1 of 3 | Inspiral and jockey Frankie Dettori win Saturday's Group 1 Prix Jacques Marois, earning a spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Eclipse Sportswire photo, courtesy of Breeders' Cup
Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Impressive weekend performances in France, New York and Virginia earned tickets to November's Breeders' Cup turf races, while some 2-year-olds likely headed to that same destination strutted their stuff on both coasts.
Inspiral posted a rather inspiring victory Sunday in France, earning a "Win and You're In" spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile, which now could be a big part of the final stop on jockey Frankie Dettori's year-long farewell tour.
Casa Creed earned a spot in the same race with a win in the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga and Fev Rover grabbed a "Win and You're In" ticket for the Filly & Mare Turf with a score in the Grade I Beverly D. at Colonial Downs.
The Beverly D. was part of the transplanted Festival of Racing including the Arlington Million and Secretariat Stakes, both likely steppingstones to the Breeders' Cup. Laurel Park and Del Mar also had major turf races.
Two-year-old action included impressive wins by Rhyme Schemes at Saratoga and Prince of Monaco at Del Mar.
Set Piece raced well back of all 10 rivals through most of Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million at Colonial Downs, swept seven-wide around the turn into the stretch and passed them all to win by 2 lengths, going away.
Last year's winner, Santin, settled for second with the favorite, Adhamo, third while coming off a 10-months layoff.
Set Piece, a 7-year-old Juddmonte Farms homebred gelding by Dansili, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in course-record time of 1:58.19 with Florent Geroux in the irons for trainer Brad Cox.
Set Piece, fourth in last year's Million at Churchill Downs, came into the race off a third in the Grade II Wise Dan Stakes at Ellis Park and, before that, ironically won the Arlington Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs Inc., which owns both Ellis Park and Colonial Downs, closed the Million's original and long-time home, Arlington International Racecourse, in 2021 and sold it for demoliton.
"It's awesome for us," said Cox assistant Katie Tolbert. "He just hit $1 million [in earnings] in his last race and that was a big steppingstone for him. Juddmonte has been wonderful to us.
It's great have a horse like this for them. He is the barn favorite. 'Frenchie' [Geroux] loves him. We're really happy for him. He is Florent's favorite horse."
Gigante pulled off a gigantic upset in Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds at Colonial Downs.
Rallying from last of six, the Not This Time colt got the lead in the lane outside rivals and held off Nagirroc to win by a neck. British invader Silver Knott finished third after being squeezed slightly at the top of the stretch.
Gigante, trained by Steve Asmussen, perhaps shouldn't have been 22-1 for the race. He was the only runner in the field with previous experience on the Colonial turf course, winning twice as a 2-year-old and finishing third in a restricted stakes event July 15.
"He broke so well from the gate and put me in good position," jockey Javier Castellano said of Gigante, a Virginia-bred colt. "I just took my time and rode with a lot of patience, a lot of confidence and had the best result today."
Carl Spackler rallied five-wide to launch his bid in Friday's rescheduled $500,000 Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga and drew off in the final yards to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
Stablemate Appraised led briefly and held off More Than Looks by a nose for second. Chad Brown trains the first two.
Carl Spackler, an Irish-bred colt by Lope de Vega, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:36.92 with Tyler Gaffalione up. It was a nice recovery from an eighth-place finish in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs in his last.
Dataman turned a corner after wintering in Florida, winning an off-the-turf allowance event at Delaware Park June 28 by 11 1/4 lengths, and then backed that up Sunday back on the grass, winning the $100,000 Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park by 3/4 length over Ari Gold.
The favorite, Circling the Drain, was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third.
Dataman, a Wertheimer and Frere gelding by Tapit, ran 1 3/16 miles on firm turf in course-record time of 1:54.72. Jorge Ruiz rode for trainer Graham Motion.
Filly & Mare Turf
Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Beverly D. at Colonial Downs, a "Win and You're In" for the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, scratched down to five starters and none of those proved a match for the favorite, Fev Rover, who led all the way and won by 3 1/2 lengths.
Gina Romantica was second, another 2 1/4 lengths in front of French import Romagna Mia.
Fev Rover, with Javier Castellano in the irons for his second graded stakes win on the card, slowed things down in the 1 3/16-miles feature and had no trouble finding enough in the final furlong.
She was last seen finishing third, beaten just 1/2 length, in the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga on July 15.
"She's a really good horse," trainer Mark Casse said of Fev Rover. "It's taken her a little while to understand our racing but the toughest part today was getting her saddled.
"She's a toughie and she looks magnificent. She's really grown up in the last year so we're excited and looking forward to Breeders' Cup."
He said Fev Rover might have a race or two before that November date, though, because "she's like a couple of our good fillies like Tepin - they like to run. She'll be wanting to run here in a couple weeks. She's big. She's tough. We'll figure out what's the best way to get to the Breeders' Cup."
Closing Remarks needed room to run turning into the stretch in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar, found it between rivals and shot through, then outfinished Spirit and Glory to win by a neck.
Pacesetting Ganadora salvaged show money, another 1 1/4 lengths in arrears. Closing Remarks, a 5-year-old Vronsky mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm footing in 1:42.01.
Umberto Rispole rode for trainer Carla Gaines. It was her second win from six starts in 2023.
Bolivie rallied from last of eight to capture Sunday's $100,000 Searching Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park in a three-way photo. The camera found favorite Speirling Beag second, a nose back of the winner and a nose in front of Cecile.
Bolivie, an Irish-bred filly by Exceed and Excel, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.73 with Feargal Lynch in the irons.
Casa Creed, caught wide on both turns, came flying in the stretch run of Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, blitzed by Annapolis inside the sixteenth pole and went on to win the race for the second straight year, by 3/4 length. Ice Chocolat also ran well late to finish third.
Casa Creed, a 7-year-old son of Jimmy Creed, finished the 1 mile on good turf in 1:34.20 with Luis Saez earning his keep with that ride.
Casa Creed has fought the heavyweights on the global stage, including Dubai and Saudi Arabia, but has had his biggest successes at the Spa, where he now has four wins and two thirds from six starts. The thirds came in the 2020 and 2021 Fourstardave.
The Breeders' Cup has not been kind to him with an eighth-place finish, albeit beaten just 3 1/2 lengths, in the 2021 Mile at Del Mar, and a ninth, 4 1/2 lengths back of the winner, in last year's Turf Sprint.
Perhaps the "Win and You're In" ticket for this year's renewal will provide relief.
"If we go, we certainly aren't going to run 5 furlongs [in the Turf Sprint]," winning trainer Bill Mott said. "They could run it (at 6 furlongs) down the hill, but they don't. If we go to the Breeders' Cup, it would be the Mile."
L J's Emma chased down pacesetting Stone Silent, dueled with that rival down the stretch and won Saturday's $150,000 Galway Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga by a neck. Isabel Alexandra was a distant third.
L J's Emma, an Into Mischief filly from the Eddie Kenneally barn, scored her third straight win while contesting her first stakes race. She got 5 1/2 furlongs on good turf in 1:02.27 with Luis Saez up. The favorite, Love Reigns, finished seventh.
Sunday's $150,000 Mahoney Stakes for 3-year-olds went to Closethegame Sugar, who outfinished fellow long shot Private Creed by 1/2 length. Eye Witness was third and No Nay Hudson finished fourth as favorite, continuing a string of disappointments for trainer Wesley Ward in this division.
Closethegame Sugar, a Girvin gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:02.54 with Jose Lezcano in the irons.
Falconet split rivals while driving toward the lead in Sunday's $150,000 Groupie Doll Stakes at Ellis Park, cleared and won by 1 1/4 lengths over Hidden Connection. Interstatedaydream was third as the odds-on favorite after trailing the field.
Falconet, a 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.59. Gerardo Corrales had the mount for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners WinStar Farm and China Horse Club.
Two starts back, Interstatedaydream won the Allaire DuPont Stakes at Pimlico with Falconet sixth.
Hopes were high for Positano Sunset during the winter in Florida, but after the Goldencents filly faded badly in two graded stakes, she was given a spin in a conditioned allowance, won and got a four-months vacation.
The break paid off as Positano Sunset found room between rivals in the stretch run of Sunday's $150,000 Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park, drove through and went on to win by 1 length from Flamand. Santa Fe Gold finished third, with the favorite, Merlazza, fourth.
Positano Sunset ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.46 with Chris Landeros in the irons for trainer Ian Wilkes.
Me and My Shadow swept around rivals with a five-wide move in Sunday's $250,000 Bison City Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine and kicked away to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
The Violence filly, trained by Mark Casse, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.30 with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard.
Sprint / Dirt Mile
Bouncer continued his upward trajectory with a front-running score in Saturday's $100,000 Housebuster Handicap for 3-year-olds on the Colonial Downs dirt track.
With Antonio Gallardo up, the Adios Charlie gelding dueled with the favorite, Frosted Departure, before edging clear late. He now has three wins and a second in his last four starts, all in well-endowed allowance events for trainer Mark Casse.
Five Star General stalked the pace in Sunday's $150,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, took the lead when asked by jockey Joe Bravo and held off Il Bellator down the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Slew's Tiz Whiz was third.
Five Star General, a 7-year-old by Distorted Humor, finished in 1:34.73 on a fast track. He was third in this race last year while based at the Seattle-area track, but now is trained in Kentucky by Grant Forster.
Rhyme Schemes rallied from behind a pair of dueling long shots in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Herb Moelis Memorial Saratoga Special, kicked into another gear turning for home and drove off to win by 9 1/2 lengths, ridden out by Ricardo Santa Jr.
Early leader Market Street and closer Haul were second and third, respectively, as Rhyme Schemes ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.12 for his second straight win -- both by 9 1/2 lengths.
"We skipped the Sanford with the intention of running him twice (at Saratoga) -- here today and coming back in the Hopeful," Rhyme Schemes' trainer Norm Casse said.
"I think, going forward, he's going to be a better two-turn horse but that remains to be seen." The $300,000 Grade I Hopeful on Sept. 4 is 7 furlongs.
On Saturday at Saratoga, Tall Paul, a Frosted colt trained by Bob Baffert, shook off a persistent rival in the opening race and ran on to win by 3 lengths. It was his second start following a third-place finish at Del Mar on July 23. Circle the name.
It was Baffert time out West, too, as Prince of Monaco rallied from well back in a five-horse field to win Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Best Pal Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths.
The odds-on favorite, Muth, got a brief lead after dueling with the pacesetter but then had no answer when Prince of Monaco and jockey Flavien Prat came calling. Baffert trains both.
The Speightstown colt ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.19. It was his second start, following an 8-lengths victory at Los Alamitos on July 9, where he was the most prohibitive of favorites. Muth, by Good Magic, also won his only previous start, that at Santa Anita by 8 1/2 lengths.
"He was very comfortable out there, felt good all the way," said Prat, who flew in at Baffert's request to ride Prince of Monaco. "I saw the pace was hot and I just waited my turn. He's a nice colt. And yes, I think he can run farther."
On Friday at Del Mar, Lord Prancealot showed the way in the $125,000 Graduation Stakes for California-bred juveniles and held on gamely to win by a head over Last Call London.
Lord Prancealot, a Sir Prancealot colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.59, with Kent Desormeaux riding for trainer Jeff Bonde.
Bentornato was bumped and last out of the gate in Saturday's $90,000 Proud Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park, quickly surged through to the lead and won off by 4 1/4 lengths for his second win in as many starts. Trainer Jose D'Angelo said it's on to the Florida Sire Series for the Valiant Minister colt.
Baytown Chatterbox finished way up the track in his first two starts on the Kentucky circuit but the penny dropped when he shipped to Indiana for a third try and stretched out to a mile.
The punters looking at Sunday's $150,000 Ellis Park Juvenile apparently didn't put much stock in that slowly run (1:42) affair, which produced a dismal Beyer Speed Figure of 30.
Shame on them as the Street Sense gelding drafted behind the pace in Sunday's race, drifted around a bit and finally surged to the front, winning by 2 1/2 lengths at odds north of 60-1. Tyler Heard rode for trainer Paul McEntee.
Coulditbemajic and the favorite, Call Me Andy, completed a 50-cent trifecta worth $3,673.31. As former Daily Racing Form writer Marty McGee says, "It's an easy game."
Dreamfyre took off like her tail was on "fyre" in Saturday's $200,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar, repulsed a bid by the favorite, Benedetta, at the top of the stretch and drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
Dua was well positioned on the rail but lacked a late kick, finishing third, another 7 1/4 lengths back.
Dreamfyre, a Flameaway filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.52 for jockey Hector Berrios as the pace moderated after an opening quarter in 21.74. She's now 2-for-2.
Hot Beach got to the lead in the lane in Sunday's $150,000 Ellis Park Debutante and prevailed by 2 lengths over Riperton with the odds-on favorite,
Youalmosthadme, third after a stumbling start. Hot Beach, a daughter of Omaha Beach, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.32 with Declan Cannon up. She was second in her only previous start, July 7 at Ellis.
Let Them Watch shot out to a huge lead in Sunday's $90,000 Sharp Susan Stakes for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park and cruised home first by 2 3/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite.
The Maximus Mischief filly, trained by Mike Maker, improved to 2-for-2, both races at Gulfstream. She is not eligible for the Florida Sire Series.
We mentioned in the weekend preview there were lots and lots of derbies from coast to coast, none involving the big names. Since you never know, here's how they turned out:
Tumbarumba raced just behind the leaders in Sunday's $250,000 Ellis Park Derby, floated out around the leaders at the top of the stretch and owned the final sixteenth, winning by 3/4 length. Transect was second, with the favorite, Loyal Company, a head back in third.
Tumbarumba, an Oscar Performance gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.02 with Rafael Bejarano riding for trainer Brian Lynch. He finished sixth in his previous start, the Maxfield Stakes, in the slop at Ellis Park but won two in a row before that at Keeneland and Churchill Downs.
Roses by Liam caught pacesetting long shot Jose Patio in the stretch in Saturday's $110,000 Minnesota Derby at Canterbury Park and blew by to win by 3 3/4 lengths. It's Bobs Business finished third as Roses by Liam, a Liam's Map gelding, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast strip in 1:42.53.
Clovisconnection, in from Emerald Downs near Seattle, led all the way to win Saturday's $75,000 Robert Dupret Derby at Santa Rosa by 1 1/4 lengths. The win was his third straight, following the Auburn Stakes and the Irish Day Stakes, both at Emerald.
He also won last year's Golden Nugget Stakes on the Golden Gate Fields all-weather track.
Prince Abu Dhabi rallied five-wide and was up to win Sunday's $50,000 Muckleshoot Derby at Emerald Downs, then survived an inquiry resulting from some contact with runner-up Deshambeau. Prince Abu Dhabi, a Palace Malice gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.63 for jockey Alexander Chavez.
See the Turf section for Sunday's Bald Eagle Derby on the Laurel Park grass.
Around the world, around the clock
The horses are the stars of the show, for sure. But when the Dettori retirement tour lands another Group 1, as it did with Inspiral in Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville, it's hard to not focus on the rider.
The smile of pure joy on his face as he pulled the filly up after the race, sufficient to light up the north of France, reflected his oneness with his job and the trademark flying dismount belies his decision to hang up his tack at the end of the season.
But he's sticking to that, with the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita in November targeted as the finale, unless something good enough comes up a few days later in Australia.
France Gallop, the local authority, did things up right with a winner's enclosure celebration that Dettori said left him with "a knot" in his throat.
"It's hard not to cry. I'm very happy. It's amazing, the stuff of dreams, really," Racing Post quoted Dettori as saying.
Dettori won the race for the fourth straight year, guiding Inspiral from the back of the field to score by 1 1/4 lengths from the favorite, Big Rock, and many others among Europe's top milers.
Inspiral repeated her 2022 win despite a fading, last-place finish just 11 days earlier in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Richard Thompson, director for the winning owner, Cheveley Park Stud, said even the decision to run the 4-year-old Frankel filly back on such short notice was on Dettori, along with trainers John and Thady Gosden.
"It was a question of John and Frankie as a combination deciding that she really could go for this," Thompson said, according to Racing Post, "and we felt we'd back the trainer and the jockey. It's come off and it's brilliant."
Put a ring around the name Bucanero Fuerte. The Wootton Bassett colt dominated six rivals in Saturday's Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, emerging from the pack at the 2-furlongs marker and striding out to win by 4 lengths from Porta Fortuna.
Givemethebeatboys was third and the favorite, Unquestionable, reported fourth, beaten by 5 1/2 lengths.
Bucanero Fuerte, with Kevin Stott up for trainer Adrian Murray, backed up his July 2 victory in the Group 2 Railway Stakes by a short head over Unquestionably. His Majesty was third in the Railway, beat only one on Saturday and seems destined for less regal affairs for the Coolmore forces.
Simca Mille, the odds-on favorite, took the lead some 200 meters out in Sunday's Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten and held off Sisfahan by 3/4 length at the finish. Assistant was third.
Simca Mille, a 4-year-old Tamayuz colt, scored his third win of the season, adding to the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt at Longchamp and the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly. He was second in the Group 1 Prix Ganay. The colt also was 15th in last year's Grade 1 Japan Cup in Tokyo.