Weekend racing stars: West Will Power, Fort Bragg, Auguste Rodin

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
West Will Power wins the $1 million Grade I Stephen Foster Stakes at Ellis Park. Photo courtesy of Ellis Park
1 of 3 | West Will Power wins the $1 million Grade I Stephen Foster Stakes at Ellis Park. Photo courtesy of Ellis Park

July 3 (UPI) -- West Will Power won the weekend's richest race and Fort Bragg made some noise in the 3-year-old division as racing settled in for its competitive summer schedule.

Woodbine chipped in with a stakes-rich two days on the turf and all-weather tracks, and Monmouth Park, Gulfstream Park, Delaware Park and Lone Star Park all had attention-worthy stakes.


On the world scene, trainer Aidan O'Brien not only won his 100th European Classic with Auguste Rodin in Sunday's Irish Derby, but also sent out the first four place-getters. South Africa's iconic Group 1 Durban July produced a thrilling finish amid the usual social whirl.

On the "News and Notes" front, find out which track has named a big-money race for King Charles and ponder why Churchill Downs, despite being "deeply concerned" about the condition of two horses who died at the Louisville track, nonetheless reinstated the trainer involved.


The kaleidoscopic 3-year-old picture continues to shift and sparkle, so let's start there.

The 3-year-olds

Fort Bragg and Saudi Crown battled through the stretch run in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park before Fort Bragg put his nose on the wire first, thanks in part to the vicissitudes of the bobbing noggins.

It was 11 lengths back to the closest rival. Fort Bragg, back in the care of trainer Bob Baffert, ran 1 mile in 1:34.37 after letting previously undefeated Saudi Crown post some aggressive early fractions. John Velazquez had the mount.

Earlier in the year, Fort Bragg had not been able to handle longer distances, finishing fifth in the Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita and the Grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. He then was second in the Grade II Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs in his previous start.

One-mile races these days seldom make for champions but, given the fascinating and unsettled nature of this division, anything is possible.

Baffert said it's not impossible Fort Bragg might mature his way back to longer trips, anyway, and wouldn't totally rule out a shot at the 1 1/8-mile Grade II Jim Dandy or the 1 1/4-mile Grade I Travers, both at Saratoga.


"I think a lot of it is mental with him," Baffert said of Fort Bragg's two-turn issues. "He's shown in the mornings he could do the two [turns], but I think you just have to let these horses develop and some are just a little bit slower to develop mentally. He's a fast horse and today was probably his most professional race."


West Will Power grabbed the lead midway around the stretch turn in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Stephen Foster Stakes at Ellis Park and held on gamely through the final furlong to win by 1/2 length over an onrushing Rattle N Roll.

It was another 1 1/2 lengths to long shot Happy American in third.

West Will Power, a 6-year-old Gary and Mary West homebred by Bernardini, traveled 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:47.93. Flavien Prat rode.

West Will Power has been nothing if not consistent with 15 top-three finishes from 17 starts, now including seven wins and seven seconds. The victory was worth a "Win and You're In" slot for November's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

"He's gotten better as he's gotten older," winning trainer Brad Cox said of West Will Power. Now, he said, "He's a Grade I winner. That's pretty damn good. These are hard races to be a part of, let alone to win.


"We're in the Breeders' Cup Classic. We'll work our way back from there."

On Saturday at Woodbine, trainer Chad Brown put Turf King on the all-weather track in the $150,000 (Canadian) Marine Stakes for 3-year-olds and was rewarded, as he so often is, with a victory.

The Irish-bred Kingman colt bravely moved up inside rivals in the stretch, exchanged bumps and got home first by 1/2 length over Kaukokaipuu. Midnight Rising was third.

Turf King, with Kazushi Kimura aboard, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.41. It was his third win from four starts -- two victories on all-weather and one on the Keeneland grass.

Older horses contested the $150,000 Dominion Day Stakes later on the same Woodbine card with Tyson rallying from well back to defeat the favorite, Treason, by 1 1/2 length.

Tyson, a 4-year-old Tapit colt trained by Josie Carroll, ran 1 1/8 miles on the all-weather course in 1:48.32 for jockey Rafael Hernandez.

Zozos battled for the early lead in Sunday's $275,000 Hanshin Stakes at Ellis Park, and then took command and won by 3 lengths over War Campaign.

Zozos, a 4-year-old Munnings colt trained by Brad Cox, ran 1 mile on a sloppy track in 1:35.73 with Florent Geroux aboard.



Five scratches left only three to face the starter in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Fleur de Lis Stakes at Ellis Park and, even with the short field, things got complicated.

Pauline's Pearl, with Joel Rosario up, came from last to win by 3/4 neck, up just in time to defeat Bellamore by a neck.

But Bellamore got in the way of the odds-on favorite, A Mo Rey, in the late going and the stewards reversed that order of finish. It was a $39,000 swing in purse money, but of little concern to the punters as the track took only win bets.

Pauline's Pearl, a 5-year-old Tapit mare, won the 2022 Grade I La Troienne at Churchill Downs, but had scored only once in five intervening starts. She ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.59 with Joel Rosario up for trainer Steve Asmussen and owner-breeder Stonestreet Stables.

At Delaware Park, Foggy Night got by pacesetting Opus Forty Two in a bumpy stretch run and cleared, winning the $300,000 Grade III Delaware Oaks by 1 3/4 lengths over that rival with Miracle just another nose behind. The odds-on favorite, Fireline, ran evenly to finish fourth.


Foggy Night, a Khozan filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.07 for jockey Paco Lopez. It was the second straight win for the filly who has missed a top-two finish only once in eight starts -- that in the Grade II Demoiselle last autumn.

Solo Album took six tries to get her first win, but doubled up on that right away, big time, with a 6 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Selene Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The Curlin miss, from Mark Casse's barn, came four-wide into the stretch and showed her heels to eight rivals. Honor D Lady was best of the rest as Solo Album and jockey Sahin Civaci finished 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.65.

Miss New York came from last of six to win Sunday's $100,000 Boiling Springs Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park, defeating Shidabhuti by 2 3/4 lengths. The daughter of Good Magic, with Isaac Castillo up, ran 1 mile, 70 yards on a fast track in 1:44.07.


With the top of the 3-year-old division in a seemingly constant state of flux, the sprinters might start to get some added attention.

If so, Ryvit merits a long look after the Competitive Edge colt got his fifth straight win in Saturday's $225,000 Maxfield Stakes at Ellis Park.


The Asmussen trainee led throughout and won by 3 lengths over Mulliken, finishing the 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:22.33 under Cristian Torres. He won the Grade III Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico in his previous outing after taking three straight at Oaklawn Park.

Three Technique found his best stride in the final sixteenth of Saturday's $250,000 Grade II John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park, rallying by the early leaders to win by 3 3/4 lengths.

Synthesis was a head in front of Candy Man Rocket for place money with the favorite, Weyburn, trailing the field throughout.

Three Technique, a 5-year-old son of Mr Speaker, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.88 with Javier Castellano up, scoring back-to-back wins for the first time since 2019.

Bango continued his rise through the ranks of the sprint division with a front-running victory in Saturday's $225,000 Kelly's Landing Stakes at Ellis Park.

The 6-year-old son of Congrats led, was headed and came again to prevail by 1/2 length over Marsalis. Bango finished 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.02 with Tyler Gaffalione up.

He has been first or second in seven straight races and was runner-up to Gunite in the Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs in his previous start.


Lightning Larry, the odds-on favorite, battled with Sir Wellington through most of Saturday's $100,000 Alapocas Run Stakes at Delaware Park before drawing clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over that one.

Lightning Larry, a 4-year-old Uncaptured colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.13 with Paco Lopez up.

Dean Delivers sprinted right to the front in Saturday's $100,000 Smile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park and wasn't bothered thereafter, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Big and Classy. Todo Fino was third.

Dean Delivers, a 4-year-old Stonehedge Farm gelding by Cajun Breeze, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:09.23, notching his first graded stakes win. Emisael Jaramillo rode for trainer Michael Yates.

Prince of Jericho sprinted away from four rivals in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Concern Stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park, winning by 4 3/4 lengths.

Coffeewithchris was best of the rest as Prince of Jericho, a Munnings colt, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.16. Sheldon Russell rode for trainer Brittany Russell.

Top Harbor rallied five-wide around most of the field and came on through the stretch to win Saturday's $75,000 Oak Tree Sprint Stakes at Pleasanton by 2 lengths. Evenerevenworse was best of the rest.


Top Harbor, a 5-year-old son of Harbor the Gold, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.29. Frank Alvarado rode.

Warrior's Pride stalked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Bob Umphrey Sprint Stakes on the Gulfstream Park all-weather track, went to the lead with a furlong and a half to run and won off by 2 lengths over Uncle B.

The 5-year-old son of Poseidon's Warrior covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.11 with Silvia Zapico in the irons.

Filly & Mare Sprint

My Beautiful Belle took charge in the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park, kicking away to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Oxana.

The 5-year-old Munnings mare ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.89 with Jomar Torres riding.

Tuesday's $200,000 Grade II Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos has a field of nine with Eda, Awake at Midnyte and Elm Drive the morning-line favorites.


Stitched came four-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Wise Dan Stakes at Ellis Park and caught the leader, Get Smokin, in the final yards to put up the 46-1 upset win.

The favorite, Set Piece, raced well back in the field and was gaining quickly late only to run out of room and settled for third.


Stitched, a 4-year-old Mizzen Mast colt trained by Greg Foley, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.97. Flavien Prat had the ride.

He looked every bit the long shot after finishing a well-beaten ninth in his most recent start at Churchill Downs. His last win came last June in the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.

Wadsworth chased down pacesetting Mo Stash in the stretch run of Saturday's $225,000 American Derby at Ellis Park, got by and won by 1 length. Desert Duke was another 2 lengths back in third.

Wadsworth, a Godolphin homebred colt by Quality Road, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:40.96 with Florent Geroux up for trainer Brad Cox. It was just his second start on the grass following a close second in his most recent outing at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Filly & Mare Turf

Sopran Basilea dawdled at the back of a seven-horse field through the first half of Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park, slipped through inside rivals at the top of the lane and was up in time to score by a neck from pacesetting long shot Ever Summer.


The favorite, Frivole, was never involved and finished last.

Sopran Basilea, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Night of Thunder, ran 1 3/8 miles on soft turf in 2:20.27 with Jorge Ruiz riding for trainer Graham Motion.

Xigera tracked pacesetting Heavenly Sunday into the stretch in Saturday's $225,000 Tepin Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, dueled with that one for a while and prevailed by 1/2 length with a superior late effort.

Safeen was another 1/2 length back in third.

Xigera, a Nyquist filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.37 with Julien Leparoux in the irons.

She finished fourth, placed third, in last fall's Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland, but was last of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She returned to win an allowance event at Churchill Downs on June 2.

Fev Rover got first run to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $174,000 (Canadian) Grade II Nassau Stakes at Woodbine and won by 4 1/4 lengths. The odds-on favorite, reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Moira, was best of the rest.

Fev Rover, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare, ran 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:40.03 with Patrick Husbands getting the call from trainer Mark Casse.


Fast as Flight stalked the pace in Sunday's $175,000 Anchorage Stakes at Ellis Park, got to the front in the lane and easily held off the odds-on favorite, White Frost, for a 2 1/4-length victory.

Lady Hideaway was third as Fast as Flight covered 1 mile on yielding turf in 1:38.00 with Luis Saez riding for trainer Brian Lynch.

Turf Sprint

Fore Harp took an early lead in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Dash and was never challenged, running on to win by 2 lengths over Witty. Mid Day Image was third.

Fore Harp, a 4-year-old Weigelia gelding, ran 6 furlongs on good turf in 1:11.29 for jockey Sheldon Russell.

Lucky Score got an awkward start in Saturday's $240,000 (Canadian) Highlander Stakes at Woodbine but made up all the ground through the six furlongs of firm turf to win by 1/2 length over Oceanic.

The favorite, One Timer, coughed up the lead in the stretch to finish third.

Lucky Score, a 5-year-old Lookin at Lucky gelding, had the benefit of jockey Sahin Civaci and trainer Mark Casse.


The Wine Steward rallied to the lead in the lane in Sunday's $225,000 Bashford Manor Stakes at Ellis Park and drove clear, defeating the favorite, Wilson Q, by 2 3/4 lengths.


The Wine Steward, with Luis Saez up for trainer Mike Maker, finished 6 furlongs in 1:10.06 while winning for the second time from as many starts. He won at career debut May 28 at Belmont Park by 6 lengths.

On Saturday at Lone Star Park, Strong Promise had to work for the victory in the $150,000 TTA Futurity for eligible state-bred colts and geldings, but finally got the job done by 1/2 length. The Broken Vow gelding improved to 2-for-2 for trainer Jayde Gelner.

Juvenile Fillies

Brightwork led three rivals throughout Sunday's $225,000 Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park, and then held on to win by 1/2 length over the odds-on favorite, V V's Dream. Easy Red and City Ghost completed the order of finish.

Brightwork, an Outwork filly trained by John Ortiz, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.79 with Luis Saez in the irons. She's 2-for-2 with the initial win coming at Keeneland.

At Lone Star Park, Divining Humor kicked away from eight rivals in the stretch run of the TTA Futurity for eligible state-bred fillies and won by 6 lengths. The Divining Rod filly now is 2-for-2 as Jayde Gelner got both the futurity wins.

Around the world, around the clock



Auguste Rodin completed the Epsom-Curragh Derby double with what turned out to be a relatively tough and messy victory Sunday in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

It was the 100th European Classic winner for trainer Aidan O'Brien, who saddled the first four finishers in the race but saw his fifth, San Antonio, fatally injured midway through the race, dislodging jockey Wayne Lordan.

It was that mishap that scrambled the results. Among the others affected, jockey Ryan Moore had to alter course with Auguste Rodin, lost some rhythm and never ran the race he expected.

Still, he had enough to get past stubborn stablemate Adelaide River through the final half furlong and win by 1 1/2 lengths. Covent Garden was third and Peking Opera made it a top-four sweep for O'Brien.

"When, unfortunately, Wayne's horse went wrong, I had to go back in and I felt that my rhythm was broke, and it wasn't it as smooth as it should've been," Racing Post quoted Moore as saying.

"He [Adelaide River] had plenty left when I got there and I just waited. It didn't work out perfectly, but he won and, for me, he hasn't had any sort of a race, and I'm looking forward to him in the future."


Auguste Rodin is from the final, small crop of the late Japanese super-sire Deep Impact. He also is the first foal from Rhododendron, a multiple Group 1-winner sired by the late Irish supe-rsire Galileo.

With that pedigree, much was expected and the Epsom and Curragh efforts stilled concerns raised when Auguste Rodin finished 12th, beaten by 22 lengths, in the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas.

O'Brien never wavered in his optimism about the colt and, as usual, has been proved right.


Fantastic Moon launched a fantastic rally in the final 200 meters of Sunday's Group 1 Deutsches Derby at Hamburg, quickly moving past much of the field to seize the lead, then drawing off to win by 2 1/4 lengths, ridden out.

Mr Hollywood was best of the rest, with Weracruz third in an all-long shot finish. The favorite, Straight, eased home 15th.

Fantastic Moon, a Sea the Moon colt, win his third race from four starts, following on from a Derby Trial victory at Baden-Baden May 20. Sea the Moon won the Deutsches Derby in 2014.

South Africa

Winchester Mansion posted a mild upset victory in Saturday's Group 1 Hollywood Bets Durban July, edging the favorite, See It Again, by a neck in the racing and social highlight of the South African city's season.


Another long shot, Bless My Stars, was third, and 8-year-old Do It Again, the winner in 2018 and 2019, was fourth.

Winchester Mansion, a 4-year-old son of Trippi, looked an unlikely candidate early in the season, posting a pair of also-ran finishes in Group 2 events at Kenilworth.

But trainer Bret Crawford gave him four months off and he responded with a second, and then a victory in two lead-up races for the July.

At 200 meters, See It Again surged to the lead with Winchester Mansion, moving right to his outside. The two distanced themselves from the rest of the field with See It Again holding a slight advantage with 100 meters to go.

But Winchester Mansion relentlessly cut into the margin and was along just in time for the win while exchanging bumps with his rival. A review ensued, but the result was allowed to stand.

Winning jockey Kabelo Matsunyane professed to be speechless but then exulted, "My first Group 1 victory ever and it's in the Durban July. I'm over the moon."

News and Notes

Big-money news from Australia: Racing New South Wales and the Australian Turf Club have announced the purse for the TAB Everest Stakes is pumped up to AUS$20 million (about US$13.33 million) and the George Main Stakes is renamed the King Charles III Stakes in honor of the new British monarch.


The Everest, at 1,200 meters, and the AUS$5 million (about US$3.3 million) Group 1 King Charles, at 1,600 meters, will both be run Oct. 13 at Royal Randwick.

Racing NSW Chairman Russell Balding it's "befitting for Royal Randwick to have a feature race in Spring named in honor of His Majesty, to compiement the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in Autumn, with Royal Randwick being Australia's only Royal Racecourse."

Back on the horse safety issue: Churchill Downs Inc. on Friday reinstated trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.'s right to stable and race at CDI properties. Saffie was suspended indefinitely just two days before the Kentucky Derby and his prospective Derby starter, Lord Miles, was ordered scratched after two other horses under his care died of undetermined causes.

"We remain deeply concerned about the condition of [the two horses] that led to their sudden death," Bill Mudd, president and chief operating officer of CDI said in a statement.

"However, given the details available to us as a result of the [Kentucky Horse Racing Commission] investigation, there is no basis to continue Joseph's suspension."

Joseph, who has not been accused of wrongdoing in the deaths, has continued to enter and run horses at non-CDI tracks throughout his suspension.


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