Sept. 8 (UPI) -- So, what did we learn from a Labor Day weekend of horse racing that included the Kentucky Derby and several other vital races? Well ...
We learned Authentic and Tiz the Law, the 1-2 in the Derby, seem to be the class of the 3-year-olds and could meet again in the Preakness and might take on the best older horses in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
We learned Trainer Brad Cox has a potent punch for the Breeders' Cup Distaff with 3-year-old Shedaresthedevil and 5-year-old Monomoy Girl, both weekend winners at Churchill Downs.
We learned Jackie's Warrior in the east and Dr. Schivel are leading candidates for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Some owners and trainers apparently learned Kentucky Downs offers a lot more money than some of the more famous tracks.
And on the international front, we didn't really need to learn that Enable has a legitimate chance for her third Arc win, but it still was nice to see a romping win, little more than a paid workout, Saturday on the Kempton all-weather course.
We also know that Hong Kong bettors will get their action no matter what after Sunday's season-opener showed positive results.
And, of course, we learned -- yet again -- never to bet against Bob Baffert in the Derby as the silver-haired one scored his sixth triumph in the Run for the Roses after an almost unbelievable, months-long string of misfortunes.
Absorb the lessons, then step right up and read all about it.
Although Authentic beat the odds-on favorite, Tiz the Law, fair and square in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, it would not be wise to count out the latter for the rest of this season.
The Constitution colt had run at Churchill Downs only once before, suffering his only loss, and trainer Barclay Tagg said he simply did not handle the track Saturday.
"The jock said when he really had to get down and run, he was kind of swimming on that track," Tagg said the morning after the race.
"He just doesn't like the track. You could see it in the stretch. It looked like he was going to go right on by and win easy. ... If you want to make an excuse, that's probably an excuse. I don't know."
Tiz the Law also was running on just four weeks' rest after winning the 1 1/4-miles Travers Stakes.
Through the previous eight months, his starts had been spaced more nearly eight weeks apart. That could argue against him starting in the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes, the final leg of this year's Triple Crown.
"Well, I don't want to put that in the paper too much," Tagg said. "I just have to see how he is, that's all."
Baffert said Authentic and Thousand Words, who was scratched from the Derby minutes before post time after flipping onto his side in the paddock, will stay at Churchill Downs and prepare for the Preakness, all being well.
The Derby was not the only weekend race with implications for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
By My Standards overcame a slow early pace to kick away in the stretch run of Friday's $400,000 Grade II Alysheba at Churchill Downs, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Owendale in 1:42.24.
Silver Dust was third, with McKinzie fourth. With Gabriel Saez up, By My Standards raced second, moved to the front entering the stretch and wasn't troubled thereafter. He had won three straight races in New Orleans before a pair of runner-up showings in the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga.
"Today, Gabe got him away alertly and put him in a good position. That was the key," winning trainer Brett Calhoun said. "We're definitely pointing toward the [Breeders' Cup] Classic."
Here's another country heard from in the 3-year-old ranks: Godolphin's homebred Ghostzapper colt, Mystic Guide, jumped up to win Saturday's $150,000 Grade II Jim Dandy at Saratoga.
With Jose Ortiz up, Mystic Guide rallied from last at the end of the backstretch, got through between horses and held off Liveyourbeastlife by 3/4 length.
Jesus' Team was third and the favorite, Dr Post, settled for fourth. Mystic Guide ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.00, scoring just his second win. He was third in the Grade III Peter Pan last time out.
Monday's Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in Maryland was a "Win and You're In" for the Preakness. Happy Saver, a son of Super Saver, won this year's edition, remaining undefeated after three starts and trainer Todd Pletcher said the Preakness is a possible target for the colt, a Wertheimer family homebred.
With the 3-year-olds suddenly not looking quite as impressive as they did before the Kentucky Derby, attention turns back to the older horses, including those contesting Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Woodward Handicap at Saratoga.
Only five were in the field, and Global Campaign took full advantage, leading all the way to a 1 3/4-lengths victory over the odds-on favorite, Tacitus, who had every chance but could not find the needed late kick.
Prioritize, Spinoff and Math Wizard completed the order of finish as Global Campaign got home in 2:01.40 for Luis Saez.
Global Campaign, a 4-year-old Curlin colt, backed up a victory in the Grade III Monmouth Cup in his last start and now is 3-for-4 this season, seemingly improving with more distance.
"I'm more than satisfied," said Global Campaign's trainer, Sanley Hough. "He beat a good horse. We're all excited. It's a great win. That's what the game is all about. You try to develop horses that will go on and be a sire and I believe he'll make a good one."
Back-to-back races Friday at Churchill Downs could preview a showdown in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in two weeks' time with trainer Brad Cox winning both.
The $1.25 million Grade I Kentucky Oaks was billed as a showdown between Gamine and Swiss Skydiver, one the most promising talent in the division, the other a well-proven commodity.
But after those two battled each other into submission, Shedaresthedevil streaked to the front in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Swiss Skydiver held second and Gamine was a well-beaten third.
Winning owner Stanton Flurry, a native of Hot Springs, Ark., who parked cars at Oaklawn Park as a youth, said the Breeders' Cup looks like a nice goal, but next spring's Apple Blossom at his home track is, for him, even better.
"Absolutely, absolutely. For me, winning in Hot Springs at Oaklawn, that's the top of the bucket list," Flurry said. "That's up there, so ... hopefully we can give her some time off and bring her back fresh and maybe run two or three races there. I think there's a Bayakoa there. There's even the Apple Blossom."
One race earlier, Monomoy Girl continued her comeback from a year-long absence with a dominating win in the $500,000 Grade I La Troienne at Churchill Downs.
The 5-year-old Tapizar mare was off a step slowly from the outside gate, hung slightly wide on the clubhouse turn and well back of the leading pair down the backstretch.
She quickly closed that gap nearing the stretch and battled Lady Kate into submission in the stretch, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. Horologist was third as Monomoy Girl finished in 1:42.14, just missing the stakes record.
Monomoy Girl finished first in all eight starts in 2018 although she was disqualified to second in one. The wins included the Kentucky Oaks and the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
She then was out of action for a year with a variety of woes. She picked up this year where she left off, with three straight wins.
"She's special. Once in a lifetime, to be honest with you," trainer Brad Cox said. "I'm so grateful to the owners. They could easily have pulled the plug and bred her or sold her."
Digital Age came five-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, wore down pacesetting Factor This and won by 3/4 length over that rival.
Rockemperor and Sacred Life were next, giving trainer Chad Brown the 1-3-4 finish. Digital Age, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred colt by Invincible Spirit, got 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.79 with Javier Castellano riding. The improving colt secured his first graded stakes win.
"He had a beautiful trip," said Brown's assistant, Whit Beckman. "I think Chad discussed race tactics with the jockeys and they all know what they're doing going into this spot.
"Turning for home he had a good position, got a nice trip and this horse likes this turf course. He shipped down from New York but just watching him train here the last few days, he looked super relaxed. He looked like he was doing better than I had ever seen him do."
The 3-year-olds took their turn in Saturday's $500,000 Grade II American Turf Stakes. Fancy Liquor rallied between rivals through the stretch, hit the lead midway down the lane and won by 1/2 length over Taishan, who came from far back in his first run on the turf.
Field Pass was third. and the favorite, Smooth Like Strait, tired late to finish fourth. Fancy Liquor, a Lookin at Lucky colt, reported in 1:42.83 with Florent Geroux in the irons for trainer Mike Maker. He won two of three previous starts, mostly running on the lead.
"I didn't decide anything," Geroux said of Fancy Liquor's off-the-pace trip. "For some reason, I couldn't keep him up any closer. I didn't want to rush him. I sensed the pace was pretty fast, so I just gave him a nice breather and when it was time to go, he was very brave all the way to the wire."
Filly & Mare Turf
A pair of German-bred frauleins got home 1-2 in Monday's $300,000 One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs. Dalika, a 4-year-old Pastorius filly, pressed the early pace, then took the lead with a furlong left and held on to win by 1 length over Madita.
Our Bay B Ruth was just a neck back of that one in third. Dalika, with Miguel Mena up for trainer Al Stall Jr., ran 1 mile and 70 yards on firm turf in 1:37.45. Stall said he will look at the Grade I First Lady during the Keeneland fall meet.
Civil Union stalked the pace in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Glens Falls for fillies and mares on the Saratoga turf, hit the front with a sixteenth to go and held on for a 1-length victory.
My Sister Nat, the favorite, barely got a nose in front of pacesetter Beau Belle to salvage second. Civil Union, a 5-year-old War Front mare trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Joel Rosario, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:19.80.
It was her third straight win as she moved into graded stakes company for the first time.
Raymundos Secret led throughout Saturday's $150,000 Grade II John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar, and then held on gamely to win by a neck over the onrushing Lady Prancealot. Catch the Eye was a long-shot third.
Raymundo's Secret, a 4-year-old Treasure Beach filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.60. Flavien Prat had the ride for trainer Phil d'Amato. The winner now has five victories from seven starts and Prat rode four winners on the Del Mar day.
Eight-to-one long shot Beau Recall blew right by pacesetting favorite Newspaperofrecord at mid-stretch in Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Longines Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile and ran on to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Newspaperofrecord held second as her promising win streak ended abruptly at two. La Signare was third.
Beau Recall, who finished second, 3 lengths behind Newspaperofrecord in the Grade I Just a Gleam at Belmont Park in June, got home in 1:35.39. Manny Franco had the mount on the Irish-bred mare, a 6-year-old daughter of Sir Prancealot.
"I was hoping someone would go with her," Franco said. "I just stayed back, let her be comfortable and waited for her to take off. When I was clear in the middle of the track, she just got it done."
Franco also had the winning solution aboard Sharing, who stalked the pace in Friday's $300,000 Grade II Edgewood for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs, moved to the lead turning for home and wasn't to be denied down the stretch, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Hendy Woods.
Lucky Betty was third as Sharing, a Speightstown filly, covered 1 mile on good turf in 1:36.87. Sharing, trained by Graham Motion, was making her first start since finishing second behind the shining Alpine Star in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"She put me in a position I wanted to go and after that she knew how to do what needed to be done. She's so professional," Franco said.
On Sunday at Del Mar, Pixelate stalked the pace in the $200,000 Grade II Del Mar Derby, then surged through the final yards to defeat Margot's Boy by a head.
Dominant Soul, at odds of 50-1, led into deep stretch and finished third, another 1 1/4 lengths in arrears. Pixelate, a Godolphin homebred colt by City Zip, zipped 1 1/8 miles on firm going in 1:50.25 with Umberto Rispoli up. He was second in the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in his previous start.
Chad Brown extended his turf dominance to Kentucky Downs on Monday as Flavius rallied five-wide down the stretch to win the $750,000 Tourist Mile by 3/4 length over the venerable Snapper Sinclair.
Ivar led briefly and managed to hold show money. Flavius, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, is a 5-year-old son of War Front out of the Dynaformer mare Starformer. Raced in Ireland earlier in his career, he scored his third win from seven starts while finishing in 1:32.21 under Javier Castellano.
"He came to Churchill Downs last Monday [from Saratoga]," Brown assistant Beckman said. "I am not sure what the decision was to come down here, but he had come from Europe and maybe he would like this kind of course. It was a good decision."
Diamond Oops had only one rival beaten heading into the turn in Friday's $250,000 Grade II TwinSpires Turf Sprint -- not a good situation in a 5 1/2-furlongs dash.
But jockey Florent Geroux had it covered, advancing sharply into the lane, then diving to the hedge to outfinish the favorite, Extravagant Kid, by a neck. Bound for Nowhere was a late scratch. Diamond Oops, a 5-year-old Lookin at Lucky gelding, finished in 1:04.18.
Diamond Oops hasn't always been brilliant but, as Geroux noted, he has been versatile. "He'll run on any kind of surface, any distance, from 6 furlongs to a mile," the rider said. "I have no idea what's next for him because he runs turf, he runs dirt, he does everything."
Sprint / Dirt Mile
Rushie could have gone in the Kentucky Derby, but the Liam's Map colt's connections opted instead for Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard and that decision paid dividends.
With Javier Castellano up, the gray colt waited behind the early leaders, came around them into the stretch and drew off to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Long shot Sonneman also ran well late to finish second with Tap It to Win third. The one-turn mile went in 1:34.41.
"We're pretty happy with what happened here," trainer Michael McCarthy said of the decision to bypass the Run for the Roses. "I did not think he was battle-tested enough. Hopefully we have a wonderful second half of the year.
"I'm not sure which way we go from here. I know we've got plenty of options now and a horse with a bright future."
At Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Cool Arrow wore down Krsto Skye in the closing strides to take the $100,000 Grade III Smile Sprint Stakes by 3/4 length.
It was another 3 lengths to Double Crown in third. Cool Arrow, a 6-year-old Into Mischief gelding, finished 6 furlongs over a fast strip in 1:08.82 with Leonel Reyes aboard.
It was his first try in graded stakes company since finishing 10th in the 2017 edition of the Grade II Risen Star at Fairgrounds. Moving up in class recently, he now has three straight wins.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Bell's the One indeed was the one in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs, chasing down the favorite, Serengeti Empress to win by a head bob on the wire.
Sally's Curlin was up to catch Ce Ce for third in the final jumps. Bell's the One, with Corie Lanerie riding for trainer Neil Pessin, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.07. It was her third graded stakes win. She is a 4-year-old filly by Majesticperfection.
"I thought we had her," Pessin said of Serengeti Empress, the 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner. "She came back on us. ... We were hoping for a dead heat."
Pessin said he was hoping for a fast pace and when he saw the first quarter mile go in 21.95, "I really didn't know if even that was fast enough. But it was, by 'this much'. I think we'll go directly to the Breeders' Cup from here."
Sconsin rocketed by the dueling leaders, Mundaye Call and Four Graces, and left them in the dust at the end of Friday's $300,000 Grade II Eight Belles for 3-year-olds.
Sconsin, an Include filly, ran 7 furlongs on the fast Churchill Downs track in 1:21.30. Four Graces held on for second with Never Forget up for third and Mundaye Call fading to finish fourth.
Sconsin was well beaten by Four Graces two races back and by Mundaye Call last time out. This time, those two hooked up for the first time and knocked each other out. "It's what we wanted perfectly," said winning trainer Greg Foley. "We needed that pace."
At Saratoga, Frank's Rockette raced just behind the early leader in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Prioress for 3-year-old fillies, seized the lead exiting the turn and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths from Reagan's Edge.
Center Aisle was along for show money. Frank's Rockette, a daughter of Into Mischief, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.89 with Junior Alvarado in the irons. From nine starts, she now has five wins and four seconds.
Sunday at the Spa, Come Dancing chased down pacesetting Lady's Island in deep stretch to win the $150,000 Grade II Honorable Miss Handicap by 3/4 length.
She put up four graded stakes wins last year, including the Grade I Ballerina, before finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. This year, she went winless in three previous starts.
Labor Day racing produced a couple potential candidates for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby 147 -- one at Del Mar and the other at Saratoga.
Jackie's Warrior could not have been more impressive in winning the $250,000 Grade I Runhappy Hopeful at Saratoga, reprising his victory in the Grade II Saratoga Special earlier in the meet.
The Maclean's Music colt shot out of the gate like a pro, led all the way and won by 2 1/4 lengths, well wrapped up by jockey Joel Rosario through the closing strides.
The favorite, Reinvestment Risk, was second and Mutasaabeq was third as Jackie's Warrior covered 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.29. Jackie's Warrior, trained by Steve Asmussen, now is 3-for-3 with all three wins by comfortable margins.
"He just continues to improve. He gets stronger in his works. He does things effortlessly," Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi said.
"I'd expect he'd go on to the Champagne [Oct. 10 at Belmont Park] and the Breeders' Cup from there. But, one race at a time. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves."
Meanwhile, out west: Dr. Schivel stalked the pace three-wide in the $250,000 Grade I Runhappy Del Mar Futurity, battled briefly with the favorite, Spielberg, then left that one behind, winning by 1 3/4 lengths.
Weston was in the early mix but settled for third, another 3 3/4 lengths behind. Dr. Schivel, a Violence colt, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.16 with Flavien Prat riding for trainer Luis Mendez.
Dr. Schivel was sold privately before the race and will transfer to Mark Glatt's barn for his new owners, Jed Cohen and his son, Tim.
"I'm very proud of myself and the team for what we've done getting him to win this race," Mendez said. "Now I thank the owners for giving me this horse and I've got to go back home and start breaking babies for them."
Maybe trainer Dale Romans finally has his Kentucky Derby winner. The Louisville native, who grew up in the shadow of the Twin Spires, hasn't won the Run for the Roses and would dearly love to do so.
So there was a smile on his face Saturday as Sittin On Go came from next-to-last and ran by Midnight Bourbon in deep stretch at Churchill Downs to win the $200,000, Grade III Iroquois by 2 1/2 lengths over that rival. Sittin On Go ran the one-turn mile in 1:35.00 with Corie Lanerie up. Romans also trained his sire, Brody's Cause.
The Iroquois was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and an early qualifying race for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, which we all hope will be run on the first Saturday in May.
"I think I know my way to Keeneland," the site of this year's Breeders' Cup, Romans said. And, looking forward to Derby 147, he added, "Let's close the chapter on 2020 and move on. I think everybody can agree with that."
At Saratoga on Friday, Thin White Duke rallied from next-last of seven to win the $150,000 Funny Cide Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds by 1/2 length over the favorite, Eagle Orb.
Thin White Duke, a Dominus gelding trained by Phil Gleaves, notched his first win after two thirds and two seconds. Gleaves said he is "a handy horse" on both turf and dirt.
And on Friday at Del Mar, Good With People blasted right to the lead in the I'm Smokin Stakes for California-bred juveniles and held on to win by 1/2 length as the odds-on favorite.
Tacoflavoredkisses and Pappy Boyington completed the order of finish. Good With People, a Curlin filly in the care of Peter Miller, now has two wins and a second from three starts.
Barrister Tom, dismissed at odds of 44-1, took the lead in the lane in Monday's $500,000 More Than Ready Juvenile at Kentucky Downs and held on late to win by 1/2 length from Pivotal Mission.
Indy Tourist was third and the favorite, Shawdyshawdyshawdy, finished fourth. Barrister Tom, an Artie Schiller gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.71 with Tyler Baze riding. He won at Arlington in his previous start Aug. 8.
"Tyler rode him perfectly. Saved ground laying third. I am thrilled," said Barrister Tom's owner-trainer Michael Ann Ewing. "I was hopeful." She said Barrister Tom may contest the Grade II Bourbon at Keeneland on Oct. 4 " but hopefully we can go to the Breeders' Cup."
Big Fish saved ground into the turn in Monday's $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf, worked toward the front between horses to take the lead and held off a stampede behind him to win by 1 length.
Ebeko was second, with Ambivalent, Get Her and Cotopaxi all within another length. Big Fish, a Mr. Big gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.21 with Victor Espinoza up. Trained by David Hoffmans, he came to Kentucky after breaking his maiden at Del Mar on Aug. 21.
Just a day after winning the Kentucky Derby,Baffert was on his way to the 2021 Classics as Princess Noor overcame a rough start and rolled to a 6 1/2-length score in Sunday's $250,000 Grade I Del Mar Debutante.
The Not This Time filly broke inward at the start, causing a bumper-cars chain reaction that resulted in My Girl Red being pulled up. The stewards took a look and made no change. Princess Noor improved to 2-for-2 after finishing 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.15.
Vequist pressed the pace in Sunday's $250,000 Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga and took over when cued by jockey Luis Saez and put matters to rest quickly, winning by 9 1/2 lengths.
Esplanade made the early lead and finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Lady Lilly. The even-money favorite, Beautiful Memories, quit early and was eased to the wire. Vequist, a Nyquist filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.29.
Vequist was second in her only previous start July 29 at Parx Racing but trainer Robert Reid Jr. said, "We knew she was a very good horse. She was going to be looking for longer things down the road. You don't expect to win a Grade I with a maiden, but I knew the distance wasn't a problem."
Friday at Saratoga, Samborella opened up a huge lead in the $150,000 Seeking the Ante Stakes for state-bred 2-year-old fillies, and then held on to win by 2 lengths.
The favorite, Make Mischief, was second, 9 lengths ahead of her nearest foe. Samborella, an Outwork filly trained by Jeremiah Englehart, joined the ranks of winners after finishing third in her career debut in July at the Spa.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
At Kentucky Downs, Plum Ali survived a rough start in Monday's $500,000 Mint Juvenile Fillies Stakes, saved ground in mid-pack and then took full advantage of the unique track's long stretch to kick away to a 2 3/4-lengths victory.
Flown was second with Oliviaofthedesert and Cecile's Chapter both in close attendance. Plum Ali, a First Samurai filly trained by Christophe Clement, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.74 with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons.
"This was actually an audible," Clement assistant Roger Horgan said. "She was going to run in the With Anticipation at Saratoga, but it got rained off the turf. So we came here for five times the money."
Madone stumbled at the start of Sunday's $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, and then lagged behind the field into the stretch. Switching inside the leaders, she mounted a rally that got her home first by 1/2 length over short-time leader Nimbostratus.
That one then was demoted to third by the stewards for interfering with rival Ivy League near the sixteenth pole. Madone, a daughter of Vancouver, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:39.09 with Flavien Prat riding. She's 2-for-2 for trainer Simon Callaghan with both victories coming at the Del Mar meet.
Around the world, around the clock:
She didn't have the smoothest of starts in Saturday's September Stakes on the Kempton all-weather surface but once Frankie Dettori got his darling Enable going, none of the other five had any chance of staying with her.
At the finish, she was 7 lengths in front of Kirstenbosh, whose connections ever will be able to say they had the jump on Enable -- for about 1 furlong. Prince of Arran was third in what trainer Charlie Fellowes happily admitted was a tightener for another swing at the Melbourne Cup.
Enable also used this race in 2018 as a prep for her second Arc victory after missing the first two-thirds of the season.
This year, at age 6, the Juddmonte Farms folks are looking to get that third win at Longchamp after being caught in the final 100 meters last year by Waldgeist. There will be a lot of new rivals in this renewal of the Arc, including up-and-coming Coolmore filly Love.
Persian King put on an exhibition in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp Sunday.
After chasing down and disposing of pacesetting Queen Anne Stakes winner Circus Maximus, the 4-year-old Kingman colt opened a yawning lead with 100 meters to run and not even a desperate late rush by Prix Jean Prat winner Pinatubo was enough to catch him.
The final margin was 1 3/4 lengths with Circus Maximus another six lengths back, 1 length in front of Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Siskin.
It seems the tough 2019-20 season just ended a few days ago but the 2020-21 campaign nonetheless got under way Sunday at Sha Tin with eyes already focused on Group 1 prizes three months in the future.
Perfect Match upped his career mark to eight wins from sixteen starts by taking the featured HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup by a convincing 1 1/2 lengths.
The win also upped his rating to 103, further franking his potential for the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint in December.
"I am aiming him toward December," trainer Danny Shum said of the Not A Single Doubt gelding, who got the better of well-known quantities such as Champions Way, Beauty Legacy and Fat Turtle. "He will go to the Hong Kong Sprint."
The jockey premiership race got off to a flying start with Joao Moreira winning three races and Zac Purton taking two.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club's off-course betting offices were closed Sunday amid yet another day of street demonstrations, but turnover for the 10-race card nonetheless was up nearly 7 percent year-over-year with HK$1.376 billion -- some US$177.5 million -- put through the pools.
"We had probably the best start we could hope for into the new season -- amazing results," said HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. "I can only say for all of our team members, to get this season on the road was a lot of hard work, a lot of planning and a lot of things behind the scenes."
In other action:
Pink Lloyd did it again. On Saturday at Woodbine, the multiple Canadian champion scored his fourth win in four starts this year and 26th from 31 lifetime, landing the $125,000 (Canadian) Vigil Stakes by 1 length over Olympic Runner.
With Rafael Hernandez riding, the 8-year-old Old Forester gelding rallied from the middle of the nine-horse field and did his thing, finishing 6 furlongs in 1:08.06, missing his own track record by 0.01 second.
"He's so dear to my heart. We believe in him so much," trainer Robert Tiller said. "He's going to get two months off now and he deserves it. We'll be back in the fall."