Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Plenty of tempting goodies are on the weekend horse racing menu, including Maximum Security in the entrée list, a lot of big turf races among the salad courses and some juvenile tilts for dessert.
But before we preview the weekend's goodies, some Champagne-sparkling performances should be noted from the north of England.
Not the least of them is a tour de force victory by Ghaiyyath in the Group 1 Juddmonte International -- a performance that left both observers and his rivals gasping -- and another dominating win by Investec Oaks heroine Love in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
After the Yorkshire Oaks, Love vaulted to favorite status among British bookmakers for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Ghaiyyath's odds dropped to mid-single digits.
Out front immediately in the Juddmonte International, the 1 1/4-miles jewel of York's prestigious Ebor meeting, jockey William Buick had the cruise control engaged on Ghaiyyath until the final couple of furlongs.
At that point, Magical, Lord North and Kameko all attempted to launch an assault. Nothing happened as Ghaiyyath simply lengthened stride, held them all easily at bay and cruised home first by 3 lengths.
Magical was second, snapping a three-race Group 1 winning streak, followed by Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes winner Lord North and Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Kameko.
For Ghaiyyath, it was a top-shelf Group 1 triple of his own, following along on the Coronation Cup and the Coral-Eclipse, in which he got the better of a comebacking Enable.
"He's the best I've ridden, without a doubt," Racing Post quoted Buick as saying. "He has this amazing high cruising speed but I thought what was evident today was the kick he had a furlong and a half out. He completely put the race to bed, finished it off and stamped his authority.
"He can do things that other horses don't do."
One thing he could not do was handle the bottomless going in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, where he finished 10th, beaten 33 lengths. Trainer Charlie Appleby acknowledged tactical mistakes contributed to that result and didn't rule out a return.
The Juddmonte International was a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic on the Keeneland dirt in November but that possibility wasn't mentioned in the wake of Wednesday's performance.
Also at York in the incredibly scenic north of England:
Pyledriver rallied smartly and quickly to the fore in the final furlongs of the Group 2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes for 3-year-olds and drew off to a 3-lengths victory despite wandering a bit in the late going.
Highland Chief was second, followed by the favorite, Mogul. Pyledriver, a Harbour Watch colt trained by William Muir, was making his first start since finishing 11th in the Investec Derby. Before that, he won the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Gear Up outfinished Spycatcher to win the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes for 2-year-olds. Gear Up, a Teofilo colt trained by Mark Johnston, improved to 2-for-2.
The disappointment was Godolphin's Hard Spun colt, Cloudbridge, who was uncontrollable for Buick and finished last of eight at even-money.
Love, under confident handling by Ryan Moore, completed a Group 1 triple of the Qipco 1000 Guineas, Investec Oaks and Darley Yorkshire Oaks with hardly any fuss at all.
Reserved right behind the early leader, the Galileo filly took command some 3 furlongs from the finish and won at will. The official margin of 5 lengths easily could have been more as Moore hand-rode Love the final few hundred yards. Alpinista and One Voice were second and third.
The performance occasioned high praise from trainer Aidan O'Brien, who is not given to superlatives outside the parameters of his usual media vocabulary.
"I don't know whether we've had such an exciting filly at this stage," said O'Brien, who has saddled the winners of six 1000 Guineas and eight Investec Oaks.
"I can't name one. It would be very hard to say we've ever had a more exciting filly than Love -- as long as I'm not dreaming in saying that."
The target now is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which is shaping up to be the race of the decade, no matter how you figure decades, and British bookmakers shifted Love to favorite status for that race, leapfrogging two-time winner Enable.
O'Brien said an Arc bid was a factor in the decision to let Love run Thursday over ground that might have been on the soft side of good. Her performance, he said, gives confidence she could handle off going in France, though truly deep conditions might be a different story.
Perhaps if that doesn't work out, the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf would be an option since the Yorkshire Oaks was a "Win and You're In" for that race.
Also Thursday, Miss Amulet got to the lead late in the Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and held off a furious late bid by the favorite, Sacred, winning by 1 length.
Umm Kulthum was third. Miss Amulet, a Sir Prancealot filly, notched her third win from six starts. Sacred was second in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot in her last start.
The Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, written by tradition for 2-year-olds and up, highlights the program and Battaash stars in that event.
The 5-furlong dash is a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Battaash enters off consecutive wins in the Group 1 King's Stand at the Royal meeting and the Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood.
Back to North America:
Now, on to the North American domestic doin's, with the reminder that a fresh set of eyes on these things never hurts. No eyes fresher than those of long-time industry insider Jude Feld, whose thoughtful tips can be had at popejude.com.
Who's up to take on Maximum Security at even weights going 1 1/4 miles Saturday? Del Mar got five takers for that chore in the $500,000 Grade I TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic.
The five, Midcourt, Higher Power, Mirinaque, Dark Vader and Sharp Samurai, are all nice horses -- some very nice indeed. Mirinaque makes his first start up from South America after finishing second in both the Group 1 Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano and the Group 1 Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini -- the latter a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf.
But if the likely odds-on favorite maximizes his potential, they'll run for second place.
Maximum Security, a 4-year-old New Year's Day colt, has finished first in 10 of 11 starts. To date, however, his career will be remembered for other things. One of the untoward incidents was the Kentucky Derby, taken away in the stewards' booth.
Another was the indictment of his trainer on doping charges, which led the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia to withhold his winner's share of the purse of the $20 million Saudi Cup -- a decision still pending.
And don't forget, his first start was in a $16,000 claimer at Gulfstream Park Dec. 20, 2018. Anyone could have bought this magnificent beast for less than the cost of a decent automobile but there were no takers.
The horse doesn't know any of that and just keeps on winning, currently six in a row counting the Saudi Cup. A win here and in November in the Breeders' Cup, would make the legal issues footnotes rather than the headline of a great career.
Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park has six entries with three of them just about even in the oddsmaker's estimation.
Warrior's Charge, a 4-year-old Munnings colt, won the Grade III Razorback at Oaklawn Park and most recently was fourth in the Grade I Met Mile. Bal Harbour, a 5-year-old First Samurai gelding, hasn't won since November of 2018, but was second in this last year.
Mind Control, a 4-year-old colt by Stay Thirsty, was third in the Grade I Vanderbilt at Saratoga in his last race.
Seven 3-year-old fillies are set for Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Torrey Pines at 1 mile on the Del Mar dirt. There's not a lot to separate them although Secret Keeper and Harvest Moon are defending two-race win skeins.
Bob Baffert has Merneith, who was third behind Swiss Skydiver in the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks, and Provocation, who makes her third start. Both need to find a consistent rhythm.
United tops a field of 11 for Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Del Mar Handicap, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf.
The 5-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding has won three straight Grade II events -- the San Marcos, the Charles Whittingham and the Eddie Read. Before that, he was second in the Breeders' Cup Turf, just a head shy of derailing Bricks and Mortar's Horse of the Year title run, and the Hollywood Turf Cup.
The rest of the Del Mar Handicap field looks suspect by comparison with United. Combatant did win the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year but has turned in two dreadful performances since.
Filly & Mare Turf
Turfmeister Chad Brown has "only" two of the six entries for Sunday's $500,000 Grade I Diana at Saratoga.
But they're mighty good ones. Sistercharlie won this event in both 2018 and 2019 and, while she's been in a bit of a slump, could be ready to rock and roll again. Rushing Fall is 2-for-2 this season and exits a win in the Grade I Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland in its unique July meeting.
Tired of backing Brown-trained favorites? Try ultraconsistent Italian import Call Me Love or recent Grade II winner Ballston Spa winner Starship Jubilee or Mean Mary, riding a four-race winning streak. Even Secret Message, who looks like the longest chance in the field, wouldn't be a total surprise if things break right. Nice race.
Laura's Light enters Saturday's $250,000 Grade I Del Mar Oaks with four wins from her last five starts with the only loss in that stretch coming in the Bourbonette Oaks over the Turfway Park all-weather course.
Her main opposition here might be two French imports making their first U.S. start. Miss Extra, handed off from Pia Brandt to Richard Mandella, won the Group 2 Prix du Sandringham in June at Chantilly. Neige Blanche, now trained by Leonard Powell, won the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre at Lyon-Parilly in her last start before boarding the plane. Trickle In arrives with a record of 3-for-4 in the Midwest and East Coast.
The aforementioned Chad Brown saddles four of the nine set for Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, a "Win and You're In" for the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile.
Three of them -- Raging Bull, Without Parole and 2019 Breeders' Cup winner Uni -- are the favories, along with the Todd Pletcher-trained Halladay.
Eleven are entered for Sunday's $150,000 Grade II Del Mar Mile but the field likely will be cut to 10 with Sharp Samurai directed instead to the Pacific Classic.
Among those likely to start we find the likes of Kentucky invader The Black Album, 2019 Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile winner Mo Forza, and 2019 Cal Cup Derby winner Galilean.
Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar has some interesting aspects. Mike's Tiznow arrives from Golden Gate Fields after back-to-back wins -- a year apart.
He won the Albany Stakes June 8, 2019, then was absent until June 6 of this year, when he won the same race. He's a confirmed front-runner and a fast one at that.
Chaos Theory was claimed for $62,500 while winning his most recent start at Churchill Downs but has graded stakes experience. Baja Sur was second in this year's Albany. Mike Smith will get a leg up seeking a second straight ride on Sparky Ville.
Sprint / Dirt Mile
A nice, competitive field of eight is set for Friday's $100,000 Grade III Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar, 1 mile on the dirt.
The morning-line pick is Sneaking Out, a 4-year-old Indian Evening filly who won the Grade II Great Lady M at Los Alamitos in her most recent start. Also with notices are Unique Factor, Mucho Amor, Amuse and Gingham.
Toby's Heart was off a step slow in Wednesday's $85,000 Bolton Landing Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga but came around rivals into the stretch to get the job done by 1 1/4 lengths.
Joy's Rocket was next-best, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Amanzi Yimpilo. Toby's Heart, a daughter of Jack Milton, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on good turf in 1:02.31 with Jose Ortiz up.
Around the world, around the clock:
We'll finish up the Ebor meeting in the weekend report.
Nazeef is the even-money favorite in Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet for fillies and mares at Deauville.
The 4-year-old Invincible Spirit filly, trained by John Gosden for Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum, won the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket before finishing third in the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, behind Fancy Blue and One Voice.
Sunday's Group 1 Darley Prix Morny for 2-year-olds, pending final declarations, finds Tactical, a Coronado colt trained by Andrew Balding for Her Majesty the Queen, and Campanelle, a Kodiac filly trained by Wesley Ward for Stonestreet Stables, as the antepost favorites.
Tactical has won his last two, most recently the Group 2 Tattersalls July Stakes at Newmarket. Campanelle hasn't raced since she edged Sacred in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Saturday's program at the Curragh has a pair of Group 2 events for 2-year-olds, one restricted to fillies. It's no surprise the field are filled with O'Brien trainees but there are others. These bear close watching.
In other North American action:
Stan the Man came six-wide around rivals to win Thursday's $85,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over My Boy Tate. T Loves a Fight was another 1/2 length back in third. Stan the Man, a 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.47 under Joel Rosario.
Presque Isle Downs
Wet Your Whistle was last of 11 early in Monday's $75,000 Karl Boyes Stakes, wended his way through traffic and got there in time to win by 1 length. Smart Remark nailed pacesetting favorite Wellabled for second.
Wet Your Whistle, a 5-year-old Stroll gelding, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.44 with Scott Spieth up.
The Minnesota track had five stakes for state-breds on the Wednesday card, to wit:
Northern Playboy found late speed to win the $100,000 Minnesota Derby by 4 3/4 lengths over Love My Boss. The Latent Heat gelding finished 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.97 with Ry Eikleberry up.
Hotasapistol found running room on the rail in the stretch drive of the $100,000 Minnesota Oaks and got through to win by 3/4 length from Rush Hour Traffic. Hotasapistol, a daughter of Flat Out, reported in 1:44.04 with Alonzo Quinonez riding.
Drop of Golden Sun led all the way to a 3 1/4-lengths score over Hot Shot Kid in the $55,000 Wally's Choice Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.
Ready to Runaway also led from the start in the $55,000 Glitter Star Stakes for fillies and mares and ran away in the final furlong to an 8 1/2-lengths victory.
Westa Waverly battled for the lead in the $50,000 MTA Sales Graduate Futurity, then kicked clear of seven rivals to win by 4 lengths. Quinonez had the ride as the Westover Wildcat gelding ran 5 furlongs in 58.08 seconds.