As horse racing awaits the Breeders' Cup, the '23 Kentucky Derby also on the agenda

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Key of Life wins Friday's Myrtlewood Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Keeneland. Photo courtesy of Keeneland
Key of Life wins Friday's Myrtlewood Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Keeneland. Photo courtesy of Keeneland

Oct. 31 (UPI) -- While the focus of the horse racing world was firmly on final preparations for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, plenty of good racing enticed from coast-to-coast during the weekend, including some potentially illustrative events for next year's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and Keeneland.

In the 3-year-old division, Cabo Spirit showed his rejuvenation on the turf is no fluke with a victory in the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita. Balnikhov did the same on the Keeneland turf. Double Crown posted a big upset at Aqueduct.


On the international front, Equinox staged a dramatic rally to take Sunday's Grade 1 Tenno Sho at Tokyo Racecourse. And Tuesday is Melbourne Cup day in Australia

Speaking of the Run for the Roses, Pool 1 of the Churchill Downs future wager opens Tuesday for a three-day run ending before the first Breeders' Cup races. "All Other 3-year-olds" is, as usual, the 3-5 morning-line favorite, with Grade I Breeders' Futurity winner Forte as the top individual choice at 15-1.


Let's see how things went on the weekend before the big weekend, which starts with Monday's post-position draw.

Santa Anita

Cabo Spirit rallied four-wide in the stretch run of Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Twilight Derby and won by 1/2 length from the favorite, Speaking Scout.

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A Pioneerof the Nile gelding, Cabo Spirit ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:49.46, with Joe Bravo riding for trainer George Papaprodromou.

Cabo Spirit was a Triple Crown candidate early in the year, finishing second in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February, but switched to the green course at Del Mar where he won the Grade III La Jolla Handicap in August.

"This is a horse that we really had high hopes on early on," Bravo said. "Today, you can see how focused he was. From the eighth pole to the wire, he really bellied out, and you see what he did from there."

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Papaprodromou said the $400,000 Grade II Hollywood Derby at 1 1/8 miles on the Del Mar turf Dec. 3 "probably" is next for Cabo Spirit.

Amy C got by the favorite, Connie Swingle, in deep stretch to win Saturday's $125,000 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths. Connie Swingle held second.


Amy C, a 4-year-old, British-bred filly by Charming Thought, finished 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course in 1:12.36 with Umberto Rispoli riding.

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Air Force Red led from the early stages in Saturday's $80,000 Lure Stakes at 1 mile on the grass and ran on to a 1 3/4-lengths score with Prince Alabama second. Air Force Red, a 4-year-old Air Force Blue ridgling, finished in 1:33.78 with Juan Hernandez aboard.

Rhea Moon overcame early traffic issues with a five-wide stretch move to win Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths. Nadette was best of the rest with Kitty Katana third.

Rhea Moon, an Irish-bred Starspangledbanner filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.44 with Hernandez riding.

Going Global, the odds-on favorite, opened a big lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $80,000 Goldikova Stakes for fillies and mares and coasted home first by 1 1/2 lengths over England's Rose.

A 4-year-old, Irish-bred filly by Mehmas, Going global ran 1 grassy mile in 1:33.85 under Rispoli.

Cast Member was along late to win Saturday's $175,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies for state-breds by 1 length over Cholly. The Munnings filly, with Ramon Vazquez up, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.78.


Passarando, a Tamarando gelding from the Steven Specht barn, also used a late rally to win the $175,000 Golden State Juvenile by 1 length from Giver Not a Taker.


West Will Power took an early advantage in Saturday's $350,000 Grade II Hagyard Fayette Stakes and wasn't for catching. Loose on the lead, the 5-year-old son of Bernardini rolled through the lane to win by 6 3/4 lengths over Fulsome. The favorite, First Captain, finished last of five.

West Will Power, with Joel Rosario up for trainer Brad Cox, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.68. It was his second straight win and first ever in a graded stakes.

"He looked very comfortable," Rosario said of the front-running effort. "Like Brad [Cox] said, 'Just let him go do his thing.' He was pretty confident today and turning for home he just kept moving forward."

Balnikhov dawdled near the rear of the field through the first 6 furlongs of Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Bryan Station Stakes for 3-year-olds, picked his way through rivals when roused by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and won by a neck from the favorite, Wit.


An Irish-bred colt by Adaay, Balnikhov finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.48. He finished second in the Grade II American Stakes on Derby Day at Churchill Downs -- one of five victories on his resume.

Sparkle Blue took over inside the final furlong of Friday's $300,000 Grade III Rubicon Valley View Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over late-running California Angel.

A Hard Spun filly from Graham Motion's barn, Sparkle Blue ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:42.42 with Joel Rosario up. It was her fourth win from seven starts and followed a runner-up showing in the Virginia Oaks.

Super Chow showed the way in Saturday's $200,000 Bowman Mill Stakes for 2-year-olds and drew off to win by 5 lengths over Bourbon Bash at the end of 6 furlongs over a fast track. Bourbon Bash was best of the other five contenders.

A Lord Nelson colt, Super Chow reported in 1:12.06 with Chantal Sutherland up. He has won three of four with a third-place finish in the Grade II Saratoga Special.

Key of Life, the odds-on favorite, ran to her notices in Friday's $200,000 Myrtlewood Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, scooting off to win by 6 3/4 lengths while covering 6 furlongs of fast track in 1:11.09. The Mo Town filly, trained by Brad Cox, scored her third straight win.



Double Crown, at odds of 42-1, got by odds-on favorite Baby Yoda in the final sixteenth in Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Kelso Handicap and won by 1 3/4 over that rival. Shackqueenking was third.

A 5-year-old Bourbon Courage gelding, Double Crown ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.16 with J.D. Acosta riding. It was his first graded stakes win.

"I had a perfect trip," Acosta said. "I ended up being wide. Last time, this horse got bumped really hard so the trainer told me, 'Don't get in trouble.' He broke fast and I was between horses and I thought, 'I don't want to get in trouble.'"

Runninsonofagun broke at the back of the pack in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Bold Ruler Stakes, worked his way to the lead in the stretch and held off Eastern Bay's late bid to win by a nose. Factor It In was third.

A 3-year-old Gun Runner gelding, Runningsonofagun ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.07. Kendrick Carmouche had the mount for trainer John Toscano Jr. An infrequent winner, Runninsonofagun nonetheless has missed a top-three finish only once in 11 trips to the track.

Freedom Trail chased down pacesetting Dandy Handyman in the late going to win Saturday's $120,000 Awad Stakes for 2-year-olds by 3/4 length. Freedom Trail, a Collected colt, finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.74 with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding.


Boston Post Road got the lead halfway home in Saturday's $120,000 Pumpkin Pie Stakes for fillies and mares and held on bravely to win by 3/4 length over Dr B. Oxana was well back in third.

A 4-year-old Quality Road filly, Boston Post Road ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.34 with Prat and Brown again taking the bows.

Implicated got the lead inside the furlong pole in Friday's $120,000 Chelsea Flower Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and outfinished the odds-on favorite, Tax Implications, by 1 length.

With Flavien Prat up for trainer Chad Brown, who saddled the exacta, Implicated ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.20. The Connect filly made it back-to-back wins after starting with a third-place finish in her debut at Saratoga.

Sunday's Empire Showcase Day had state-breds contesting eight races for big bucks.

Arctic Arrogance romped to a 4-lengths win in the $150,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds, while Les Bon Temps got by pacesetting Miracle to upset the $150,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies by 1 length.

On the turf, City Man got clear in the late going to take the $200,000 Mohawk Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths, and Runaway Rumour was up in the final strides to win the $200,000 Ticonderoga Stakes for fillies and mares by a head.


In the sprint ranks, My Boy Tate took the $150,000 Hudson Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs by 2 lengths, while November Rein prevailed in the stretch run of the $150,000 Iroquois for fillies and mares, scoring a 19-1 upset.

Let Her Inspire stalked the pace in the $250,000 Distaff, ran to the lead in the lane and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Sharp Starr.

And Dr. Blute led most of the way to a 3/4-length triumph in the $250,000 Classic.

Churchill Downs

Two Phil's came four-wide turning for home in Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Street Sense Stakes for 2-year-olds and drew off through the stretch to win by 5 1/4 lengths from Hayes Strike. Fliparino was third ,and the favorite, Jace's Road, finished eighth after an eventful time behind the gate.

A Hard Spun colt trained by Larry Rivelli, Two Phil's ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:47.31 with Jareth Loveberry in the irons. He has won three of his last four starts but reported seventh in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

Hoosier Philly surged to the lead at the top of the lane in Sunday's $200,000 Rags to Riches Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and romped home first by 7 1/2 lengths.


T Max was best of the rest as Hoosier Philly, a daughter of Into Mischief, finished 1 1/16 miles in the slop in 1:46.90 for jockey Edgar Morales. She now is 2-for-2 with both wins coming under the Twin Spires.

Hawthorne Race Course

W W Cookie Monster put a head in front of stablemate Fast Jack near the eighth pole in Saturday's $75,000 Lightning Jet Stakes for Illinois-breds and held the advantage, winning by 2 1/4 lengths.

A 7-year-old Ghaaleb gelding, W W Cookie Monster ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.03 with Victor Santiago in the irons for trainer and part-owner Scott Becker.

Remington Park

Wild Atlantic Storm battled down the stretch with the favorite, Campfire Creed, in Friday's $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes for 2-year-olds before prevailing by a nose with the other 10 well up the track.

A Stormy Atlantic colt, Wild Atlantic Storm ran 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:23.62, improving to list three wins and two seconds from five starts.

Horseshoe Indiana

Four races for state-bred steeds graced Saturday's program.

No More Fake News was up late to win the $200,000 Lady Fog Horn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 1/2 length as the favorite. Spotonjustice stalked and pounced to win the $100,000 Crown Ambassador Stakes for 2-year-olds by 1/2 length from Good Forever.


Imagine the Moon edged clear late to win the $100,000 Indiana Stallion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 2 lengths from Tizzy Jojo.

And Mr Chaos was a front-running winner by 1 length in the $250,000 Unreachable Star for 3-year-olds.

Gulfstream Park

Turbo took the lead on the turn in Saturday's $60,000 Juvenile Sprint Stakes for Florida-bred 2-year-olds and got away to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Dangerous Ride.

A Brethren colt, Turbo ran 7 furlongs on a fast strip in 1:24.61 for jockey Edgard Zayas.

Dorth Vader was almost equally dominant in the $60,000 Juvenile Fillies Sprint for state-breds, kicking away from her rivals in the lane to win by 4 lengths from Charlie's Wish. Dorth Vader, by Girvin, reported in 1:24.83 with Marcos Meneses in the irons.

Golden Gate Fields

Quickly Park It started last of seven in Saturday's $75,000 Pike Place Dancer Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, passed them all and got home first by 6 lengths, going away, at odds of 12-1. Ami Please set the early pace and held second.

Quickly Park It, by Prospect Park, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:39.42 under William Antongeorgi III. The winner is trained at Santa Anita by Sean McCarthy.


Charles Town

Marz Express stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Eleanor Casey Memorial for West Virginia-bred 2-year-old fillies, reached the front inside the furlong pole and lasted, winning by 1/2 length over Strong Willed.

A daughter of West Coast, Marz Express ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:30.69 with Jose Montano up.

Century Mile

At Attention dueled two rivals into submission early in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Speed to Spare Championship, then held off the odds-on favorite, Soy Tapatio, to win by a neck.

A Shanghai Bobby gelding, At Attention ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:02.81. Antonio Reyes rode for trainer Barbara Heads.

Mahoning Valley

Saturday was "Best of Ohio" day at Mahoning with a Mother Nature providing a fast track for the state-bred competition.

I Wanna Win did just that in the $100,000 Endurance, edging Forewarned by a neck with the others far behind. I Wanna Win, a 6-year-old I Want Revenge gelding, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:06.90.

I Recall, a 5-year-old daughter of Misremembered, dominated the $100,000 Distaff, drawing clear in the lane to win by 7 3/4 lengths.

Morestride found his best stride late in the $100,000 Sprint, edging pacesetting Dougie D Oro by a late-running neck. Morestride, a 4-year-old Midshipman colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.72.


Grand Isle dominated the $100,000 Juvenile. The Always Dreaming colt ran best through the lane to win by 5 1/2 lengths, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:49.14.

The $100,000 Juvenile Fillies went by an even more impressive, 7 1/4-lengths margin to Back in Ohio, a Midshipman filly trained by long-time Arlington Park champion Larry Rivelli.


Sunday's program was the New Mexico Classic, with each race worth $125,000 for the state-breds.

Bodie Got Gold lived up to his name in the Classic Cup Derby, chasing down the favorite, Diabolical Storm to win by a neck at 14-1 odds. Bella Donna, the prohibitive favorite, dominated the Oaks, winning by 3 1/4 lengths.

Our Time to Shine nailed odds-on favorite Corrina Corrina in the final strides in the 1-mile Peppers Pride Fillies and Mare Classic winning by a nose.

Smartsrealgood caught the early leader at mid-stretch in the Juvenile Championship and ran on to win by 2 lengths.

Seventh Street Diamond reeled in pacesetting favorite Bryns Mark and dead-heated for the win with that one in the Lassie for 2-year-old fillies by 1 length.

Thunder Dome took charge in the stretch run to prevail by 3/4 length in the Rocky Gulch Classic Championship.


Around the world, around the clock


Tuesday it's the Melbourne Cup -- "the race that stops a nation." As with many things Australian, it's tough to appreciate from afar but its greatness is more as an event than as a race, per se.

It's also an integral part of Australia's history, dating to 1861, and the nation's social fabric, with huge numbers of Aussies taking a day off to celebrate.

Rather than try to analyze it ourselves, here's a link to the annual exhaustive analysis provided by our good friend Andrew Hawkins, who makes this a labor of love:

In Saturday racing at Flemington:

In Secret was a decisive winner in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at 1,200 meters, defeating C'est Magique by 2 lengths. James McDonald had the mount for trainer James Cummings and Godolphin's Down Under squad.

The I Am Invincible filly went one better than her runner-up showing in the Group 1 Golden Rose on Sept. 24.

Manzoice outfinished the favorite, Sharp 'N' Smart in the Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby, scoring by 1/2 length with Michael Dee at the controls. Manzoice, an Almanzor colt, picked up his second win in his sixth start.


Icebath came up the rail to lead home a trio of upsetters in the Group 1 TAB Empire Rose Stakes at 1,600 meters. The New Zealand-bred mare, by Sacred Falls, edged Mirra Vision by less than 1/2 length with Excelida third an the favorite, La Crique, settling for fourth.

Icebath, with Craig Williams in the kip, picked up her first win in just more than a year.


Equinox pulled off a stunning stretch rally to win Sunday's Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at Tokyo Racecourse.

With loose-on-the-lead Panthalassa a good 15 lengths in front of the rest of the field, jockey Christophe Lemaire got Equinox going outside rivals, closed stoutly and was along in the final yards to win by 1 length. Panthalassa held second, with Danon Beluga third, followed by Jack d'Or and Shahryar.

Shahryar won last year's Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby, and Equinox was racing for the first time since finishing second in this year's renewal of that race. Panthalassa and Shahryar were Group 1 winners in March on the Dubai World Cup program.

None of that mattered, as Lemaire admitted he had his doubts at the top of the stretch that Equinox would be able to catch Panthalassa.


That job done, Lemaire said the victory bodes well for the Equinox, a son of Kitisan Black out of the King Halo mare Chateau Blanche.

"If he comes out of this race safe and well," Lemaire said, "he has every chance to do well in the Japan Cup or the Arima Kinen. This was his first Grade 1 win, but definitely not his last."

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