Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Nasty weather played havoc on horse racing on both coasts Thanksgiving Day, but the remainder of the holiday weekend promises some top-shelf contests, including the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and the Matriarch at Del Mar.
Some of the leading prospects for the 2020 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks also are on display at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod Stakes.
On the international scene, the big buzz is the Champions Cup in Japan.
And some good news from one of our favorite tracks is to be found in News and Notes.
Here's what happened (and didn't happen) Thursday, plus a brief preview of the rest. We hope you enjoyed the turkey!
The $200,000 Grade III Fall Highweight Handicap originally scheduled for Thanksgiving Day fell victim to the storm systems sweeping in from the Midwest and, instead, will be contested Sunday. Two other stakes set for Thursday will be respotted later in the meeting.
Arrifana and Gold Standard are the gold standard, at least on the morning line, for Friday's $200,000 Grade III Comely Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. They top a field of eight set to go 9 furlongs. Gold Standard, a Medaglia d'Oro filly, exits a second-place finish in the Grade III Remingon Park Oaks. Arrifana, by Curlin, is undefeated after four starts but dips her hoof in to deeper water here.
Saturday's $400,000 Grade III Long Island for fillies and mares, 11 furlongs on the grass, drew an overflow field with Empressof the Nile and Si Que Es Buena as lukewarm favorites.
Performer and Tax top a field of eight 3-year-olds set for Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Discovery at 9 furlongs. Performer, a Speightstown colt, has won three in a row and steps up. Tax, an Arch gelding, won the Grade II Jim Dandy at Saratoga but has not been seen since finishing seventh in the Grade I Travers.
Mylady Curlin got the dream trip in Thursday's $300,000 Grade II Falls City Handicap for fillies and mares, easing past the leaders in the lane and running on to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Go Google Yourself. Moonlit Garden edged up for third. Mylady Curlin, a 4-year-old Curlin filly, got 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.11 with Tyler Gaffalione riding. She has missed a top-three finish only twice in 15 career starts.
"Being from Louisville, it's really fun winning a race like this on Thanksgiving," said Brad Cox, who trains both Mylady Curlin and Moonlit Garden. "The extra distance seemed to be the key this afternoon. Both of our horses ran great today. Moonlit Garden was solid finishing third and we're very proud of both of them."
Kallio sailed right on by the favorite, Starship Enterprise, in deep stretch to upset Thursday's $175,000 Grade III Cardinal Handicap for fillies and mares, winning by 3 lengths over that rival. Starship Enterprise, who started way out on the edge of the field, held second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of English Soul. Kallio, a 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly trained by Brendan Walsh, ran 9 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:55.07, also with Gaffalione in the irons. A winner at Ellis Park this summer, she was coming off subpar showings at Keeneland and Churchill Downs in her last two starts.
"She's a bit of a difficult filly," trainer Brendan Walsh said of Kallio. "She's sometimes not always there mentally but when she puts things together she runs very well ... She's getting better with age."
Tom's d'Etat is the 8-5 favorite on the morning line among 12 entered for Friday's $600,000 Grade I Clark Handicap, a 9-furlongs affair that highlights the late season under the Twin Spires and can produce contenders for the Pegasus World Cup, Dubai World Cup and now, the Saudi Cup. Tom's d'Etat, a 6-year-old entire son of Smart Strike, comes off a win in the Grade II Fayette at Keeneland. Last year, he finished ninth in the Pegasus at Gulfstream Park. Seeking the Soul, Mr. Freeze, Owendale and Bravazo all seem worth a closer look.
Fourteen 3-year-old fillies are enered for Friday's $300,000 Grade II Mrs. Revere, 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Prominent on the morning line in a seemingly competitive field are the Chad Brown-trained duo of New and Improved and Nay Lady Nay; The Mackem Bullet, who drew the outside stall; and German-bred Dalkia.
Already looking forward to the 2020 Run for the Roses? Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club for 2-year-olds is custom-made for you. Nine juveniles are set, featuring Tiz the Law, a Constitution colt who's 2-for-2 including the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park, and South Bend, an Algorithms colt who's 3-for-3 with two of the wins under the Twin Spires. But who knows which one might emerge?
Oaks fans can enjoy Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Golden Rod for 2-year-old fillies. Eight are set with Finite, a Munnings filly, as the 7-5 favorite on the morning line. The Steve Asmussen trainee has won on both turf and dirt in her last two starts and drew the rail for this.
The nasty holiday weather didn't plague just the Northeast. Thursday's $100,000 Grade III Red Carpet for fillies and mares, scheduled for 11 furlongs on the green course, was canceled due to another bout of heavy rain. It was rescheduled for Saturday, featuring a well-matched cast of eight.
Saturday's $300,000 Grade I Hollywood Derby, 9 furlongs on the turf, has 13 entries and it's as much of a program-stabber as any long shot player could want. Seven of the 3-year-olds are listed at single-digit odds on the morning line.
Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Jimmy Durante for 2-year-old fillies is 1 mile on the turf and looks just as wide open as the Hollywood Derby. It should be fun to watch and those who figure it out should be well rewarded.
Sacred Life is a solid 5-2 favorite on the morning line among 10 entries for Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The 4-year-old, French-bred Siyouni colt, trained by Chad Brown, invades from the east with two seconds and a win from three starts since arriving from his native land.
Sunday's $300,000 Grade I Matriarch, fillies and mares, 1 mile on the turf, has a tough field of 11. Got Stormy leads the way after finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Mile in her last start. Significant Form is in good form after two well-spaced graded stakes wins back East in her last two starts. Toinette and Simply Breathless were 1-2 in the Grade II Goldikova at Sana Anita Nov. 3. Giza Goddess was second in the Grade III Autumn Miss in her last outing. Juliet Foxtrot, Mucho Unusual and Daddy Is a Legend are tough cookies. Tough heat.
Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Cecil B. DeMille Stakes has a baker's dozen 2-year-old fillies set for 1 mile on the turf.
Golden Gate Fields
Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Berkeley Handicap, 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather course, drew a field of 11 with Ohio as the tepid favorite on the morning line. The 8-year-old Elusive Quality gelding hasn't won since March but has fared well on his infrequent trips on artificial surfaces.
On the international scene:
Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup, formerly the Japan Cup Dirt, is run at 1,800 meters on the dirt oval at Chukyo Racecourse. This year's renewal promises to present one of the most competitive races of the year on a surface that often takes second place in Japan.
There's an old-versus-new aspect, too. The 2017 winner Gold Dream, is back at age 6. And 3-year-old Gold Dream is undefeated in five starts on the dirt. Both are by Gold Allure. Westerlund, a 7-year-old Neo Universe gelding, was second in last year's Champions Cup. And Inti, a 5-year-old by Came Home, won this year's other Group 1 Japanese dirt race, the February Stakes.
England's All-Weather Championships paid a visit to Deauville Thursday but it was British raider Dalgarno who rallied through rivals to eke out the win in the 9 1/2-furlongs Prix Lyphard and earn a guaranteed free start in the Betway Easter Classic on Finals Day, April 10. Carlton Choice and Folamour were third. Well-fancied Century Dream finished fifth.
Trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam and ridden by Stephane Pasquier, Dalgarno finished in 1:53.82.
"The main aim now will obviously be the Easter Classic on Good Friday, which we are very much looking forward to, but there are some nice races to go for in the meantime," Chapple-Hyam said.
Some more races already in the books:
After a pair of scratches, only three faced the starter in the first stakes event of the New Orleans season and Bobby's Wicked One wasted no time showing who was boss. Leading all the way, the 4-year-old Speightstown colt drew off to win by 3 lengths from Tringale with Whereshetoldmetogo another 3 1/2 lengths back in third and last. Bobby's Wicked One ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.68 with Miguel Mena in the irons.
Dugout tracked the early leaders in Monday's $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint, then dug deep to win a stretch battle with Manny Wah by a neck. Olympic Village was third and the favorite, Call Paul, checked in fifth. Dugout, a Chicago-based 3-year-old gelding by Adios Charlie, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.19 with Jareth Loveberry in the irons. He now has six wins and two seconds from nine starts for trainer and part-owner Larry Rivelli.
Last True Love found one last burst of energy in deep stretch in Monday's $75,000 Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff, rallied by 115-1 shot Select Friday and won by 3/4 length over that rival. Hidatsa Park was third. Last True Love, a 4-year-old Yes It's True filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.68 with Gerardo Corrales riding.
Trainer brothers John and Jason Servis between them scored the hat trick Wednesday night, sweeping all three stakes races on the program.
Firenze Fire, fresh from a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, was the dominant force in Wednesday night's $200,000 Fabulous Strike Stakes. After waiting behind dueling leaders, the 4-year-old Poseidon's Warrior colt quickly moved to the lead heading for home and put matters to rest, winning off by 4 1/2 lengths, ridden out by Irad Ortiz Jr. Midnightcharly and Jumpmaster picked up the minor placings. The Jason Servis trainee ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.33.
Servis also sent out Monongahela to a stretch-running, 3-lengths victory in the $100,000 Swatara Stakes over Someday Jones, conditioned by his father, John Servis. Name Changer was another 1/2 length back in third. Monongahela, a 5-year-old son of K One King, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.01 under Jorge Vargas Jr.
And John Servis gave a leg up to Trevor McCarthy, who proceeded to ride Precious to a 3-lengths win in the $100,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies for Pennsylvania-bred 2-year-old fillies. Chilly Sky was second and the odds-on favorite, Autonomous, finished third. Jason Servis did not have a horse in the race. Precious, a daughter of Fed Biz, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.44.
New Mexico got the jump on the holiday with an enchanting card of stakes on Wednesday.
She's My Gem pressed the pace in the $100,000 Zia Park Distaff, went by and bested early leader Best of Me by 1 length. Award It and Flyin Falynn completed the order of finish. She's My Gem, a 3-year-old Into Mischief Filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.76 with Ry Eikleberry up.
Chief Cicatriz surged to the lead in the lane in the $100,000 Zia Park Sprint and run on to win by 2 lengths over the early leader, Secular Nation. Silver Ride rallied from last to get show money. Chief Cicatriz, a 6-year-old Munnings gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.84 with Tyler Baze along for the ride.
Maius was a bit unfocused in the stretch run of the $75,000 Zia Park Juvenile but got squared away in time to kick off to a 1 3/4-lengths victory over Party Town. Competitive Idea was third. Maius, a Colorado-bred gelding by Rocky Bar, completed he 6 furlongs in 1:10.29 for jockey Francisco Arrieta.
Midnight Emma rallied outside rivals in the stretch run to win the $75,000 Zia Park Princess for 2-year-old fillies by 1 1/2 lengths over Smart N Wicked. The favorite, Wasabi Girl, finished third. Midnight Emma, a California-bred filly by Midnight Lute, reported in 1:10.47, also with Arrieta at the controls.
Motion Emotion, in from California, came four-wide around the turn to seize the lead in the $250,000 Zia Park Oaks, then was all out to hold the advantage, winning by 1/2 length. Calf Moon Bay, carried out around the stretch turn by the winner, found late speed by just missed. McWend and Glacier Point were well back in third and fourth, completing the order of finish. Motton Emotion, a Take Charge Indy filly trained by Richard Baltas, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.40 with Mario Gutierrez up. She was eighth in the Kentucky Oaks, placed seventh, but had not won since February at Oaklawn Park.
California invader Restrainedvengence hit another gear in the stretch run of the $150,000 Zia Park Championship, kicking away from eight rivals to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Downtowner and Sphene were second and third. Restrainedvengence, a 4-year-old gelding by Hold Me Back, ran 9 furlongs in 1:48.68 with Baze in the irons. It was his first trip to New Mexico since last year's Zia Park Derby, in which he was eased after starting slowly and falling far back.
And, completing the pre-holiday festivities, Mr Money Bags dueled with Dueling through most of the $250,000 Zia Park Derby before prevailing by a neck on the wire. Walker Stalker was third, another 5 1/4 lengths in arrears. Mr Money Bags, a Silver City gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.04. Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez rode. He has seven win from nine well-selected starts for trainer Mike Neatherlin.
News and notes
It's Thanksgiving, so here's some news for which to be thankful: Purses at Turfway Park's 16-day holiday meeting will "essentially" double last year's, averaging $204,812 a day, including Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund money. Maiden special weight races offer $46,000, with allowance optional claiming purses ranging from $48,000 to $52,000.
"Restoring Turfway Park to its former glory with first-class wintertime racing is important for the entire Kentucky horse racing circuit," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack. Churchill Downs Inc. purchased Turfway in October and plans to demolish the existing grandstand and replace it with a new facility including historical racing machines.
Several regional and national trainers, including Steve Asmussen, plan to return to Turfway after recent absences, the track announced.