1 of 2 | Far Bridge wins the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational. Photo by Susie Raisher, courtesy of New York Racing Association
July 10 (UPI) -- A pair of Kentucky Derby also-rans got back in the win column in weekend racing, keeping their hopes alive for top assignments through the summer, as Belmont Park wound up its meeting in advance of the Saratoga summer start Thursday.
Todd Pletcher saddled the winners of two big weekend races at Belmont Park, while Prairie Meadows in Iowa celebrated its big weekend with the Iowa Derby, Cornhusker Handicap and more.
On the world scene, 3-year-old Paddington won his third-straight Group 1 race while handling Emily Upjohn in the Coral-Eclipse. Westover and long shot Good Guess were the Group 1 winners in France.
Let's rev it up with:
Two colts who never had a chance to show their stuff in the Kentucky Derby returned to form during the weekend with Verifying winning the Indiana Derby and Reincarnate taking the Los Alamitos Derby.
That keeps their names in the mix for 3-year-old honors, at least pending the outcome of the Haskell at Monmouth and Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga, where the big guns will try to put some order in a division that hasn't seen much of it this season.
Verifying, 16th in the Kentucky Derby and then second in the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes at Ellis Park, returned to the winner's circle after Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Indiana Derby at Horseshoe Indiana -- but just barely.
The Justify colt pressed the pace, took the lead near the quarter pole and was all out to hold on and win by a nose over Raise Cain, finishing 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:43.14 under Marcelino Pedroza Jr.
Raise Cain, a Violence colt, finished eighth in the Run for the Roses and fourth in the Matt win and also kept his divisional hopes alive with Saturday's effort.
Cagliostro looked to have a chance to score the upset, but was denied running room twice in the stretch and finished third.
In California, Reincarnate was reborn from a 13th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, as the Good Magic colt romped to a front-running, 2 1/2-length victory in the $125,000 Los Alamitos Derby.
Skinner, competing for the first time since finishing third in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, gave it a shot in the stretch, but couldn't make up any ground and finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Prince Abu Dhabi.
Reincarnate, with Juan Hernandez up for trainer Bob Baffert, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48.72.
"I told Juan that he was back to how he was when he last won," Baffert said. "It was very important to get the win, especially when you know how good Skinner is. This race always comes up tough and it was a big win for the team."
At Prairie Meadows, Saturday's $250,000 Iowa Derby never figured to have much impact on the top of the division standings, but it nonetheless provided plenty of thrills.
One In Vermillion and How Did He Do That finished in a dead heat, with Heroic Move just 1/2 length back.
But after an inquiry and objection, the stewards ruled One In Vermillion had come out in the shadow of the wire, bumped with How Did He Do That and caused a chain reaction also affecting Heroic Move.
One In Vermillion was placed second, elevating the 48-1 shot to victory. How Did He Do That, a Good Magic colt trained by Steve Asmussen, won for the first time since taking the Zia Park Derby in New Mexico last November.
Far Bridge came from pretty far out of it to snatch the victory by 1 length in Saturday's $750,000 Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational.
The Foxes just missed with his own late run from even farther back, relegating long shot pacesetter Mondego to third.
Far Bridge, an English Channel colt trained by Pletcher, loved his first try at 1 1/4 miles, finishing in 2:01.75 with Jose Ortiz up.
It was his fourth win from five starts with the only loss coming to Webslinger by a nose in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs. Webslinger was a late-running fourth in the Oaks.
The Foxes, with Oisin Murphy up for trainer Andrew Balding, just missed with a furious late run in the final sixteenth in his first start since finishing fifth in the Epsom Derby. Mondego had put together a two-race win streak, but was making his first stakes start.
Pletcher said the $600,000 Grade I Saratoga Derby on Aug. 5 would be "a next logical target" for Far Bridge. Maddy O'Meara, assistant to The Foxes' trainer, Andrew Balding, said that colt also could return for the Saratoga race or target the Group 1 Juddmonte International on Aug. 28 at York in England.
At Horseshoe Indianapolis, Me and Mr. C used a perfectly timed ride by jockey Geraldo Corrales to win Saturday's $100,000 Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial by a nose over pacesetter Underdressed. The favorite, Verstappen, finished third.
Me and Mr. C, a 6-year-old Khozen gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.38. He's been a money machine, finishing in the top three in 20 of 35 starts.
Filly & Mare Turf
Aspen Grove, the only semi-international starter, rallied through rivals in the final furlong of Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational and was up to win by 3/4 length over pacesetter Prerequisite.
Papilio was third, and the favorite, Mission of Joy, finished seventh. Aspen
Grove, an Irish-bred filly by Justify, is owned by Florida-based Glen Hill Farm and Mrs. John Magnier of the famed Irish Coolmore partners.
The Oaks was her first U.S. start, but owner Craig Bernick said she'll stay now, targeting either the Saratoga Oaks or the Del Mar Oaks, both Grade I turf affairs. He also said the broodmare band Glen Hill has been building in Ireland is starting to pay dividends, promising more.
Justify My Love was along late to capture Saturday's $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff Handicap at Horseshoe Indiana by 1/2 length over Lovely Princess. Justify My Love, a 6-year-old mare by Agnes Gold, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.91. Joseph Ramos had the mount for trainer Paulo Lobo.
More Than Looks let the favorites, Talk of the Nation and Nagirroc, battle it out on the front end in Friday's $250,000 Grade 3 Manila Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, and then got past them on the outside in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Talk of the Nation was second, a neck in front of Nagirroc.
The winner, by More Than Ready, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.19 with John Velazquez up for trainer Cherie DeVaux. It was his third win from five starts.
Chiseler took an inside path around traffic in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Dade Park Dash for 3-year-olds at Ellis Park, found room and got clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Mounsieur Coco.
Chiseler, a Speightstown gelding from the Greg Foley barn, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.82 with Corey Lanerie up. He won his career debut at Woodbine a year ago but was winless in eight starts since.
Nobals surged quickly to the front in Friday's $100,000 William Garrett Handicap at Horseshoe Indianapolis and led the rest of the way, winning by 1 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Charcoal and Just Might completed the trifecta.
Nobals, a 4-year-old Noble Mission gelding trained by Larry Rivelli, finished 5 furlongs on firm turf in 57.83 seconds under jockey E.T. Baird.
Love and Money hopped at the start of Friday's $100,000 Clarksville Stakes for fillies and mares at Horseshoe Indianapolis, trailed the field early and then made up all the ground with a wide move to win by a head over Goin Good.
Love and Money, a 5-year-old More Than Ready mare, ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 58.25 seconds with Joseph Ramos up for trainer DeVaux.
Classic / Dirt Mile
Charge It charged to the lead with a mile left in Saturday's $350,000 Grade II Suburban at Belmont Park and no one could go with the 4-year-old Tapit colt.
With John Velazquez aboard, he ran on to win by 4 3/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite, getting his first graded stakes win since he took the Grade III Dwyer by 23 lengths just over a year ago.
Clapton was second, 4 lengths in front of Unbridled Bomber.
Charge It, who finished 17th in last year's Kentucky Derby, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.31.
"It was a good win for him," trainer Pletcher said of Charge It. "It proved he could stay a mile and a quarter."
Asked about running back in the $1 million Grade I Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 5, Pletcher said.
"The spacing is pretty good if we want to consider the Whitney, which is obviously going to be a more difficult assignment, but he's always been a horse that's impressed us as a top-class horse. Maybe he's starting to put it all together."
At Prairie Meadows in Iowa, Giant Game led throughout Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap and crossed the wire 3/4 lengths ahead of runner-up Skippylongstocking. Ain't Life Grand was third.
Giant Game, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt trained by Dale Romans, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.86 with Martin Garcia aboard.
The colt finished third in the 2021 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but exited the Triple Crown trail early the following year and returned at Gulfstream Park this winter to move up through allowance conditions.
Doppelganger pressed the pace set by Ridin With Biden in Saturday's $150 Battery Park Stakes at Delaware Park, went by easily and kicked away to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Forewarned rallied late to edge Ridin With Biden for second, completing the order of finish.
Doppelganger, a 4-year-old Into Mischief colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.36 with Jevian Toledo riding for trainer Brittany Russell.
Trademark shadowed the early leaders in Saturday's $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial at Horseshoe Indianapolis, eased by pacesetting Five Star General with more than a furlong left and ran on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival.
Trademark, a 4-year-old Upstart gelding trained by Vickie Oliver, ran 1 mile, 70 yards on a good track in 1:40.25 for jockey Fernando De La Cruz.
On Sunday at Pleasanton in California, Katonah rallied from far back in the 10-horse field to win the $150,000 Pleasanton Mile by 3 3/4 lengths, with Imgonnabesomebody second.
Katonah, a 4-year-old Klimt gelding trained by Doug O'Neill, finished in 1:40.80 with Tiago Periera in the irons.
Idiomatic stumbled at the start of Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap and raced well back into the backstretch run. Asked to improve by jockey Florent Geroux, the 4-year-old Curlin filly steadily gained to come to terms with pacesetter Classy Edition turning into the stretch.
Those two battled it out with Idiomatic prevailing by a head. It was 9 1/4 lengths to Morning Matcha in third. Idiomatic, a Juddmonte homebred trained by Brad Cox, ran 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:56.41.
It was her fifth win from her last six starts at four different tracks, including the Turfway Park all-weather.
Defining Purpose stalked the long shot pacesetter through the early furlongs of Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Indiana Oaks at Horseshoe Indiana, got first run to the lead when that one faded and held off the late-running favorite, Taxed, by 1 1/4 lengths.
Lily Poo was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third.
Defining Purpose, a Cross Traffic filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:43.83. Brian Hernandez Jr. had the mount for trainer Kenny McPeek and owner Katsumi Yoshida.
She won the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland two starts back but then finished seventh in the Kentucky Oaks before getting a short break.
Taxed was last seen winning the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan on Preakness weekend at Pimlico.
Crypto Mo led most of the way to a 2-length victory over the favorite, Imonra, in Saturday's $225,000 Grade III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows with jockey Cindy Murphy scoring her 2,000th win.
Murphy also won the first race ever run at Prairie Meadows.
The victory was all the sweeter as Crypto Mo unseated Murphy in a training mishap before her first start, with the rider sustaining serious injuries. She now has won three straight, all with Murphy in the irons. "I've forgiven her," Murphy said of the accident. "She's paid me back."
Coastal Charm led most of the way in Friday night's $100,000 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows, and then coasted home first by 2 3/4 lengths. The favorite, Ice Orchid, was second, 4 lengths in front of Big Bad Diva.
Coastal Charm, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.83. Martin Garcia rode for trainer Steve Hobby.
Soul of an Angel was away last of nine in Saturday's $100,000 Mari Hulman George Memorial at Horseshoe Indianapolis, got by all of them with a six-wide rally and won by 1 length from Raindrops on Roses.
Soul of an Angel, a 4-year-old filly by Atreides, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:44.81 with Ajhari Williams in the irons.
Local hero Ultimate ran by the odds-on favorite, Strobe, in deep stretch to win Friday night's $100,000 Iowa Sprint Stakes at Prairie Meadows by 1 3/4 lengths.
Strobe, a 5-year-old Speightstown gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.15 with Ramsey Zimmerman up for trainer Timothy Martin.
Ultimate was sixth in last year's Iowa Sprint and had one win in nine intervening starts. Strobe, a 4-year-old Godolphin homebred trained by Cox, finished second in the Grade III Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park and third in the Grade III True North at Belmont before returning to the Midwest for the Iowa Sprint.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Maple Leaf Mel extended her unbeaten record to five straight races with a front-running score in Saturday's $175,000 Victory Ride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
The gray Cross Traffic miss was never in trouble after a clean start for jockey Joel Rosario and won by 2 1/2 lengths while finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.74.
Dazzling Blue was second, Vahva settled for third and the favorite, Red Carpet Ready, finished a fading seventh.
Yuugiri shot quickly to the lead in Friday night's $100,000 Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows and plugged right along, eventually drawing out to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Bluefield and My First Pearl were second and third, respectively.
Yuugiri, a 4-year-old filly by Shackleford, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.29 with Ricardo Santana up for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, snapping a two-race losing streak.
Alva Starr made a bit of a statement in Saturday's $100,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware Park, shaking loose from six rivals in the stretch to win by 6 3/4 lengths, ridden out by Mychel Sanchez.
The 3-year-old Lord Nelson filly, trained by Brett Brinkman, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.34 while improving her record to two wins and two seconds from four starts.
Reaper and Dialed In to Win dueled through the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows, with Reaper finally putting a neck in front at the wire.
Reaper, a Florida-bred Brethren colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.71 with Cristian Torres up for trainer Juan Alvarado. The colt won his first start at Gulfstream Park in April, but then finished ninth in the Royal Palm Juvenile in his only other race.
El Dinero, at odds of nearly 40-1, rallied five-wide to capture Saturday's $70,000 D.S. Shine Young Futurity for Louisiana-bred colts and geldings at Evangeline Downs by 2 1/2 lengths over Deal With It Daddy.
El Dinero, an El Deal gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:06.54 with Juan Vargas in command for trainer Patrick Devereux Jr.
Dreamfyre, a first-time starter, jumped up to post an upset victory in Sunday's $75,000 Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton.
The Kentucky-bred Flameaway filly, running against males, was quickly on the lead and kicked away to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Francisco Duran had the winning ride for trainer O.J. Jauregui.
Tx Women for Arts, a Practical Joke filly trained by Steve Asmussen, dueled with Crown Imperial throughout Friday night's $100,000 Prairie Gold Lassie at Prairie Meadows, swapped the lead and came back to win by a brave head.
The 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track took 1:05.41, with Ricardo Santana Jr. up on the winner, who now has a two-race win streak going.
Running Argument was never far back in Friday night's $70,000 D.S. Shine Young Futurity at Evangeline Downs, launched a move at the quarter pole and got there first by 1 3/4 lengths. Girl Likes Bling was best of the rest.
Running Argument, a daughter of Closing Argument, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:07.61 with Elio Barrera up.
Around the world, around the clock
Saturday's Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown always looked like a match race between Paddington and Emily Upjohn and that's how it played out through the final furlong.
West Wind Blows carved out the early fractions with Paddington not far behind, Emily Upjohn third and Dubai Honor carrying the train. As West Wind Blows could find no more, Ryan Moore sent Paddington to the lead and survived the late bid by his main rival to win by 1/2 length.
The victory put paid to any distance concerns as Paddington, a 3-year-old Siyouni colt, had no trouble with the 12 furlongs -- his first venture past 1 mile.
Meanwhile, he extended his winning streak to six, including the Group 1 St James's Palace at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien, celebrating his seventh Coral-Eclipse win, was full of praise for his colt and his rider. Asked for similarities between Paddington and his great Giant's Causeway, O'Brien said, "It's very surprising what he's doing. He's a lot quicker than Giant's Causeway. ... He's surprised us so much with every run. There's something very different happening."
Of Moore, O'Brien said, according to Racing Post, "Every single year he's got better. That progress is still there -- his focus, judgment, confidence, strength, knowledge, everything about him. His determination, drive, commitment -- all those things are getting stronger and stronger."
Yibir, winner of the 2021 Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar, got a confidence-boosting victory Friday in the Listed Coral Marathon.
Bumped and squeezed at the start, William Buick kept the 5-year-old Godolphin homebred well back, sought out a seam between rivals in the stretch and accelerated to win by 3 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite.
He had finished sixth in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in his most recent start, his second straight loss.
Westover took over the lead 500 meters out in Saturday's Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and his only remaining challenger, Zagrey, was only able to finish second, 2 lengths back of the favorite.
Westover, a 4-year-old Juddmonte homebred colt by Frankel, improved on his second-place finish behind Emily Upjohn in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot while landing his second Group 1 race following the 2022 Irish Derby.
He also was second in this year's Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic behind the world's best horse, Equinox.
Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jean Prat for 3-year-olds at Deauville produced an upset winner in Good Guess as 1,000 Guineas winner and St. James's Palace second Chaldean failed to fire, finishing a fading 10th.
Good Guess, a Kodiac colt making his Group 1 debut, raced close up in the stands-side group until the final furlong, gradually drew away and won by 3 lengths from Sauterne over soft turf.
Meanwhile, back in North America:
Mangum dueled with Free Like a Girl throughout Saturday's $100,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes for state-breds, gave up the lead and battled back to win by a head.
Mangum, a 3-year-old Mo Tom gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.44 with Vicente Del-Cid in the irons.
Corningstone showed her heels to seven rivals through the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Ellen's Lucky Star Handicap for 3-year-old, state-bred fillies, winning by 11 1/4 lengths as the 1-10 favorite. Sassie Katie was best of the rest.
Corningstone, a Kantharos filly trained by McPeek, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a good track in 1:41.52 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up. The race originally was carded for the turf.
King Ice came from last of 10 to win Saturday's $100,000, off-the-turf Snack Handicap for state-bred 3-year-olds by 2 1/2 lengths from Corona Grande.
King Ice, a Keen Ice colt trained by George Leonard III, finished the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:42.04 for jockey James Graham.
He'spuregold came three-wide through the final furlong to win Sunday's $91,800 Irish War Cry Handicap for New Jersey-breds by 3/4 length over There Are No Words.
He'spuregold, a 5-year-old Vancouver gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.01 with Paco Lopez in the irons.
On Saturday, Precious Avary led most of the way in the $93,500 Jersey Girl Handicap for state-bred distaffers, then held on to win by a neck over Bramble Bay. Precious Avary, a 3-year-old filly by Divining Rod, was let go at odds of 22-1 and finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.31 under Silvestre Gonzalez.
Souper Sunday drew off in the stretch to win Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Georgian Bay Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/4 lengths over Flowers 'n Berries.
Souper Sunday, a Souper Speedy filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 57.24 seconds with Eswan Flores riding.
Patches O'Houlihan was up late to win the companion $100,000 (Canadian) Lake Huron Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old colts and geldings by 1 1/4 lengths. Silent Reserve was second as the Reload gelding finished in 56.49 seconds under Daisuke Fukumoto.
Whiskey Harbor drew off late to win Sunday's $50,000 Kings County Express Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings by 4 1/4 lengths. The Oregon-bred Rise Up gelding ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.88 with Kevin Radke in the irons.
Appeal Factor, a Kentucky-bred daughter of The Factor, rallied to win the companion $50,000 Angie C. Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths for jockey Silvio Amador.