While the world awaited the excitement of the coming weekend, Treve started her push for a third straight Arc victory in France, challengers surfaced in both Japan and France and there was plenty of turf racing in America.
Also, a Breeders' Cup champion fell short in his seasonal debut. The rich Evangeline Downs turf sprint was washed out by bad weather. And Indiana Grand staged a grand benefit for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
And there's much more, from Hong Kong to South Africa, via Indiana Grand. We're off.
Work All Week, making his first start since upsetting the Breeders' Cup Sprint last fall, got off to a stumbling start in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs and wasn't able to cope with the late run of Alsvid, who went on to win by 2 lengths. Work All Week held on to third, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Nate's Mineshaft. Alsvid, a 7-year-old Officer gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.34 with Chris Landeros up. "We did beat the champ so I guess we are right there with the best sprinters in the country," said winning trainer Chris Hartman. "We're going to have to study up and decide where to to from here." Geroux said Work All Week "ran great. We're a little disappointed that he didn't win, but he's coming off a long layoff. It's not like he was 200 percent ready. This race wasn't the target."
Saturday's $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint, along with the rest of the card, was cancelled because of the rotten weather affecting the area.
Amelia's Wild Ride just did outfinish Ben's Cat in Saturday's $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National, beating that venerable foe by a nose and pacesetter Bold Thunder by another neck. Amelia's Wild Ride, a 4-year-old colt by D'Wildcat, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.20 seconds with Jose Lezcano riding. Amelia's Wild Ride was fresh off a third-place finish behind Ben's Cat in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico on Peakness Day. He now has eight wins from 26 career starts.
Lockout raced well back in the field in Saturday's $200,000 (Canadian), Grade II Connaught Cup at Woodbine, advanced along the rail through the stretch turn and then got clear sailing on the outside to win by 1 length over Phil's Dream. River Seven finished third. The favorite, Excaper, was fourth. Lockout, a 6-year-old son of Limehouse, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:22.64 with Gary Boulanger up in his 2015 debut.
Force the Pass outfinished Night Prowler in the final push to win Saturday's $500,000, Grade III Penn Mile for 3-year-olds at Penn National by a head. Granny's Kitten was third, 3/4 length farther back and a neck in front of Ocho Ocho Ocho. Those were quickly followed in a blanket finish by My Point Exactly, High Noon Rider and the favorite, Papacoolpapacool. Force the Pass, a Speightstown colt out of the Dynaformer mare Social Queen, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.03 under Joel Rosario. Force the Pass now has three wins and two seconds from five starts. The Penn Mile was his first graded stakes try.
The Pizza Man rolled by inside pacesetting Frac Daddy in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs and kicked away to a 2 1/2-lengths victory over that rival. Departing, always in the mix, finished third. The Pizza Man, a 6-year-old English Channel gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.29 under Florent Geroux. Both the Pizza Man and Work All Week are owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds. For Pizza Man, it was the first win since he took the American St. Leger at Arlington Park last August during the International Festival of Racing.
Strict Compliance waited patiently behind a pair of rivals through the early furlongs of Saturday's $150,000 Penn Oaks at Penn National, moved three wide to take the lead and scored by 1/2 length over the favorite, Quality Rocks. Gypsy Judy, who made all the going, finished third, a neck farther back. Strict Compliance, by Into Mischief, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.93 with Javier Castellano up.
Divisidero continues to stake his claim in this division, scoring his third win from four starts in Saturday's $200,000 Pennine Ridge Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park. Divisidero rallied from mid-pack to engage the entry of Takeover Target and Startup Nation in the final going and prevailed by a neck over Takeover Target. Startup Nation faded to get home third. World Approval finished fourth, completing the trifecta. Divisidero, a Kitten's Joy colt, ran 9 furlongs on the inner turf course in 1:48.03 with Rafael Hernandez in the irons. He won the Grade II American Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day in his last previous outing. "Rafael did a great job getting him into position once he realized the pace was pretty slow up front," said winning trainer Buff Bradley. "So he got him up there and then sat on him. Coming down the lane, we felt pretty good. We know he will run a horse down." He said he's eyeing the $1.25 million, Grade I Belmont Derby on July 4. Chad Brown, who trains the second- and third-place finishers, said he hopes they both will have another shot at Divisidero in that same race.
Filly & Mare Turf
Spanish Queen also posted her third win from four starts, stalking the pace along the inside in Saturday's $400,000, Grade I American Oaks at Santa Anita, coming out for room and getting by the leaders to win by 3/4 length. Feathered was second, 3/4 length ahead of Consumer Credit. Spanish Queen, a Tribal Rule filly, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:01.93 with Brice Blanc up. She was coming off a win in the Grade II Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita. "It was a great ride by Brice," said winning trainer Richard Baltas. "He saved ground, she had to earn it and she got it done. Brice has been on her every breeze. He's gotten to know her really well. She's not very big but she's got a big heart and she's a lovely filly."
Lady Eli staged a jailbreak from traffic with a furlong to run in Sunday's $200,000 Wonder Again Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, then needed only mild urging from jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to outfinish Heath and Pine Needles for a 1/2-length victory. Lady Eli, a daughter of Divine Park, ran about 9 furlongs over the firm inner turf course in 1:49.94. "There were definitely some anxious moments there," said winning trainer Chad Brown. "It wasn't really the trip I was envisioning but she worked it out and ended the weekend on a good note." He said "it's exciting thinking about" the $1 million, Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 4.
Catch a Flight won a stretch battle with Moreno in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Californian at Santa Anita, scoring by 1/2 length over that stubborn foe. Hard Aces was third, 3 1/2 lengths farther back. Catch a Flight, a 5-year-old, Argentine-bred son of Giant's Causeway, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:47.73 with Gary Stevens riding. Trainer Richard Mandella said when Stevens "goosed him at the quarter pole, he responded pretty quickly. Gary knows him well enough. I didn't try to tell him how to ride him ... This was a step forward. The time of the race was good and he beat Moreno." Mandella said he will consider the $500,000, Grade I Gold Cup on June 27.
Golden Lad pressed the pace in Saturday's $200,000 Mountainview Handicap at Penn National, surged to the lead when prompted by jockey Javier Castellano, then quickly got away to a 5-lengths victory over Kid Cruz. Nowalking was third. Golden Lad, a 5-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro out of a Seeking the Gold mare, ran 9 furlongs on a fast, sealed track in 1:49.59 with Javier Castellano up.
Hillbilly Royalty stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Prairie Mile for 3-year-olds at Prairie Meadows, jumped out to take a big lead and held on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Paid Admission. The favorite, Allied Air Raid, finished third. Hillbilly Royalty, Langfuhr gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.98 with Luis Quinonez in the irons.
Sarah Sis led from gate to wire in Saturday's $75,000 Panthers Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Prairie Meadows and got there first by 1 3/4 lengths. Sweet Opportunity and Magnolia Steel ran second and third all the way without making an impression on the winner. Sarah Sis, a daughter of Sharp Humor, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.24 with Julio Felix riding.
Treve already is a popular favorite to win her third straight Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in the fall and the 5-year-old mare did nothing to tame that enthusiasm Friday in her seasonal debut. Parked well back behind a "rabbit," Treve shot through an opening when given her cue in the stretch in the Group 2 Prix Corrida at Saint-Cloud and from there, won easily. Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek said she was only 80 percent fit. "In the Arc, I hope she will be 200 percent," the trainer said. She is scheduled to run in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud before heading to Longchamp for the Arc trial weekend and the Arc itself. But there are two new contenders on the horizon for this year's Arc: The winners of Sunday's French Derby and Japanese Derby. Read on.
New Bay kicked into gear late in Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club or French Derby at Chantilly and held off an impoving Highland Reel to win by 1 1/2 lengths. War Dispatch was another 1 3/4 lengths in arrears. New Bay, a son of Dubawi, was partnered by champion French jumps jockey Vincent Cheminaud as he scored his second win from four starts. He also has two seconds. Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the owner, Khalid Abdullah, said the performance showed the colt might stay 1 1/2 miles. Thus, he said, "The Arc will have to come into the equation, which is nice." Highland Reel's trainer, Aidan O'Brien, said his colt could contend in the Irish Derby or Eclipse Stakes.
Duramente surged to the lead turning into the long, uphill stretch run in Sunday's Group 1 Japanese Derby at Tokyo Race Course and quickly put matters to rest, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Satono Rasen. Satono Crown finished third. Duramente, a King Kamehameha colt, now has captured the first two legs of the Japanese Triple Crown -- the 23rd 3-year-old to hold that distinction. Duramente was rather worked up and keen between the first two corners," said winning rider Mirco Demuro. "But he was in a good position throughout the race and was under control after that. In the homestretch there was some knocking about. But after changing his lead, he was in gear and really strong to the finish." He finished the 2,400 meters in 2:23.2, shaving 0.1 second off the race record held by his sire and automatically becomes Japan's top hope to finally land the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after a string of disappointments.
French Navy moved up the preference ladder for the onrushing Durban July with an off-the-pace triumph Saturday in the Group 1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville. Rallying from well back under a chilly ride by Raymond Danielson, the Count Dubois gelding was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Ertijaal at the wire with the favorite, The Conglomerate, settling for third. French Navy was last seen getting home third in the South African Derby but trainer Sean Terry said the ground did not suit him that day.
Helene Super Star upstaged stablemate Blazing Speed to land Sunday's Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup. Dominant was second, a head bob short of the winner, with Helene Happy Star another neck back in third and Blazing Speed settling for fourth, another short head in arrears. Douglas Whyte said the key to the race was breaking under control from the inside post position and getting Helene Super start to relax while his competition was fighting the bit. "The pace was a nice galloping pace, they didn't go too slow – or definitely not too hard – and I was in the right place the whole way through. The imperative point is that my horse was relaxed," Whyte said. Trainer Tony Cruz, who landed his third edition of the race, said, "We had high expectations for the horse but he had little problems and he's just got a real temper on him. We put the cheek-pieces on today and they made a big difference ... We're definitely going places with this horse now that he's proven he's a Group 1 horse. There are a lot of places that we can go." Trainer John Moore said Dominant may go back to Australia for the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup, then return for the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase in December.
Not Listenin'tome, whose trip to Royal Ascot alongside Able Friend has been canceled, made the most of it with a late-running win in Sunday's HK Group 3 Sha Tin Vase with Joao Moreira up. Not Listenin'tome, a Group 3 winner in Australia before relocating to Hong Kong, found room along the inside in the late going of the 1,200-meters event and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over stablemate Charles The Great. "We're letting England go this time," said trainer John Moore, "but definitely a race like Singapore (the Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint) could be in the cards next year."
Royal Renege came from off the pace to take Saturday's $75,000 Lyphard Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares by 1 length over Lenape Rim. Bound was third. Royal Renege, a 5-year-old daughter of Broken Vow, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.70 with Jevian Toledo riding.
Will Rogers Downs
Fatal Sting led the way in Tuesday's $55,000 Cherokee Nation Classic Cup for Oklahoma-breds and held off the favorite, Z Rockstar, winning by 3 lengths. Johnny Whip finished third. Fatal Sting, a 4-year-old For Glory gelding, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:39.83 with Bryan McNeil up.
Street of Gold pulled clear in the stretch run to win Friday's $60,000 Amelia Island Handicap for fillies and mares by 3 1/4 lengths over the favorite, E B Ryder. Weekend Appeal was well up the track in third. Street of Gold, a 5-year-old mare by Street Sense, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:39.98 with Edgar Prado at the controls.
Flutterby fluttered away in the stretch run of Saturday's $60,000 Sea Lily Handicap for fillies and mares and won off by 9 1/4 lengths. Little Alexis was best of the rest with Best Behavior third. Flutterby, a 4-year-old daughter of Congrats, covered 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.04 with Luca Panici riding.
Colerful Bride stalked the pace in Friday's $70,000 Bob Bryan Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, came by the leaders three-wide and won off by 3 lengths. M B Prize was second and Jafmils Persuader finished third. Colerful Bride, by Munnings, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.74 with Shane Laviolette in the irons.
Dubai Kowboy was along late to post a 24-1 upset win in Friday's $70,000 Gray's Lake Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, beating the favorite, Colonel Ted, by 1 3/4 lengths. Approximator was a close third. Dubai Kowboy, a Kodiak Kowboy gelding, finished in 1:11.95 with Belen Quinonez up.
Crittenden came from well back to defeat Oak Brook by a neck in Saturday evening's $75,000 PDJF Stakes -- a race highlighting weekend fund raising for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Crittenden, a Darley-bred and Godolphin-owned Distorted Humor gelding, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:30.11 with Fernando de la Cruz up. Thirtysilverpieces finished third.
Cara Marie led all the way to win Saturday's $75,000 Indy Star Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, finishing 2 lengths ahead of Miz Money and another 3/4 length to the good of Mighty Souper. Cara Marie, a daughter of Unbridled's Song, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass in 1:28.39 with Antonio Gallardo up.
Saucy Don put a head in front of Loverbil at the end of Saturday's $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds with Javerre rallying from a stumbling start to finish third, just another neck back. Saucy Don, a 5-year-old son of Don Six, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.95 with Abel Castellano Jr. in the irons.