1 of 2 | Whitebeam wins the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga. Cognianese photo courtesy of New York Racing Association
July 17 (UPI) -- Trainer Chad Brown saddled the winner of the weekend's biggest race, the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga for a record eighth time and he did it with a relative newcomer, indicating he's not about to relinquish his stranglehold on East Coast turf racing.
The weekend also included turf sprints around the eastern half of the country, although some were flushed off the turf by turbulent weather. And there was some serious action on the 2-year-old front, including at Saratoga.
On the international front, who's that Justify 2-year-old making waves for next year's English Classics? Catch all the results from the July Meeting at Newmarket in the "around the world" section. Also, there's no gold star for guessing who was crowned the champion horse of Hong Kong's successful 2022-23 season.
Diving right in ...
Filly & Mare Turf
Whitebeam was up at the wire to defeat heavily favored stablemate In Italian by a nose in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga. Fev Rover tracked In Italian through much of the race, but could only finish third, followed by Marketsegmentation and Fluffy Socks to complete the order of finish.
All but Fev Rover are trained by Brown, who saddled a record eighth Diana winner.
Whitebeam, a 4-year-old, British-bred filly by Caravaggio, was the longest shot among Brown's quartet. With Flavien Prat at the controls, she reached even terms with In Italian with a furlong to go and the two dueled to the wire, finishing the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.33.
Whitebeam, a Juddmonte homebred, has finished worse than third only once in nine starts. She now has two wins and a second for Brown and adds another asset to the trainer's firm control of the New York turf picture.
In Italian has won four Grade I races and was second in the 2022 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Brown said for Whitebeam, the 1 1/8 miles "might be her limit as far as what she wants to do. But she's just a beautiful, well-bred horse, a typical Juddmonte horse. She's always trained brilliantly."
He added he hated to see In Italian's win streak halted, even by another of his horses, adding, "That's horse racing and it's certainly Saratoga. Anything can happen here."
Just about everything has happened at the Spa, including shocking upsets of such as Man o' War, Jim Dandy and Secretariat. Thus the nickname, "The graveyard of champions."
Sparkle Blue waited for running room turning into the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Big Dreyfus Stakes at Laurel Park, responded when shown daylight and got home first by 2 1/4 lengths. Atomic Blonde came from last of seven to finish second, with Community Adjusted third.
Sparkle Blue, a 4-year-old Hard Spun filly trained by Graham Motion, ran 1 1/8 miles on good turf in 1:49.29. Jorge Ruiz rode.
Thirty Thou Kelvin bided her time in Saturday's $150,000 Christiana Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Delaware Park, took over when asked by jockey Jeremy Rose and spurted off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Faccia Bella was second, followed by Sabalenka and the favorite, Hang the Moon.
Thirty Thou Kelvin, a Bolt d'Oro filly trained by John Terranova II, ran 1 1/8 miles on soft turf in 1:53.12. A fun fact for the curious: Thirty thousand degrees Kelvin is the approximate temperature of a lightning bolt.
Really Good, second in the Hawthorne Derby in his previous start, finally lived up to his name in Saturday's $150,000 Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park.
Rallying inside rivals into the stretch, the Hard Spun colt found another gear and outfinished Tee At One to win by 3/4 length. It was another 4 3/4 lengths to Freedom Trail in third.
Really Good ran 1 3/8 miles on soft turf in 2:17.89 with Reuben Silvera up for trainer Mike Maker. He finished third in the Grade II Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland last fall, and then was 12th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland.
Saturday's win was just his second in his eighth start -- many of those against tough opposition.
Eons and Pao Alto battled through the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Prince George's County Stakes at Laurel Park, swapping the lead at least once, with Eons then prevailing by a nose.
Sky's Not Falling was up to take third away from the pace-setting, odds-on favorite, Royal Patronage.
Eons, a 7-year-old entire son of Giant's Causeway, ran 1 1/8 miles on good turf in 1:47.75 under Victor Carrasco. Arnaud Delacour trains.
Casa Creed got first run to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $175,000 Grade III Kelso Stakes at Saratoga and withstood the late charge of the favorite, Annapolis, to win by 1 length. English Bee was a long shot third.
Casa Creed, a 7-year-old son of Jimmy Creed, finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.51 with Luis Saez up for trainer Bill Mott. He won the Grade I Fourstardave at the Spa last summer and finished second in the Group 3 1351 Turf Sprint in Saudi Arabia in February and then was third in the Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park on June 10.
Mott said just having him running at 7 is satisfying, but indicated a repeat of the Fourstardave victory would be even nicer.
"He's a fun horse," the trainer said. "We love to see him run and we try to give him enough time to make sure he's ready to go, but at this point in time it doesn't have to be a Grade I. The Fourstardave is and that's a big goal, but to be able to see him and have him compete is great fun."
Friday's $150,000 Coronation Cup for 3-year-old fillies came off the Saratoga turf and five of the nine entries were scratched. That left it for Unified Alliance to lead home three rivals.
The Unified filly turned back a challenge from the favorite, L Street Lady, midway through and rolled home first by 1 1/2 lengths. Anna's Arabesque was up for second with L Street Lady fading badly to beat only Wildhawk.
Unified Alliance, with Javier Castellano up for trainer Thomas Morely, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:03.80. She was second in the Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont Park in her previous race.
Bad weather prompted another off-the-turf sprint at the Spa on Sunday, and seven of the 13 entries were scratched from the $175,000 Quick Call Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Uncashed seized the opportunity to get the money as a strong favorite. The Uncaptured gelding, trained by Larry Rivelli, obviously enjoyed the sloppy track, kicking away late to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Joey Freshwater, stopping the timer at 1:03.44.
Irad Ortiz Jr. had the mount. Uncashed now is 4-for-5, but stepped up from earlier starts at Louisiana Downs, Hawthorne Race Course and Prairie Meadows.
Beauty of the Sea won a three-filly sprint to the finish in Saturday's $104,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park, edging My Sweet Affair by a head and Love Appeals by another neck.
Beauty of the Sea, a Florida-bred daughter of Bucchero, scampered 5 1/2 furlongs on firm going in 1:02.68 with Jairo Rendon up for trainer Joe Orseno.
A weekend of turf sprints without trainer Wesley Ward would be a day without sunshine.
Ward scratched No Nay Never from Sunday's Quick Call Stakes when that was moved off the Saratoga turf but the sun shone on Ward and Daring Do in Sunday's $100,000 Pea Patch Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Ellis Park.
The Into Mischief filly raced behind the leading trio, worked her way to the front with a sixteenth to go and won by 1 length from Twice as Sweet. The favorite, American Apple, was third.
Daring Do, with Walter Rodriguez in the irons, completed the 5 1/2 furlongs of firm turf in 1:01.82. She now has three wins and two seconds from five starts.
Sweet Cherry Pie was the winning flavor in Sunday's off-the-turf $100,000 My Frenchman Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park.
The Twirling Candy colt, trained by Rusty Arnold, dueled to the lead and wasn't bothered thereafter, winning off by 4 1/4 lengths over Super Chow. Sweet Cherry Pie, with Jairo Rendon up, got 5 1/2 sloppy furlongs in 1:04.29.
Transient came from last of 10 to win Saturday's $75,000 Powder Break Stakes on the Gulfstream Park all-weather course, defeating runner-up Chick's Shadow by 2 lengths.
Transient, a 5-year-old, British-bred mare by Sea the Stars, ran 1 mile, 70 yards in 1:41.40 with Tyler Connor in the irons for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. She finished in the top four in three graded stakes during the winter-spring Gulfstream season without winning.
Hybrid Eclipse came from the back of a six-horse field to win Saturday's $100,000 Caesar's Wish Stakes at Laurel Park by a neck over Award Wanted.
The favorite, Intrepid Daydream, showed the way, but faded to third. Hybrid Eclipse, a 4-year-old Paynter filly trained by Brittany Russell, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.28 with Joe Rocco Jr. up.
Only four turned out for Friday's $135,000 Wilton Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga and Randomized was the gate-to-wire winner.
The Nyquist filly, trained by Brown for Klaravich Stables, was never threatened, won by 1 1/2 lengths and finished 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.83. Irad Ortiz Jr. was along for the ride. Randomized was last seen finishing sixth in the Grade I Acorn at Belmont Park.
Ah, the fortunes of racing! In their last start, Yo Yo Candy finished third, 10 1/4 lengths behind victorious Gold Sweep in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park.
In Saturday's Grade III Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, odds-on favorite Gold Sweep stumbled badly at the start, got away last and could only rally to finish second, 2 3/4 lengths behind Yo Yo Candy, who this time went to the post at odds of 46-1.
Dickens finished third as Yo Yo Candy, a Danzing Candy colt, completed 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.83. Angel Castillo rode for trainer Daniel Velazquez, who said the addition of blinkers helped his colt.
On Sunday at Woodbine, Pipit rallied strongly through the stretch in the $125,000 (Canadian) Victoria Stakes, blew by pacesetting odds-on favorite Mattingly and won by 4 lengths over that foe.
Going Up and Yacht Boy completed the order of finish. Pipit, a Quality Road filly taking on males, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:03.60. Patrick Husbands rode for trainer Kevin Attard.
Shee finished second in her only previous race while Mattingly was coming off a win at Gulfstream Park.
Living Magic led most of the way in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) My Dear Stakes at Woodbine and held gamely to win by 3/4 length over Dancing Duchess. The favorite, Stormcast, was third, another 3/4 length back.
Living Magic, a Justify filly, got 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:03.55 under Rafael Hernandez. She won her debut at Fair Grounds in May and finished third in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park on her way north.
Around the world, around the clock
Some of the top European 3-year-olds slugged it out in the final 200 meters of Friday's Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp with Feed the Flame getting the best of it, thanks to a startling late turn of foot.
The Kingman colt, with Cristian Demuro riding, was last turning for home. He made steady progress through the first part of the straight, and then kicked in late and shot past Irish Derby runner-up Adelaide River to score by 1 lengths.
Soul Sister, winner of the Oaks at Epsom in her last start, was just a neck farther back in third.
Feed the Flame now is 3-for-4 with the sole loss a fourth-place finish in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club or French Derby. He now is a solid hope for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which his trainer, Pascal Bary, has yet to win.
"If he stays in this sort of form, he will have a real chance in the Arc," Racing Post quoted Bary as saying. "And I hope and think he's better on soft ground."
Hollie Doyle guided Nashwa through a narrow opening just inside the 2-furlongs marker in Friday's Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket and the 4-year-old Frankel filly took it from there, kicking clear to win by 5 lengths.
Remarquee was along for second, another 1 1/2 lengths better than the odds-on favorite, Via Sistina.
Nashwa, trained by John and Thady Gosden, had not won for just a week short of a year's time, since she took the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. She finished fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland.
Persian Dreamer dueled with the massive favorite, Star of Mystery, into the final furlong of Friday's Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, and then pulled away with authority to win by 1 3/4 lengths over that rival.
Woodhay Wonder was third and Thanksbutnothanks completed the order of finish after leading through the first 3 furlongs.
Persian Dreamer, a Calyx filly from the Galileo mare Surprisingly, finished fourth in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting in her last start for trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis.
Star of Mystery, a Godolphin homebred, had won two in a row. Kevin Stott rode the winner, one of four on the day for him.
Saturday's star was Shaquille, who overcame a very slow start to win the Group 1 Pertemps Network July Cup by a commanding 1 1/2 lengths for his sixth straight win. It also was his second Group 1 after the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
The 3-year-old Charm Spirit colt spotted his rivals a big margin at the start, charged up quickly to challenge for the lead and was much the best in the final furlong. Run to Freedom outran his odds to finish second with Kinross third.
Little Big Bear, co-favorite with the winner, trailed home last after finishing second in the Commonwealth Cup.
"I thought he did it all wrong today," said Steve Brown, who co-trains Shaquille with Julie Camacho. "To pick up and win from there like he did, he's some athlete. We're still trying to get it right with him but the end result looks good, doesn't it?"
While Little Big Bear's performance was a bitter pill for Coolmore, trainer Aidan O'Brien and jockey Ryan Moore, the antidote was City of Troy's 6 1/2-length victory in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes for 2-year-olds.
Much is expected of the Justify colt, out of the Galileo mare Together Forever, and he did nothing to disappoint as he scored his second open-lengths victory in just his second career start.
Even before Moore pulled him up -- with difficulty -- the bookmakers were busy ratcheting down the odds for City of Troy for next year's Classics, both the Guineas and the Derby. And O'Brien was doing nothing to stem the popularity tide.
"It's unnatural ability," Racing Post quoted the trainer as saying. "He's a very unusual horse. He's unbelievable mentally. Whatever speed you want to go he can keep pushing and he can go up and sit with anything we have. ... He looks exciting to me."
At Ascot, Master Of The Seas was master of Saturday's Group 2 Summer Mile, coming from last of eight under James Doyle to win by 4 lengths, going away from the favorite, Aldaary.
Jimi Hendrix finished third and Angel Bleu squeezed through a miniscule hole between rivals in the stretch and hung on for fourth.
Master Of The Seas, a 5-year-old Godolphin homebred by Dubawi, won the 2020 Superlative Stakes and the 2021 Craven Stakes and finished second, beaten a short head by Poetic Flair, in the 2,000 Guineas.
He then went to the sidelines for several months with what was described by trainer Charlie Appleby as "a wrenched joint" and until Saturday had not handled top-level challenges.
It was a foregone conclusion, but Golden Sixty on Friday night was crowned Hong Kong's Horse of the Year for an unprecedented third straight time.
The 7-year-old Medaglia d' Oro gelding had five starts during the 2022-23 season as Hong Kong emerged from the pandemic to welcome back fans to cheer him on at Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses.
His only loss was to California Spangle in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile in December. From that, he went on to win Stewards' Cup at 1,600 meters, the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at 2,000 meters and the FWD Champions Mile, all Group 1 affairs.
With 25 wins and three placings from 29 Hong Kong starts, the Francis Lui-trained gelding has earned HK$147.93 million (about $US18.9 million). His nine Group 1 wins dislodged Beauty Generation from the top spot on that list.
Also honored at the ceremony were trainer John Size and jockey Zac Purton; Lucky Sweynese as champion 4-year-old and champion sprinter; and Romantic Warrior as champion middle-distance horse.
All three horses also are ranked in the top seven of the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings, a fact doubly impressive as Hong Kong is home to only 1,250 horses in training or roughly 0.7 percent of the world horse population.
Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said increased simulcast revenue and income from the HKJC's "World Pool" betting arrangement contributed to another successful year, considering the circumstances.
"Under such a challenging economic situation, our overall season racing turnover of HK$141.1 billion is very satisfactory," he said.
Englebrecht-Bresges also underscored the importance of development of the HKJC's state-of-the-art racetrack and training center at Conghua on the Chinese mainland.
He said it it would "serve as the center stage of international-standard racing in the mainland, starting from the first race meeting in 2026 with the establishment of an iconic grandstand enabling visitors from all fronts to enjoy and experience Hong Kong's world-class racing."
Catching up briefly with the youngsters: Seltsam, a Henny Hughes colt, improved to 2-for-2 with a long shot, 1-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3 Hakodate Nisai Stakes, finishing 1,200 meters in 1:11.7. Sunday,
Meanwhile, back in North America ...
Century Mile near Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, canceled its Saturday races because of smoke and generally poor air quality. Belterra Park in southern Ohio called things off after the second race Saturday because of track conditions.
Permanently canceled: The Stronach Group announced Saturday Golden Gate Fields will cease operations at the end of the current meeting, effectively ending racing in the San Francisco Bay area. The group said the move will benefit California racing by concentrating effort and horses down south -- at Santa Anita and Del Mar.
Four $125,000 stakes for state-breds graced the Saturday program at the northern Virginia track. The course was firm.
Determined Kingdom was the easiest of winners in the Punch Line Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs, kicking clear to a 5 1/4-lengths score. The 4-year-old Animal Kingdom gelding was clocked in 1:01.91 with Mychel Sanchez up.
Chambeau drew off through the stretch to win the companion Tyson Gilpin Stakes for fillies and mares, scoring by 3 1/4 lengths. Horacio Karamonos rode the 6-year-old Karakontie mare, who finished in 1:02.36.
Alex Joon overcame a slow start to win the Edward P. Evans Stakes by 3 lengths over Passion Play. With Forest Boyce in the irons, the 6-year-old Flatter gelding toured 1 mile in 1:35.51.
And Galilei was up in the final yards to defeat pacesetting favorite Tufani by 3/4 length in the Brookmeade Stakes for fillies and mares, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.76 with Karamanos up. The winner is a 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid filly out of the Galileo mare Fairytale Ending.
The Minnesota track also had four races for state-breds Saturday.
Sir Stirling led early in the $50,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes for Minnesota-bred 3-year-olds and got home first by 2 1/4 lengths over Roses for Liam. Cupid's Crush crushed five rivals in the $50,000 Frances Genter Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 11 3/4 lengths as the prohibitive favorite.
On the firm turf, Xavey Dave defeated just two rivals in the Ralph Strangis Stakes, winning by 1/2 length from Stagecoach Boys with Thealligatorhunter last. Midnight Current won the $50,000 Minnesota Turf Distaff by a head over Let's Skedaddle.
Aloha Breeze, a heavy favorite, lived up to expectations in Sunday's $50,000 Kent Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, drawing off through the stretch to win by 6 1/4 lengths. A daughter of The Factor, Aloha Breeze breezed through 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:14.77 with Carlos Montalvo up.
In the companion Irish Day Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings, Clovisconnection and Lloyds Logic dueled around the turn and into the stretch before Clovisconnection inched ahead to win by a neck. The Vronsky gelding finished in 1:14.73 for jockey Kevin Radke.