Lord Glitters wins the third running of the Bahrain International Trophy. Photo courtesy of the Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club
Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Weekend horse racing showcased some potential stars of 2022, from 2-year-olds up the ladder to older horses like Serve the King, Obligatory and Azul Coast, looking toward the big races of the New Year.
On the international front, there was both promise for the future and a bow to the past. Lord Glitters was golden in Bahrain and Golden Sixty glittered in Hong Kong. Gran Alegria was grand in her career finale in Japan.
As the year winds down to the holidays, here's how horse racing kept the clock ticking:
Weekend horse racing showcased some potential stars of 2022, from 2-year-olds up the ladder to older horses like Serve the King, Obligatory and Azul Coast, looking toward the big races of the New Year.
Serve the King tracked down pacesetting Channel Cat in the final strides of Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Red Smith Stakes, defeating that rival by a neck. Soldier Rising came from last of 10 to finish third, just another neck back.
Serve the King, a 5-year-old, British-bred son of Kingman, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:16.60. Irad Ortiz Jr. had the mount for trainer Chad Brown.
"His numbers are pretty good, especially for a distance horse," Brown said. "He keeps getting faster and he's a progressive horse. He had every right to not get there today given the way the race unfolded and he showed a lot of determination to get up in time."
Brown said he will "probably back up a bit on him now and look for next year."
Sunday was for the state-bred 2-year-old sprinters, although the results might indicate more ambitious futures for at least one of the winners.
Senbei, a Candy Ride colt trained by Christophe Clement, went right to the lead in the $100,000 Notebook Stakes and gradually left four rivals well in his wake, eventually winning by 8 1/4 lengths.
Bustin Pietre was best of the rest, 1/2 length to the good of Daufuskie Island.
Senbei covered 6 furlongs of fast track in 1:11.49 for jockey Manny Franco and is now is 4-for-5 with a second in the Bertram F. Bongard his only loss.
"He'll have a break now. We've been squeezing him a little bit," Clement said. "He's had five starts. He's a good horse and a fast horse. It will be interesting to see if he can come back next year and stretch his speed a little bit."
Like Senbai, Classy Edition was the odds-on favorite in the $100,000 Key Cents Stakes for juvenile fillies but, unlike the winning colt, she rewarded her backers by rallying from a rocky start to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
A pair of boxcar-odds long shots, Captainsdaughter and Shesawildjoker, were second and third.
Classy Edition, a daughter of Classic Empire, was clocked in 1:12.19 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Todd Pletcher. She improved to 3-for-3 including the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes in her previous start.
"We'll see what other options we have now and what we'll do with her for the winter," Pletcher said. "We're looking forward to stretching her out because I think she ultimately wants two turns."
Asked about stepping Classy Edition into open company, he added, "We certainly wouldn't be afraid to do that when the timing is right."
Obligatory kicked into gear in the stretch run of Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Chilukki Stakes for fillies and mares, rallied five-wide around most of the field and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Matera was second, a neck in front of Miss Bigly.
Obligatory, a 3-year-old Curlin filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.80 with Joel Rosario riding. Two of her three career wins have come under the Twin Spires, the other being the Grade II Eight Belles on Oaks Day.
"We were a little bit worried about the pace going into the race but we know she could be pretty versatile where she was in the race," said Garrett O'Rourke, general manager of owner Juddmonte Farms.
"The pace ended up helping us today and she got a really good run on the outside. Joel got her into a lovely rhythm and always felt like he was in a good position with her," O'Rourke said. "She's going to stay in training next year and the goal would be to get a Grade I victory with her."
Bob Baffert was pretty likely to pose for pictures after Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Native Diver Stakes since he saddled half the six-horse field.
Azul Coast was the one who got the job done, coming from last to win by 1/2 length over Kiss Today Goodbye.
Baffert's other two, Eight Rings and Ax Man, reported third and fifth. Azul Coast, a 4-year-old Super Saver colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.55 with Flavien Prat riding. It was his first graded stakes win.
"I had no idea how it would set up," Baffert said about race tactics. "They were all on their own. I told the jockeys, 'You guys ride your own races and hopefully we'll run 1-2-3.' I'm happy for the connections. The well has been a little dry lately. Main thing is that we got the 'W.'"
Long-shot Principe Carlo nosed out the favorite, Positivity, in the final jumps of Sunday's $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes for California-bred sprinters. Colt Fiction was third, just neck farther back at the end of 7 furlongs.
Principe Carlo, a 5-year-old son of Coil out of the Rahy mare Princess Ezra, finished in 1:22.33 over a fast track with Kent Desormeaux riding for owner/trainer Librado Barocio.
It was the first stakes win for Barocio, a part-time trainer whose primary business is a motion picture production company, per Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman. Barocio currently has seven horses in training and this year has amassed a total of three wins.
"This means a lot," Barocio said. "All I needed was a chance and people here and at Santa Anita have been very good in giving it to me."
Lorena led from gate to wire in Friday's $100,000 (Canadian) Ashbridges Bay Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies and won by 3 1/2 lengths, ridden out by Gary Boulanger. Jolene Jolene advanced from last of five to finish second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Jilli Marie.
Lorena, a Souper Speedy filly, sped 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:46.61 as the odds-on favorite.
Artie's Storm chased down pacesetting odds-on favorite Secret Reserve at the eighth pole in Friday's $100,000 (Canadian) Lake Ontario Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings and ran on to win by 1/2 length over that rival. It was another 8 lengths to Dragon's Brew in third.
Artie's Storm, a We Miss Artie gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.47 with David Moran up.
As at Aqueduct, state-breds -- well, province-breds -- were the stars Sunday afternoon at the Toronto-area track.
Ya Mar wasted no time working her way to the lead in the $100,000 (Canadian) South Ocean Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies and wasn't troubled thereafter, winning off by 2 1/2 lengths. Lois Len was second, 1 length in front of Swinging Mandy.
Ya Mar, a Silent Name filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:17.16 with Kazushi Kimura in the irons.
Silent Runner made a little noise the companion $100,000 (Canadian) Frost King Stakes, open to any province-bred 2-year-old. With Moran at the controls, the Silent Name colt took back to mid-pace after a clean break, then came with a late run through the stretch to win by 3/4 length.
First-time starter Sir for Sure started last of seven, caught onto the program halfway along and flew home to finish second. The favorite, Gatling Gun, was third. Silent Runner got 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.96.
Popular Kid stalked the pace in Friday's $100,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes, then had to contend with all five rivals in the stretch drive before prevailing by 1 length. Catdaddy was second, 3/4 length in front of Absaroka.
Popular Kid, a 7-year-old, California-bred gelding by Popular, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.35 with Jose Alvarez in the irons.
Kaely's Brother was promoted to victory in the stewards' booth after suffering interference and finishing second in Saturday's $100,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes.
The officials ruled the first 2-year-old across the line, Waita Minute Hayes, drifted in, causing Kaely's Brother to check and lose momentum.
Then, they reversed the order of finish. Kaely's Brother, a Twirling Candy colt trained by Brad Cox, was ridden by Tim Thornton. The 1 mile on a fast track went in 1:41.40.
Free Like a Girl surged to the lead with 2 furlongs left in Friday's $100,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and pulled away to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the even-money favorite, Sea Level. Mama Said No was another 15 1/2 lengths in arrears while earning show money.
Free Like a Girl, a daughter of El Deal, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:41.97 with Pedro Cotto Jr. up for trainer Chasey Pomier.
Golden Gate Fields
Rager rallied three-wide to take the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $66,400 Oakland Stakes, then held off the latecomers to win by 1 length. Italiano was second, a head in front of Ultimate Bango.
Rager, a 4-year-old Into Mischief gelding, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.19 with Frank Alvarado riding.
Altissimo chased down pacesetting Morestride in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Cardinal Handicap for Ohio-breds, got by that one and won by 1 3/4 lengths. Morestride held second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of late-running Little Blaker.
Altissimo, an 8-year-old Noble Causeway gelding, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.22 with Erik Barbaran riding.
Tivis stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 First Lady Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies, passed leader Amadevil and edged away to a 1 1/2-lengths win over that rival. It was another 10 3/4 lengths to Twerk in third.
Tivis, a Tale of Ekati filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.21 with Christian Pilares up.
Around the world, around the clock
Sunday's Grade 1 Mile Championship was the final race of Gran Alegria's career and, with a little help from jockey Christophe Lemaire, she went out on a high note.
After starting from the No. 12 gate, Gran Alegria raced well back in the field and outside rivals down the Hanshin Racecourse backstretch. She started to move entering the turn, came widest of all into the stretch and easily reeled in the leaders to win by 1 length.
A pair of promising 3-year-old colts, Schnell Meister and Danon the Kid, finished second and third, respectively.
The win was the sixth Grade 1 triumph of the Deep Impact mare's career and, for Lemaire, the 1,500th win and 40th Grade 1 victory in Japan.
"The most important mission for me in her last run of her career was to bring out the best performance, her true form. And she did just that," Lemaire said.
"She's been a special horse since she was a 2-year-old, winning all those big races, and today she showed us again that she's of a different class. I will miss her."
Gran Alegria and Schnell Meiser were both bred at Northern Farm and race for Sunday Racing. Schnell Meister, a German-bred colt, is out of the Soldier Hollow more Seirenholde.
There were two agendas on Jockey Club Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse: Preparation for the four Group 1 events of the Longines International Races on Dec. 12 and confirming Golden Sixty's standing as one of the best horses ever to set hoof on a Hong Kong track.
Check and check.
Jockey Vincent Ho admitted Golden Sixty, Hong Kong's reigning Horse of the Year, was far from peak fitness in his first race of the season off just three trials.
Still, he rode the Medaglia d'Oro gelding with confidence in the BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile, racing last, coming wide down the stretch and winning by 1 length for the superstar's 15th straight win.
Golden Sixty won last year's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile. After Sunday's effort, he is likely to be a solid favorite against whatever foreigners show up for this year's renewal next month.
The results of the other two Group 2 races on Sunday provide more reason for optimism for the invaders.
Lucky Patch, a 5-year-old El Roca gelding, rolled down the stretch from the middle of a 10-horse field under jockey Jerry Chau to capture the BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint by 3/4 length from Naboo Attack. It was his second straight win, both in Group 2 events, and he has yet to test the Group 1 waters.
Francis Lui trains Golden Sixty and Lucky Patch.
The Group 2 Jockey Club Cup, which can be a prep for either its 2,000-meters counterpart or the 2,400-meters Vase in December, went to Reliable Team. He led all the way under Derek Leung and won by a neck over Ka Ying Star with the favorite, Glorious Dragon, third.
Reliable Team went 1-for-12 last season and was 0-for-2 this term. Sunday's race was his first attempt as high as Group 2. Nonetheless, trainer Frankie Lor said Reliable Team is entered for both the Vase and the Cup on Dec. 12, but added, "I think 2,400 meters should be better for him. We need to keep the horse in good form and then we'll see."
Eight-year-old Lord Glitters came roaring down the middle of the course through the final 200 meters and just did get by Barney Roy (GB) in the final strides to win Friday's Group 3 Bahrain International Trophy at Sakhir Racecourse. Magny Cours was third and 3-year-old filly Fev Rover (IRE) finished fourth.
The outcome was not only a triumph for Lord Glitters and his connections, but also for Bahrain racing.
The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities earlier this year took the unusual step of elevating The Trophy to international Group 3 status while moving the Bahrain program up to Part II of its Blue Book.
That action complements plans to smooth immigration, quarantine and other regulations among the Gulf racing jurisdictions to encourage more international participation.
"To have had two group 1 winners fighting out the finish was very special. On paper, it looked a very strong renewal for a group 3 and so it proved," said Rashid Equestrian & Horseracing Club's executive director Shaikh Salman bin Rashed Alkhalifa.
"Lord Glitters and Barney Roy are very well-known horses who have won group 1 races in multiple countries. It was a thrilling race to watch, and we are very excited to see how the race can progress in future years."
Lord Glitters took station at the rear of the field all the way into the home straight, then faced a solid wall of traffic in front of him. Jason Watson, subbing for the striking gray's injured regular pilot, Danny Tudhope, had to swing out to the middle of the track for running room Once clear, he just did track down Barney Roy, to win by 1/2 length.
Trainer David O'Meara said Lord Glitters is not done even as age 9 approaches.
"He did well in Dubai last year and that is the plan again if he comes out of this race well," O'Meara said. "The Saudi Cup meeting is an option now so we will bring him home and see how he is and start planning for that."