Americanrevolution wins Saturday's Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. Photo by Joe Labozzetta, courtesy of New York Racing Association
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Americanrevolution earned his first Grade 1 win in the Cigar Mile, Todd Pletcher enjoyed three graded stakes wins at Aqueduct and Bob Baffert sent out both graded stakes winners in California in highlights of weekend horse racing.
On the international front, Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup at Chukyo Racecourse in Japan offered a guaranteed spot in February's $20 million Grade I Saudi Cup, but it was neither last year's winner nor super white filly Sodashi who got that Annie Oakley. Who did? See the international section.
And there's news on the Kentucky Derby front.
Shall we begin?
Classic / Dirt Mile
Americanrevolution came from the back of the field around the turn in Saturday's $750,000 Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, made steady progress in traffic through the lane and was up in the final sixteenth to win by 1/2 length.
Following Sea led most of the way and held on doggedly late to finish second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Plainsman.
Americanrevolution, a 3-year-old Constitution colt owned by China Horse Club and WinStar Farm, finished the one-turn mile in 1:36.68 with Luis Saez aboard.
Plainsman's rider, Manny Franco, lodged an objection, alleging interference in mid-stretch, but the stewards made no change in the order of finish. It was one of three objections trainer Todd Pletcher had to sweat out Saturday at the Big A -- all in graded stakes. He survived them all.
Americanrevolution dominated New York-breds throughout the year, but finished third, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, when sent against open company in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby in September. The Cigar Mile was a turnback in distance from his three previous starts, all at 1 1/8 miles.
"We weren't 100% positive about the mile," Pletcher said. "But a lot of times good horses do multiple things really well, and I think he's a great example of that. Constitution puts so much determination into his offspring and they're just like he was -- very tough horses and versatile."
Woodbine called it a season with Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Valedictory Stakes, a 1 1/2-miles test on the all-weather course that turned into a stretch-running match race between 2019 Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston and Frosted Over.
Those two battled it out for the final quarter mile before Sir Winston inched clear in the final yards to win by 1/2 length. It was another 6 3/4 lengths to Collective Force in third as Sir Winston, with Patrick Husbands up, finished in 2:31.51.
Sir Winston, a 5-year-old by Awesome Again, improved on second-place finishes in his two previous starts, the Grade III Durham Cup and the Grade II Autumn Stakes.
The Road to the Roses
By the length of a nose and by dint of a stewards' ruling, Mo Donegal got the winner's share of Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct and the 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard that come with the victory.
The Uncle Mo colt, with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, raced in the middle of the eight-horse field, boldly came five-wide to reach the front approaching the eighth pole and battled to the wire with the favorite, Zandon, before getting the better of bobbing heads and bumping bodies. It was another 9 3/4 lengths to Midnight Chrome in third.
The stewards posted the "Inquiry" sign and took a look at the stretch drive, but took no action. Zandon's trainer, Chad Brown, said Mo Donegal "should have come down."
Mo Donegal ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:53.61 while improving to 2-for-3. The 10 points put him into a five-way tie for second on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
Pappacap leads with 12 points earned through second-place finishes in the American Pharoah Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said he will consult with owner Jerry Crawford about plans, adding, "Before the race we talked about going to Florida and wintering there. There's tons of options. We can always come back up here from there or go any direction."
Kavod outfinished odds-on favorite Higher Standard to win Friday's $150,000 Advent Stakes on Oaklawn Park's opening program, winning by 1 length. Cairama finished third, another 1 1/4 lengths back.
Kavod, a Kentucky-bred colt by Lea, out of the Pulpit mare Weekend Connection, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.97 for jockey Francisco Arrieta.
Kavod has been busy this year, winning for the third time in his ninth start of the year. He earlier finished out of the frame in the Grade III Sanford and Grade III With Anticipation at Saratoga and the Grade I Champagne and the Grade III Futurity at Belmont Park.
Dropped into the claiming ranks after the Futurity, he was taken for $50,000 by trainer Chris Hartman at Churchill Downs in his last start. The winner's share of the Advent purse was $90,000.
Odds-on favorite Red Danger came from mid-pack to win Friday's $75,000 Pulpit Stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park by a head after a stretch battle with Speaking Scout. The early leader, Biz Biz Buzz, salvaged third.
Red Danger, an Orb colt trained by Brian Lynch, got home in 1:30.81, also according to Equibase hand timing, for the about 1 mile.
Cattin started last of nine in Saturday's $100,000 Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, made up ground on the turn and was in charge in the stretch run to win by 2 1/2 lengths from Lightening Larry. Grand Valley finished third.
Cattin, a Neolithic colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.90 with Samy Camacho up.
On the Golden Gate Fields all-weather track, Boise put in a bid through deep stretch to win Saturday's $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes by 1/2 length over fellow Southern California shipper Degree of Risk. Dr Pescado was third.
Boise, a Temple City colt trained by Jonathan Wong, ran 1 mile in 1:37.96 with Evin Roman up. He now has two wins and a fourth in the Qatar Golden Mile Stakes.
Trainer Bob Baffert had a big victory and a couple of disappointments in Saturday's $300,000 Grade I Starlet at Los Alamitos as Eda fought gamely to a 1/2-length victory, but Benedict Canyon and Grace Adler finished last and next-last. Grace Adler was eased across the wire.
Eda, a Munnings filly, led early in the race, gave up the lead and came again to get the win. Cairo Memories was up for second, a neck in front of Tonito's. With Juan Hernandez up, Eda finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.51, winning her third straight race.
Grace Adler won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante in September, but has finished fifth and sixth in two subsequent starts.
"She rated well, and you never know how they're going to do going long until you try," Baffert of Eda. "She relaxed, but turning for home I wasn't sure. Juan said she really dug in when she was challenged and didn't want to lose."
Of Grace Adler, Baffert said, "She got upset in the paddock." He said jockey Flavien Prat reported she "just had no interest in running."
Nest and Venti Valentine both chased pacesetting Magic Circle into the stretch run in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Demoiselle at Aqueduct, got past that one and fought it out with Nest prevailing by a neck. The early leader, Magic Circle, finished third. Nest, a Curlin filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:55.07 with Irad Oritiz Jr. in the kip. She won at first asking in September, then finished third, beaten less than 1 length, in the Tempted Stakes at Belmont Park Nov. 5.
"There have been some tight finishes and a little drama to go along with it," said Nest's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "But I'm thankful to be on the right side of it all. She was never able to take over and save much ground but she got the job done.
"We'll take her to Palm Beach Downs and map out a game plan with Mike [Repole] and the rest of the owners, but she'll get a freshening after this win."
Lia Marina pressed the pace made by Gun Boat in Friday's $75,000 Wait a While Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf, got by that one in the stretch and held on by 1/2 length over Sister Lou Ann. Gun Boat held third.
Lia Marina, a Moyglare Stud Farm homebred daughter of Uncle Mo, ran about 1 mile on firm turf in 1:30.94 -- a time calculated by hand by Equibase after a malfunction of the track's timer. Lia Marina made it two straight wins after finishing third in her debut at Saratoga for trainer Christophe Clement.
As Tampa Bay Down swung back into action, Strategic Bird took an early lead in Saturday's $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes, then had to contest a long stretch duel with Devine Charger to secure the win by a neck. It was another 7 lengths to Chasing Happiness in third.
Strategic Bird, a Florida-bred Noble Bird filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.05. Antonio Gallardo had the mount.
Purr Sea locked up in a long battle with Ouvre in Saturday's $61,450 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Stakes for state-bred fillies at Hawthorne Race Course, then gradually drew clear in the stretch run to win by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Ghaaleb's Ranger closed a big gap to finish third.
Purr Sea, a Midshipman filly, got 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:20.43 with Edgar Perez up. She has three wins from four starts along with a third in the Arlington-Washington Lassie in open company.
As Time Goes By fought to the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos and battled gamely to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
The 4-year-old American Pharoah filly surrendered the lead briefly to Warren's Showtime at the top of the stretch, regained the lead midway down the lane and held on to win. Moonlight d'Oro was third, 5 lengths adrift of Warren's Showtime.
As Time Goes By, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Flavien Prat, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.97. She was eighth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in her previous start.
Baffert said As Time Goes By is second in his affections to his wife, Jill. "I love this filly. I love Jill No. 1 and this filly No. 2. My two favorite girls ... I'm hoping she runs as a 5-year-old because I'd really like to win a Grade I with her, and I know she can."
He said the owners, the Ireland-based Coolmore partners, "said if she's doing well, they will keep her in training.''
Lady Rocket ran like the odds-on favorite she was in Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Go For Wand Handicap at Aqueduct.
Away in good order for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., the 4-year-old Tale of the Cat filly was never headed and won by 9 lengths, geared down late. Bella Vita was second, another 4 3/4 lengths in front of Truth Hurts. Lady Rocket finished the one-turn mile on a fast track in 1:36.51.
Trained by Brad Cox, Lady Rocket has won six of 11 starts and four of her last five. Her longest race prior to Saturday was at 7 furlongs.
"We were expecting a big performance but she exceeded our expectations with that one, Cox assistant Dustin Dugas said. "She'll go down to either to Louisiana or Oaklawn, but most likely Oaklawn. The owners are from the Hot Springs area so we'll take her and look for something there."
Around the world, around the clock:
Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup at Chukyo Racecourse not only is one of Japan's top dirt races, but also a "Win and You're In" for the $20 million Saudi Cup -- and no wonder as this year's field included both defending champion Chuwa Wizard and the star white filly Sodashi.
Chuwa Wizard used last year's Champions Cup win as a springboard to the big race in Riyadh, where he finished ninth, and to the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, where he reported second.
This time around, though, it was a new shooter, T O Keynes, who stole the show and the free pass for the Saudi Cup. The 4-year-old colt, a son of Sinister Minister, was making his first Grade 1 start and coming off a fourth-place finish in his last outing, the JBC Classic, at a regional track.
Still, late money from the knowledgeable Japanese fans saw him go to the post as favorite, and he ran to that role.
As Sodashi quickly faded after leading to the top of the stretch, jockey Kohei Matsuyama found a narrow opening between horses for T O Keynes, shot through and was gone, en route to a 6-lengths victory. Chuwa Wizard finished second, 3/4 length in front of 115-1 shot Another Truth.
"Though the JBC Classic result was disappointing due to the slow start, he broke smoothly today, thanks to the gate practice he went through at the stable," Matsuyama said."I was able to ride him in good rhythm and he responded remarkably well turning the fourth corner, so everything was perfect."
The winner's connections did not indicate immediately whether they will avail themselves of the Saudis' kind invitation.
El Caballo returned from an injury layoff to post a confidence-building win Saturday in a conditions stakes at Wolverhampton, opening the door to a bright 3-year-old season. That could include a place in the All-Weather 3-year-old Championships over the same --- at Newcastle on Finals Day as Saturday's race was a Fast-Track Qualifier.
Only three faced the starter with El Caballow shadowing favorite Navello through most of the 6 furlongs. He caught Navello at the furlong marker and pulled clear to win by 3 lengths under a confident ride by Clifford Lee.
El Caballo was second to subsequent Group 3 Molecomb Stakes winner Armor on debut, won a novice event in May at Carlisle and then vanished from the scene.
"He has come back from an injury and this run was to give him the confidence and to see where we are," said Alan Crombie of part-owner Grange Park Racing.
"He has shown he is well over that and now there is a lot to look forward to. Finals Day is an option. We will leave that to (trainer Karl Burke), as he will make the final decision on that."
Meanwhile, back in North America:
The Claiming Crown
The Claiming Crown races are for horses who have started for a defined claiming price or lower during the current or previous year. It's designed to provide recognition and purse money for owners and trainers who don't necessarily have the wherewithal to compete at the stakes level.
Saturday's renewal at Gulfstream Park was the 23rd in the series, co-sponsored by the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
Blue Steel, a 5-year-old Will Take Charge gelding, led most of the way to win the $75,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse at 1 1/16 miles by 1/2 length. He was last seen at Indiana Grand.
Paintdembluesaway battled for the lead in the $75,000 Claiming Crown Distaff Dash at 5 furlongs on the grass, and then drew off to prevail by 4 lengths. Her previous race was at Laurel Park.
Face of Victory swapped the lead with Kalu into the stretch in the $75,000 Claiming Crown Express, then asserted himself and got away to win the 6-furlongs dash by 1 1/4 lengths. He last raced over the same strip.
Sugar Fix, idle since her last run at Kentucky Downs, came from just off the pace to win the $95,000 Claiming Crown Tiara at 1 1/16 miles on the turf by 1 1/4 lengths.
Sweet Willemina came from Parx Racing to take the $80,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper for fillies and mares at 1 mile on the dirt by a head over Our Fantasy.
Bad Beat Brian came with a late rush to win the $90,000 Claiming Crown Canterbury at 5 furlongs on the turf by 1 length. He was last seen in action at the Keeneland fall meeting.
Gulfstream local Miles Ahead stalked the pace in the $85,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit, kicked in down the stretch in the 7-furlongs race and won by 1 1/4 lengths.
Mid Day Image led all the way to a 1 1/4-lengths score in the $95,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The 5-year-old son of Midshipman last raced at Monmouth Park.
The feature, the $125,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, was taken down by Twelve Volt Man, a 3-year-old Violence gelding. He rallied from mid-pack and outfinished Hanalei's Houdini by 3/4 length. Twelve Volt man last raced at Gulfstream; Hanalei's Houdini, at Keeneland.
Pegasus World Cup
It's time to start keeping track of preparations for next month's Pegasus World Cup, scheduled to be the final start of Knicks Go's stellar career.
The striking gray, winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic in his previous start, sparkled Saturday at Churchill Downs, working 3 furlongs in 36.02 seconds -- a move that had trainer Brad Cox happy as a clam.
"Well in hand, and I think he was out the five-eighths in 1:01 and 3," Cox said. "He definitely hasn't regressed since the Breeders' Cup. He's been training extremely well, galloping great.
"He was very strong throughout this morning, around both turns and even up the backside [after the official workout]. The outrider collected him around the half-mile pole, so he seems to be the same Knicks Go that we saw before the Classic."
Bank Sting was the proverbial much the best in Sunday's $150,000 Staten Island Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares. With Dylan Davis up, the 4-year-old daughter of Central Banker seized the lead with a furlong and one-half to run and got away to an 8 1/4-lengths victory.
Byhubbyhellomoney was second 1 1/2 lengths in front of the pacesetting favorite, The Important One. Bank Sting ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.27.
Lobsta took the early lead in the $150,000 Thunder Rumble Division, gave it up to the favorite, My Boy Tate, in the stretch but came again to win by 1/2 length over that rival at odds of 28-1. It was another 4 lengths to Our Last Buck in third. Lobsta, a 3-year-old Emcee colt, reported in 1:24.87 with Javier Castellano at the controls.
Artie's Storm rallied to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Steady Growth Stakes for Ontario-sired horses and kept going to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Full Extreme. Magical Man, at 50-1 odds, led briefly and held on for show money.
Artie's Storm, a 3-year-old We Miss Artie gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.01 under David Moran.
Silent Causeway came from last of 10 to win Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) La Prevoyante Stakes for Ontario-bred fillies and mares. The favorite, November Fog, got to the lead early in the stretch run, but could only manage to hold on for second, a neck in front of Golden Vision.
Silent Causeway, a 4-year-old Silent Name filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather course in 1:45.62 with Justin Stein up.
Brooke Marie came five-wide down the stretch to win Saturday's $75,000 Pan Zaretta Stakes for fillies and mares by a head over Elle Z. It was another 1 1/2 lengths to Kela's Turn in third.
Brooke Marie, a 5-year-old mare by Lemon Drop Kid, ran about 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:04.61. Adam Beschizza had the mount for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
Mariah's Princess stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 Mistletoe Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got to the front turning for home and ran on to win by 3 lengths. Amendment Nineteen was second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Lovely Ride.
Mariah's Princess, a Ghostzapper filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.02. Martin Garcia rode for trainer Philip Bauer.
Bullseye Beauty got the lead in final furlong in Saturday's $100,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes for fillies and mares and held off Aug Lutes in the final yards to win by a neck. Lady Edith was third.
Bullseye Beauty, a 3-year-old filly by Dialed In, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.19 with Joe Talamo riding.