Ontario-sired horses by 1 1/2 lengths. Magical Man rallied to finish second while pacesetting Speedy Connor finished third, only to be demoted to fourth for interference. Silent Jimmie was awarded show money. Dixie's Gamble, a 4-year-old colt by Gamble's Exchange, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:25.03 under Luis Contreras.
Golden Gate Fields
Wise Rachel rallied three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Pike Place Dancer for 2-year-old fillies and outfinished The Adrie Factor by 1/2 length. Convoluted was third. Wise Rachel, an English Channel filly out of the Smarty Jones mare Wise Impression, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.99 under Alejandro Gomez.
Saturday was "Best of Ohio" day, for state-bred steeds. The track was fast.
Liberate dueled to the lead in the $150,000 Juvenile and drew off smartly in the stretch run, winning by 7 3/4 lengths. Authentic Cowtown was best of the rest, 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Wicked Warrior. Liberate, a Gemologist gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.26 with Gerardo Corrales in the irons.
In the $150,000 John W. Galbreath for 2-year-old fillies, heavy favorite Moonlit Mission rallied five-wide from far back and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Nikki My Angel, who appeared a sure winner at mid-stretch. It was another 11 1/4 lengths back to Succotash in third. Moonlit Mission, a Shackleford filly, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.84 under Ricardo Mejias.
Altissimo stalked he pace in the $150,000 Sprint, rallied by pacesetting Dare Day in the late going and won by 3/4 length over that rival. Diamond Dust was another 3 lengths back in third. Altissimo, a 6-year-old Noble Causeway gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.90 for jockey Christian Pilares.
Leona's Reward led all the way in the $150,000 Distaff, then kicked away from pace-pressing favorite Magna Rose and won by 3 lengths. Magna Rose held second, 1 length in front of Grizabella. Leona's Reward, a 6-year-old mare by Parents' Reward, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.03 with Corrales up.
Forewarned came running around the early speed to take the $150,000 Endurance by 2 3/4 lengths over Mo Dont No. Over Icce was third. Forewarned, a 4-year-old Flat Out colt, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.41 with Anthony Salgado at the controls.
Sunday was New Mexico Classic Cup Day. The track was fast.
Hustle Up led all the way to a 3/4-length victory over Blazing Navarone in the $185,000 Rocky Gulch New Mexico Classic Cup Championship. The 3-year-old Abstraction gelding ran 1 mile in 1:41.00. The $175,000 Peppers Pride Filly & Mare went to Hennessy Express, who came from near the rear of the field to beat Pink Cadillac by 2 lengths. The 4-year-old daughter of Roll Hennessy Roll rolled 1 mile in 1:42.39.
Perty Dirty Dude made up all the ground in the stretch run to win the $175,000 Sprint by 1/2 length over Rig Time. The winner, a 7-year-old entire son of Elusive Jazz, got 6 furlongs in 1:11.88. Waltzing Attila took the lead in the lane in the $145,000 Distaff Sprint and rolled home first by 1/2 length over the onrushing Let It Roll. Waltzing Attila, a 5-year-old daughter of Attila's Storm, finished in 1:12.31.
Slewacide Squad found his best foot late in the $145,000 Derby, outfinishing the odds-on favorite, My Boanerges, by a neck. Slewacide Squad, a Slew's Pot of Gold gelding, toured 6 furlongs in 1:11.54. In the $145,000 Oaks, Sofia's Gift was a long shot winner by 3 3/4 lengths over Flight Song. Sofia's Gift finished 6 furlongs in 1:12.07. She is by Attila's Storm.
Attiliano outfinished On A Warpath to win the $145,000 Juvenile by a head. The Attila's Storm gelding got 6 furlongs in 1:12.55. The $145,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies went to Count Them Again. The Premeditation filly led all the way and finished 6 furlongs in 1:12.86, defeating Reception by 2 1/2 lengths.