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Fourth of July weekend horse racing results promise more fireworks on the way

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
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Fourth of July weekend horse racing results promise more fireworks on the way
Ce Ce wins the Princess Rooney Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Photo by Lauren King, courtesy of Gulfstream Park

July 5 (UPI) -- The second half of the year promises racing excitement galore after superstars Life Is Good, Ce Ce, Shedaresthedevil, Aloha West, Vadeni and Mishriff all sparkled like prime fireworks on the Fourth of July weekend.

Granted, Vadeni and Mishriff performed in the country that was on the losing side of the American Revolution. But, on the other hand, the equine Americanrevolution acquitted himself well, too, on colonial shores.

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The next chapters of this ongoing celebration could come as soon as next month at Ascot and York in England and in August at Saratoga -- place names that certainly evoke the 1770s.

But enough ancient history. There's plenty of fresh action so let's play the fife, bang the drum and get on with it.

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Classic / Dirt Mile

Life is Good and Olympiad confirmed their status as top new guys on the block among older horses with nice wins on the U.S. Independence Day weekend. Now the two could go head to head in the Grade I Whitney on Aug. 6 at Saratoga.

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Charge It, meanwhile, charged right into the thick of the 3-year-old competition, which remains wide open, especially after the announcement that Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal is sidelined for two months with a bone bruise. Look for some further pyrotechnics in this division at Saratoga.

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Many of the horses who competed in the Middle East early this year have struggled on return to their homeland. Not so with Life Is Good.

The Into Mischief colt, who finished a fading fourth in the Dubai World Cup, was right back on his game in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park, leading from the early jumps and drawing off late to win by 5 1/2 lengths.

Speaker's Corner, a three-time graded stakes winner, tried to go with him but simply was run off his feet, finally capitulating in the stretch and settling for second, trailed by Repo Rocks and Harvard.

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Life Is Good, trained by Todd Pletcher for China Horse Club and WinStar Farm, scored his seventh win, including the 2021 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Along the way, he's beaten the likes of Knicks Go and Medina Spirit. Now, Pletcher said, he's pointing toward the Whitney, which is shaping up to be a monumental battle.

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"You never take anything for granted," Pletcher said. "There's only one outcome that was OK and that was for him to win. ... We got a little something out of it. A nice strong gallop out. We'll come back in five weeks and see if we can make another step forward [in the Whitney]."

Olympiad served notice he'll need to be considered in big races going forward, likely also in the Whitney, as he extended his winning streak to five with a 2 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $750,000 Grade II Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs. (See "News and Notes" about that Grade II.)

So, too, did Americanrevolution, who finished a dogged second, well in front of Proxy in third. The reigning Kentucky Derby winner, Mandaloun, did not fare so well in his first start since returning from overseas. Ninth in the Grade I Saudi Cup on Feb. 26, Mandaloun was a dull fourth in the Foster.

Olympiad, a 4-year-old Speightstown colt trained by Bill Mott, pressed the pace and was clearly best in the stretch, finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.66 with Junior Alvarado up.

He added to earlier 2022 scores in a Gulfstream Park allowance, the Grade III Mineshaft and Grade II New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds and the Grade II Alysheba at Churchill Downs.

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"I thought it was a very game win this afternoon," Mott said of Olympiad's effort. "There were some nice horses in this field and I thought he did things rather easily. It was really nice to see him win like that.

"We've always thought about running him in the Whitney so I think that would be the next possible target."

The Stephen Foster was a "Win and You're In" event for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic.

Frosted Over shadowed pacesetting Mighty Heart all the way to the stretch turn in Friday's $180,000 (Canadian) Grade III Dominion Day Stakes at Woodbine, cruised by that one and rolled home first by 4 3/4 lengths. Artie's Storm was up for second with Mighty Heart holding third.

Frosted Over, a 4-year-old Frosted colt, finished 1 1/8 miles on the all-weather track in 1:49.46 without much asked of him by jockey Kazushi Kimura. After two unimpressive efforts at age 2, Frosted Over now has posted top-three finishes in seven of his last eight starts.

And the 3-year-olds:

Something put a charge into Charge It in Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park as the Tapit colt delivered a Secretariat-style show.

After putting away an early pace challenge, Charge It simply left all five rivals in his dust, leading by 10 lengths early in the stretch and 23 lengths at the wire under a hand ride by John Velazquez. Runninsonofagun was up for second, 2 1/4 lengths better than Fluid Situation.

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Ironically, the margin of victory, big as at was, fell 5 lengths shy of the margin of Charge It's loss in his last race, the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 17th, beaten 28 lengths, reportedly with breathing woes from a displaced palate. Before that, he was second in the Florida Derby.

"I'm not sure what the official margin is, but it's pretty far," Pletcher said immediately after the Dwyer. "At one point, I looked at the Secretariat pole and thought, "Whoa! This is close.'"

Pletcher said the path forward for Charge It could include the Jim Dandy, the Travers "or both. It's all about him telling us what to do."

Rattle N Roll, a Grade I winner at 2 but a disappointment through the Triple Crown series, found his bearings in Saturday's $200,000 American Derby at Churchill Downs -- an historic and prestigious race transplanted from Arlington Park, and then switched this year to the dirt.

Rattle N Roll, sent off a lukewarm favorite, took the lead heading down the stretch and got away to a 2-lengths victory over Kuchar.

It was his first win since the Grade I Futurity at Keeneland last October. and Rattle N Roll's trainer, Kenny McPeek, commented, "I wouldn't say he's at the top of the 3-year-old class. But he isn't chopped liver, either."

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In Canada, Rondure drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $180,000 (Canadian) Grade III Marine Stakes for 3-year-olds by 5 1/2 lengths over Duke of Love with the favorite, Ironstone, third.

Rondure, an Oxbow colt trained by Katerina Vassilieva, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.57, notching his second win from five starts. He was second in his previous outing, the Queenston Stakes and, as an Ontario-bred, now is firmly in the picture for the Queen's Plate.

Distaff

Shedaresthedevil showed once again in Saturday's $350,000 Grade II Fleur de Lis Stakes she's all but invincible at Churchill Downs.

Under a confident ride by Florent Geroux, the 5-year-old Daredevil mare let Super Quick loose on the lead, reeled that one in with a furlong to run and got home first by 1 3/4 lengths.

Super Quick held second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of the favorite, Pauline's Pearl. Shedaresthedevil ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.17.

Shedaresthedevil now has six wins and a second from seven starts in the shadow of the Twin Spires, the victories including the 2020 Kentucky Oaks.

The only serious blot on her copybook was a sixth-place fade in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff -- a situation trainer Brad Cox wouldn't mind setting straight at Keeneland in five months' time.

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"We've targeted this race for a long time," Cox said. "She loves it here at Churchill Downs and Florent gave her a perfect ride. It was a tough field but I had confidence in her when I saw her position going around the turn that she'd have enough left to chase down [Super Quick]."

Saturday's $200,000 Tepin Stakes was supposed to have been on the grass, but Churchill Downs took its green course out of service for maintenance for the weekend so the event went to 3-year-old fillies more comfortable on the dirt.

And most comfortable of all was Wicked Halo, who sat just off the pace, took over turning for home and drew off to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Heartyconstitution. Zawish and Verylittlecents completed the order of finish.

Wicked Halo, another of the Winchell Thoroughbreds' Gun Runner offspring trained with success by Steve Asmussen. She made it two wins in a row while stepping up to the mile for the first time.

At Woodbine, Souper Hoity Toity rallied six-wide on the turn and was up late to win Saturday's $180,000 (Canadian) Selene Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Catiche. Mrs. Barbara ran evenly to finish third.

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Souper Hoity Toity, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Uncle Mo, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.11. Patrick Husbands rode for trainer Mark Casse.

It was her third win and followed a seven-months layoff from a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Mazarine Stakes over the course and distance.

At Delaware Park, Midnight Stroll came from mid-pack at the top of the lane in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Delaware Oaks, took the lead gamely and then held on to win by a head from the favorite, Shotgun Hottie.

Morning Matcha rallied from last of seven to get show money as Midnight Stroll, a Not This Time filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.31.

Eric Cancel rode for trainer John Terranova II. It was her third win from her last four starts -- a streak that also included a ninth-place finish in the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

On Sunday at Monmouth Park, Green Up dueled to the lead in the $100,000 Boiling Springs Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, then took over in the stretch run, drawing off to win by 5 1/4 lengths.

The odds-on favorite, Radio Days, couldn't match strides with the winner, but finished second, 3 lengths in front of Captainsdaughter. Alittleloveandluck completed the order of finish.

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Green Up, an Upstart filly trained by Todd Pletcher for Team Valor, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:40.93 for jockey Paco Lopez.

Sunday at Churchill Downs, Lil Tootsie wore down pacesetting, odds-on favorite The Mary Rose, after 1/2 mile of the $160,000 Anchorage Stakes, then went on to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Roc's Princess. The Mary Rose reported last of five, 21 3/4 lengths back of the winner.

Lil Tootsie, a 4-year-old Tapit filly, got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.17 with Edgar Morales up.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Ce Ce, the reigning Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champ, was the prohibitive favorite among six facing the starter in Saturday's $100,000 Princess Rooney Invitational at Gulfstream Park and ran to her notices, kicking away through the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths.

Spirit Wind and Make Mischief filled out the trifecta as Ce Ce, with Victor Espinoza in the irons, ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.2. She was last seen finishing third in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in April -- a race she won in 2020.

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"Obviously, it's never convenient when you ship all the way across the country, but it's a racetrack that she's fond of," said trainer Michael McCarthy of the California-based mare. "The spacing of the race was great."

The daughter of Elusive Quality won the Princess Rooney last year before clinching the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter with the Breeders' Cup win at Del Mar.

McCarthy said her campaign for the rest of the year likely will mirror 2021 with stops as Saratoga and Santa Anita before the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland. The Princess Rooney was a "Win and You're In" race for that November event.

Becca Taylor, the odds-on favorite, took an early lead in Monday's $200,000 Grade II Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos, put away a challenger early in the stretch run and got home first by 2 lengths over Samurai Charm. Elm Drive was third.

Becca Taylor, a 4-year-old filly by Old Topper, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.25 with Juan Hernandez riding. She now has nine wins from 10 starts with the lone loss a second by a nose in the Irish O'Brien Stakes on the Santa Anita hillside turf course.

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"That nose is going to haunt me for the rest of my life," trainer Steve Miyadi said.

Sprint

Another Breeders' Cup Champion returned to the winner's circle as Aloha West triumphed by a neck over Miles Ahead in Saturday's $160,000 Kelly's Landing Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Those two chased down pacesetting Kneedeepinsnow in deep stretch before battling to the wire.

Aloha West, a 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.44 with Joel Rosario in the irons. It was the first win of the year for Aloha West, winner of the 2021 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Del Mar, after two defeats in Grade I races.

"We're glad he got his feet back underneath him today," said Aloha West's trainer, Wayne Catalano. "Our goal is to get him back to Keeneland for the Breeders' Cup Sprint."

Willy Boi took back early in Saturday's $100,000 Smile Sprint Invitational at Gulfstream Park, came four-wide to take the lead in upper stretch and ran on to win by 1 length over Pudding. Absolute Grit was third and Drain the Clock faded from a brief lead to finish fourth.

Willy Boi, a 4-year-old Uncaptured gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.71 with Chantal Sutherland aboard, running his win streak to three.

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Drain the Clock added his named to the list of horses who struggled on return from Dubai. He finished seventh in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen there in his previous start March 26.

Saturday at Delaware Park, Whereshetoldmetogo rallied from next-last of seven to win the $100,000 Alapocas Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Drafted. No Cents was just another nose back in third. Whereshetoldmetogo, a 7-year-old El Padrino gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.61 with Jevian Toledo in the irons.

The Gun Runner, Winchell Thoroughbreds, Steve Asmussen combination struck again in Sunday's $160,000 Maxfield Stakes at Churchill Downs as Gunite came from a pace-stalking trip to win by 1/2 length over My Prankster. Hoist the Gold was just a head farther back in third and Tejano Twist was fourth.

Gunite, with Tyler Gaffalione up, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.08. He won the Grade I Hopeful last summer at Saratoga but was put away after a fifth-place finish in the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park.

Chasing Artie outfinished The Virginian in the closing strides of Sunday's $100,000 Bob Umphrey Sprint Stakes on the Gulfstream Park all-weather track, winning by 3/4 length over that foe. It was another 1 1/2 lengths to Tape to Tape in third.

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Chasing Artie, a Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred gelding by We Miss Artie, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.71 with Edgard Zayas up.

Cody's Wish hooked up with Three Technique in a tight stetch duel in Monday's $175,000 Hanshin Stakes Presented by JRA at Churchill Downs, finally prevailing by a neck over that rival. Awesome Gerry was another 4 lengths back in third.

Cody's Wish, a Godolphin homebred 4-year-old colt by Curlin out of the Tapit mare Dance Card, finished the 1-turn mile on a fast track in 1:34.10 with Junior Alvarado riding for trainer Bill Mott.

Turf / Turf Mile

Main Event got out to an early lead in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park, opened up a nice advantage into the stretch and got safely home, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of the late-running favorite, Elizar. Tommy Bee came from last to finish third.

Main Event, a Bernardini colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.74 with Eric Cancel in the irons. He won for the third time while coming off a ninth-place finish in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs.

Annapolis, the odds-on favorite, rallied to the lead turning for home in Monday's $100,000 Manila Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park and cruised on home first by 2 3/4 lengths over Double Clutch.

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Annapolis, a War front colt out of 2014 Kentucky Oaks runner-up My Miss Sophia, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.81 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Todd Pletcher.

He now has three wins and a second from four starts and trainer said he could move right up to the $1 million Grade I Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on Aug. 6.

Filly & Mare Turf / Turf Mile

Lady Speightspeare set a pressured pace in Saturday's $210,000 (Canadian) Grade II Nassau Stakes at Woodbine, was headed in the stretch run but came back to share the victory with Crystal Cliffs in a dead heat. Our Flash Drive, after leading briefly, finished third, 1 length back of the winning duo.

Lady Speightspeare, a 4-year-old Speightstown filly, improved to 4-for-4 at Woodbine. Crystal Cliffs, a French-bred, 5-year-old mare by Canford Cliffs, was last seen finishing second in the Grade III Galorette at Pimlico. They finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.40.

Jouster chased the early leader, Cheermeister, into the stretch in Sunday's $100,000 Perfect Sting Stakes, hooked that rival nearing the eighth pole and inched away to win by 3/4 length.

The favorite, Love and Thunder, was pinched back at the start and advanced from last to get show money.

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Jouster, a 4-year-old Noble Mission filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.96 with Luis Saez up for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Sparkle Blue chased down pacesetter Tasweya in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Christiana Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Delaware Park and won by 1/2 length over that rival.

Sparkle Blue, a Hard Spun filly trained by Graham Motion, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.71 with Jeremy Rose up.

Turf Sprint

Bound for Nowhere and Pablo Morales were the picture of determination in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian) Grade II Highlander Stakes at Woodbine. Blocked repeatedly, Morales finally found a way through traffic in time for Bound for Nowhere to win by 1 length over Arzak.

White Flag came from last of 11 to finish third, just a neck farther in arrears. Bound for Nowhere, an 8-year-old son of The Factor, owned by his trainer, Wesley Ward, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:08.01.

The three-time Royal Ascot competitor now has two wins in a row and nine from 19 career starts.

Juvenile

It's certainly early innings but there's no reason to think anything but good thoughts about Gulfport after the Uncle Mo colt destroyed five rivals as the odds-on favorite in Monday's $175,000 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs.

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With Brian Hernandez Jr. along for the ride, Gulfport went right to the front and won by 12 1/4 lengths, finishing 6 furlongs in 1:09.25, ridden out. Owen's Leap and Andthewinneris were second and third.

Gulfport, trained by Steve Asmussen, won his only previous start by 7 lengths, also under the Twin Spires.

Juvenile Fillies

Wonder Wheel had things all her way in Monday's $175,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs.

After shaking off a mild early challenge, the Into Mischief filly took full command entering the stretch and won by a comfortable 6 3/4 lengths with Tyler Gaffalione up. Sabra Tuff was second, 1 1/4 lengths better than Les Bon Temps.

Wonder Wheel ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.26, improving her record to 2-for-2.

Around the world, around the clock:

England

Granted, for the Aga Khan, 50,000 pounds sterling is pocket change. But it also was a measure of trainer Jean-Claude Rouget's faith in the chances of the owner's French Derby winner, Vadeni, that the colt was supplemented to Saturday's Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

And it was money well spent as Vadeni came from last in a compact field to take the lead at mid-stretch, then overcame a minor stumble to hang on and win by a neck over a traffic-hampered Mishriff. Native Trail, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas, was a close third with Lord North fourth.

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"At the two-furlong marker he took hold of the bridle and changed legs," Racing Post quoted winning rider Christophe Soumillion.

"That was the time when I was thinking maybe I wait a bit longer, but I could see Mishriff on my inside completely stuck. I just let him go and that's maybe why I hit the front 50 to 100 yards too early.

"Everything was fine but unfortunately 80 yards from the line he stumbled and lost balance for a few strides. But he was a bit like Almanzor and gave me that extra gear only champions can give you."

France

Alpinista ran her way into serious consideration for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as a determined late run saw her home first in Sunday's Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Trainer Sir Mark Prescott had cautioned the Frankel filly might not be in peak form while returning from a long layoff, but apparently no one told Alpinista.

After racing near the back of the field, she switched on outside rivals some 500 meters from the finish, was on the engine by the 200-meters mark and won by 1 1/4 lengths from Barati. Bubble Gift was third and the favorite, Hurricane Lane, beat only one rival.

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"I gave her a squeeze turning in and almost found myself arriving there a bit too soon," Racing Post quoted jockey Luke Morris. "She showed a bright turn of foot and hopefully all roads lead back to France."

Assistant trainer William Butler said the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 23, which already has the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and maybe the Epsom Oaks winner as likely, might or might not be too soon for an encore.

"We're working back from the Arc," he said. "It came at the wrong time in her program last year so we decided it would be the Arc this year."

Germany

The first three finishers in Sunday's Group 1 Deutsches Derby at Hamburg could hardly have been farther apart across the course but were oh, so close in the photo with Sammarco on the inside prevailing by a short head over Schwarzer Peter, far out in the middle of the turf.

The favorite, So Moonstruck, running down the middle, was another short head back in third.

Sammarco, a Camelot colt, came into the race off a victory by just a head over So Moonstruck in the Group 2 Sparkasse KolnBonn Union-Rennen at Cologne. The Derby was just his third start.

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On Saturday, reigning Arc champion Torquator Tasso returned to form with a 3 1/2-lengths victory in the Group 2 Grosser Hansa-Preis.

The Adlerflug runner had started 2022 with a dull effort May 29 at Baden-Baden, but seemed more himself at Hamburg and now could join a trio of Derby winners in the aforementioned King George at Ascot.

South Africa

Sparkling Water, a relative long shot in a well-matched field, improved on two close early-season finishes to win Africa's signature Race, the Hollywoodbets Durban July (G1) at Greyville, by an authoritarian 3 lengths. Jet Dark was second with the joint favorite, Safe Passage, third.

Do It Again, a two-time July winner, was fourth while contesting the race a fifth time and last year's winner, Kommetdieding, settled for fifth.

Sparkling Water, a 4-year-old daughter of 2001 Arlington Million winner Silvano, ran 1 3/8 miles in 2:15.08. S'manga Khumalo rode for trainer Mike de Kock. Sparkling Water was third, then second in her first two starts of 2022, but had been on the sidelines since April.

Khumalo kept Sparkling Water, the only female in the field, close enough to the pace, saving ground, until the stretch run. Turned loose when a seam opened, she quickly put matters to rest, winning as she pleased.

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"He had a plan and he wasn't going to be beat," de Kock said of Khumalo. It was de Kock's fifth July winner, tying him with Justin Snaith. De Kock also trained the last filly to win the race, Igugu in 2011.

News and Notes:

The Churchill Downs publicity staff noted, quite appropriately, the incongruity of the Grade II status of the Stephen Foster, saying in Sunday's media update:

"The Stephen Foster ended its 17-year run as Grade I in 2019. In the last 10 years, the winners of the Stephen Foster have won or placed in 28 Grade I races (not including their wins in the Foster).

Some of the top horses of the last decade that have won the Stephen Foster include Maxfield, Ron the Greek, Seeking the Soul, Tom's d'Etat and Horse of the Year Gun Runner."

Are you listening, Graded Stakes Committee?

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