March 9 (UPI) -- The Kentucky Derby field firmed up a bit in weekend horse racing with Authentic's victory in California and Mischevious Alex's in New York, while Barney Roy and Matterhorn scored big wins on Super Saturday in Dubai.
In another big weekend of top stakes from coast to coast, Donna Veloce took another step toward the Kentucky Oaks, and Combatant won the Santa Anita Handicap in an upset.
International action stretched from Barbados to South Africa.
Stretch out and peruse:
The Road to the Roses
Two winning favorites counts as an upset in this uncertain year. But it wasn't enough to lift any Derby contender past "All Other 3-Year-Olds" in Pool 3 of the Derby Future Wager.
Authentic starts to look like the real thing after his performance in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita. The Bob Baffert trainee, a son of Into Mischief, went quickly to the lead after an initial bobble, rolled right along and extended his margin to win by 2 1/4 lengths as the favorite.
Honor A.P. and last year's 2-year-old champ Storm the Court, finished second and third. Baffert's other starter, Thousand Words, was fourth, beaten more than 11 lengths as the field strung out during the late going.
Authentic finished the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.56 with Drayden Van Dyke riding. He remains undefeated after three starts, also including the Grade III Sham over the same course in January.
"We still have a long way to go, but what I saw today, you want to see him doing it as easy as he did,'' Baffert said. "He looked like he was enjoying himself out there. I have to just keep him at this level until the first Saturday in May.
"He's a special horse and this was probably one of the toughest prep races that we've seen so far. Those were really good horses in there. We hope to stay healthy and run in the Santa Anita Derby. He'll stay here and run in that and I'll figure something out with Thousand Words."
In New York
Form also prevailed in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct as the favorite, Mischevious Alex, tracked the early pace, and then drew off through the stretch to win by 2 lengths. Untitled and Attachment Rate filled out the trifecta slots.
Mischevious Alex, an Into Mischief colt trained by John Servis, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.80 for jockey Kendrick Carmouche. He now has three straight wins, starting with the Parx Juvenile in November and the Grade III Swale at Gulfstream Park in his previous start.
"It was a great day for us. He handled the next step up really well and gave us a solid effort today," said Mischevious Alex's trainer, John Servis.
The next New York spot on the Road to the Roses is the $750,000 Grade II Wood Memorial on April 4 at Aqueduct. "We'll discuss it, but as long as he comes out of it well, I think it's worth taking a shot," Servis said.
While the weekend's other two Derby preps were more or less predictable, there was a massive upset in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby as 49-1 shot King Guillermo pressed the pace, took over in the stretch and drew off to win by 4 3/4 lengths.
The favorite, Sam F. Davis winner Sole Volante, raced next-last early, then made a big late run to finish second. Another outsider, Texas Swing, finished third and Mucho Macho Man winner Chance It never got going and finished fifth.
King Guillermo, an Uncle Mo colt trained by Juan Avila and ridden by Samy Camacho, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.63, earning 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leader board.
King Guillermo was nearly 50-1 because he had only one previous win, that at Gulfstream Park West, and finished third in his most recent start, the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream.
"His workouts have been great and he didn't do well at 5 1/2 furlongs in his first start, so we decided to put him on turf," said winning owner Victor Martinez, a former Major League baseball player. "But we still believed in him and his dirt workouts were really amazing. We had nothing to lose so we decided to give him one more shot on dirt and see what happens. This is absolutely something else."
The leader board
Authentic moved into first place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, adding 50 points to his earlier-earned 10. Mischevious Alex and King Guillermo each earned 50 points and moved into a three-way tie for third behind Fountain of Youth winner Ete Indien.
Note that King Guilleermo is not currently nominated to the Triple Crown races. Enforceable is No. 6, followed by Storm the Court, Sole Volante, Thousand Words, Tiz the Law and Silver Prospector. Honor A.P. moved to a three-way tie for the No. 11 spot on the list.
The odds: With eight weeks to go, "All Other 3-year-olds" closed Sunday as the favorite in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Authentic finished as the top choice among the 23 individual options at 6-1. The fourth pool, set for April 3 to 5, might have a bit more focus.
Kentucky Oaks preps
Donna Veloce stumbled at the start of Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Santa Ysabela at Santa Anita, came around the field heading through the turn and cleared through the stretch, winning by 4 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Speech and Storie Blue filled the trifecta slots.
Donna Veloce, an Uncle Mo filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.43 with Flavien Prat up. She was second in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and the Grade I Starlet at Los Alamitos to complete her 2-year-old season and the Santa Ysabel was her 3-year-old debut.
"After the Starlet, we gave her some time off," trainer Simon Callaghan said. "She really had done a lot in a short time and nearly pulled off the Breeders' Cup. It was nice to give her a break and bring her back and start here with her 3-year-old campaign." He said she likely will move along to the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks on April 4.
Water White put a nose in front of Kansas Kis at just the right moment to land Saturday's $250,000 Busher Invitational at Aqueduct. Kansas Kis, who looked home free at mid-stretch, settled for second, 5 1/4 lengths in front of Panthera Onca. Water White, a daughter of Conveyance, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.21 with Jorge Vargas Jr. up. It was only her second career win. She was second last time out in the Busanda.
"We were happy with the way she was coming into the race," said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. "It's a very tough group, but she was training very good. We decided to take a chance and she's been beaten by some nice, solid horses. We just took our time and let her continue to develop and today was our day.
"She wants to run all day," Rodriguez added. "We're going to try to point to the Gazelle from here. We'll see how she comes out of this race and we'll take it from there."
Shedaresthedevil came running late to overhaul the front-runners and win Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park by 3/4 length. The favorite, Alta's Reward, was second, 3 lengths better than Motu.
Shedaresthedevil, a daughter of Daredevil, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:4.38 with Joe Talamo in the irons for trainer Brad Cox. It was only her second win but followed runner-up finishes at Santa Anita in October and Oaklawn in her seasonal debut Feb. 15.
"She had been training extremely well leading up to her first race [at Oaklawn] and then she had a fantastic work between that allowance race and the race today," Cox said. "Gave us the confidence to, obviously, not run in the one-other-than [allowance] next week. ... We had a lot of confidence in her. She's a nice filly. She puts a lot into her training in the morning. She gives you the confidence."
Cox said Shedaresthedevil probably will be pointed for the $600,000 Grade III Fantasy Stakes April 10 at Oaklawn.
It's probably too late for Louisville in May, but watch out for Gamine later in the season. The Into Mischief filly, trained by Bob Baffert, made a mockery of her career bow Saturday at Santa Anita, leading comfortably for Drayden Van Dyke and kicking away to win by 6 1/4 lengths over stablemate Reem. Gamine was a $1.8 million purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-year-olds in training sale. She is by Into Mischief out of the Kafwain mare Peggy Jane.
Let's detour to the Middle East, then swing back home before wrapping up with the rest of the international action.
Matterhorn went right to the lead in the $600,000 Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 and the huge advantage he built up proved too high a mountain for his rivals to climb. At the wire, Mickael Barzalona had virtually eased the 5-year-old son of Raven's Pass but he still had 5 1/2 lengths on the runner-up, Military Law. Mark of Approval was third. It was the second start of the season for Matterhorn, following a third-place finish in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, nearly 8 lengths behind the winner, Capezzano.
"We always thought he would handle the dirt well and he has always trained well on it," said Matterhorn's trainer, Salem bin Ghadayer. "We were very pleased with his first start when third to our Capezzano in the Firebreak. We knew this longer trip would suit him and the plan was always to be positive on him, so Mickael has given him a great ride."
Barney Roy continued to sparkle in the desert, sweeping around most of the field turning for home in the $400,000 Group 1 Jebel Hatta Sponsored by Emirates Airline and winning by a comfortable 1 3/4 lengths with William Buick up.
Magic Lily and Spotify also finished well to give Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby a 1-2-3 finish in the prep for the Group 1 Dubai Turf. Barney Roy, a 6-year-old Excelebration gelding, came into the race on the back of a season-opening, 2 1/4-lengths win in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya on Jan. 30.
"From that draw in 12, we decided we would have to ride him for luck," Appleby said of Barney Roy. "The horse has not made that easy for William, but that was a great ride in the circumstances. The horse is just so enthusiastic and keen to get on with things, but once William had him on an even keel in the straight, he was always going to win. He will go to the Dubai Turf and Magic Lily may do so as well. She has had a brilliant year at Meydan. Spotify had run very well also."
Loxley edged the solid favorite, Defoe, by a short head in the $350,000 Group 2 Dubai City of Gold Sponsored by Emirates SkyCargo at 1 1/2 miles. Mountain Hunter was third and the well-fancied Desert Encounter could do no better than sixth. Loxley, a 5-year-old New Approach gelding, finished in 2:28.59 with Barzalona up for Appleby and Godolphin.
"Loxley is a horse we have always really liked, but to be honest, has disappointed in both starts at the Carnival, so it is great to see him get his head back in front with such a nice performance," Appleby said.
Also on the Super Saturday card, run before empty stands because of the COVID-19 threat:
Emblem Storm, under Oisin Murphy, won the $300,000 Al Bastakiya Sponsored by emirates.com by 1 1/4 lengths over Tuz. Emblem Storm, trained by Satish Seemar, ran 1,900 meters in 1:58.06.
Wafy, with Tadhg O'Shea up for Seemar, won the 6-furlong Al Shimaal Sponsored by Emirates Skywards by 3/4 length over stablemate Leading Spirit.
Wildman Jack dominated the $350,000 Group 3 Nad Al Sheeba Turf Sprint Sponsored by Arabian Adventures, kicking away to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Ekhtiyaar, finishing in 1:07.61.
Salute the Soldier got away from the field in the $350,000 Group 3 Burj Nahaar Sponsored by Emirates Holidays, winning the 1-mile dirt race by 5 1/2 lengths over Axelrod.
Meanwhile, back in the States:
Combatant swung four-wide around rivals entering the stretch run in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and held off Multiplier in the final yards to win by a neck. The favorite, Midcourt was third, another 1/2 length back. Combatant, a 5-year-old Scat Daddy ridgling, toured 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:02.32 with Joel Rosario riding.
Winning trainer John Sadler scratched his primary contender, Gift Box, and said he had entered Combatant, coming off a third in the Grade II San Pasqual "as an insurance policy. He trained really well and it looked like he had no distance limitations to me, so I thought it was a good chance to try him. He's got some pretty good races on his form. ... There's never a problem having too many horses that can run. We can run them in different spots."
Crimson Frost edged by the odds-on favorite, Newly Minted, in the stretch run of Sunday's $125,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational at Aqueduct and scooted clear to a 2 1/4-lengths victory over that rival. No Hayne No Gayne was third. Crimson Frost, a 6-year-old Stormy Atlantic mare, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.7 with Manny Franco riding. Crimson Frost clipped heels at the start of the Grade III Turnback the Alarm in her last start, losing her rider. Before that, she was third in the Grade II Beldame.
Filly & Mare Turf
Starship Jubilee continued her winning ways with a 1 1/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $225,000 Grade II Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The 7-year-old Indy Wind mare raced well off the early pace, came four-wide into the lane and quickly made up the differential. Beautful Lover and Kelsey's Cross both came from farther back to finish second and third. Starship Jubilee ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.83. Javier Castellano rode for trainer Kevin Attard.
It was the third straight win for Starship Jubilee and her fifth from the last six starts.
"She's getting better with age, just like a fine wine, a woman coming into herself," winning trainer Kevin Attard said. "She's 7, but she's been healthy, and I think it's great for the sport when you see an older horse like her staying around and running at a top level. She has a strong following. Every time she wins, I get messages from everywhere, and it's just nice to see people appreciate what she brings each time she runs."
Outburst led from the early jumps in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs and survived a late bid by Walk in Marrakesh to win by a head. Secret Stash was third, 1 3/4 lengths in back of Walk in Marrakesh. Outburst, a British-bred filly by Outstrip, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.03 with Castellano up. After racing in France as a 2-year-old, she now is 2-for-2 in the United States.
"I loved the way she did it and I liked the way she finished -- very impressive," Castellano said of Outburst. "And I think there is a lot to look forward to."
Warren's Showtime came from behind rivals in Saturday's $112,000 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita, boldly got through along the inside and prevailed by 1/2 length over Stela Star. Bella Vita was third, another 1/2 length back. Warren's Showtime, a daughter of Clubhouse Ride, got 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.24 under Jorge Velez. She won the Cal Cup Oaks for state-breds in her previous start.
River Boyne and Got Stormy battled it out in deep stretch in Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita with River Boyne finding just a bit more in the final strides to win by a neck. Next Shares made a late bit, but settled for third, a head back of Got Stormy.
River Boyne, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred son of Dandy Man, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.88 for jockey Abel Cedillo. He was fourth in last year's Kilroe but came into this year's edition off a win in the Grade II Thunder Road over the course and distance.
"A perfect trip," said River Boyne's trainer, Jeff Mullins. "I told Abel to try and get the same trip as he did last time. This time he had to go inside instead of outside. Abel has done a great job keeping him in position. That is the way he likes to run and he's got a really good kick down the lane. I couldn't say any more about Abel."
Trophy Chaser got by the favorite, King for a Day, in the closing strides of Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, winning by a neck over that rival. It was another 11 lengths back to Prompt in third. Trophy Chaser, a 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:42.28 under Paco Lopez, improving to 2-for-2 this year.
Doc Boy, racing for the first time since October at Keeneland, rallied from next-to-last to take Saturday's $75,000 Columbia Stakes for 3-year-olds at Tampa Bay Downs by 1 3/4 lengths over Mr. Kringle. Summer Assault was third. Doc Boy, an Into Mischief colt, finished 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.67 with Joe Bravo up for trainer Michael Stidham.
Mind Control stumbled out of the gate in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct, then unleashed a powerful run down the stretch to catch breakaway leader Happy Farm and win by 1 1/4 lengths. Happy Farm held second, 2 lengths in front of Bon Raison. Mind Control, a 4-year-old Stay Thirsty colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.88 with Junior Alvarado aboard.
Flagstaff rallied four-wide to get to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II San Carlos at Santa Anita and easily held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Roadster. McKale was third. Flagstaff, a 6-year-old Speightstown gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.64 with Victor Espinoza riding, improving on a second-place finish in the Grade II Palos Verdes in his previous outing.
Diamond King had to scrap for the lead in Saturday's $125,000 Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct, got things sorted out in the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. American Anthem was second, another 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Backsideofthemoon. Diamond King, a 5-year-old son of Quality Road, ran 1 mile in 1:38.04 for jockey Kendrick Carmouche.
Whitmore loves Oaklawn Park and the 7-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding proved it again Saturday with a stretch-running, 2 1/2-lengths victory in the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes. Mr. Jagermeister led most of the way but found no answer to the winner's powerful rally. Wendell Fong finished third, 2 lengths farther back. Whitmore, toting Joe Talamo, finished in 1:08.54.
"It's such a good feeling to see him do what he does and knowing how he loves to do it," trainer and part-owner Ron Moquett said. "I get excited, so I stay away from people and I try not to transfer that energy to him. But, we're so proud of him."
Around the world, around the clock:
Night Prowler, an 8-year-old gelding by Giant's Causeway, took down the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup Saturday at Garrison Savannah Racecourse, edging by Bodie Tap in the late going to win by 1 length. Rising Star was third. Night Prowler, owned by Sir David Seale and ridden by J. Samuel, was the nearly even-money favorite for the 1,800-meters turf test. He was third in last year's renewal.
Got the Greenlight took the Grade 1 South African Classic and Summer Pudding took down the Grade 1 Fillies Classic in action Saturday at Turffontine.
With Bernard Fayd'herbe aboard, Got the Greenlight raced midfield, move up along the inside and finished 3/4 length to the good of runner-up Green Laser. Gautang Guineas winner Ikigai could do no better than fifth. The race was the second leg of the South African Triple Crown, which remains a wide open affair.
Summer Pudding, on the other hand, looks the real deal. The Silvano filly reported 1 length to the good of Marygold with Magic School third. Trained by Paul Peter, she improved to 5-for-5. She narrowly defeated Rio's Winter in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas in her previous outing.