Dornach adds his name to 2024 Kentucky Derby list

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Lemon Pop wins Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup at Chukyo Racecourse. Photo by and courtesy of Katsumi Saito
1 of 2 | Lemon Pop wins Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup at Chukyo Racecourse. Photo by and courtesy of Katsumi Saito

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Add Dornach and Life Talk to the conversation about 2024 Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders after the 2-year-olds won big weekend races, and mark down trainer Chad Brown for yet another milestone as he saddled a 1-2-3-4 finish in Sunday's feature at Del Mar.

On the global front, put a check mark by the name Lemon Pop. The Kentucky-bred won Sunday's Champions Cup on the Chukyo Racecourse dirt and could be a factor in big international events going into the New Year if he remains in training.


Diving right in ...


Dornach turned in an impressive display of determination in Saturday's $250,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.

The favorite in a field of 10, the Good Magic colt held a narrow lead into the lane, put away the early challenger but then surrendered the advantage to Sierra Leone inside the furlong pole after bumping the rail.


He then fought back to prevail by a nose. With Luis Saez up for trainer Danny Gargan, Dornach ran 1 1/8 miles on a muddy track in 1:50.30.

"He's a big, big horse," Gargan added, already looking forward to the Run for the Roses in May. "We will ... let him grow into that frame and start looking for races later, probably sometime in March. Two races, maybe three before the Derby."

Juvenile Fillies

Life Talk, from the powerhouse connections of owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher, led early and won easily in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct.

Shimmering Allure was second, 3 3/4 lengths back and 1 length in front of Dolomite. The others were well up the stretch.

Life Talk, a Gun Runner filly who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile fillies in her last start, ran 1 1/8 miles on a muddy, sealed track in 1:51.10 with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.

"She's learning. She's learning every time she runs," Ortiz said.

Filly & Mare Turf

Trainer Brown, already familiar with graded stakes sweeps on the East Coast, shifted focus to Del Mar Sunday and saddle the superfecta in the $300,000 Grade I Matriarch. Surge Capacity outfinished Fluffy Socks by a head for the win under Joel Rosario.


Beaute Cachee was third and the favorite, Whitebeam, settled for fourth.

Surge Capacity, a 3-year-old Flintshire filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.95. Brown, who didn't make the trip, now has won six of the last seven runnings of the Matriarch. He is the first trainer in the history of the seaside track to finish 1-2-3-4 in a Grade I stakes.


Program Trading rallied from the back of the field to win Saturday's $300,000 Grade I Hollywood Derby by a neck, holding off fellow deep closer Webslinger in the final strides. Silver Knott was 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Program

Trading, a British-bred Lope de Vega ridgling, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.82, with Flavien Prat riding for trainer Chad Brown.

"Luckily there was a horse in front of me that bolted around the turn so I had a clear path," Prat said. "As soon as I asked him to make a run, he was there for me. I think he will still improve. He has run well every time."

Classic / Dirt Mile

Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Cigar Mile at Aqueduct always looked wide open and that's how it played out. Hoist the Gold, an 8-1 chance, got the lead and held it all the way to a 4 1/2-length victory over Senor Buscador.


Castle Chaos, a 31-1 shot, was third, with the favorite, Everso Mischievous, next-last of 12.

Hoist the Gold, a 4-year-old Mineshaft colt, finished in 1:34.28 under John Velazquez while coping with a muddy, sealed track.


Dr B worked quickly to the front in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Go For Wand Stakes at Aqueduct and eased away to a 3 3/4-lengths score.

Tizzy in the Sky was best of the rest as Dr B, a 5-year-old Liam's Map mare, ran 1 mile on a muddy track in 1:36.49 with Jose Lezcano up for trainer Robert Reid Jr.

Reid said he's eyeing the Grade III Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park in February with something else before that.

Turf Sprint

Unconquerable Keen set the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Stormy Liberal Stakes at Del Mar and rolled home first by 1 3/4 lengths over stablemate Turn On The Jets.

Unconquerable Keen, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 55.87 seconds for jockey Flavien Prat and trainer Phil D'Amato.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Marissa's Lady won a three-way scramble to the wire in Saturday's $125,000 Holiday Inaugural Stakes at Turfway Park swung back into operation. Pacesetting long shot B G Warrior held second, a neck back and a neck in front of Bling.


Marissa's Lady, a 4-year-old Violence filly, got 6 furlongs of all-weather track in 1:09.42 with Rafael Bejarano in the irons.

Around the world, around the clock


Lemon Pop had things all his own way in Sunday's Grade 1 Champions Cup on the Chukyo Racecourse dirt, leading from the start and winning by 1 1/4 lengths.

The Kentucky-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid backed up his victory in the Grade 1 February Stakes, the only other top-level dirt event on the Japan Racing Association calendar, and is the logical pick for the nation's top dirt horse of 2023.

"He was quick out of the gate and wanted to go, so I chose to race him in the front," jockey Ryusei Sakai said. "Though it was his first 1,800-meter race and the outermost stall was not to his advantage, I think he handled it well with his remarkable ability."

The win could open the way to further international adventure should his owner, Godolphin, decided to keep Lemon Pop in training, He finished 10th in this year's Dubai Golden Shaheen, going a too-short 1,200 meters/ The Group 2 Godolphin Mile might be a more inviting target.


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