Irad Ortiz Jr. guides Count Again to victory in Monday's Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita -- one of the jockey's two Grade I wins on the day. Benoit photo courtesy of Santa Anita
May 31 (UPI) -- Officially it was Memorial Day, but at Santa Anita on Monday, it was Irad Ortiz Jr. day as the East Coast-based rider invaded to ride the winners in two Grade I events and the runner-up in another.
That tour de force eclipsed the efforts of Juan Hernandez, who two days earlier rode five winners from nine races at the same track, including four of the five stakes.
There were plenty of impressive equine winners during the holiday weekend, too, including newly minted Breeders' Cup qualifiers Count Again in California and Viejos Tiempos in Chile.
Meanwhile, Derby week in England, already commemorating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, took on another dimension with the death Sunday of legendary jockey Lester Piggott, who won the race nine times in a career that spanned five decades.
Ascot Racecourse, which already has honored the rider with the naming of the Piggott Gate in 1997 and erection of a bronze statue in 2019, said his passing will be noted appropriately during the Derby meeting.
Here's how the long weekend played out on the world's tracks:
Irad Ortiz Jr. got his California visit off to a rousing start aboard There Goes Harvard in Monday's $400,000 Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
The 4-year-old Will Take Charge colt raced well back of a quick early pace in the 1 1/4-miles race, tipped out three-wide for the final furlong and got by the speed to win by 1 length. Pacesetter Defunded got second, 3 1/4 lengths better than Royal Ship.
There Goes Harvard was clocked in 2:02.66 as things slowed down in the late going. The Michael McCarthy trainee won for the third straight time while contesting his first graded stakes.
"I had a perfect trip," Ortiz said. "My horse was fighting a little bit with me going into the first turn -- they went a little fast. I tried to let him relax, settle a little bit and he did come back to me on the backside.
"That was the key. After that, I was just biding my time and kicked him out down the stretch and he responded really well."
On Sunday at Woodbine, Artie's Storm stormed home four-wide to capture the $210,000 (Canadian) Stella Artois Eclipse Stakes by 1 length over Frosted Over.
The favorite, 2020 Queen's Plate winner Mighty Heart, led most of the first mile and faded to finish third.
Artie's Storm, a 4-year-old We Miss Artie gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.40 with David Moran in the irons. It was his first start of 2022 and extended a two-race streak that ended 2021, all at Woodbine.
King Ottoman entered Monday's $300,000 Texas Derby at Lone Start Park still a maiden and came away with the big check.
The Curlin colt, trained by Steve Asmussen, sat reserved behind a decent pace early in the 1 1/16-miles test, commenced a four-wide rally through the stretch and was along to win by a head over fellow long shot Presidential. The favorite, A.P.'s Secret, was third.
King Ottoman was clocked in 1:45.29 while racing at his fourth track in four starts.
One race later at the Texas track, Silver Prospector got the gold for the first time since October 2020, winning the $400,000 Grade III Steve Sexton Mile by 1 1/2 lengths over Mish after a determined stretch run. The favorite, Shaaz, finished third.
Silver Prospector, a 5-year-old son of Declaration of War, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.20 with Stewart Elliott riding. His previous win came 10 races back Oct. 20, 2020, in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs.
Turf / Turf Mile
Count Again rallied around the stretch turn like a rocket in Monday's $500,000 Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita, blew right on by the odds-on favorite, Smooth Like Strait, and won by 2 1/4 lengths in a hand ride, with Ortiz getting his second Grade I score of the day.
Smooth Like Strait held on for second with Masteroffoxhounds third. Count Again finished in 1:32.40 over firm turf after closing into the fast early pace.
The race was a "Win and You're In" for the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile in November at Keenland and trainer Phil D'Amato said he's eager to take up that challenge.
"He was in great position today and turning for home, he had the leader measured," D'Amato said. "He was sitting on a big race today. This puts him in a position to win the Breeders' Cup Mile in November."
Kentucky Ghost started last of nine in Saturday's $100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes at Monmouth Park, came four-wide into the stretch and got by everyone to win by 1/2 length. Winfromwithin was second after leading much of the way. Analyze It was third, 1 1/4 lengths farther back.
Kentucky Ghost, a 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:40.44 with Jorge Vargas Jr. in the irons. The win also carried an automatic, fee-free start in the Grade I United Nations Stakes July 23.
Fuerteventura came with a wide late move to challenge for the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park and outfinished Celestial City to win by a head.
The favorite, Quality G, held a brief lead in the stretch but finished third. Fuerteventura, a Summer Front gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.93 with Isaac Castillo up. He now has three straight in the win column.
St Anthony took no prisoners in the stretch run of Sunday's $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes for 3-year-olds at Golden Gate Fields, storming by most of the field to win by 3/4 length over long-time leader Highland Ghost. Chief Wild Eagle came from last to get third.
St Anthony, a Noble Mission gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.35. Pedro Terrero had the mount for trainer Neil Drysdale.
Filly & Mare Turf
Ocean Road found one last burst of energy in Monday's $400,000 Grade I Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita and edged Going to Vegas by 1/2 length, denying Ortiz a Grade I hat trick.
Ocean Road, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred daughter of Australia, raced last of six through most of the race under Umberto Rispoli. She came around rivals in the stretch and stormed through the final sixteenth for the victory, finishing 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:46.66. The odds-on favorite, Going Global, was third.
Originally shipped to California from England to finish sixth in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Ocean Road notched her second straight U.S. win for Qatar Racing and trainer Brendan Walsh.
"I think there's some more improvement in her and I can't see why she wouldn't keep going forward," Walsh said.
"There were a couple nice fillies in this race and we knew we weren't going to get by them too easy. She showed a nice kick and it's always good to see that from a horse coming over here to run in this country."
Cairo Memories pressed the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Honeymoon Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita, mounted a challenge turning for home and won a long stretch duel with Island of Love, edging clear late to score by 1 1/4 lengths. Ballet Dancing ran evenly to finish third.
Cairo Memories, a daughter of Cairo Prince, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.67 for jockey Mike Smith. The Robert Hess Jr. trainee was second to Eda in last year's Grade I Starlet, then turned to grass after a seventh-place finish in the Santa Ysabel in March.
Smith said Cairo Memories is learning her trade and Hess outlined some ambitious goals.
"We're looking at a few things," the trainer said. "There's the Belmont Oaks [$700,000 Grade I, 1 1/4 miles)]on my birthday [July 9], and if all goes well, we'd like to come back to Del Mar and run in the Oaks down there [$300,000 Grade I, 1 1/8 miles Aug. 20]."
Chardy Party got the job done in Saturday's $100,000 Soaring Softly Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park and trainer Wesley Ward said he's figuring her out and looking forward to planning her future.
The Irish-bred Dark Angel filly, running for Stonestreet Stables, rallied from mid-pack to outfinish Breeze Easy and Sail By with a pair of necks separating the trio. The 7 furlongs on firm turf went in 1:21.47 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.
On Monday at Lone Star Park, Park Avenue made just her second start on the turf in the $200,000 Grade III Ouija Board Distaff Stakes and improved her record on the surface to 2-for-2 with a hard-won win.
After enjoying a comfortable early lead, the 4-year-old Quality Road filly was headed by Avenue de France in the stretch run, but found another gear, regained the lead and won by 1 length over that rival. Quinn Ella was third.
Park Avenue ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.13 with Victor Espinoza riding for trainer John Sadler. She won her first outing on the grass two starts back at Santa Anita going 1 1/8 miles and has been in the money in six of nine dirt starts.
Temple City Terror rallied from last of seven in Saturday's $160,000 Kertana Stakes at Churchill Downs, wore down her rivals through the stretch run and won by 1/2 length over Stand Tall. La Lune was third as Temple City Terror ran 1 1/2 miles on firm going in 2:31.76.
The 6-year-old Temple City mare won this race last year, but had not won in three intervening starts. "I think this race gives her a good steppingstone for graded stakes down the road," winning rider Adam Beschizza said.
Whimsical Muse got the lead in deep stretch in Monday's $100,000 Miss Liberty Stakes at Monmouth Park and held on, winning by a neck over the favorite, Vigilante's Way, and another neck from Flippant.
Sent off at odds of 25-1, the 6-year-old Oxbow mare ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.59 with Albin Jiminez up.
Big Invasion chased down pacesetting Asymmetric at the sixteenth pole in Sunday's $100,000 Paradise Creek Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park and went on to win by 3 1/4 lengths from that rival, while scoring his fourth straight win.
Chanceux finished another 1/2 length back in third. Big Invasion, a Declaration of War colt, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:20.34 with Joel Rosario riding for trainer Christophe Clement.
Big Invasion has won at Gulfstream Park and Churchill Downs earlier in his current streak.
Bran sprinted to the lead heading down the hill in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Daytona Stakes at Santa Anita and held on gamely through the stretch run to win by 1 length from Majestic Eagle. Burnin Turf, always close, was third.
Bran, a 4-year-old, French-bred gelding by Muhaarar, finished the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.44 with Juan Hernandez riding. In his previous start, Bran finished second in the Grade II TwinSpires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day.
"He doesn't have a bad race in his form," trainer John Sadler said of Bran. "He runs good all the time. We'll freshen him up now and the distances at Del Mar may not suit him well, so we'll see."
On Monday at Lone Star Park, Excess Magic closed four-wide to win the $100,000 Chamberlain Bridge Stakes, outfinishing Archidust by 1/2 length. Tiz Magic was third, another 1/2 length in arrears.
Excess Magic, a 4-year-old Magician colt trained by Bret Calhoun, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.34 seconds under Reylu Gutierrez, marking the second straight race in which he beat Archidust by 1/2 length for the win.
American Theorem took advantage of a hot early pace in Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita, rallying three-wide to win by a nose over Principe Carlo. Get Her Number was along for third as the odds-on favorite,
Brickyard Ride, faded from the pressured early lead to finish next-last of five. American Theorem, a 5-year-old American Pharoah ridgling, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.17 with Joe Bravo at the controls.
It was a bit of a breakthrough for the veteran, who had finished up the track in his last three starts including the TwinSpires Kentucky Cup Classic on the Turfway Park all-weather track in his most recent.
"We've been trying him long and he's been involved with fast paces and it didn't work out," trainer George Papaprodromou said. "I think he's a great horse and, like I've said, I love this horse. Hopefully, we'll move forward from this."
It Makes Sense rallied from a pace-stalking trip in Monday's $100,000 Speightstown Sprint Stakes at Lone Star Park, closed four-wide and was up to win by 1 length over late-closing rival Payne. Boldor was third.
It Makes Sense, a 7-year-old Majestic Warrior gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.28 with Jose Alvarez up.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Sconsin had no trouble returning from an eight-months layoff to repeat as winner in Monday's $200,000 Grade III Winning Colors Stakes.
The Include filly settled early, took up the chase after pacesetter Joyful Cadence heading into the stretch and edged away to win by 3/4 length after a prolonged battle. Li'l Tootsie was third.
Sconsin, with Tyler Gaffalione up for trainer Greg Foley, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.18.
"We had this spot picked out for a while and she rewarded us," Foley said. I'm not sure where we'll go next but I'm going to keep her fat and happy.
"These owners have been with us for a long time and developed a fantastic broodmare program with Sconsin being a part of that."
Kalypso pressed the pace in Monday's $100,000 Memorial Day Sprint at Lone Star Park, dueled her way to the lead and held off Becca's Rocket through the closing strides to win by 3/4 length. Distorted Flash was third.
Kalypso, a 4-year-old daughter of Brody's Cause, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.71 with Stewart Elliott up for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Kalypso last wasseen finishing eighth in the Grade I Madison at Keeneland on a muddy track but last year was consistently in the money in graded stakes in California while trained by Bob Baffert.
Around the world, around the clock:
Do Deuce came with a big run down the middle of the Tokyo Racecourse turf Sunday to win the Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun or Japanese Derby, holding off Equinox by a neck and ending any hope for a Triple Crown winner this year.
Do Deuce, a Heart's Cry colt with Kentucky Derby winners Sunday Silence and Seattle Slew both in his pedigree, made his move on the turn after settling near the back of the 18-horse field for jockey Yutaka Take.
His move between the 300-meter and 100-meter marker was electric as he passed a majority of his rivals. Still, Equinox might have got the job done had he not been forced to start, for the second straight race, from the No. 18 gate.
Geoglyph, who won the first leg of the Triple Crown, did not handle the 2,400 meters of the Tokyo Yushun, finishing seventh.
"This is a truly emotional experience for me, and I couldn't be happier," said Take, who won the Derby for the sixth time.
"Though my colt isn't such a good starter, we were able to sit in an ideal position so the fast pace didn't bother me," he said. "He had so much left in the tank at the final corner when I asked him for his run. He responded amazingly and took the lead earlier than planned, but held on well to the wire."
Take noted Do Deuce is nominated to races in France this summer and expressed the annual hope that this colt will be the one to end the hoodoo that has dogged Japanese racing for decades.
"The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe should be a strong option for the owner and will probably be our next target," he said.
Above the Curve, an American Pharoah filly trained by Joseph Patrick O'Brien, tracked a long shot early leader in Sunday's Group 1 St Mark's Basilica Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary for 3-year-old fillies, took over inside the 200-meters mark and held off Place du Carrousel by 1 length for the victory.
It was her second win from three starts this season, the victories sandwiching a close second in the Cheshire Oaks, and the Saint-Alary was chosen as the option to next weekend's Cazoo Oaks at Epsom.
"She's a lovely filly who's still learning," winning rider Ryan Moore said, according to Racing Post. "She's a huge girl and there's still a lot of potential and improvement to come."
Dreamloper dominated proceedings down the stretch in Sunday's Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan, leading well and holding off the late bid of Wally to win by 2 lengths over that one. The favorite, Pretty Tiger, had to battle to secure a third-place finish.
Dreamloper, a 5-year-old mare by Lope de Vega, made it 2-for-2 on the season following a win in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on May 1.
"There are lots of options now that she's beaten the boys," winning trainer Ed Walker said.
A day before Count Again earned his spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile with a victory in the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita, Viejos Tiempos qualified for an automatic starting position in the same race with a win in the Group 1 Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella at Club Hipico de Santiago in Chile.
The 3-year-old Lookin at Lucky gelding, trained by Patricio Baeza, saved ground through the first three-quarters mile.
At the top of the stretch, jockey Javier Guajardo got his mount out from the rail and held sway through the final quarter. He finished the 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 1:59.04, marking his third straight win.
In addition to the fees-paid spot in the Breeders' Cup starting gate, the win entitles the gelding's connections to a $40,000 travel allowance to get Viejos Tiempos to the World Championships at Keeneland.
Meanwhile, back in the States and around the ovals:
Golden Gate Fields
Freeport Joe settled near the back of the field in Monday's $100,000 All American Stakes, picked things up through the stretch and, with a final surge, won by 1/2 length over Navy Armed Guard. Dicey Mo Chara was third.
Freeport Joe, a 5-year-old English Channel gelding, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:36.40 with Assael Espinoza in the irons.
Saturday was for California-breds at "the Great Race Place" with the turf firm and the main track fast. It also was Juan Hernandez day as the jockey won five of the nine races on the program including four of the five stakes.
Carmelita's Man rallied from last of five to win the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes at 1 mile on the grass, scoring by 3/4 length from Jimmy Blue Jeans. Hernandez steered the 5-year-old Mucho Macho Man gelding home in 1:37.26.
Desmond Doss collared pacesetting Fashionably Fast in the late going to win the $100,000 Thor's Echo Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths, finishing 6 furlongs on the main track in 1:09.70 with Hernandez riding.
Bally's Charm and jockey Jessica Pyfer controlled the pace in the $150,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf and drew off comfortably late to win by 5 3/4 lengths over Royal 'n Rando. Bally's Charm, a Roi Charmant gelding, finished in 1:50.21.
Big Switch pressed the pace in the $150,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, was on the move around the turn and drew off in the lane to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Rose Maddox. With Hernandez up, the Mr. Big filly finished 1 1/16 miles on the lawn in 1:44.87.
Alice Marble, the odds-on favorite, was caught in traffic at the top of the stretch in the $100,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes for fillies and mares, but quickly found the correct gear when shown daylight and flew home to win by 3/4 length over Sassyserb.
It was Hernandez at the controls again as the 5-year-old Grazen mare got 1 mile on the turf in 1:37.67.
Here's one to watch: Fun to Dream, an Arrogate filly out of the Maria's Mon mare Lutess, dominated six rivals, romping to a 6 1/4-lengths victory in her first start, a 6-furlongs affair on the main track.
Bob Baffert is listed as co-breeder and his wife, Jill, as co-owner of the filly, both with Connie Pageler. Baffert said the state-bred races at Del Mar are the current target. Oh yeah -- Hernandez had that mount, too.
Monday was for New York-breds at the Elmont oval.
Giacosa got a nose in front of pacesetting Classic Lady at the right instant after the 1 mile on firm turf of the $125,000 Mount Vernon Stakes for fillies and mares. Giacosa, a 5-year-old daughter of Tizway, finished in 1:34.05 with Luis Saez riding for trainer H. James Bond.
Make Mischief pressed the pace in the $200,000 Critical Eye Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 mile on the dirt, took over nicely for jockey Dylan Davis and romped home first by 4 lengths, geared down. The favorite, Bank Sting, was second as Make Mischief, a 4-year-old Into Mischief filly, reported in 1:35.71.
Sterling Silver took charge in the stretch run in the $125,000 Bouwerie Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and got away to a 4 1/2-length score under Trevor McCarthy. Captainsdaughter was second as Sterling Silver, a Cupid filly, ran 7 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:24.41.
Rotknee opened a huge lead in the $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes for 3-year-olds and lasted just long enough to win by 1 length over Best Idea. Rotknee, a Runhappy colt, got home in 1:23.90 with Saez in the irons.
Ocala Dream got to the lead at the three-sixteenths pole in the $125,000 Kingston Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf and kicked away to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Sanctuary City.
Ocala Dream, a 4-year-old colt by Effinex, was clocked in a snappy 1:39.79 with Javier Castellano up. The odds-on favorite, Somelikeithotbrown, led briefly and weakened to finish fifth.
Willy Boi stalked the pace in Saturday's $65,000 Big Drama Stakes for Florida-breds, took over heading for home and drew off to a 5 1/4-lengths victory. King Cab and Shivaree were second and third, respectively.
Willy Boi, a 4-year-old Uncaptured gelding, toured 7 furlongs of fast track in 1:22.33 with Chantal Sutherland in the irons.
Hawthorne Race Course
Bizzee Channel got first run to the lead in the stretch drive of a turf allowance co-feature Saturday and held on to win by 1/2 length over Captivating Moon in a battle of horses who have faced stronger competition in the past for trainers Larry Rivelli and Chris Block, respectively.
Bizzee Channel won the Grade III Arlington Stakes last summer. Captivating Moon upset the Grade III Fair Grounds Stakes in 2021.
Way Too Smarte gained steadily into the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Oak Brook Stakes for Illinois-bred fillies and mares and was along to win by 3/4 lengths over fellow closer Kingsbury Dream.
Way Too Smarte, a 7-year-old mare by Brave 'n Away, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:37.30 with Cory Orm up.
The Black Tie Affair Stakes, originally scheduled for Sunday, is pushed back to June 3 as the track abandoned its remaining Sunday dates.
Corrina Corrina overcame a stumble at the start of Sunday's $100,000 Dine Stakes for New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds, improved position around the turn and led from the sixteenth pole before winning by 3/4 length. Diabolical Storm was second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of Massive Roar.
Corrina Corrina, a Mr. Trieste filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.06 with Joree Scriver up.
Sly stalked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 San Juan County Commissioners Stakes, took the lead in the stretch with an inside move and got clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Zestful. Goddard was third.
Sly, a 6-year-old Orb gelding, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.56 with Francisco Amparan in the irons.
Flying Emperor was urged out to the lead in Monday's $50,000 George W. Barker Stakes for state-breds, shook off a challenge and got home first by 1 1/4 lengths over Writer's Regret.
Flying Emperor, a 5-year-old gelding by Soaring Empire, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.36 with Emanuel De Diego in the irons.