Stateside, the weekend found Mr. Z finally getting a stakes win for trainer D. Wayne Lukas -- while running his bankroll to nearly $1 million.
And, it's time to start paying attention to those 2-year-old races.
But first, a nod to the top hat and tails brigade.
Ryan Moore was as big a story as any in 2015 Royal Ascot, riding a record nine winners during the glam meeting. Moore set the mark with his ninth win Friday aboard Aloft in the Queen's Vase, a 2-miles event for 3-year-olds. After settling at the back, Moore coaxed the son of Galileo toward the front late and got home first by 1/2 length. "I'm very lucky," said Moore, who recently took over from Joseph O'Brien as the No. 1 rider for Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle juggernaut. "I get to ride the best horses and that makes a big difference," he added. Five of Moore's nine winners were saddled by O'Brien. Earlier Friday, Moore had been blanked on much better fancied mounts Hootenanny and Found and he was shut out on Saturday but also wound up the meeting with four seconds and one third. He was right about O'Brien's contribution to success as the trainer led the meeting with five winners, four seconds and two thirds.
Capping Saturday's final day of the meeting was Undrafted's emphatic win in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes for trainer Wesley Ward, jockey Frankie Dettori and owner Wes Welker. The 5-year-old Purim gelding, fourth in last year's Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket, was coming off his second straight runner-up finish in the Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. Dettori got Undrafted going late in Saturday's event and he finished full of run, 1/2 length ahead of Australian runner Brazen Beau, with Astaire third. Brazen Beau ran solo on the stands side for most of the race and drifted slightly right in the final furlong while Undrafted made his run in the clear on the far side. "I am just elated," said Ward, who picked up his fifth Royal Ascot winner but first by a horse older than 2. "This is the biggest race I've won. I've won Breeders' Cups and races here in the past, but to come here and be presented with a Group 1 trophy by the Queen was such a fantastic experience." He said he's looking at another try in the July Cup.
Snow Sky was a long shot winner in Saturday's Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes, making all the going in the 1 1/2-miles event and reporting on top, 3 3/4 lengths to the good of Eagle Top. Postponed was third and Sheikhzayedroad finished fourth. Telescope, the heavy favorite and Moore's best hope for a 10th win of the meeting, beat only Red Cadeaux, who was eased. Snow Sky was ridden by Pat Smullen for trainer Sir Michael Stoute. The 4-year-old Nayef colt has been a consistent performer against many of the same rivals. Ironically, Moore rode him in both of his last two races. Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdulla, said Snow Sky may be supplemented to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth next month. And Sir Michael said even bigger things may be in store. "After he won the Yorkshire Cup last month he looked like a Cup horse and we thought we might be going to Melbourne with him," the trainer said. "Now we might have to have a rethink. But it's not a bad problem to have."
In Friday's big race, Muhaarar rallied from midfield to take the lead with a bit more than furlong to run in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup for 3-year-olds and shook clear, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over Limato. Anthem Alexander was third as the favorites struggled with Transatlantic traveler Hootenanny a dull 11th and Tiggy Wiggy 16th, beating only two rivals. Muhaarar, with Dane O'Neill up, ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.05. The Shadwell-bred Oasis Dream colt, owned by Sheik Hamdan, scored his fourth career win, bouncing back from an eighth-place showing in the French 2,000 Guineas.
French 1,000 Guineas winner Ervedya caught Found in the final leaps to take Friday's Group 1 Coronation Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck. Lucida was third. Miss Temple City ran a valiant fourth for trainer Graham Motion and jockey John Velazquez in her first start outside North America. Ervedya, a French-bred daughter of Siyouni, ran 1 mile in 1:38.46 with Christophe Soumillon up.
Suits You, trained in France by Eoghan O'Neill, outlasted Ballydoyle to win Saturday's Group 2 Chesham Stakes by a short head. The 7-furlongs race is for 2-year-olds sired by a winner of a race at 1 1/4 miles or longer. Suits You, by Youmzain, finished in 1:26.93 with Cristian Demuro in the irons. "He's very smart and he has been since February," said O'Neill, who relocated from Newmarket five years ago for the more generous purse structure. Moore just missed his 10th win of the meeting on Ballydoyle.
Saturday's Wolferton Handicap is only a Listed race but it could be a springboard for the winner, Mahsoob. The 4-year-old son of Dansili, trained by John Gosden for Sheik Hamdan, remains undefeated in four starts and now is targeting the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at 1 1/2 miles or the Eclipse at 10 furlongs. "He's well engaged," Gosden said in an understatement. "I think he's slightly telling us to step him up to a mile and a half."
For earlier results, see Thursday's weekend advance.
Back in North America:
Mr. Z showed the way in Saturday's $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown, then survived a three-horse sprint to the wire, winning by a nose over a late-running Tencendur and another head over Divining Rod, who dueled on the inside for the final quarter mile. War Story was well back in fourth and Illinois Derby winner Whiskey Ticket finished last of eight. Mr. Z, with Joe Bravo in the irons for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, toured 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.60. The Malibu Moon colt finished third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, but then got home 13th in the Kentucky Derby after being sold to Calumet Farm just before the entry deadline. He followed that with a fifth-place finish in the Preakness. It was only his second win from 15 starts but pushed his bankroll to nearly $1 million.
Found Money and Mrazek, both owned by Paul Reddam, sired by Square Eddie and trained by Doug O'Neill, dueled throughout Sunday's $125,000 Santa Anita Jewel before Found Money found a little more and drew away for the win money. Mrazek held second, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner but 2 1/4 lengths in front of Xingontothebone. The favorite, Dubdubwatson, beat only one rival. Found Money ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.24 under Corey Nakatani. He now is 2-for-2. "We've got all kinds of options for future races," O'Neill said. "I think it's exciting. I think they'll stretch out. I think they'll turf. The sky's the limit ... We just have to keep them sound and there are a lot of fun things ahead." Reddam said Square Eddie's progeny are "on fire right now and there are more coming that we're excited about."
Mr. Jordan, the even-money favorite, tracked pacesetter Tekton through most of Sunday's $150,000, Grade III Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, seized the lead in the stretch and then rebuffed another effort by Tekton to win by a head. Good Pick Nick was third. Mr. Jordan, a Kantharos colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.71 with Paco Lopez up. "He's been off a long time and ran really well today," said winning trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. "He's a peculiar horse. He's the type of horse that's always feeling good and does what he likes." The race is a prep for the $1 million, Grade I Haskell at Monmouth on Aug. 2 and Plesa said he will look at that race, "obviously." That's one of the races under consideration for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, although the Grade I Travers at Saratoga also is a consideration.
Possessed ran like a horse possessed in Sunday's $100,000 Spectacular Bid Division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont Park, clicking along behind the leaders until given his cue, then blasting off to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Secured Position, Fenwick Hall and Ex Ex Ex completed the order of finish. Possessed, a Posse colt, ran 7 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:25.17 under Jose Ortiz. The race was taken off the turf and three were scratched from the original lineup.
Here's one to watch: Donworth stalked the early lead in Saturday's off-the-turf, $50,000 Stanton Stakes at Delaware Park, then blasted off in the lane, winning by 11 lengths. Dukin With Dale beat the other two and Tiz My Valentine was third. Donworth, a Tiznow colt trained by Graham Motion, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.54 with Trevor McCarthy aboard. It was his second win from four starts in a career that also includes a runner-up showing in the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland and a third in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico.
Right There wasn't much of anywhere in Sunday's $125,000 Landaluce Stakes at Santa Anita until the field turned for home. Then, the Eskendereya swung four-wide, hit the front about the sixteenth pole and went on to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Alien Giant was second and Sambamzajammin finished third. Right There, with Kent Desormeaux up, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.39. It was her second start after finishing second to Alien Giant on May 21. Trainer Keith Desormeaux said, "All the things that a trainer looks for -- confidence, good, strong finishing works, strong appetite, good coat color, she had it all coming into today. She was tipping herself off today. Those are the things you don't see in the Form, though. Too bad."
Dreamboat Annie dueled to the lead in Sunday's $100,000, off-the-turf Cupecoy's Joy Division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont Park, then outfinished Perfect Freud to score by 3/4 length. The Lewis Dinner led early and finished third, followed by Loon River and the favorite, Freudie Ann. Dreamboat Annie, a daughter of Freud, ran 7 furlongs on a main track rated "good" in 1:25.64 with John Velazquez riding.
Stellar Wind bounced back nicely from her fourth-place Kentucky Oaks finish, rallying to win Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita by a nose over Tara's Tango. Conquest Curlgirl was 3 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Stellar Wind, a daughter of Curlin, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.53 with Victor Espinoza riding. She has won four of her last five starts, save only the Churchill Downs defeat. "They slowed it down pretty good, so I kept her closer," Espinoza said. "That was the best thing because with that pace I couldn't leave her too much to do." Trainer John Sadler said Stellar Wind could move forward either on the turf or dirt. Owner Kosta Hronis added, "I think we'd like to keep her on dirt for now. If we stay home here at Del Mar, we'd probably have to switch her over to the grass. If we keep her on dirt, we might go to Saratoga."
Luna Time took the lead in the lane in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park and won by 3 lengths from the favorite, Joint Return, who fell short with a late rally from far back. Montana Native finished third. Luna Time, a 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.58. "I was loaded for bear today," said winning jockey Forest Boyce. "She never really relaxed 100 percent but she kept getting stronger, which gave me confidence." It was the first career stakes win for Luna Time. The race is a prep for the Grade I Delaware Handicap on July 18, which is likely to attract a significantly stronger field.
Salama came bounding down the stretch outside her rivals to take Sunday's Clasico Cesar del Rio at the Hipodromo da Monterrico in Peru -- a "Win and You're In" Challenge Series race for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. The 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Desert Party, got home 1 1/4 lengths in front of Azarenka.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Dame Dorothy pretty much had things her own way in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Bed o' Roses Handicap at Belmont Park after the scratch of La Verdad. With Javier Castellano at the controls, Dame Dorothy led from the start and finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Street Story, getting 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.19. Expression was third. Dame Dorothy, a 4-year-old Street Sense filly, is owned by celebrity chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay. From nine starts, she now has seven wins, a second and a third. "Certainly, with La Verdad coming out it was a significant scratch," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "When we originally picked up the overnight we didn't anticipate being on the lead, but it worked out." The projected pacesetter, Room For Me, missed the break and Castellano said at that point, "I took a shot ... My filly was able to dictate the pace." Pletcher said he will point Dame Dorothy to the Grade I Ballerina at Saratoga Aug. 29 and may give her an intervening start.
Hollywood Hideaway was promoted to the win in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoria Stakes at Woodbine after being bumped in the stretch by pacestalking challenger Beliveau, who then crossed the wire first by a head. Dragon Bay was far enough back to not be bothered and finished third. Hollywood Hideaway, a Kentucky-bred colt by Zensational, was making his first start with Luis Contreras in the irons. The 6 furlongs on firm turf went in 1:08.65. "My horse was fighting really hard to the end, but the other horse started laying in on my horse," Contreras said. "At the end, just three or four jumps before the wire, he got me really bad. My horse was fighting back and I know if nothing happened I would have won the race."
Diabolical King dueled for the lead in Saturday's $175,000 Mountain Top New Mexico Bred Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, then left nine rivals behind in the stretch, winning by 7 1/4 lengths. True Heat was second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Tilla Cat. The favorite, Tijuana, finished fourth. Diabolical King, a Diabolical colt, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 58.06 with Enrique Gomez riding.
A.P. Indian dueled Stallwalkin' Dude into submission in Saturday's $100,000 Donald Levine Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing, then got clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over that foe. Fabulous Kid was another 1/2 length back in third. A.P. Indian, a 5-year-old Indian Charlie gelding out of the A.P. Indy mare Ender's Sister, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.40 with Daniel Centeno up.
The Arlington Million got a boost during the weekend with the announcement that reigning U.S. Horse of the Year California Chrome will bail out of England without having a race and ship directly to Chicago to train up to the Arlington Park setpiece. California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year and second in this year's Dubai World Cup, missed his Royal Ascot engagement because of a bruised foot.
Barolo won a rather dramatic, three-way sprint to the wire in Sunday's Gran Premio Brasil at the Hipodromo de Gavea in Rio de Janerio -- a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Turf. It was the first stakes win for the 4-year-old, by Northern Afleet. Consilium, who looked like a winner until the final jumps, settled for second with Corno Quiera third.
Tower of Texas got through along the rail turning for home in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian), Grade II King Edward Stakes at Woodbine and quickly swept off to a 2 3/4-lengths win. Platinum Glory and Stacked Deck completed the triactor with the favorite, Excaper, a close fourth. Tower of Texas, a 4-year-old Street Sense gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in a quick 1:32.45 with Eurico Da Silva in the irons. The colt was idle for more than 10 months after finishing 14th in last year's Queen's Plate. He now has won three straight at Woodbine with two victories on the all-weather course leading up to Sunday's win. "I was pretty confident that he'd run well on the turf, but I'd never been able to work him on it," said winning trainer Roger Attfield. "He had trained so well going into this race. He went into it such a happy, healthy horse. I'm so proud of him. He's a lovely horse." The winning time was less than a second off Wise Dan's course record.
Soul Driver raced well back into the second turn in Saturday's $75,000 Singletary Stakes for 3-year-olds, swung five-wide into the lane and shook clear to a 4 1/2-lengths victory. Zinvor was second, a neck better than Steve's Road. Soul Driver, a Street Boss colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.60 for jockey Gary Stevens.
Priceless Commodity took command in the stretch run of Sunday's $75,000 Dark Star Stakes, drawing off to win by 4 3/4 length from Picko's Pride. Diamond Joe was third. Priceless Commodity, a 5-year-old son of Midnight Lute, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.32 with Hugo Sanchez up.
American Mon Ami put a head in front of pacesetting favorite Miz Money at the wire in Sunday's $75,000 Northbound Pride Oaks. My Blue Sky was only 1/2 length farther back in third. American Mon Ami, an Illinois-bred daughter of All American, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.58 with Rosemary Homeister Jr. up for trainer Tony Granitz.
Fioretti got first run to the lead in Saturday's $70,000 Roxelana Stakes for fillies and mares and the odds-on favorite, Willow Hills, couldn't catch her, settling for second, 3/4 lengths short. Pistolpackinpenny rallied from last of six to get show money. Fioretti, a 5-year-old Bernardini mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.67 under Sophie Doyle. She went to the post at odds of 25-1.
My Point Exactly got a neck in front at the wire in Saturday's $60,000 King Cougat Handicap for 3-year-olds, with Black Martino second, another neck to the good of My Cowboy. My Point Exactly, a Concord Point gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.88 with Juan Leyva up.
Little Alexis got by pacesetting favorite Best Behavior in the stretch run in Saturday's $60,000 Barely Even Handicap, then survived a late resurgence by that rival to win by a neck. It was another 7 1/4 lengths back to Lemon Lashes in third. Little Alexis, a 4-year-old Mr. Greeley filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.40 with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons.
Keep Crossing rallied to the lead in the lane in Saturday's $70,000 Red Cross Stakes for fillies and mares and drew off to win by 3 lengths over the early leader, Disco Chick. Tea Time was a head farther back in third. Keep Crossing, a 4-year-old Istan filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.13 for jockey Gabriel Saez.
Saucy Don went to the lead late in Sunday's $60,000 Dan Horn Handicap for New Jersey-breds, opened a clear lead and then held on to win by a neck over Chunnel. Amblin Easy was third. Saucy Don, with Abel Castellano Jr. aboard, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:37.29.
Lone Star Park
The royalty mostly were at Ascot but that didn't prevent Expect Royalty from posting an easy win in Saturday's $50,000 Lane's End Scholarship Stakes for Texas-bred fillies and mares. The 5-year-old daughter of Valid Expectations bid for the lead turning for home and kicked away to a 3 3/4-lenths win over My Silver Lullaby. I Am Jane Dough finished third. Expect Royalty, with Iram Diego up, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:29.24.
Blues Blaster, at 41-1 odds, led narrowly throughout Saturday's $50,000 Oak Tree Handicap and inched clear late to win by 1/2 length over Eagle Screams. Outside Nashville finished third and the favorite, G.G. Ryder, was fourth. Blues Blaster, a 6-year-old son of Redattore, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.56 with Charles Lopez in the irons.
Windy Forecast blew away seven rivals in Sunday's $65,000 Pleasanton Oaks, kicking away in the lane to win by 4 lengths. Patsy G and Me finished second, a nose in front of Deb's Wildcard. Windy Forecast, a Stormy Atlantic filly, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.25 under William Antongeorgi III.
Thetrailerguy outfinished Prime Engine to win Sunday's $50,000 Coca Cola Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings by 1/2 length. Senna made a late move from well back to take show money. Thetrailerguy, a Henny Hughes gelding, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.80 with Julien Couton up.