May 24 (UPI) -- Three-year-olds took center stage in weekend horse racing in Ireland and Japan, while youth also was served as Hong Kong wound up its Group 1 season.
With a limited schedule in North America, trainer Bob Baffert had a satisfying weekend at Santa Anita, winning two stakes races -- both with American Pharoah progeny. Going Global posted notice she will be a factor on the U.S. turf and Sconsin was a big winner in Kentucky.
With most of the big action taking place across the waters, we trust we won't make any waves if we start with ...
Uberleben, winner of just one previous race, took full advantage of the 2,400 meters of Sunday's Grade 1 Yushun Himba or Japanese Oaks, rallying outside rivals to win by 1 length as previously undefeated white filly Sodashi couldn't quite get the trip, fading through the final 100 meters to finish seventh.
Uberleben, with Mirco Demuro up, lingered at the back of the field during the run down the backstretch, took the outside route as the front-runners faded and quickly asserted herself. Jockey Hayato Yoshida had Sodashi perfectly positioned and saw nothing but daylight in front approaching the 200-meter mark but suddenly could find no more.
Akaitorino Musume and Hagino were second and third and Sodashi eighth as Uberleben finished in 2:24.5, nearly 4 seconds off the course record despite good to firm going and fine weather.
Demuro said the 2,400 meters was not an issue.
"She broke smoothly today and it did worry me a bit that we were dead last in the backstretch," winning rider Mirco Demuro said. "She responded well when the pace accelerated from the third corner and showed her tenacity in steadily advancing in the straight.
"She was strong pulling away and holding off the others. The added distance wasn't a problem for her at all. I'm thrilled."
Uberleben won at first asking in June of 2020 at Tokyo Racecourse but had come up short in five intervening races. She was third behind Sodashi in the Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and third in each of her two earlier starts in 2021.
Sodashi, by contrast, had not run beyond 1,800 meters and her four previous starts were at 1,600 meters.
If that wasn't a changing of the guard on display in Sunday's Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse, it at least seemed to open the door for a significant reshuffle.
The 2,400-meter race was the final Group 1 of the season. As the Hong Kong Jockey Club looks forward to 2021-22 with hope for its first "normal" season after two years of disruption, the change almost seems refreshing.
Inside the 200-meters mark, the Champions & Chater looked to be a showdown between 7-year-old Exultant, a two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year and the dominant force among local stayers since 2018, and Panfield, a 4-year-old Chilean import who was almost unbeatable in his homeland, but looking to move up in the Hong Kong pecking order.
Exultant, under Zac Purton, took the baton from his stablemate, Time Warp, and had every chance to run on to victory. Panfield and jockey Keris Teetan had other ideas and got by in the late going to win by 1/2 length. Columbus County, with Joao Moreira riding, was along for second, relegating Exultant to third.
Winning trainer Tony Millard was quick to claim a changing of the guard among the Hong Kong stayers with his warrior now on top.
"Quite clearly, a lot of the older horses are finished now so that puts him at the top spot as the best staying horse in Hong Kong," Millard said.
The trainer said he knew his horse was ready to roll after a recent stiff 1,800-meters workout. "It was unbelievable," Millard said. "I said to Karis after that, 'I don't care how good they are. He's ready,'" Millard said.
Teetan said he had a moment of concern at the end.
"You know when Joao comes next to you in a race, you know you've got a hard battle. In those big ones, he's come next to me a few times and he's got the better of me and I was like 'C'mon Joao, not today,' and it pays off."
It was a disappointing finish for trainer Tony Cruz, who trains Exultant as well as Packing Waltham and Time Warp, who finished next-last and last in the field of eight.
Mac Swiney led from the first strides in Saturday's Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas, survived a challenge from multiple rivals inside the 200 meters and held on to win by a short head.
Poetic Flair, making his third start in May, just missed but gave trainer Jim Bolger a satisfying 1-2 in the Classic. The best of the Coolmore lot, Van Gogh, was among the challengers until the 100 meters when he dropped back to finish third, another 3 1/4 lengths in arrears, and the favorite, Lucky Vega, was fourth.
The race was contested over ground rated soft to heavy and run only after consideration was given to postponing because of the conditions. Misty rain clouded the proceedings.
Mac Swiney, a New Approach colt, won the Group 1 Vertem Futurity in his 2-year-old finale but was a dull fourth in his first start of 2021, the Derrinstown Stud Derby trial, and later found to have been slightly ill at the time of that race.
Poetic Flair, by Dawn Approach, won the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket May 1 but then was sixth in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains or French 2,000 Guineas, May 16 at Longchamp. Bolger bred both colts and they run in his wife's colors.
"Someone said to me that ideally it would be good if there was another week to play with," Racing Post quoted Bolger as saying. "But I said, 'No, bring it on.' I was very happy with them."
He said the result franks Mac Swiney for the Derby in two weeks' time at Epsom, but raised a caution about Poetic Flair, adding that one "needs a sounder surface. We'll have to see about Ascot for him. I wouldn't be sure, because he has had to work very hard now for the last three weeks."
The festivities continued Sunday at the Curragh with a better outcome for the Coolmore lads in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas.
In the 1000 Guineas, Ryan Moore got Joan of Arc to the lead inside the 100 meters but was unable to hold off Seamie Heffernan and stablemate Empress Josephine, who got there first by a short head. It was another 1 length to No Speak Alexander in third and the favorite, Pretty Gorgeous, could only finish seventh.
Empress Josephine and Joan of Arc are both by Galileo. The winner, out of the Danehill Dancer mare Lillie Langtry, got her second win. Joan of Arc, produced by the Storm Cat mare Youresothrilling, was coming off a victory in a Guineas trial at Leopardstown.
Pretty Gorgeous, a daughter of Lawman trained by Joseph Patrick O'Brien, was having her first run since winning the Group 1 bet365 Fillies Mile last October.
Sunday's Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup devolved to a desperate dash for the wire between the favorite, Broome, and 8-1 outside Helvic Dream. Broome got the advantage inside the 2-furlongs marker in the extended 1 1/4-miles test and battled on.
But Helvic Dream, with Colin Keane up, just put a nose in front on the line. The 4-year-old Power gelding had trained Broome in each of his last four races, all won by that rival. He was last seen second, 2 lengths behind Broome, in the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes on May 3.
Meanwhile, back in the States:
As if Bob Baffert hasn't had enough trouble recently, Saturday he had to endure a close scrape in the $200,000 Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita.
As Time Goes By, trained by Baffert for the Coolmore lads in Ireland, went to the post as the odds-on favorite in a field of four. But her main rival, Ce Ce, bobbled at the start and left As Time Goes By to chase long shot Miss Stormy D through the early furlongs.
She finally put that one away only to find the other long shot in the short field, This Tea, taking up the chase and falling just a nose shy of pulling off a massive upset.
All said and done, As Time Goes By, an American Pharoah filly out of the Dehere mare Take Charge Lady, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.77 with Mike Smith riding. She improved to four wins, two seconds and a third from seven starts.
"Today, this is the first time she's come back really blowing," Baffert said. "That filly that ran second ran a big race. [As Time Goes By's] heart and true grit made her hang in there. We knew Miss Stormy D was quick and you could tell turning for home that my filly wasn't doing it that easily."
As to plans, Baffert said, "Right now, with the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar, we want to keep her here and run her here in the fall."
Filly & Mare Turf
Going Global, the odds-on favorite, ran her U.S. record to a perfect 4-for-4 with a stretch-running, 4 3/4-lengths demolition of a half dozen rivals in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Honeymoon Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita.
Golden rallied from last to edge Midnight Diva for second. Going Global, an Irish-bred Mehmas filly out of the Invasor mare Wrood, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm going in 1:46.37 with Flavien Prat aboard.
After going 1-for-4 in Ireland in 2020, Going Global got going in California in February, winning the Grade III Sweet Life Stakes, then racking up wins in the China Doll and Grade III Providencia before Saturday' victory.
"I just think that she's a filly that is just blossoming before our eyes right now," said Going Global's trainer, Phil D'Amato.
"Each performance I thought was better than the last and this one I thought was many lengths better than the last. It's just exciting to have a filly like this going into Del Mar and hopefully, the sky's the limit."
At Churchill Downs, Temple City Terror watched Dalika open up a huge lead in Saturday's $100,000 Keertana Stakes for fillies and mares ... 10 lengths, 15 lengths, 16 lengths.
Then it was 10 lengths again, 3 lengths midway down the long stretch and eventually the lead melted to nothing with Temple City Terror getting by to win by 3/4 length.
Dalaika did hold second, 3 lengths in front of Tweety Show. Adam Beschizza timed the rally perfectly, guiding the 5-year-old Temple City mare home first in 2:29.57 for 1 1/2 miles of firm turf.
"To be honest, I thought she had one short run," winning trainer Brendan Walsh said. "That's what she showed in her shorter races. But she was able to sustain it today. It's a nice win to open up [opportunities] with the trip. We'll move forward from here."
Hudson Ridge tracked the early pace in Sunday's $100,000 Cinema Stakes for 3-year-olds, moved to challenge at the quarter pole and held off Sword Zero in the closing stages, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Airman was third, early leader Jimmy Irish fourth.
The favorite, Hubris was bumped soundly by Jimmy Irish out of the gate, scrambling the start, and then was pulled up and vanned off.
Hudson Ridge, an American Pharoah colt out of the Galileo mare Shell House, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:49.06 for jockey Abel Cadillo, picking up his first win in his fifth start.
Bob Baffert, who trains the colt for a partnership that includes his wife, Jill, noted it was his second stakes win of the weekend for American Pharoah progeny from his barn.
"The break, I don't know what happened," Baffert said. It was crazy. I don't know who caused it. After that, Abel did a great job, he didn't panic, he got him in a nice smooth rhythm. ... He's a horse that hadn't really shown us that much, but it's a big weekend for American Pharoah."
Get Smokin got goin' early in Saturday's $100,000 Seek Again Stakes at Belmont Park. After showing the way, the 4-year-old Get Stormy gelding then held off the favorite, Flavius, by 3/4 length with Tell Your Daddy just nose behind that one in third. Get Smokin, with Junior Alvarado riding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.96.
Get Smokin won the Grade II Hill Prince at Belmont Park last October and the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes in February, but was eighth in the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland in his last start.
"He's very quick," Alvarado said. "If anyone else wants the lead, they have to work very hard. He broke sharp today again, which makes my job easy. I just had to nurse him along. Turning for home, I knew I had plenty of horse left and he gave me that nice kick that he has."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Sconsin blasted around the early leaders a furlong out in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Winning Colors Stakes at Churchill Downs and ran on to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Rising Seas was second after setting the early pace and the favorite, Frank's Rockette, settled for third, another 1/2 length back.
Sconsin, a 4-year-old Include filly, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.80 with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons. Sconsin finished fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and most recently was second in the Grade I Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs.
"She loves Churchill and that's why I wanted to run her here tonight," trainer Greg Foley said of Sconsin. "And there's the Roxelena right at the end of the meet and that's probably the plan.
"After that, depending how well she runs, maybe jump up to the Ballerina. I'd like to win a Grade I with her. We've got her mother and her and it's a pretty nice family."
Around the ovals:
Golden Gate Fields
In Sunday's $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes for 3-year-olds, None Above the Law came with a late run to defeat Seattle Bold, who appeared to have things locked up until the final strides.
The margin of victory was 1 1/2 lengths with Jungle Cry another 3/4 length back in third. None Above the Law, a Karakontie gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.56 with Irving Orozco in the irons.
Mr. Jagermeister ran to his notices in Thursday's $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for Minnesota-breds. After pressing the pace, the 6-year-old son of Atta Boy Roy seized command, quickly drew off to a big lead and coasted home first by 4 3/4 lengths. Drop of Golden Sun was second, 1 1/4 lengths better than Cinco Star.
Mr. Jagermeister, with Ruben Fuentes up, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.54.
In the companion Lady Slipper for state-bred fillies and mares, Clickbait also kicked away late, winning by 4 1/2 lengths from Ready to Runaway. Rush Hour Traffic was third. Clickbait, a 5-year-old Lovango mare, got the 6 furlongs in 1:09.77 for jockey Cecily Evans.
Sky Judge pressed the pace in Thursday's $75,000 Sagamore Sired Stakes for Indiana-bred 3-year-olds, rallied to the lead in the stretch and romped home first by 7 1/2 lengths.Manuelito was second, a neck in front of Royal Icing. Sky Judge, a Sahara Sky gelding, toured 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.83 under Orlando Mojica.
Hungarian Princess, the 1-5 favorite, also dominated the stretch run in Thursday's $75,000 Swifty Sired Fillies Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, winning by 1 3/4 lengths from Pearl Tiara. Miss Deputy Star attended the early pace, but faded to finish third.
Hungarian Princess, a Pataky Kid filly, reported in 1:04.56 with Samuel Bermudez riding. She is owned by her breeder, Swifty Farms.
Bye Bye Mattie P jumped out to a quick lead in Sunday's $55,000 Ken Kendrick Memorial for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds, dueled early rival Roll On Camron into submission and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
Wheres Brayden edged Roll On Camron for second. Bye Bye Mattie P ran 4 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 53.21 seconds with Tracy Hebert in the irons. All six runners were making their first start.