Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A fascinating weekend of ups and downs included six "Win and You're In" races for the November Breeders' Cup World Championships and the long-feared announcement the event will be run Nov. 6-7 without fans in the stands at Keeneland.
The qualifying races ran from France to Ireland to Kentucky Downs with at least a few of the Irish winners likely to accept the Breeders' Cup bids. In France, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was much more center stage in contenders planning -- but you never know.
Also, Barney Roy won in Germany, things started heating up in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
The no-fans announcement was downer for fans, Keeneland, Lexington and Breeders' Cup but tempered at least for horsemen by a commitment to maintain the 2019 purse level of $31 million. Keeneland got the consolation prize of a commitment to return there in 2022 after the 2021 World Championships are run at Del Mar.
Another bump in the racing weekend: Heavy rain didn't prevent a record handle on a fabulous card Saturday at Kentucky Downs but it did prompt the track to move Sunday's schedule, including three major turf races, to Wednesday.
Let's start on the Continent for a change, non? Oui.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien and his Coolmore lads landed two of the big three races Sunday at Longchamp with their winners -- and maybe a loser or two -- potentially now pointed at the Oct. 4 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and prizes as far afield as Kentucky, Hong Kong and Australia.
The Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris found a pair of Derby stars wanting but well might have sent Mogul off on a globetrotting expedition for the Irish powerhouse stable.
With Pierre-Charles Boudot riding, Mogul found plenty left in the tank in the final couple hundred meters of Sunday's race while the others were well done.
He finished the 1 1/2 miles on good going 2 1/2 lengths in front of Deutches Derby winner In Swoop with Gold Trip third and Investec Derby champ Serpentine fourth.
Mogul, a Galileo colt from the Danehill mare Shastye, was sixth at Epsom, returned to win a Group 3 at York and most recently finished third in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York.
Although the Grand Prix de Paris was seen in this pandemic-scrambled year as a final prep for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, O'Brien said Serpentine might shoulder that task with Mogul heading elsewhere.
"Mogul is in the Arc, he's in in Australia (for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate) and there's the Champion Stakes so he doesn't have to go [to the Arc]," Racing Post quoted the Irish master as saying.
"We were thinking of going back to a mile and a quarter. He could go to America (for the Breeders' Cup). He could go to Hong Kong [for December's Longines Hong Kong Cup]. So there's a lot of options for him.
"Serpentine could go back to the Arc," O'Brien continued to muse. "He had a long break and was just starting back."
Also Sunday at Longchamp, last year's Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck held off supreme English stayer Stradivarius by a short head at the end of Sunday's Group 2 Qatar Prix Foy, but the latter's connections said his showing looked plenty good to proceed to the Arc.
Anthony Van Dyck, with Mickael Barzalona riding for O'Brien, simply clicked off the meters through the race with Frankie Dettori keeping Stradivarius just behind that pace.
When Barzalona went for it some 200 meters out, so did Dettori. Anthony Van Dyck found a little more in the last jumps but neither was disgraced and a different pace scenario could have changed the outcome.
"I would have no hesitation about coming back for the Arc," said Stradivarius' trainer, John Gosden. His owner, Bjorn Nielsen, has been eyeing the Arc for months.
O'Brien has indicated Anthony Van Dyck might be headed for a swing at the big Australian races later in the Southern Hemisphere springtime.
The Group 1 Qatar Prix Vermille for fillies and mares, another major steppingstone to the Arc, fell to Tarnawa, who seized the lead 100 meters from home and easily held off the favorite, Raabihah, winning by 3 lengths over that rival.
Dame Malliot was third. Tarnawa, a 4-year-old Aga Khan homebred filly by Shamardal, has won four of five starts since finishing 11th in the 2019 Investec Oaks.
Winning trainer Dermott Weld also sent out Search For a Song to win Sunday at the Curragh in Ireland and said the Aga Khan's team will plot what to do next with each.
Tarnawa conceivably could contest the Arc after payment of a supplement fee but already is in for the Prix de l'Opera on the same program. Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget said Raabihah remains a candidate for the Arc.
Godolphin got in on the French fun Sunday, too, as Earthlight took a late lead in the Group 3 Qatar Prix du Pin and held off Trapbeau by 3/4 length at the end. Earthlight, a homebred Shamardal filly, improved to seven wins from eight starts.
She won Group 1 events in both England and France as a 2-year-old and suffered her only loss when fourth in the Group 1 Prix Maurice du Gheest at Deauville in her last start.
What a thrilling weekend of racing on the Emerald Isle!
Saturday's Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown turned into a virtual match race between Godolphin star Ghaiyyath and Coolmore's Magical.
William Buick sent Ghaiyyath straight to the lead in the 1 1/4-miles test over good going and Seamie Heffernan kept Magical, last year's winner, right up in close contact. Ryan Moore, aboard Japan, also was in the early mix.
As that lead trio sighted the finish, Magical eased up outside Ghaiyyath and finished smoothly to win by 3/4 length. Armory was third with Sottsass getting by Japan to finish fourt. Leo De Fury, the obvious outsider in the field, completed the order of finish.
Magical's victory avenged her loss to Ghayyath in the Juddmonte International at York a month ago and boosted her stock with the bookmakers for what looks like a very competitive Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in three weeks' time.
"We were delighted Ghaiyyath was coming because we were going to get another go at him," trainer Aidan O'Brien told Racing Post. "We just felt York didn't work 100 per cent for us and today she eyeballed him all the way, so we're delighted."
Magical's impressive record would be even more so had she not finished behind Enable four times during her career. A run in the Arc would give her a chance to improve on that mark as Enable seeks an historic third victory in the French setpiece.
Should that not pan out, the Irish Champion also was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland Nov. 7, so there's that. Magical, a 5-year-old Galileo mare, finished second in the stirring 2018 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs -- behind Enable.
Speaking of the Breeders' Cup, Saturday's program at Leopardstown included two "Win and You're In" races for the 2-year-olds.
Cadillac rallied by pacesetting Van Gogh in the final furlong of the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes and scooted off to win by 3 1/2 lengths over that rival.
The others were well back at the end of the mile. Cadillac, a Lope de Vega colt trained by Jessica Harrington, was the hot favorite while coming off a runner-up showing in a Group 2 contest at the Curragh. Van Gogh, a Kentucky-bred colt by American Pharoah, remains winless after four starts for the Coolmore connections.
It did sound after Cadillac's win that Breeders' Cup may have landed one as Harrington's daughter, Kate, told Racing TV, "All being well, his next start will probably be in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf."
The Coolmore lads also settled for second, and third, in the Group 2 Coolmore America Justify Matron Stakes, named for one of their star stallions. The sponsor's name didn't prevent Champers Elysees to post a late-running victory by 1 1/4 length over Peaceful, who had a brief late lead but couldn't hold it.
The favorite, Fancy Blue, also found a bit of energy through the latter stages to finish third, another 1 1/2 lengths in arrears. Champers Elysees, a daughter of Elzaam, has won all four starts this year for trainer Johnny Murtagh while climbing quickly up in class.
"The Breeders' Cup is an option and a mile around there would suit her down to the ground as she's quick and has a great turn of foot," Murtagh, who scored his first Group 1 win, said on Racing TV. "It's been a magical season. I'm a very good trainer and I just need better horses!"
Meanwhile, at the Curragh, Galileo Chrome, with a substitute jockey up for trainer Joseph Patrick O'Brien, posted the upset victory in Saturday's Group 1 Pertemps St Leger Stakes -- the last of this year's British Classics.
Shane Cross, his only rider in four previous starts, was named to ride the Australia colt, but denied the chance due to a positive COVID-19 test. Tom Marquand got the nod only some 24 hours to post time. He had been set to ride English King, who instead was redirected to the Grand Prix de Paris, where he finished sixth.
In the St Leger, Marquand kept Galileo Chrome back of the leaders, watched the proverbial wall of horses fan out before him 2 furlongs from the finish, then got through and won by a neck over 16-1 chance Berkshire Rococo. Pyledriver was third, Santiago fourth.
"I can't stress enough how bad I feel for Shane because we've all been in a situation where things haven't gone our way and we're both relatively young so I really can relate," Marquand said.
Sunday at the Curragh:
Shale, with Ryan Moore riding for trainer Donnacha O'Brien, won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The favorite, Pretty Gorgeous, trained by brother Joseph Patrick O'Brien for the lads' mother, Annmarie O'Brien, was 3/4 length back in second. Father Aidan O'Brien finished eighth and ninth with Divinely and Snowfall.
Glass Slippers won the Group 1 Flying Five and is headed to the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye, which she won last year. The race also was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.
Thunder Moon won the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes, moving quickly up from a maiden win a month earlier for trainer Joseph Patrick O'Brien.
Lucky Vega, winner of the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes in his last outing, had a nightmare trip and finished fifth. The victory notched up Thunder Moon's credentials for the 2021 Guineas.
Search for a Song came to challenge Fujaira Prince in the final few hundred yards of Sunday's Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St. Leger and said bye-bye, winning by 2 lengths over that rival.
Twilight Payment was third and the favorite, King George runner-up Sovereign, faded from the early lead to finish sixth. Search for a Song, a 4-year-old Galileo filly trained by Dermot Weld, also won this event last year but was winless in three earlier 2020 starts.
Barney Roy seems to like it just fine in Germany, danke schoen. Making his third straight start in the country, the 6-year-old Excelebration gelding got to the front with a furlong and a half to run in Sunday's Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden in the Black Forest resort town and ran on strongly to win by 1 1/4 lengths over fellow raider Communique.
The favorite, Torquator Tasso, was a neck farther back in third. Barney Roy won the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen a Munich in July, then was a good fourth on soft turf in the Group 1 Preis von Europa at Cologne Aug. 15.
The win was Godolphin's third straight in the highlight of the racing and social season at Baden-Baden.
Fierce Impact, always close, took the lead as the field flashed past the clock tower in Saturday's Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington and inched clear to score by a neck over Russian Camelot.
So Si Bon was third in a field packed with Group 1 leaders and often a pointer toward the biggest events of Australia's spring racing season. Gatting, who won the 2019 Makybe Diva at 101-odds, was pulled up midway through this year's edition by jockey Luke Nolan.
Fierce Impact, a 7-year-old, Japanese-bred entire son of Deep Impact, came to the Makybe Diva off a third-place effort in the Winx Stakes going 1,400 meters at Randwick Aug. 22.
Russian Camelot acted up in the gate and was pulled out for a veterinary inspection before the start. The top two reportedly are both eyed for the Group 1 Cox Plate with some preliminary tilts before that Oct. 24 race.
Sky Field had to battle for position at a crucial stage in Sunday's Hung Hom Handicap at Sha Tin but, once shown daylight by jockey Joao Moreira with 300 meters to run, took off like a shot to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
He added 14 points to his rating thanks to a victory in his previous start and the Caspar Fownes trainee now looks every bit the part of a contender for the Four-Year-Old Classic Series that culminates with the BMW Hong Kong Derby.
"He's special, he really excites me in the morning and he's a pleasure to work with because he's still raw. There's so much more," Fownes said.
"He's always consistently got an issue here and there so we have to keep him sound is the key. If we can do that, then he'll do the rest."
Karis Teetan rode three winners on the Sunday program, including his 400th Hong Kong winner, to take the lead in the jockey premiership competition with nine. Zac Purton's sole winner left him with eight.
Joao Moreira booted home two, including Sky Field, for a total of seven victories. Purton, Moreira and Teetan were the top three finishers in the 2019-20 season, in that order.
It's early innings for the autumn season but never too soon to pay attention. Thus, Danon Smash led home a big field in Sunday's Grade 2 Sankei Sho Centaur Stakes going 1,200 meters at Chukyo.
The 5-year-old son of Lord Kanaloa has contested some of Japan's top sprints with only moderate success and finished eighth when sent south to the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint last December at Sha Tin. Grade 1 racing returns to Japan Oct. 4 with the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama.
The Japan Racing Association has reopened off-track wagering facilities, "with great caution" and restrictions. The prohibition against spectators at JRA tracks, however, has been extended at least through the first week of October.
Now, back to North America:
Arklow stuck close to the pace in Saturday's $1 million Grade III Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs, got rolling three-wide down the long stretch and finished with enthusiasm, 1 1/4 lengths to the good of runner-up Red Knight.
The odds-on favorite, Zulu Alpha, raced well back and couldn't make up all the ground in the lane over rain-softened turf, finishing third.
Arklow, a 6-year-old son of Arch, ran 1 1/2 miles on soft going in 2:28.66 under Florent Geroux. He hadn't won in five starts since taking the Grade I Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park last October and, before that, was second to Zulu Alpha in the 2019 edition of this race.
"I really trained on him pretty strong for this race, zeroed in on this race," said Arklow's trainer, Brad Cox. "He had a fantastic work a couple of weeks back at Churchill on the turf. He had a huge gallop out that day. He'd been touting himself a lot going into this."
Asked about the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, trainer Brad Cox said, "It's an option. He's run in it the last two years. It's back at Keeneland and he's had some success there."
Filly & Mare Turf
Regal Glory stalked the pace made by Mitchell Road in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Kentucky Downs English Channel Ladies Turf Stakes, and then got by that rival in a long stretch battle, winning by a neck.
It was another 1 1/2 lengths to Tapit Today in third. Regal Glory, a 4-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom, covered 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:34.34 with Jose Ortiz at the controls.
The Chad Brown charge upped her record to six wins from 11 starts while snapping a three-race string of losing to mates from Brown's talent-laden barn.
"She was definitely getting a little class relief coming down here," said Brown's Kentucky-based honcho Whit Beckman. "But it's always an X factor with the set-up and everything. She ran a tremendous race. I mean she looked like the winner every step of the way to me."
At Woodbine, Rideforthecause came running late in Saturday's $300,000 (Canadian) Grade II Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association and easily distanced the favorite, Cambier Parc, for a 4-lengths victory.
Court Return rallied from last of eight to finish third. Rideforthecause, a 4-year-old Candy Ride filly, got about 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:45.00 with David Moran up.
"This filly loves this distance," said Gail Cox, trains Rideforthecause for owner/breeder Sam-Son Farm.
"I think she's run really well this year, she had one race where she was sort of too close to the pace and didn't run the greatest but she's a tough filly. She just hasn't had the opportunity to get the distance very often."
Imprimis and Front Run the Fed both came running late in Saturday's $700,000 Grade III Runhappy Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs with Imprimis getting there just a neck in front. Front Run the Fed dead-heated for second and third with the pacesetter, Bombard.
Imprimis, a 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding, ran 6 furlongs on soft turf in 1:09.93 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up. Imprimis was last seen being disqualified from the win in the Grade III Troy Stakes at Saratoga, which would have been his first victory since the Grade II Shakertown at Keeneland in April 2019.
Things are looking up as Saturday's win provided a "Win and You're In" spot for the Breeder's Cup Turf Sprint, where he was sixth last year.
Trainer Joe Orseno said he felt Imprimis got a bad call at the Spa, but added, "You can't take the win away from the horse. He ran his heart out off a 10-month layoff. Went up there and won that. We're going to get to our goal. That's the Breeders' Cup. He loves Keeneland so we're pretty excited."
Got Stormy looked like the class of Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint and ran like it, too. The 5-year-old daughter of Get Stormy went to the post as the solid favorite, raced loosely in touch with the leaders and asserted herself in the stretch run to win by 3 1/4 lengths.
Winning Envelope won place money with Into Mystic another 1/2 length back in third. Got Stormy ran 6 1/2 furlongs on soft turf in 1:15.41. Tyler Gaffalione rode for trainer Mark Casse. She was last seen finishing second in the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga on Aug. 22.
Casse said Got Stormy obviously prefers firm ground but the cutback in distance helped her cope with the rain-soaked Kentucky Downs turf -- and he'd been wanting to try her sprinting, anyway.
"For her to get a mile, she needs it extremely, extremely hard. And she hasn't gotten that once this year," Casse said.
"We always felt [that she would sprint], but there's never been an opportunity. For $500,000, we figured this would be a good time to do it. I've always said she'd handle soft going. It just limits how far she can run."
Now, Casse said, he probably will send Got Stormy to the 5 1/2-furlongs Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. "I know she cannot go a mile at Keeneland in the fall. We know that," he said.
There's a rule written down someplace about not betting against Wesley Ward's 2-year-olds on the grass.
Draw a line under that maxim after Saturday's $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, where Ward-trained Outadore and Fauci finished 1-2, 1 3/4 lengths apart. Cowan was just up in the final jump to nip County Final for third.
Outadore, an Outwork colt from the Tactical Cat mare Adore You, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on soft going in 1:17.31 with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.
Outadore was making just his second start. He won at first asking on the Saratoga turf July 26. Fauci, a Malibu Moon colt out of the Intikhab mare Tashzara, now has a win and three seconds from four starts.
Ward said he feels both will have "no problem" with the 1 mile of Keeneland grass in the Breeders' Cup but will go separate ways getting there, with one going to the Pilgrim at Belmont Park and the other to the Bourbon at Keeneland.
Ward, known for his excellent record at Royal Ascot, has been having an even more excellent meeting at Kentucky Downs and quipped the priorities of the two venues may be flipping for him.
"We're going to prep them all now at Royal Ascot and bring them to Kentucky Downs, the way it's working out," said Ward, whose Royal Ascot top hat and tailcoat were replaced on a rainy Kentucky Sunday with a pair of baggy blue jeans and a black golf shirt.
Well, Saturday's Queen's Plate certainly didn't run to script. Mighty Heart, at 13-1 odds, led throughout and gave his 13 rivals the slip in the final furlong, winning off by 7 1/2 lengths.
Fellow long shot Belichik ran by Plate Trial winner Clayton to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of that rival. And Woodbine Oaks winner Curlin's Voyage, the Plate favorite, came along late but could only finish fifth.
Mighty Heart, a Dramedy colt, ran 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather track in 2:01.98 with Daisuke Fukumoto riding. Owned by his breeder, Larry Cordes, and trained by Josie Carroll, Mighty Heart had only one win from four previous starts. Carroll also saddled Belichick.
"I was concerned for a minute or two with the quick fractions but he looked like he was settling and doing it easily," said Carroll. "We knew he'd go all day and he sure did. You know what, he's just a very exciting horse who's come a long way for Mr. Cordes, who's had a lot of confidence in him from the start."
The Canadian Triple Crown series now moves to the $400,000 (Canadian) Prince of Wales Stakes at 1 3/16 miles on the Fort Erie dirt and concludes with the $400,000 (Canadian) Breeders' Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on the Woodbine turf.
The upsets continued in the $250,000 (Canadian) Bison City Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies as Mizzen Beau showed the way to a 4 3/4-lengths win over the odds-on favorite, Afleet Katherine. Truth Hurts was another head back in third.
In Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Ruling Angel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Artie's Princess quickly opened a big lead and coasted home first by 3 3/4 lengths over Our Secret Agent.
It was another 7 lengths to the odds-on favorite, Boardroom, in third. Artie's Princess, a We Miss Artie filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:14.97 under Justin Stein.
Wesley Ward, who also had a bang-up day at Kentucky Downs, trains Artie's Princess for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Bronx Beauty stalked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 Regret Stakes for fillies and mares, took the lead when asked by jockey Isaac Castillo and drew off to score by 4 1/4 lengths.
The odds-on favorite, Royal Charolotte, found some late speed to take second, a head in front of Day by Day. Bronx Beauty, a 5-year-old mare by Liaison, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.45.
Share the Ride led from gate to wire in Saturday's $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes, crossing the finish line 3 3/4 lengths in front of even-money favorite Awesome Anywhere.
Mind Control was third. Share the Ride, a 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.18 with Ferrin Peterson in the irons.
Thunder Dome fanned out seven-wide into the stretch run in Sunday's $100,000 O.D. McDonald Stakes for New Mexico-breds, seized the lead and held off Sunscreen in the closing strides by a neck.
The favorite, Wheredoesthecashgo, settled for third. Thunder Dome, a 6-year-old Dome gelding, finished 7 furlongs in 1:22.80 with Shane Laviolette in the irons.
Count Them Again moved out to a big lead in Saturday's $100,000 Petticoat Stakes for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies and finished an easy winner, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Graceanne.
Tutta Terlingua was third. Count Them Again, a daughter of Premeditation, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.20 with Frank Reyes riding.
Ninethirtyturbo started last of seven, then put a neck in front of pacesetting Euromatic at the finish of Friday's $50,000 Oklahoma Stallion Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds.
Smart N Intuitive always was close and finished third. Ninethirtyturbo, a Notional gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a muddy and sealed track in 1:24.16. Lane Luzzi rode.
In the $50,000 3-year-old filly companion heat, She's All Wolfe dueled down the stretch with Special Treasure before crossing the wire a neck in front of that rival.
Cherokee Cowgirl was third, 6 1/2 lengths farther back. She's All Wolfe, a daughter of Magna Graduate, reported in 1:24.16 with Richard Eramia aboard.