July 27 (UPI) -- Enable was super again in winning the King George at Ascot, while Maximum Security eked out a win at Del Mar in highlights of weekend racing.
United was good enough on the Del Mar turf to have his trainer thinking about switching surfaces and challenging Maximum Security in the Pacific Classic. We'll see about that.
The Durban July was run without its usual boisterous crowd, but with the usual exciting outcome.
Though there's lots of great racing to cover from around the world, it would be wrong to start this recap with anything other than Enable.
As Enable sprinted away from her two rivals in the straight to win Saturday's Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes for a record third time, trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori had similar thoughts: I love this mare. I'm honored to have her and feel the responsibility of seeing to her. Let's go win a third Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
There was little to the race, with only three runners. Last year's Irish Derby winner, Sovereign, with William Buick aboard, shot out to the lead, extended the advantage climbing the hill out of Swinley Bottom and took the trio into the straight.
Dettori had kept Enable at an easy pace, just in front of Japan and Ryan Moore, and started to pick up ground as the finish drew into sight.
With 200 meters left, Dettori looked over his left shoulder, saw Japan didn't have it on the day and set Enable down for one big run. With a rush, the 6-year-old daughter of Nathaniel was in front, then clear, then 5 1/2 lengths in front of Sovereign under the wire with Japan another 11 lengths back.
The race was Enable's second of the season, following a second-place finish behind the highly regarded Ghaiyyath in the Group 1 Coral Eclipse. Gosden said, as a 6-year-old, she needed that race to work back into top form.
Enable has won 12 of 15 starts against the world's best and needs only avenge her final-furlong defeat in last year's Arc to close out her magnificent career.
Before that, Gosden said, York is on the agenda -- for either the Juddmonte International, sponsored by her owner-breeder, Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, or for the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
"We are lucky," Gosden said. "Of course it is a weighty responsibility, but we are very fortunate to have a filly of that ability, of that stature and of that character. ... I find the responsibility quite enormous and it weighs heavy, but what a pleasure to be around a race mare like that.
"She is important to racing, horses like her are incredibly important to our game," Gosden added. "Prince Khalid is a magnificent owner and a passionate horseman. He knows his pedigrees and it was his decision and his decision alone to keep her in training."
Dettori has made no secret of his love affair with Enable, dating to well before her back-to-back 2018 victories in the Arc and the Breeders' Cup Turf.
"I love her so much," he said. "She has taken me to emotional heights no other horse has. She is the only horse I ride from the yard. I spoil her with Polos [mints]. I don't know whether she really recognizes me or not, but she eats them no matter what! I've become friends with her. She knows she is good, and I am trying to enjoy it as much as we all are. She is wonderful."
Looking ahead, Dettori added, "The dream really -- three King Georges is amazing -- but it is really about the Arc. With a performance like this, we're still in with a shot."
The King George was a "Win and You're In" Challenge race for this year's Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland. But it undoubtedly would be asking too much, even of a sportsman of Prince Khalid's caliber, to put Enable on a racetrack again after the Arc.
Now, back in North America:
Maximum Security, making his first start since victory in the $20 million Saudi Cup nearly five months ago, gave up the lead in Saturday's $150,000 Grade II San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, allowing Midcourt to take the advantage down the backstretch.
Then, once Abel Cedillo got Maximum Security rolling, it was all he could do to make up that margin and just barely put a nostril in front under the wire. Higher Power was third as Maximum Security reported in 1:44.54 over a fast track.
"When we turned for home I had to get to work," Cedillo said. "I knew I was going to do that. He's the kind of horse you have to ride all the way. You have to keep working on him. We got it done."
It was Maximum Security's first start for Bob Baffert, who took over training duties after Jason Servis's legal problems emerged. And it was the first time on the colt for Cedillo, subbing for Luis Saez, whose travel was interrupted by COVID-19 restrictions.
"That was crazy," Baffert said. "I knew I didn't have him really drummed up for this race. We were going to use this to get ready for the next one. But we're learning about the horse.
"He won today when he had every reason to get beat. He showed what a great horse he is today. He's such a fighter. I'm glad we got this over with and now he's in good shape."
Maximum Security now has eight wins from 10 starts -- a record which would be one win better but for his controversial disqualification after the Kentucky Derby. His next logical step would be the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 22.
Filly & Mare Turf
Starship Jubilee bided her time, well behind a runaway leader, through the early furlongs of Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Ballston Spa at Saratoga, found another gear when called on by jockey Javier Castellano and was along to win by a neck over Call Me Love.
The odds-on favorite, Sistercharlie, brushed the gate on takeoff and never reached contention, rallying late to secure third.
Starship Jubilee, a 7-year-old mare by Indy Wind, ran 1 1/16 miles on the firm inner turf course in 1:41.76.
It was her fourth straight win and sixth from her last seven for trainer Kevin Attard. Sistercharlie, the 2018 divisional Eclipse Award winner, was making her first start since a third in last November's Breeders' Cup. Before that, she had scored six straight wins, all in Grade I events.
"She's such a great horse, to beat Sistercharlie -- she's one of the best fillies in the country," Castellano said. "I think we were in the right time and the right place to beat her today. I give all the credit to my horse."
At Del Mar, Laura's Light drafted behind the early leader in Saturday's $150,000 Grade II San Clemente for 3-year-old fillies, swooped past that one entering the stretch and went on to win by 2 lengths. Guitty rallied from last of 10 to finish second, 1/2 length in front of Warren's Showtime. Laura's Light, with Abel Cedillo riding, completed 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.16.
Laura's Light, a Constitution filly, has four wins from her last five starts -- a string interrupted by a fourth-place showing in the Bourbonette Oaks over the Turfway Park all-weather course March 14. The San Clemente was a prep for the Grade I Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 22.
United tracked down pacesetting Neptune's Storm in the stretch run to win Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar. Sharp Samurai rallied from the back of the six-horse field to nip Neptune's Storm for second but was still 1/2 length shy of the winner.
United, a 5-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:46.71 with Flavien Prat in the irons.
United just missed defeating 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in last year's Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, missing by a head. He is 3-for-3 this year, all Grade II events in California.
After the race, trainer Richard Mandella dropped a bit of a bombshell.
"This horse is training so well on the dirt, month after month, that I'm going to consider running him in the Pacific Classic," Mandella said immediately after the Read. "I've been thinking all summer about it."
The summer, of course, is barely more than half over. But, that plan, should it come to fruition, would put him on a collision course with Maximum Security.
In Sunday's Saratoga feature, Somelikeithotbrown led the way in the $150,000 Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap, then inched clear at the end to win by 1 length from Mr Dumas.
The favorite, Good Governance, was third, lacking a late rally. Somelikeithotbrown, a 4-year-old colt by Big Brown, finished 1 1/16 miles on the firm inner turf in 1:41.32. Tyler Gaffalione rode for trainer Mike Maker, who also saddled Mr Dumas.
Somelikeithotbrown was coming off a second in the Grade II Fort Marcy at Belmont Park. He has been a consistent performer, hitting the board in 10 of 13 starts including a third in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"I was a little surprised down the backside when I was all by myself," Gaffalione said. "I thought there would be a little more pressure, but I was happy with where I was and how he was running. All the credit to Mike and his team, they had him ready today."
At Monmouth Park on Sunday, Vanzzy kicked into gear in the final furlong to win the $100,000 Jersey Derby by 3 1/2 lengths. Bye Bye Melvin was second and the favorite,
Irish Miss, was another 3/4 length back in third. Vanzzy, a Verrazano colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.30 with Michael Pino in the irons. It was his fourth win from nine starts. The victories included the Rushaway Stakes over the Turfway Park all-weather track in March.
Volatile jumped right to the lead in Saturday's $250,000 Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap and easily held off Whitmore in the closing stages to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Mind Control and Firenze Fire completed the order of finish with Lexitonian a late scratch.
Volatile, a 4-year-old Violence colt out of the Unbridled's Song mare Melody Lady, was sent to the post as odds-on favorite and ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.61 with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons.
Volatile has four wins from five career starts. The Steve Asmussen trainee won the listed Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs in his previous start, but the Vanderbilt was his first try in a graded stakes.
"We saw the first two races from him this year and they were absolutely brilliant," Asmussen said. "I feel very good about getting those races into him before he met accomplished horses like this. But from an ability or a speed level, he has it all."
Asked about Volatile's next start, the trainer said, "We'll discuss it, but we obviously feel the Breeders' Cup is where we want to be with him at the of the year and how we get there from here is going to be the plan."
In other action around North America:
Potential preps for the Queen's Plate and Woodbine Oaks were on the program Saturday at Woodbine, but don't look for the winners to reappear in either of those big races.
Shirl's Speight, the winner of the $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Marine Stakes won't be seen in Canada's signature race as he was bred in Kentucky and the QP is for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds only. That doesn't detract at all from Shirl's Speight's performance in the Marine.
The Speightstown colt chased the early speed, blew by that one in the lane and won off by 2 3/4 lengths. Lucky Curlin and Dotted Line completed the order of finish as Shirl's Speight and jockey Rafael Hernandez got 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.42. The colt now is 2-for-2 for trainer Roger Attfield.
And Two Sixty, as a Florida-bred, also won't be in the locals-only Woodbine Oaks despite her victory in Saturday's $150 (Canadian) Grade III Selene Stakes. The daughter of Uncaptured led from the start and held on in the final strides to win by 3/4 length over Saratoga Vision.
Owlette was third as the favorite. Two Sixty, with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons for trainer Mark Casse, got home in 1:45.01. It was her fourth win from 11 starts.
On Sunday, Mr Ritz defended his title in the $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Seagram Cup at Woodbine, leading all the way to a 2-lengths victory. Skywire was next-best with 38-1 long shot Cooler Mike adding a touch of value to the trifecta.
Mr. Ritz a 5-year-old, British-bred son of Oasis Dream, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.28 with Patrick Husbands aboard.
Cross Border had no trouble with three rivals in Wednesday's $85,000 Lubash Stakes for New York-breds.
After taking back early, the 6-year-old English Channel ridgling easily swooped to the fore and drew off to a 6 1/4-lengths victory. Rapt, Blewitt and The J Y completed the order of finish. With Jose Ortiz up, Cross Border got 1 1/16 miles of firm turf in 1:41.75.
Fresco dawdled well back in Thursday's $100,000 Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Stakes, came running late and got by pacesetting Dixie Cannon in the final sixteenth, winning by 1 3/4 length.
Nicky Scissors was well back in third. Fresco, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, ran 1 1/16 miles on the firm inner turf course in 1:45.43 with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.
Galilean split rivals early in the stretch run in Sunday's $125,000 California Dreamin' Stakes for California-breds and held off a late run by long shot Whooping Jay to win by 1/2 length.
Brandothebartender rallied from well back to take third. Galilean, a 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.87 under Flavien Prat.
Vertical Threat was more of a horizontal threat in Saturday's $65,000 Smiling Tiger Stakes for 3-year-olds. The Tapiture colt, with Heriberto Figueroa up, quickly put away the favorite, Ragtime Blues and ran straight and flat to a 5 1/4-lengths victory over that foe.
Thanks Mr. Eidson and Howbeit completed the order of finish. Vertical Threat ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.47.
Absolutely Aiden battled to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 Good Lord Stakes, took a daylight advantage and held on gamely through the closing strides to win by 3/4 length over Home Base. Manny Wah was third.
Absolutely Aiden, a 4-year-old Stay Thirsty colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.19 with Chris Landeros in the irons for trainer Wesley Hawley.
Golden Brown ran by Royal Urn late in Saturday's $75,000 Irish War Cry Handicap for New Jersey-breds and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Royal Urn held second, 2 lengths in front of Prendimi.
Golden Brown, a 5-year-old Offlee Wild gelding, ran 1 mile on the fast main track in 1:38.58 with Paco Lopez up. The race originally was carded for the turf.
Lone Star Park
Brave Daisey dueled to the lead in Sunday's $75,000 Valor Farm Stakes for Texas-bred fillies and mares and got clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths. The odds-on favorite, Ima Discreet Lady, was second, another 10 1/4 lengths in front of Storm Traffic.
Brave Daisey, a 5-year-old mare by Hidden Blessing, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:10.42 with Danny Sorenson riding.
Sunlit Song was along in the final jumps of Sunday's $75,000 Highlander Training Center Assault Stakes for Texas-breds, nailing front-running favorite Redatory by a neck.
Moojab Jr was third. Sunlit Song, a 5-year-old My Golden Song gelding, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:34.15 with Lindey Wade up.
Tight Fittin Jeans worked out to an early lead in Saturday's $50,000 Sierra Starlet Handicap for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies and gradually extended the advantage to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Laugharoo was second with Two Stepper third. Tight Fittin Jeans, a Shame On Charlie filly, negotiated 5 1/2 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:04.46 with Francisco Amparan riding.
Four $50,000 stakes for state-breds enriched the Sunday card.
Next Affair rallied after a stumbling start to win the Land of Enchantment Handicap by 4 1/2 lengths. The 5-year-old Diabolical gelding ran 7 1/2 furlongs on the good track in 1:33.44 with Luis Fuentes up.
Rig Time, a 5-year-old Right Rigger gelding, stalked the pace in the 5 1/2-furlongs Sierra Blanca Handicap, then got by and went on to win by 3 1/2 lengths, reporting in 1:02.00 under Isaias Enriquez.
Cerveza's backers hoisted one after the Attila's Storm gelding scored a 2 1/2-lengths victory in the Road Runner Handicap for 3-year-olds. With Fuentes in the irons, he completed 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.19.
And Waltzing Attila waltzed home first by 4 lengths over Let It Roll in the Lincoln Handicap for fillies and mares. The 6-year-old daughter of Attila's Storm covered 6 furlongs in 1:10.42 for jockey Luis Negron.
Top Harbor trailed the field early in Saturday's $50,000 Everett Nevin Stakes for 2-year-olds, rallied six-wide to stage a bold rally through the stretch and won by 1/2 length from Tom's Song. My Father Footstep also ran well late to get show money.
Top Harbor, a Harbor the Gold colt, finished 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.45 with William Antongiorgi up.
And, back across the oceans:
Belgarion, benefiting from a weight break but handicapped by the No. 17 post position, nonetheless came running through the final yards of Saturday's Group 1 Vodacom Durban July to post a narrow win over Got The Greenlight.
Do It Again, bidding to become a three-time winner of the July, had every chance in the final furlong but finished third.
With Richard Fourie riding, Belgarion had to come around the field to make his run, finishing nearly at the stands-side rail on the narrow HollywoodBets Greyville turf course.
Belgarion, by 2003 July winner Dynasty, entered the race with six wins from eight starts but was stepping up to Grade I company.
Justin Snaith had five runners in the July, including both Belgarion and Do It Again.
"Jockeys win the Durban July," said winning trainer Justin Snaith, who also trains Do It Again. Fourie had ridden Belgarion in four of his eight previous starts but gave way to Anton Marcus in Belgarion's last outing -- a victory in the World Sports Betting 1900 June 20 at Greyville.
The Durban July is one of the prized events of the racing year in South Africa but this year was run without the usual boisterous live audience because of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Nonetheless, Snaith said. the race remains a fixture perhaps better appreciated abroad than by the KwaZulu-Natal Province racing community itself.
"It's not just the racing fraternity," said the internationally minded young trainer. "In Natal, I don't know what it is but they love horse racing.
"It's got such a following to all the people around South Africa and internationally that have watched this race. I mean, the messages that have come from all parts of the world, so I think we underestimate the following that the Vodacom Durban July has.
"I could take Belgarion ... anywhere in the world and he wouldn't look 'out' in any parade ring.
The Ballydoyle contingent's disappointment in the King George got some quick salve in Sunday's Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh as Magical, with Wayne Lorden aboard, made all and kicked clear late, winning by 2 1/4 lengths from stablemate Sir Dragonet.
The Dermott Weld-trained Search for a Song was third with another Ballydoyle contender, Armory up for fourth with a bit of a late surge.
Magical, a 5-year-old Galileo mare, made it 2-for-2 this year after taking the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes over the same course and 1 1/4-miles trip June 28.
A top performer throughout her career, she has had the misfortune to run into Enable four times, thrice finishing second to her. That statistic includes the 2018 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.
"She is a great mare," O'Brien said of Magical. "The only reason she is here now is because of the progress she made over the winter and she had progressed again from the Pretty Polly, so we are delighted the lads kept her in training."
Godolphin star Barney Roy came blasting through between rivals in the stretch run to capture Sunday's Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis -- Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich by a neck over a stubborn local competitor, Quest the Moon.
Patrick Sarsfield, trained by Joseph Patrick O'Brien, was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third at the end of the 2,000 meters.
Jockey William Buick kept Barney Roy well off the pace made by Naida and Godolphin stablemate Spotify. Turning for home, most of the field edged out to the middle of the course, leaving a gaping hole which Buick quickly exploited.
Despite the relatively narrow margin of victory, Barney Roy, a 6-year-old Excelebration gelding, never looked like losing through the closing furlong.
After being denied his chance in the canceled Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night at Meydan, Barney Roy returned to finish third in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Back to "jolly olde" for a bit.
Franconia got to a narrow lead about 2 furlongs out in Sunday's listed British Stallion Studs EBF Lyric Fillies' Stakes at York, and then battled the rest of the way with Gold Wand before prevailing by 3/4 length.
The 3-year-old Frankel filly might be one to take up part of the slack from the expected year-end retirement of Enable. She is a Juddmonte Farms homebred, out of the Pivotal mare Winter Sunrise, whose progeny have yet to make a big impact.
She finished second in her only start last season and is 2-for-2 this year. The familiar faces of Frankie Dettori and John Gosden were in charge Sunday.
Saturday at York, Aspetar rallied smoothly from the back of a seven-horse field to post a bit of an upset win in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes for fillies and mares.
Fox Chairman was second, 1 1/2 lengths back, and the substantial favorite, Elarqam, faded from the lead to finish next-last. Aspetar, a 5-year-old French-bred gelding by Al Kazeem, is a Sheik Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani homebred. Trained by Roger Charlton, he won for the fifth time.
It's fun to look at the 2-year-olds with great bloodlines learning their business and seeing their owners and trainers figuring out which of them have potential for next year's Guineas and beyond. Some weekend results:
Coill Avon, with Colin Keane up for Ger Lyons, held safe the Coolmore favorite, St Mark's Basilica, to win Sunday's opener at the Curragh by 2 1/4 lengths.
Coill Avon, a Kingman colt, posted his first win while making his third start. St Mark's Basilica, a Siyouni colt from the Galileo mare Cabaret, made his first start. Cabaret also produced Vertem Futurity Trophy and Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia.
Moon In Her Eye, an Acclamation filly out of the Sea the Stars mare Caelica, faded late in her career debut Sunday at the Curragh, finishing fifth as the solid favorite.
The winner was Thunder Beauty, a daughter of the impressive young sire Night of Thunder out of the Dansili mare Quiania.
Seven Brothers, a Slade Power colt, ran his record to 2-for-2 with a front-running win on Sunday's card at York. He was produced by the Dansili mare Ihtifal.
Mohawk King was a first-out winner Saturday at Ascot, beating Churchill Bay by a head with two intriguing youngsters from Sheik Hamdan's operation finishing third and fourth.
Mohawk King, trained by Richard Hannon for Isa Salman Al Khalifa, is by Siyouni out of the Invincible Spirit mare Marsh Hawk.
Zabeel Queen triumphed for Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid Al Maktoum and trainer Roger Varian in the 2-year-old fillies feature Saturday at Ascot with a Godolphin trio settling for third, fourth and sixth.
Zabeel Queen, a Frankel filly from the Kingmambo mare Dubai Queen, won by 1 1/4 lengths in her first trip to the races.
Godolphin did get one home first Saturday as Dhahabi overcame a slow start to win a 7-furlongs event at Newmarket by a neck as the favorite. The Frankel colt, from the Dubai Destination mare Fleche d'Or, was no secret, well backed in his first trip to the races for trainer Charlie Appleby.
Gear Up, a Teofilo colt, was a first-out winner for trainer Mark Johnston on Saturday at York. Later on the same card, Johnston also sent out Julie Johnston (presumably no relation) to win the Sky Bet Nursery Handicap by 3 1/2 front-running lengths.
The equine Johnston is a daughter of Acclamation and definitely related to her dam, Jeanie Johnston, by One Cool Cat.