1 of 2 | Secret Oath, shown winning the Kentucky Oaks, squares off with Oaks runner-up Nest again in Saturday's Grade I Alabama at Saratoga. Photo courtesy of Churchill Downs
Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Baaeed already was reckoned the best horse in the world before he set foot on the Knavesmire at York on Tuesday. When he was done with the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, he'd left only the ghosts of past greats by which to judge him.
There's plenty of top-notch North American weekend racing to preview, including another showdown between Nest and Secret Oath, and we'll get to that. But Baaeed, indeed, deserves top billing.
Stepping out beyond a mile for the first time, the 4-year-old by Sea the Stars won for the 10th time without a loss. He did it effortlessly, romping home first by 6 1/2 lengths, relegating last year's 6-lengths winner, Mishriff, to second. The effort was so powerful as to still the skeptics who had resisted comparison with the immortal Frankel, who won the race in 2012.
Jockey William Crowley had Baaeed well back as the field swung into the straight, shifted him inside a rival and unleashed his brilliance approaching the furlong grounds.
At that point, Mishriff had taken over the lead and probably was a certain winner against any other rival. But Baaeed simply ran by Mishriff and never looked as if he were being asked for his best effort.
The romp earned Baaeed, a Shadwell homebred colt, a Racing Post Rating of 138 -- second-highest ever and behind only Frankel, whose career has served as a blueprint for Baaeed's trainer, William Haggas.
"He's just good, isn't he?" Racing Post quoted the trainer as asking rhetorically. "It was a spectacular performance, and I'm glad now that everyone will believe in him. We think he's fantastic and we have thought so for some time."
Jockey William Crowley, who was wearing a smile a long way from the finish line, repeated the assessment he delivered the first time he sat on the colt: "He's the perfect racehorse."
Mishriff's trainer, John Gosden, said his horse ran "a huge race in defeat but Baaeed is a true champion. All you can do is admire him. He's a brilliant horse."
Baaeed will have one more chance on the racecourse before heading off to stud. Wednesday's race earned Baaeed a "Win and You're In" spot in the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic but that's not going to happen.
Haggis said unless he is overruled by Shadwell's mistress, Sheika Hissa, or racing manager, Angus Gold, the finale will be in the British Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.
The entire Ebor Meeting at York in the north of England is not only a great event in its own right but also is a springboard for the remainder of the year -- to British Champions Day, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the Melbourne Cup, the Bahrain International and the Breeders' Cup.
Now, back to business. And, with all the action we're about to detail, what better time to weigh the weighty and oft times witty thoughts of ace analyst and industry insider Jude Feld at popejude.com?
Nest and Secret Oath meet again in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Alabama for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga.
Secret Oath got the better of things in the Kentucky Oaks, winning by 2 lengths over Nest. Nest returned the favor, in spades, winning the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks by 12 1/4 lengths with Nest second in their last start.
While Nest is the heavy favorite, it's no two-horse race -- at least for second -- with Grade II Mother Goose winner Gerrymander also in the seven-filly field.
Don't overlook She's Keen, a Keen Ice filly who might be a race or two from peaking but also might be a pace factor in this 1 1/4 miles.
Spendarella is the big favorite in a big field for Saturday's $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Oaks. The Karakontie filly lost her undefeated record when finishing second in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes in June at Royal Ascot.
That followed victories in the Grade III Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park and the Grade I Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland. And the Ascot defeat at the hands of Inspiral certainly is no embarrassment, as Inspiral last weekend won the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in France against many of Europe's top milers.
Cairo Memories enters off a fifth-place finish in the Belmont Oaks Invitational but earlier won the Grade III Providencia and Grade III Honeymoon, both at Santa Anita. Bellabel raced in Ireland last year and is 2-for-2 in the United States. She won the Grade II San Clemente earlier in the Del Mar meeting.
Friday's $135,000 Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga is restricted to non-winners of a graded stakes this year. This swell field of seven has done everything but that and they're tough to separate.
The bunch includes Army Wife, Bonny South and Leader of the Band, all graded stakes-placed in 2022, and Envoutante, a graded stakes winner in 2021.
Forza Di Oro, returning from a 10-months layoff, nonetheless is the morning-line favorite in a field of six for Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park.
The 5-year-old Speightstown entire went to the sidelines after finishing third in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold cup and fifth in the Grade I Woodward. That followed three straight wins. Highly Motivated is a close second on the line with a victory in the Grade III Monmouth Cup in his last start.
The demise of Arlington Park leaves Saturday's $250,000 St. Louis Derby as Illinois' richest race of the year and attracted a respectable field of 9 to tackle 1 1/16 miles at FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing, the former Fairmount Park.
Rattle N Roll tops the morning-line and is the first Grade 1 winner in quite a while to set foot at the track, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
He earned that distinction in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall and, while he fell short of the Triple Crown races, he did win the American Derby at Churchill Downs two starts back. The other eight look well matched.
Sunday's $1 million (Canadian) Queen's Plate at Woodbine is, of course, restricted to Canadian-breds. A case could be made for most of the 11 set to go in this year's edition, but the logical starting point would be Moira and Rondure.
Moira, a Ghostzapper filly, won the Woodbine Oaks by 10 3/4 lengths in her last start, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 92, and follows in the hoofprints of several recent fillies who successfully challenged males in the Plate.
Rondure, an Oxbow colt, got a 95 BSF for his victory in the Grade III Marine Stakes against open company July 2. The first six finishers from the Plate Trial also are in the big race but any would need to improve to threaten on the win end if the favorites run to expectations.
Filly & Mare Turf
Neige Blanche rates as the heavy favorite in a field of eight for Friday's $100,000 CTT and TOC Stakes at Del Mar. The 5-year-old, French-bred mare won the race last year and has won four of her last five starts.
With the Moonlight is the deserved favorite in a field of eight for Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga after winning the Grade III Saratoga Oaks Invitational in her previous start.
But the Godolphin homebred Frankel filly will have to work for it facing the likes of Consumer Spending, Eminent Victor, Dolce Zel and Haughty, all from the Chad Brown barn.
Crystal Cliffs ranks as morning-line favorite in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian) Grade II Canadian Stakes Presented by the JRA at Woodbine.
The 5-year-old Canford Cliffs mare has been going shorter than this one-turn 1 1/8-miles affair but was a dead-heat winner with Lady Speightspeare in her last, the Grade II Nassau.
Fev Rover was a force in England, Ireland, France and Bahrain before coming to Woodbine where she finished second in her first North American start, the Grade II Dance Smartly on July 24.
Filo Di Arianna was 3-for-3 in his native Brazil and is 3-for-3 at Woodbine and that's enough to make the Drosselmeyer 6-year-old the favorite among seven in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian) Grade II King Edward Stakes at Woodbine.
The Woodbine scores include the Grade III Connaught Cup in his most recent and the Mark Casse trainee again faces the runner-up from that, plus some talented invaders.
Nine are set for Saturday's $150,000 Smart N Fancy Stakes for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs on the Saratoga turf. Change of Control, the 7-2 favorite, drew the rail and will have to contend with plenty of speedy types. This looks wide open.
Ten are entered for Friday's $150,000 Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga at 5 1/2 furlongs and, no surprise, the two favorites on the morning line are Chad Brown charges.
The 9-5 market leader is Oxymore, a daughter of Astern who won her only previous start at Belmont Park. Her stablemate, Appraise, won her career debut early in the Spa meet.
Don't overlook Wesley Ward's entry, No Nay Hudson. The Irish-bred miss won at first asking at Keeneland, then was fourth in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont.
Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Soaring Free Stakes at Woodbine has a field of 10 with Poulin in O T as the 3-1 morning-line favorite. Mark Casse saddles four, including the well-regarded Battle Strike and Ninetyfour Expos.
For those who have cleared their memory, the 1994 Expos were leading the National League East with a record of 74-40 when the players' strike ended the season Aug. 12. Ten years later, the team relocated to Washington, D.C.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Catch a Glimpse Stakes at Woodbine has a you-pick-em field of 12. Wickenheiser, the 3-1 favorite on the morning line, drew the No. 11 gate for her second career start.
Around the world, around the clock
Refer back to the top of the report for Wednesday's Group 1 Juddmonte International at York.
Deauville Legend took command in the final furlongs of Wednesday's secondary feature on the Knavesmire, the Group 2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes for 3-year-olds.
The Sea the Stars colt, trained by James Ferguson for H.H. Ko, had to wait for room briefly before making the winning move but, once clear, proved clearly best.
Godolphin's Secret State was second. Ferguson indicated a trip Down Under for the Lexus Melbourne Cup might be on the agenda for Deauville Legend.
Alpinista turned in a gutsy victory in Thursday's Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York, likely earning a trip to France in October for the Arc.
With Luke Morris up, the 5-year-old Frankel mare scored her seventh straight win, dating to April 2021. That string notably includes the Longines Grosser Preis von Berlin, in which she defeated Torquator Tasso by 2 3/4 lengths. Two races laster, Torquator Tasso was the Arc champ.
Morris kept Alpinista handy into the stretch turn in the Oaks, slowly worked past Le Petit Coco to take the lead and was all out to handle the inside challenge of Tuesday before defeating that one by 1 length. Le Petit Coco held third.
The Oaks win also carried a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" bid, but again, that's a long shot.
"The Arc has always been there," said winning trainer Sir Mark Prescott, who noted he'll probably pass on an interim race in the Prix Vermille.
"I think she'll go straight to the Arc. She's just good enough to go close. You've got a chance, therefore you must go," he said.
Friday's Group 2 Weatherby's Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York might or might not be the swan song for 8-year-old Stradivarius, the long-time king of the hill among stayers.
His connections say he'll run as long as he's happy running and, despite a string of recent defeats, he has run credibly if without racing luck and looked happy enough. He won't have to face Kryptos, who defeated him in his last two starts.
But small consolation that, as he will line up against Trueshan, who beat him twice last fall. Fans are being encouraged to wear the colors of his owner's silks, yellow and black, just in case it's a curtain fall.
Friday's Group 1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes for 2-year-olds and up at York actually does have one 2-year-old in the 15-horse field, otherwise ranging up to age 6.
The youngster, The Platinum Queen, has won three of four starts, also finishing 13th in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. She gets a huge weight break and is second-favorite in early odds but there's lots against her chances.
The favorite, 3-year-old Royal Acclaim, actually is less experienced but has won all three of her starts.
Then there were the 2-year-olds in England and Ireland.
Chaldean really had to work for it in the final furlong but got the job done in Wednesday's Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes for 2-year-olds at York.
The Frankel colt, trained by Andrew Balding for Juddmonte, made it two wins in a row after a fifth on debut. Jockey Ryan Moore sent Chaldean to the front a bit more than halfway through the 7-furlong affair and was joined inside the furlong marker by Indestructable.
The two battled briefly before Chaldean edged away to win by 1/2 length. The favorite, Godolphin runner local Dynasty, was a non-threatening fifth. Juddmonte Racing Manager Barry Mahon said Chaldean conceivably could stretch to a mile for the 2023 Guineas.
Thursday's Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at York produced a parade of long shots past the judge as Swingalong, at 25-1, was followed home by Queen Me (20-1) and Matilda Picotte (11-1).
The even-money favorite, Dramatised, was in the mix late in the 6 furlongs but faded to get home fifth. Swingalong, a Showcasing filly, notched her second straight win.
Friday's Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes for 2-year-olds at York has a competitive field of 12.
The early odds favor Marshman, a Harry Angel colt who's 2-for-2 for trainer Kevin Burke; Noble Style, a Kingman colt victorious in both previous starts for Charlie Appleby with William Buick up for the first time; and Gleneagles colt Royal Scotsman, with two wins from four trips, trained by Paul and Oliver Cole.
The O'Brien clan has five of the seven entries for Saturday's Group 2 Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes for 2-year-olds at the Curragh.
Likely favorite Aesop's Fables, a No Nay Never colt trained by Aidan O'Brien, is a narrow early favorite. Himself also has Hans Anderson, a Frankel colt, while Joseph Patrick O'Brien brings Lakota Seven, a Sioux Nation colt, and Apache Outlaw, by Churchill.
Donacha O'Brien has the only Galileo colt in the bunch, Proud and Regal, and looks to have every chance. Semblance of Order and Young Ireland are the long shot outsiders.
Only four O'Brien charges appear among the seven entries for Saturday's Group 2 Alpha Centauri Debutante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at the Curragh. Aidan has Meditate and Maybe Just Maybe.
Joseph Patrick saddles Thornbrook and Zoinnocent. Maybe Just Maybe is by the Japanese sire Lord Kanaloa. Meditate, by No Nay Never, is undefeated after three starts including the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and is jockey Ryan Moore's selection.
O'Brien didn't empty the tank of 2-year-olds at the Curragh, either, with two really promising ones held back for Sunday's Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville.
Blackbeard, by No Nay Never, has won four of six starts and comes off a victory in the Group 2 Darley Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. O'Brien's other contender, The Antarctic, was second in that feature, but returned to win the Group 3 Darley Prix de Cabourg at Deauville two weeks ago.
There are only three others including Persian Force, who finished second to Little Big Bear's outstanding effort in the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenx Stakes Aug. 6; Group 2 Norfolk Stakes winner The Ridler; and Manhattan Jungle, second din the Cabourg.
Australian superstar Verry Elleegant is the focus of attention in Sunday's Group 1 Darley Prix Romanet for fillies and mares at Deauville.
The reigning Melbourne Cup winner is head and shoulders above the competition on ratings but was on a bit of a skid leaving Australia and hasn't run since April. She also is 7 but, on the flip side, is the winner of 11 Group 1 events Down Under.
There are some quality rivals, but nothing to strike fear into the hearts of Aussie punters if their heroine is on her game. Still, she likely would have to show something special to merit a supplemental nomination to her intended target, the Arc.
Worth noting: Verry Elleegant's new trainer, Francis Graffard, has engaged Frankie Dettori to ride the mare.
Anamoe headlines a quality field for Saturday's Group 1 Winx Stakes at Royal Randwick. The Godolphin homebred was a first-up winner last season, won two Group 1 events and peaked with a second in last season's Cox Plate.
Mo'unga and several others look capable of competing in the 1,400-meters warmup for bigger things.
Meanwhile, back in the States:
Dakota Gold, the prohibitive favorite, lost little time getting to the front in Wednesday's $150,000 Cab Calloway Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds and kept going, winning by 1 length from late-running Marinara Sauced. Born Dancer was third.
Dakota Gold, a Freud colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.20 for Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer Danny Gargan. Dakota Gold now has made six starts, posting four wins, one second and a fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Golden Rocket, a 33-1 long shot, rallied four-wide at the quarter pole in Thursday's $150,000 Statue of Liberty Division for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, ran on through a bump or two and won by 1/2 length from Royal Dancer. The favorite, Busy Morning, reported third.
Golden Rocket, a daughter of Alpha, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:36.22. Jose Gomez rode for trainer Patricia Farro.
Fille d'Espirit rallied inside rivals in the stretch run to win Tuesday's $150,000 Seeking the Pearl Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/4 lengths. Kalypso was second, a further 2 lengths in front of Amusing Antics.
Fille d'Espirit, a 6-year-old Great Notion mare, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.43. Xavier Perez had the mount for trainer John Robb.
Dida came from midfield to win Tuesday's $150,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Old Nelson Stakes for fillies and mares by a neck over Alms. In a Hurry held third after prompting the early pace.
Dida, a 4-year-old Argentine-bred filly ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.83. Vincent Cheminaud had the call from trainer Ignacio Correas IV.
King Vega opened a daylight lead in the stretch in Tuesday's $150,000 Buckland Stakes, drifted a bit through the final furlong but held on to win by 1 1/2 lengths from Militarist. English Tavern came from far back to get show money.
King Vega, a 4-year-old, British-bred gelding by Lope de Vega, ran 1 1/8 miles in course-record time of 1:48.05 with Angel Suarez up. Graham Motion trains the winner.
Jalen Journey got the win in the stewards booth after Tuesday's $150,000 Chesapeake Stakes as first-finisher Necker Island was demoted from first to third. That ruling also vaulted Factor It In to second.
Jalen Journey, a 7-year-old With Distinction ridgling, was judged to have received the worst of the messy stretch run. The 6 furlongs on a fast track were, despite the pinballing, run in track-record time of 1:07.72.
Gone and Forgotten was gone in the stretch run of Monday's $50,000 Jack Betta Be Rite Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares, kicking off from a patient early ride to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Tax Me Naught.
Gone and Forgotten, a 4-year-old Bustin Stones filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:50.11 with Luis Perez up.
Presque Isle Downs
Boo Boo Kitty led all the way in Monday's $100,000 Satin and Lace Stakes for fillies and mares and got there first, 1 3/4 length ahead of the favorite, Club Car. Maggie's Bid was third.
Boo Boo Kitty, a 3-year-old daughter of Poseidon's Warrior, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:08.30 with Addiel Ayala up.