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Tawny Port, Titleholder, Westover impress in weekend racing

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
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Tawny Port, Titleholder, Westover impress in weekend racing
Titleholder wins Sunday's Takarazuka Kinen, now targeting the Arc d'Triomphe. Photo courtesy of Japan Racing Association

June 27 (UPI) -- Tawny Port's victory in Saturday's Ohio Derby serves notice the scramble among U.S. 3-year-olds is far from over while Westover's dominance of the Irish Derby indicates he's not out of the frame, either, despite a third-place finish at Epsom Downs.

In Japan, Titleholder earned free passes to the Breeders' Cup Turf and Australia's Cox Plate with a course-record win in Sunday's Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen. But where is his ambitious owner planning to send him? Check out the international section for the answer.

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We also have accounts of some promising performances from Belmont Park, Churchill Downs and elsewhere. We'll start at the curiously named Thistledown in Ohio.

Classic

It was a formful finish in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown as the three Kentucky Derby contenders in the field, Tawny Port, White Abarrio and Classic Causeway, finished 1-2-3.

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Classic Causeway took the early lead from Pineapple Man in Saturday's race, and then faded to get home third as Tawny Port went to the front while drifting way out at the top of the stretch and held off White Abarrio's late bid by 1 length.

Tawny Port, a Pioneerof the Nile colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.46 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.

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The outcome did nothing to resolve the still wide-open nature of the 3-year-old division other than confirm that it remains ripe for the plundering.

Tawny Port won the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland before finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby.

Classic Causeway won the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, but then was 11th in the Florida Derby and 11th again at Churchill Downs.

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White Abarrio won the Grade III Holy Bull and the Florida Derby but was 16th in the Run for the Roses.

Distaff

Gerrymander led early in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Mother Goose at Belmont Park, took back behind the favorites, Juju's Map and Shahama, and then passed that pair in the stretch to win by 3 lengths.

Shahama stayed on to finish second, while Juju's Map tired to get show money, another 4 3/4 lengths back.

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Gerrymander, an Into Mischief filly bred by Town & Country farms and Pollock Farms and owned by Klaravich Stables, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.74. Joel Rosario had the mount for trainer Chad Brown.

Gerrymander showed promise with a second-place finish in the Grade I Frizette last October but was sixth in her 2022 debut, the Grade II Eight Belles at Churchill Downs, over a wet track.

Juju's Map won the Alcibiades at Keeneland and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Shahama, winner of the Group 3 UAE Oaks, finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks.

Brown said he's eyeing the Grade I Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 20, a 1 1/4-mile test, adding, "Hopefully, with her pedigree, I don't think a mile and a quarter is out of the question for this horse. ... I don't know if I'll run her in-between. I'll have to see how she's training."

Army Wife was part of sizeable group contesting the early pace in Saturday's $250,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes at Thistledown, and then emerged in the stretch run as the survivor of that scrum and went on to win by 3/4 length over Crazy Beautiful.

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It was another 5 1/4 lengths to She's Pure Silver in third, as Army Wife completed 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.80 with Tyler Gaffalione riding for trainer Mike Maker. The Declaration of War filly won for the first time since the Grade III Iowa Oaks nearly a year ago.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Lady Rocket blasted right off at the start of Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Chicago Stakes at Churchill Downs and wasn't for catching.

The 5-year-old Tale of the Cat mare got home first by 2 3/4 lengths, while old rivals Sconsin and Bell's the One finished second and third, respectively. Lady Rocket, with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.62.

Lady Rocket worked her way up the ladder in 2021 and now regularly competes against the best. She finished fourth in the Grade I Madison Stakes at Keeneland in April and third in the Grade II Ruffian at Belmont Park last month.

"We were impressed she was able to hold her speed this afternoon at seven furlongs," said Lady Rocket's trainer, Brad Cox.

"I think she may be best at 6 1/2 furlongs and Ricardo gave her a little bit of a breather up the backside and I think that helped her holding off some really nice fillies and mares that were in this field."

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Turf

Fort Washington raced in mid-field through the early furlongs of Sunday's $100,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes for 3-year-old at Monmouth Park, swung four-wide to launch a rally and was just up to win by 1/2 length over Quality G. Portfolio Company was third, another 1 length back.

Fort Washington, a War Front colt trained by Shug McGaughey, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.12 with Jorge Vargas riding. He scored his second career win while coming off a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Penn Mile June 3.

Filly & Mare Turf

Chad Brown saddled the first two finishers in Saturday's $100,000 Wild Applause Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park -- no big surprise since he trains three of the four starters.

Eminent Victor battled with stablemate Oakhust in the stretch before edging out to a 1/2-length victory. The favorite, Breeze Easy, faded from the early lead to finish third and Brown's Lakota Spirit was a distant fourth, completing the order of finish.

Eminent Victor, a Mister Z filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.31 for jockey Flavien Prat.

Turf Sprint

Bout Time was away last in Saturday's $100,000 Goldwood Stakes for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park but was out front in plenty of time to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

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Honey Pants and the early leader, Robin Sparkles, filled the trifecta slots.

Bout Time, a 4-year-old Not This Time filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm going in a snappy 1:01.01 with Angel Rodriguez riding for trainer Cherie DeVaux. She now has won three of her last four starts and the Goldwood was her first stakes effort.

Around the world, around the clock

Japan

Titleholder swept to an easy victory in Sunday's Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse, finishing in course-record time while earning entries to the Breeders' Cup Turf and Australia's Group 1 Cox Plate.

But his trainer said the colt's owner is focused solely on ending the long history of Japanese frustration in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

If the Takarazuka Kinen is any measure, Titleholder is a likely candidate to take up that chase.

Seemingly improving with age, the 4-year-old Duramente colt soundly whipped a field including last year's Japanese Horse of the Year, Efforia, and the 2020 filly Triple Crown champion Daring Tact, along with three recent winners returning from Japan's sweep through Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

"This was my fourth race with Titleholder and I knew how the colt could run in good rhythm," winning jockey Kazuo Yokohama said. "The pace was fast but I wasn't concerned because he still had enough power left at the straight.

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"He's still in the process of maturing and I think he'll get better going forward."

Trainer Toru Kurita said the colt's owner, Hiroshi Yamada, has indicated the Arc is the target.

"I've been told by the owner that the colt will go to 'the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe if he wins,' so we're planning to send him straight to France with Kazuo," Kurita said.

If Titleholder does, indeed, shift his focus to the Arc on the first weekend of October, he would be an unlikely candidate for the Cox Plate but still could be in the running for the Breeders' Cup.

Ireland

Westover could only manage third in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, perhaps losing second on luck.

But the Juddmonte homebred Frankel colt made his own luck Saturday in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, sticking close to the front, and then shaking free in the final furlong to win by 7 lengths.

Piz Badile beat the others with pacesetter French Claim third and the Cazoo Oaks winner Tuesday fourth with a mild late gain.

Westover, with Colin Keane up for the first time for trainer Ralph Beckett, recorded his third win to go with two seconds and the Derby third from six starts. While boosting his own stock, Westover's dominance certainly flattered Derby winner Desert Crown.

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One race earlier at the Curragh, Shartash barely nosed out Blackbeard at the end of 6 furlongs in the GAIN Railway Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Shartash, an Aga Khan homebred colt by Invincible Spirit out of the Dubawi mare Shamreen, won for the second time in a gutsy performance.

Blackbeard, a No Nay Never colt racing for the Coolmore lads, acted up badly before the start, kicking, biting and kneeling before loading. He won his first three starts before reporting fourth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

On Sunday at the Curragh, La Petit Coco was set down to the drive at the top of the stretch in the Group 1 Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes, hit the front halfway home and held stoutly to win by 1/2 length from the favorite, My Astra.

Rosscarbery was third but was set down when jockey Wayne Lordan weighed in 5 pounds shy of his allotted impost.

La Petit Coco, a 4-year-old Ruler of the World filly racing for Team Valor, ended 2021 with three wins in a row and was having her first go of 2022.

Also on Sunday's program, Statuette, a Justify filly out of the Pivotal mare Immortal Verse, ran her record to 2-for-2 with a 3/4-length win in the Group 2 Airlie Stud Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

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Ryan Moore rode the Coolmore-owned, Aidan O'Brien-trained filly with all the confidence in the world, racing comfortably off the early pace and taking over in the final furlong. Watch for this one, maybe at Keeneland in November.

England

Trueshan had only one start in the past eight months, was giving away huge amounts of weight to his rivals and looked like he had nowhere to go in the final furlongs of Saturday's Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate on the Newcastle all-weather track.

Then things opened just enough for jockey Hollie Doyle to point the 6-year-old gelding to sliver of daylight and he squeaked by Spirit Mixer in the final strides to eke out the win.

The remarkable effort likely sets up a rematch between Trueshan and Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup.

Asked if he thought Trueshan could overcome the crushing weight difference in the handicap, part part-owner Alan Marsh said, according to Racing Post, "No, of course not. It's well documented we were running because we couldn't run at Ascot [unsuitable firm going]. We're aiming for the Goodwood Cup and we needed a run."

South America

Peru and Brazil each hosted a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" qualifier Sunday.

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Nautilus earned a berth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf with a victory in the Group 1 Grande Premio Brasil at Hipodromo da Gavea and Ola Perfecta secured a spot in the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf by winning the Group 1 Gran Premio Pamplona at Hipodromo de Monterrico.

Nautilus, while bred in Brazil, has an all-U.S. pedigree, by Drosselmeyer out of the Point Given mare Namaste. The Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old, competing against older rivals, won by a neck over Don Cambay, running 1 1/2 miles on soft footing in 2:30.81.

Ola Perfecta, a 5-year-old mare by Koko Mambo out of the Roman Ruler mare Marejada, won by 1 length over Raika, finishing 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 2:02.03.

Meanwhile, back in North America ...


Thistledown

Tantrum, the odds-on favorite, rallied from well back in the field late in Saturday's $75,000 Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds and dominated through the stretch, winning by 7 1/2 lengths. Sammy's Smile was best of the rest with the early leader, Mr Loooch, third.

Tantrum, a Speightster gelding, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.20 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.

Mobil Solution got a rough start from the No. 11 gate in Saturday's $75,000 George Lewis Memorial for state-breds, took an inside path through traffic in the stretch and got home first by a neck from Relish the Ride. Big Truck was third.

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Mobil Solution, a 7-year-old Mobil gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.28 with Jeffrey Sanchez up.

Gulfstream Park

Kate's Kingdom and Sugar Fix emerged from the scrum to duke it out in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Powder Break Stakes for fillies and mares with Kate's Kingdom prevailing by a head. The favorite, Grand Avenue Girl, finished third, another 2 3/4 lengths up the track.

Kate's Kingdom, a 4-year-old filly by Animal Kingdom, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on the all-weather track in 1:41.49. Junior Alvarado rode for trainer Armando De La Cerda.

Belmont Park

Bank Sting fought for the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Dancin Renee Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares, took over in the final furlongs and won off by 5 1/2 lengths. The Important One contested the early pace and held on for second with Kept Waiting third.

Bank Sting, a 5-year-old Central Banker mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.82 with Joel Rosario up.

Woodbine

Artie's Princess wasted no time working to the front in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Ballade Stakes for Ontario-bred fillies and mares, opened a comfortable lead and coasted home first by 3 lengths as the odds-on favorite.

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Lorena was second with Trading Bay another 4 1/4 lengths back in third.

Artie's Princess, a 5-year-old daughter of We Miss Artie, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.35 for jockey Patrick Husbands.

Emerald Downs

Papa's Golden Boy went right to the lead from the outside gate in Sunday's $50,000 Budweiser Stakes and never looked back, leading all the way to a 4 3/4-lengths victory.

The favorite, Top Executive, was second with Five Star General a neck farther back in third.

Papa's Golden Boy, a 6-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:07.76 with Kevin Radke up.

Maybe I Will won the pace battle in Sunday's $50,000 Heritage Stakes for fillies and mares, then had to survive rallies by two other rivals before securing victory by a neck. Blazingbellablu was second, 1/2 length in front of the favorite, Daffodil Sweet.

Maybe I Will, a Will Take Charge filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.38 for jockey Kevin Orozco.

Los Alamitos

Desmond Doss dueled for the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Bertrando Stakes for California-breds, got the advantage and held off Fashionably Fast to win by 3/4 length. Irish Heatwave and Loud Mouth completed the order of finish.

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Desmond Doss, a 6-year-old son of Grazen, finished 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.31 for jockey Juan Hernandez.

Pleasanton

Tam's Little Angel jumped to the lead in Saturday's $75,000 She's a Tiger Stakes for fillies and mares and turned aside multiple challengers, winning by a nose over the last of them, Buyback. The early pressure, Day Plan, held on for third.

Tam's Little Angel, a 3-year-old Tamarando filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.91 with Catalino Martinez aboard.

Prairie Meadows

Mollies Rocket worked quickly to the front in Saturday's $65,000 John Wayne Stakes for Iowa-breds and kicked away in the stretch, winning by 4 1/4 lengths from Basic Chance. It was another 4 1/2 lengths to Minecraft Maniac in third.

Mollies Rocket, a 5-year-old Rock the Rock gelding, ran finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.01 with Glenn Corbett up.

Snapy Gal pressed the pace in Friday's $65,000 Mamie Eisenhower Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, moved to the lead when asked by jockey Ken Tohill and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths over odds-on favorite Kela's Turn. Blaze Away N Hide was third.

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Snapy Gal, a 6-year-old Snapy Halo mare, got 6 furlongs on a fast strip in 1:09.98 with Tohill up.

Ruidoso Downs

Storm Leader tracked the early pace in Sunday's $150,000 Mountain Top Futurity for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds, stormed to the lead when asked by jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. and got away to win by 5 3/4 lengths.

Marked Money was second, 1/2 length better than the odds-on favorite, Nostrangrtotherain.

Storm Leader, an Attila's Storm gelding, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 58.83 seconds.

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