Regal Glory winds up her career with a victory in Sunday's Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar. Benoit photo, courtesy of Del Mar Turf Club
Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Mind Control and Regal Glory wound up their careers with Grade I victories a continent apart in weekend racing, while the another name popped up on the "Road to the Roses" Kentucky Derby 2023 leaderboard.
On the international scene, Japan looks to have another potential contender for the big-money races in February and March in the Middle East. And Hong Kong is in final approach for the Longines International Races.
We'll look at the juveniles in a moment. First, those Grade I farewell parties:
Classic / Dirt Mile
Mind Control made his last start a memorable one, battling to the wire with Get Her Number in Saturday's $750,000 Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct before winning by a head in the final strides.
Two 3-year-olds, Florida Derby winner White Abarrio and Kentucky Derby third Zandon, finished third and fourth.
The 6-year-old son of Stay Thirsty finished in 1:35.53 with John Velazquez up. Bred by Red Oak Stable and owned by Red Oak in partnership with Madaket Stables, Mind Control goes to his second career as the winner of 12 of 29 starts. Saturday's win pushed his earnings past the $2 million mark.
"If you like horse racing, you've got to love this horse. He's cool," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who noted he also is losing Malathaat and Life Is Good to retirement. "It's hard to replace those types."
But no tears for the successful trainer, who now looks forward to Malathaat's full sister, Julia Shining (see Juvenile Fillies, below).
Regal Glory also went out in a blaze of glory, winning Sunday's $400,000 Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar with a late move.
Regal Glory hit the afterburners when asked by jockey Flavien Prat heading down the stretch and rolled on to a 5 1/4-lengths victory. England's Rose and Pizza Bianca came from far back to finish second and third, respectively, with Hamwood Flier and Avenue de France also in close attendance.
Regal Glory, a 6-year-old mare by Animal Kingdom trained by Chad Brown, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.60.
With the victory, Regal Glory finished first or second in 19 of 23 lifetime starts. She was 10th in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Keeneland in her previous race but came back nicely to win the Matriarch for the second straight year. It was the fifth Matriarch victory for Brown.
"We're going to miss her," Brown assistant Jose Hernandez said of Regal Glory's retirement. "We've had a lot of nice moments, a lot of nice races."
As forecast here, Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Go for Wand Stakes at Aqueduct was all about the letter "B" with Dr B leading all the way to a 4 1/4-lengths victory, trailed by the favorite, Bank Sting, with Betsy Blue third.
Dr B, a 4-year-old filly by Liam's Map, ran 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:35.18 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Robert Reid Jr. Dr B had been a close second in each of her last two starts and now is 5-for-16.
It was the 77th stakes win of the year for Ortiz, surpassing the old record of 76 set by Garrett Gomez in 2007. "This is great. Amazing feeling," said Ortiz, Eclipse Award winner from 2018 to 2020.
Dubyuhnell and Arctic Arrogance left the rest of the field behind in the stretch run of Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Remsen at Aqueduct and battled to the final strides before Duybuhnell edged out to win by 1/2 length.
It was another 11 1/4 lengths to the favorite, previously undefeated Tuskegee Airmen, in third.
Dubyuhnell, a Good Magic colt trained by Danny Gargan, ran 1 1/8 miles on a sloppy track in 1:50.88 with Jose Ortiz in the irons. He's bred by part-owner Stonestreet Stables and now has logged two straight wins -- the earlier coming on a sloppy track in an off-the-turf affair at the Big A on Oct. 2.
It's early in their career for 2-year-olds to go 1 1/8 miles, and Gargan said Dubyuhnell's performance indicates he might be a candidate for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby.
"He was drawing off," Gargan said. "I think we were pretty lucky he does want to get the distance. We just have to stay sound and stay lucky and keep picking the right races. Maybe we'll be somewhere in May."
Dubyuhnell earned 10 points on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard, taking the No. 5 spot on that list. Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Forte still reposes atop the rankings with 40 points.
In other 2-year-old action:
Super Chow, the odds-on favorite, led early in Saturday's $100,000 Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, turned back a challenge from long shot Handsome Playboy and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over that foe. Dreaming of Kona was third.
Super Chow, a Lord Nelson colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.60 with Chantal Sutherland in the irons for trainer Jorge Delgado. He now has won four of five starts with a third in the Grade II Saratoga Special his only loss.
Trainer Jorge Delgado said Super Chow likely will return to Tampa Bay for the $125,000, 7-furlongs Pasco Stakes on Jan. 14.
Passarando raced well back in the 10-horse field in Saturday's $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, came with a rush outside the leaders and was along to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Chase the Chaos was second at long odds by 1 length from O B's.
Passarando, a Tamarando gelding, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.78 with Catalino Martinez up.
Post Time rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Stakes for state-breds at Laurel Park by 3 3/4 lengths over Johnyz From Albany. Coffeewithchris was third.
Post Time, a Frosted colt, ran 7 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:23.98 under Eric Camacho.
On the turf:
Speed Boat Beach bounced back nicely from his ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to win Sunday's $100,000 Cecil B. De Mille Stakes at Del Mar by 1/2 length.
With Flavien Prat riding, Speed Boat Beach sat just behind the pace made by Game Time, got by that one in the stretch and held on for the win. First Peace was third.
The Bayern colt, a rare turf performer for trainer Bob Baffert, finished 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.38. He now has three wins from four starts and Baffert said, "We're going to have some fun with him."
Julia Shining looked like a sure thing on paper before Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Demoiselle at Aqueduct but, as she lingered at the back of the pack heading into the stretch turn over a sloppy track, her chances didn't look so good. No matter.
Taking the outside route, the Curlin filly, a full sister to Malathaat, quickly took up the chase and was on the lead at the sixteenth pole, en route to a 3/4-length victory. Affirmative Lady gave way grudgingy to finish second with Gambling Girl third.
Julia Shining, with Luis Saez up for trainer Todd Pletcher and Stonestreet Stables, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.05, not too unreasonable for the conditions. She now is 2-for-2, both times coming from the clouds.
"She was clearly not handling things and Luis was trying to encourage her to improve position and finally did it around the quarter pole," Pletcher said of Julia Shining's trip. "Once she found a rhythm down the lane, she started to close and Luis said she kind of got her head in front and then wanted to wait a little bit.
"That's what's cool about them is that they're very smart and they want to win. But they also sometimes don't want to win by as far as you'd like for them to."
On the turf:
East Coast shipper Liguria was caught four-wide on the first turn of Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar, hung five-wide on the stretch turn and still dominated through the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
Late-running Decorated My Life, newly arrived from Ireland, was second by a nose from Sell the Dream.
Liguria, a War Front filly trained by Chad Brown, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.16 with Flavien Prat in the irons, earning her second win from three starts.
Dorth Vader came running three-wide in the lane to win Saturday's $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs with Awesome Pic second. The favorite, Lady Radler, led through the inaugural furlongs, but faded to get home third.
Dorth Vader, a Girvin filly trained by Michael Yates, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.35 under Marcos Meneses. She has won three of her last four starts.
Miss River Rat took the overland route in Saturday's $50,000 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante for state-breds at Hawthorne Race Course and chased down Loveyoulikecrazy in the final sixteenth to win by 1 length. Cantoo was third.
Miss River Rat, a Will Take Charge filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:20.43 with Victor Santiago in the irons. Along with the Pan Zareta at Fair Grounds, it was a stakes double for trainer Chris Block.
Malibu Moonshine endured a bit of a troubled trip in Saturday's $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Stakes for state-breds, herded at the break, the forced to race wide, but still got the job done, winning by 2 lengths over Fast Tracked.
Malibu Moonshine, by Bourbon Courage, ran 7 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:24.95. Angel Cruz had the mount.
In Troubled Waters had no trouble at all in Saturday's $75,000 Glacial Princess Stakes for Ohio-breds at Mahoning Valley, leading all the way to a 1 3/4-length victory. Express Fashion and Near Perfect completed the trifecta.
In Troubled Waters, a daughter of Rivers Run Deep, got 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:14.86.
Put a ring around the name Speaking Scout as an up-and-coming type in this tough division. The Mr Speaker gelding was second-last heading into the stretch turn in Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Hollywood Derby at Del Mar, threaded his way through the field and outfinished Spycatcher to win by 3/4 length.
The favorite, Wit, had every chance late, but settled for third, another nose in arrears.
Speaking Scout, with Juan Hernandez riding for trainer Graham Motion, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm going in 1:49.38.
Speaking Scout, after coming up empty in the 1 5/16-miles Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs in September, won the Hawthorne Derby by 5 lengths at Hawthorne Racecourse and shipped west to finish second behind Cabo Spirit in the Grade II Twilight Derby in his most recent start.
"He's an intelligent horse," Hernandez said. "When it came time for him to switch leads, he did it and I had faith that he was going to run good from there. I was just the pilot. He did all the work."
Turn On The Jets did just that in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Stormy Liberal Stakes at Del Mar, seizing the lead in the lane and accelerating to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Whatmakessammyrun.
Turn On The Jets, a 3-year-old, Irish-bred gelding by Mehmas, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.75 seconds. Juan Hernandez had the mount for trainer Phil D'Amato.
Oeuvre pressed the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Pan Zareta Stakes for fillies and mares at Fair Grounds, rallied outside the leaders in the stretch run and won by 3/4 length over Portilla. Pacesetting Perfect Happiness hung around for third.
Oeuvre, a 3-year-old, Illinois-bred filly by Shackleford, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track in 1:04.86 with Jareth Loveberry up for trainer Chris Block. The race originally was slated for the ailing turf course but moved to preserve that surface.
In other action:
Ready to Venture blew past the leaders in the stretch run of Saturday's $125,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes for fillies and mares and got away to a 2 1/2-length victory. Last Leaf also found late speed to take second, 1/2 length ahead of Beat the System.
Ready to Venture, a 4-year-old, British-bred filly by Kingman out of the Sea the Stars mare Wonderstruck, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.34. Gerardo Corrales rode for trainer Michael Stidham.
Wentru, a 42-1 shot, led throughout Sunday's 1 1/2-miles $150,000 (Canadian) Valedictory Stakes and held on to win in a dead heat with Who's the Star. English Conqueror was a neck back in third.
Wentru, a 4-year-old Tourist gelding trained by Martin Drexler, and Who's the Star, a 4-year-old Tonalist gelding trained by Mark Casse, finished in 2:31.10 over the all-weather track.
Most of Saturday's card, including a pair of stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-olds, was canceled because of weather conditions.
Bankit took charge in the stretch run of Sunday's $125,000 Thunder Rumble Division of the New York Stallion Stakes and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Somelikeithotbrown. It was another 3 1/4 lengths to My Boy Tate in third.
Bankit, a 6-year-old son of Central Banker, ran 7 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:23.24 with Jose Lezcano in the irons.
Impazible Donna came five-wide to get by the leaders in Sunday's $125,000 Staten Island Division of the New York Stallion Stakes and kept going to a 1 3/4-lengths score over Silken Dollar.
Impazible Donna, a 5-year-old mare by Mission Impazible, got 7 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:24.92 for Javier Castellano.
Big Truck closed sharply six-wide in the final furlong of Saturday's $75,000 Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial for Ohio-breds, outfinishing Firsthand Justice by 2 lengths. The early leader, Romantic Cowboy, finished third.
Big Truck, a 4-year-old Birdrun gelding, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a muddy track in 1:46.03 for jockey Guillermo Rodriguez.
Around the world, around the clock
With Japan putting renewed emphasis on dirt racing, Jun Light Bolt's victory in Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup at Chukyo Racecourse takes on added significance.
The King Kamehameha 5-year-old had to wait for running room in the stretch of the 1,800-meter test, but once turned loose, quickly chased down UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby contender Crown Pride, winning by a neck over that rival.
Hapi, like Crown Pride a 3-year-old, was third with last year's Challenge Cup winner, T O Keynes, reporting fourth.
"I tried to feel the horse's rhythm and was confident that if we can find an open space after entering the lane, he would burst out," said winning rider Yukita Ishiwaka, who got his first grade 1 win. "The colt responded so well that I knew we would win."
Jun Light Bolt made 21 starts on turf, winning four times, before being switched to the dirt July 21 in the July Stakes at Fukushima Racecourse. He finished second in that and has not looked back, winning the BSN Sho at Niigata in August and the Grade 3 Sirius Stakes at Chukyo on Oct. 1 in preparation for the Cup.
The cast is assembled for a special renewal of the Hong Kong International Races on Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse. A fully international set of runners is on hand as Hong Kong slowly emerges from pandemic restrictions and connections and media from around the world are being welcomed for the first time in three years.
The star of the show, at least until the gates open, is Hong Kong's Horse of the Year Golden Sixty. Defending his crown in the Mile, the Medaglia d'Oro gelding faces some fierce rivals, especially from Japan, but has handled similar in the past and still seems fit at age 7.
The festivities surrounding the four Group 1 races also include an International jockey challenge and a renewal of the Gala, which is the setting for some coveted year-end awards.
Shaquille made it three wins from four starts for trainer Julie Camacho with a victory in the a Novice Stakes at Wolverhampton Saturday evening.
The 6-furlong contest was a Fast-Track Qualifier and Shaquille now has the opportunity to emulate last year's winner El Caballo, who went on to capture the £150,000 All-Weather Three-Year-Old Championships on Finals Day.
Camacho's husband and assistant Steve Brown said: "He will have a rest now and we will let him develop. He is a big, strong colt and quite a handful."
On Friday night at Newcastle, Fine Wine saw off some more highly rated contenders when gamely taking the 5-furlong Conditions Stakes, a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 All-Weather Sprint Championships.
The 5-year-old scored by 3/4 length over Exalted Angel with Logo Hunter third. The favorite, Art Power, was a non-factor, finishing sixth.
"That was a career-best from Fine Wine," said trainer Scott Dixon, who has seen his charge's rating soar from 68 to 99. "The plan now will be a 0-105 handicap at Southwell on New Year's Day, and then we will see how we go between then and Finals Day.
"The six furlongs will be a question mark in the final, but the horse was moving away from them at the line tonight. At the end of the day, when you have your ticket booked for a £150,000 race, you have to give it a go even if six furlongs might not be his optimum."