In Italian wins the Grade I Diana at Saratoga, leading a 1-2-3-4 finish for trainer Chad Brown. Cognianese photo, courtesy of New York Racing Association
July 18 (UPI) -- Trainer Chad Brown continued to terrorize rivals on the New York turf, saddling the first four finishers in the weekend's Grade I feature while taking down the course record in the bargain.
Saratoga dominated attention during the mid-summer weekend, while California racing awaits the sold-out Friday return of Del Mar.
There was an unusual amount of turf sprint action scattered around the country, much of it for 3-year-olds. And the promising 2-year-olds are starting to attract some notice.
On the international scene, Magical Lagoon captured the Irish Oaks and the Hong Kong Jockey Club wound up a season that showed plenty of success despite unprecedented challenges. Was Zac Purton crowned jockey champ? Or was it Joao Moreira? Check the international section.
Read on ...
Filly & Mare Turf
It's no surprise that Chad Brown, who saddled four of the six starters, trained the winner of Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga.
It might raise an eyebrow that his winner was In Italian and not the favorite and previously undefeated Bleecker Street. And that eyebrow might arch higher, yet with the revelation that Bleecker Street accomplished the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in a course-record 1:45.06.
Or maybe not. This is, after all, Chad Brown under discussion.
In Italian was trailed home by stablemates Technical Analysis, Bleecker Street and Rougir, giving the Brown stable a 1-2-3-4 finish. Dalaika was fifth and Godolphin's trans-Atlantic raider, Creative Flair, flared out in the stretch and was basically eased to finish last.
In Italian, a 4-year-old Dubawi filly, was the longest price of the Brown quartet after finishing second in the Grade II Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile and third in the Grade I Longines Just a Game Stakes at Belmont in her previous starts.
Brown said her recent works with top turf mare Regal Glory belied those results.
"She was training super in the morning," he said of In Italian. "She's been the lead horse in the works for Regal Glory two or three weeks in a row at Belmont. I've been so impressed with her not letting Regal Glory by her.
"So, her not letting her by in the work and finishing up right on even terms and not giving an inch showed me that's really the way she wants to run and she's ready for a top effort."
At Lone Star Park on Saturday, Fairchild stayed close to the leaders in the $150,000 Wasted Tears Stakes, surged to the front at the furlong pole and drew off to a 3 1/4-length victory.
The favorite, Disappearing Act, came from last of six to finish second, 2 lengths better than Quinn Ella.
Fairchild, a 4-year-old Speightstown filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.83. Trained by Steve Asmussen at Churchill Downs, she scored just her second win in her seventh race.
Market Rumor caught pacesetting stablemate Undisturbed nearing the finish of Sunday's $75,000 Ellis Park Turf Stakes to win by 1/2 length over that rival. It was another 3 1/2 lengths to Demodog in third.
Market Rumor, a 5-year-old Afleet Alex mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:43.42 with Chris Landeros up. Ian Wilkes trains the top two.
Turf / Turf Mile
If a trainer has to sweat out an inquiry/objection after a big race, Mike Maker found a good way to do it Saturday at Lone Star Park.
Maker had both horses involved in the controversy resulting from contact just prior to the finish in the $300,000 Texas Turf Classic, with Megacity hanging on at the end to finish a neck in front of the odds-on favorite, Field Pass.
The stewards found enough damage to reverse the order of finish. U S Navy Cross, well back in third, was not involved in the misdeed.
The decision was, of course, more meaningful for the owners with Three Diamonds Farm getting the benefit of the reversal and Michael Dubb taking the whack. The difference was $177,228 for the win, $59,076 for second.
Field Pass, a 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid, has won graded stakes on both turf and all-weather courses, and was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade III Arlington Stakes at Churchill Downs.
City Man rallied six-wide into the stretch in Friday's $175,000 Grade III Forbidden Apple Stakes at Saratoga and got clear in the final sixteenth to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Atone. Public Sector was just a nose behind that one in third.
City Man, a 5-year-old, New York-bred horse by Mucho Macho Man, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.76 for jockey Joel Rosario, bouncing back from a couple off-the-board starts during the Belmont race meeting.
Eons was awarded victory in Saturday's $100,000 Prince George's County Stakes at Laurel Park after finishing second by a nose to English Tavern.
The stewards ruled late bumping was enough cause to reverse the order of finish. Pixelate was third, a neck farther back and 3 lengths in front of Nick Papagiorgio. The favorite, Beacon Hill, faded from the lead to finish last.
Eons, a 6-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, ran 1 1/8 miles on good turf in 1:51.97 with Sheldon Russell up.
Big Invasion survived a wide and somewhat rough trip to win Sunday's $175,000 Grade III Quick Call Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, drawing off in deep stretch to finish 2 3/4 lengths ahead of runner-up Run Curtis Run. Surprise Boss was third, 1/2 length farther back.
Big Invasion, a Declaration of War colt trained by Christophe Clement, ran his winning streak to five while finishing 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:00.80 with Joel Rosario up -- just 0.59 second off the course record.
Empress Tigress pressed the early pace in Friday's $150,000 Coronation Cup for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, took over when asked by jockey John Velazquez and quickly opened a big lead. She then had to fend off a bid by Poppy Flower before getting home first by 1/2 length.
Derrynane was third, and morning-line favorite Twilight Gleaming was a late scratch with a minor ailment.
Empress Tigress, a daughter of Classic Empire, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.70.
Benbang led much of the way, mostly under pressure, in Saturday's $102,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park, and then edged out Delmona to win by 1 length. Mac the Pee h Dee was third.
Benbang, a Shanghai Bobby filly trained by Jonathan Thomas for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:02.82. Albin Jimenez had the mount. She now has two wins and a second this year from three starts.
High Limit Room tracked the pace through most of Saturday's $150,000 Grand Prairie Turf Sprint at Lone Star Park, and then was just up in the final strides to win by a head over pacesetting long shot Sign of War. Barristan the Bold was another 3/4 length back in third.
High Limit Room, a 4-year-old Kantharos gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.14 seconds. David Cabrera had the mount for trainer Jose Camejo. The Monmouth Park invader picked up his fifth career win.
Quick Quick Quick pressed the pace in Saturday's $150,000 Chicken Fried Stakes at Lone Star Park, worked to the lead in the final furlong and held off Princess Phone by 3/4 length at the end for the victory. Yes It's Ginger was third.
Quick Quick Quick, a 7-year-old Tiago mare, reported in 56.63 seconds with Stewart Elliott up.
That's Right was gone early in Sunday's $102,000 My Frenchman Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park. The Goldencents colt opened a big early lead under Andy Hernandez and kept right on running, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over the favorite, One Timer. Grooms All Bizness was third.
That's Right ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.46.
Beren jumped out to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park and the favorite, Wondrwherecraigis, making his first start since Dubai, couldn't run him down in the stretch, finishing second by 2 3/4 lengths. It was another 2 lengths to Pickin' Time in third.
Beren, a 4-year-old Weigelia colt, finished 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:09.66 with Frankie Pennington up for trainer Robert Reid Jr. A fixture on the local circuit, Beren occasionally ventures to New York, where the Gold Fever Stakes and Paradise Creek Stakes last summer.
He came to the De Francis off three straight second-place finishes. Wondrwherecraigis was last seen finishing 10th in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 26.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Last Leaf had the last laugh in Saturday's $75,000 Azalea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park. After trailing early, the Not This Time filly came four-wide around the turn, grabbed the lead and won off by 3 1/2 lengths, ridden out by Miguel Vasquez. Maryquitecontrary was second, a neck in front of Stellar Ride.
Last Leaf ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.02.
Mo Strike improved to 2-for-2 with a solid win in Saturday's $175,000 Grade III Sanford at Saratoga, and while trainer Brad Cox wasn't ready yet to proclaim him a Kentucky Derby prospect, he wasn't exactly saying no, either.
The Uncle Mo colt, with Florent Geroux up, raced in the leading trio into the stretch in the 6-furlongs Sanford, shook free of Andiamo a Firenze inside the sixteenth pole and ran on to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
Great Navigator was flying through the final furlong to get past Andiamo a Firenze by a neck for second.
Mo Strike reported in 1:11.35, backing up his debut win June 19 at Churchill Downs.
"I think he can stretch a bit," Cox said. "I'm not going to say he's going to go a mile and a quarter just yet, but he's a nice horse that I think his biggest asset is his mind."
Poulin in O T stalked the pace in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoria Stakes for 2-year-olds on the Woodbine all-weather course, took the lead when prompted by jockey Luis Contreras and ran on to win by 3 1/4 lengths over the even-money favorite, Battle Strike. Velocitor was third.
Poulin in O T, an Ontario-bred Reload gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.71.
Collecting Flatter was reluctant to load before Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) My Dear Stakes at Woodbine but eager to run once the gate opened. The Kentucky-bred Flatter filly led early and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Speedy River with Damaso third.
Collecting Flatter ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:05.22 with Kazushi Kimura in the irons. She's now 2-for-2 with both wins at Woodbine.
Around the world, around the clock:
With Emily Upjohn marooned in England, Magical Lagoon assumed the favorite' robes for Saturday's Group 1 Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh, and she delivered the goods.
After taking back from an eager start, jockey Shane Foley got the Galileo filly relaxed behind long shot pacemaker Show of Stars, regained the lead some 2 furlongs out and held off a determined by Toy to win by 1/2 length. It was another 2 3/4 lengths to Cairde Go Dio in third.
Magical Lagoon scored her second straight win following the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"She's in the Yorkshire Oaks and we'll see from there," said Magical Lagoon's trainer, Jessica Harrington, according to Racing Post.
"It's only her third run this year and I would say she will improve again. And if she stays in training next year, she could be a fabulous filly."
Emily Upjohn, whose trip to Ireland was aborted by a flight cancellation, now is set to take on Irish Derby winner Westover in next weekend's Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club closed the books Saturday on the 2021-22 live racing season, defying the pandemic restrictions to post a financial and artistic success.
Through 88 meetings at Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses, the HKJC hosted 836 races and simulcast another 281 from overseas, logging record turnover of HK$140 billion (about US$17.83 billion), for a 3 percent increase compared to 2020-21.
Betting taxes to the government reached a total of HK$14.1 billion (about $1.8 billion), up 2.8 percent.
"We are gratified once more by the collective discipline and togetherness of all participants -- trainers, jockeys, owners, employees and customers -- which has allowed us to continue showcasing Hong Kong's most popular sport to the world," Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
"It remains our abiding ambition that, as soon as possible, we are able to return to normality and we can welcome back all of our customers to Sha Tin and Happy Valley."
Despite travel, quarantine and other restrictions, the HKJC's two big Group 1 international days remained open to foreign runners throughout the 2020-21 season and through last December's Longines Hong Kong International Races.
Only this April was the HKJC forced to bow the knee and restrict the FWD Champions Day's three Group 1 events to local runners.
Golden Sixty won on both big days and passed Beauty Generation atop the all-time Hong Kong earnings list. He was rewarded with a second straight Horse of the Year title.
Zac Purton and Joao Moreira, who had been disputing the jockey championship through the whole season, took things down to the final day before Purton prevailed with a virtuoso performance that moved him from a tie to a 136-132 final score for wins on the season. It was Purton's fifth premiership. Moreira has four.
"We both deserved to win it," Purton said. "It's really tough. Only one person can (win). I think we both deserve it. It's energy-sapping. We're both right at the end of our tethers, so it's nice that we can close it today and both go on holiday and come back and do it again next season."
Frankie Lor won the trainer's title and Matthew Chadwick was the top locally produced jockey for the meeting.
Meanwhile, back in the States:
Chub Wagon dueled her way to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Alma North Stakes for fillies and mares and prevailed by 3 lengths over Kaylasaurus. Cheetara was third.
Chub Wagon, a 5-year-old mare by Hey Chub, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:16.03 with Silvestre Gonzalez riding.
Bellagamba rallied from last of nine to win Saturday's $100,000 Big Dreyfus Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over Deciding Vote. In a Hurry and Coconut Cake were close up in third and fourth.
Bellagamba, an Argentine-bred mare by Grand Reward, trained by Ignacio Correas IV, ran 1 1/8 miles on good turf in 1:51.15 with Vincente Cheminaud riding.
I Recall stalked the pace in Friday's $75,000 Vivacious Handicap for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, came after pacesetting Distinctive Flower in the stretch and got by late to win by a head over that one. Salty Song was third.
I Recall, a 5-year-old daughter of Misremembered, toured 1 1/16 miles of firm turf in 1:40.37 with Angel Stanley up.
Doctor Oscar, the odds-on favorite, conceded the early lead in Saturday's $60,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes for Minnesota-bred 3-year-olds, regained the lead in the upper stretch and got home first by 1 length over Love the Nest.
Doctor Oscar, a Shackleford colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in a snappy 1:08.60 for jockey Chad Lindsay.
Brewhouse was out front quickly in Saturday's $60,000 Frances Genter Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies and dug in gamely through the closing strides to win by a neck over She's My Warrior.
Brewhouse, a Tapiture filly, got 6 furlongs in 1:10.41 with Nik Goodwin in the irons. The race is named for the owner of Unbridled. Video from 1990 of trainer Carl Nafzger leaning over the diminutive owner in the Churchill Downs grandstand, telling her, "You won the Kentucky Derby, Mrs. Genter," is one of the iconic moments of the sport.
Zoe's Delight was promoted to victory in Saturday's $50,000 Ralph Strangis Stakes for state-breds when Thealligatorhunter was disqualified from first to third for veering in at the quarter pole. Hot Shot Kid was elevated to second.
Zoe's Delight, a 6-year-old Itsmyluckyday gelding, was ridden by Alonzo Quinonez for trainer Tony Rengstorf. The 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf took 1:28.78.
Midnight Current took an early lead in the $50,000 Minnesota Turf Distaff and extended that advantage to a 4-lengths victory. Let's Skedaddle was up for second, 1/2 length better than Scent of Success.
Midnight Current, a 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, got 7 1/2 grassy furlongs in 1:28.00 under Harry Hernandez.
Slack Tide pressed the pace in Sunday's $60,000 Kent Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, got by the leader, Unsolved Mystery in the stretch and beat that one to the finish by 2 1/4 lengths. Gold N Glitter was third.
Slack Tide, a Kentucky-bred filly by Shaman Ghost, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.50 with Kevin Radke in the irons.
Itsallabouttheride had quite a ride in Sunday's $60,000 Irish Day Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings. The Harbor the Gold gelding swapped the lead with A View From Above, regained the advantage, and then had to hold off the favorite, Executive Chef, in the closing strides to secure the win. A View From Above held third.
Itsallabouttheride, a Harbor the Gold gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.37 for jockey Juan Gutierrez.
Lone Star Park
Kenai Bob dominated Sunday's $75,000 Highlander Training Center Assault Stakes for Texas-breds, leading most of the way to a 5-lengths victory. Robo, always close, finished second with Dust Em third.
Kenai Bob, a 6-year-old Shackleford gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.22 with Floyd Wethey Jr. in the irons.
No Mas Tequila, the odds-on favorite, was up late to capture Sunday's $75,000 Fiesta Mile for Texas-bred fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over Rosie Jane. Imaluckycharm was only a head farther back in third.
No Mas Tequila, a 5-year-old Northern Afleet mare, finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.77 under Leandro Goncalves.
Boerne showed the way in Sunday's $60,000 Valor Stakes for Texas-bred fillies and mares and held through the stretch to win by 1/2 length from the favorite, Ima Discrete Lady. Heavenly Rhythm was well back in third
Boerne, a 5-year-old Fed Biz mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.74 with Floyd Wethey Jr. up.
Vietnam Victory pressed the pace in Sunday's $150,000 TTA Futurity, got to the lead late and won by 2 lengths over Village Way with the favorite, Bling Bling Bling, fading to finish fifth.
Vietnam Victory, a Klimt colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.23 with Jose Alvarez up.
Free Drop Maddy led most of the way to a 1 3/4-lengths victory over Guitar Woman in the companion $150,000 TTA Futurity for state-bred and accredited 2-year-old fillies.
Free Drop Maddy, a daughter of Free Drop Billy, got home in 1:06.02 under Gabriel Saez.