Are You Kidding Me wins Sunday's Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine (Woodbine photo)
Sheer Drama won the Delaware Handicap on the East Coast and Gabriel Charles took the Eddie Read Handicap out west, highlighting weekend racing action.
Tiz Shae D showed some promise in winning the Indiana Derby while Covert Love repaid her owners for supplementing her to the Irish Oaks.
And, in a real rarity, the secondary feature on Del Mar's Saturday card and two other races came off the grass because of substantial rain, resulting in a flurry of scratches. Really? Rain at Del Mar? It was the first non-fast track since 1991. A lightning strike near the stable area turned a palm tree into a tiki torch. The rain continued Sunday with the main track turning sloppy and the turf course rated "good." But no permanent harm was done and the beat ... and the meet ... goes on.
Sheer Drama tracked pacesetting Frivolous into the stretch in Saturday's $750,000, Grade I Delaware Handicap, eased by and went on to win by 2 lengths over that foe. The result reversed the order of finish from their last start, the Grade II Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs last month. America rallied late to get show money Saturday with the favorite, Rosalind, finishing fifth. Sheer Drama, a 5-year-old daughter of Burning Roma, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:01.58 with Joe Bravo up. She has missed the exacta only once in her last nine starts -- that on the all-weather surface at Presque Isle Downs. "It is a Grade I and a really big deal," said winning trainer David Fawkes. "She came into this race great and I loved her sitting second. Joe and I had talked about it the race before and I did not think she was going to make the lead. It could not have worked out better. Everything played out perfect. Nobody was closing and I knew our filly had the other one at the head of the lane. But I got to give Frivolous credit, because she battled all the way to the wire and made us run."
High Dollar Woman led all the way to a 1-length upset victory in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand. Sweetgrass was second and the favorite, Oceanwave, rallied late and finished third. High Dollar Woman, a Super Saver filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:43.49 with Joe Rocco Jr. up, scoring her third victory from seven starts.
Gabriel Charles emerged from well back in the field entering the stretch run in Saturday's $400,000, Grade I Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar and kicked away to a 3 3/4-lengths victory. Twentytwentyvision was second with Finnegan's Wake third. The favorite, Midnight Storm, faded to finish fifth. Gabriel Charles, a 5-year-old son of Street Hero, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.13 through showery weather and over good turf with Mike Smith in the irons. The Jeff Mullins trainee won the Grade II Del Mar Derby last September and was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade III American Stakes at Santa Anita. Mullins said his challenge with the horse has been keeping him on the track. "How many horses bow a tendon and come back and win a Group I?" he asked. "We took our time with him and that was the key. We knew he had this caliber of talent. It was a matter of keeping him healthy. We were worried about the turf course after the rain but Mike said the course was great." Smith quipped, "I don't think it rained on the turf course. Only on the main track."
Are You Kidding Me bided his time in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian), Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine, bid to the lead in the stretch and held off Golden Sabre at the end by 1/2 length. Za Approval finished third. Are You Kidding Me, a 5-year-old son of Run Away and Hide, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.69 with Alan Garcia in the irons. He was coming off an easy win in the Eclipse Stakes over the Woodbine all-weather course. "I was very confident," said Garcia. "He'd been training super in the morning, working very great. I only needed at trip. He did spectacular today. He broke good, and I saw two horses go to the lead. I took my time because I knew he was going to come with a big run, and he did."
Syntax came running late to take Saturday's $200,000 Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park by 1/2 length over Money Multiplier. Tiz My Valentine was third and the favorite, Chief Kitten, never fired a lick and finished last of seven. Syntax, an Irish-bred colt by Haatef, ran 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:49.77 for jockey Junior Alvarado. Syntax, trained by Bill Mott, now has three wins from his last four starts. Money Multiplier, a Lookin at Lucky colt trained by Chad Brown, was making his first start on turf and bears watching.
Filly & Mare Turf
Prize Exhibit rallied from sixth and last to win Sunday's $200,000, Grade II San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar, beating Sunset Glow by 1 1/2 lengths. Paulina's Love finished third. Prize Exhibit, a British-bred daughter of Showcasing, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:36.05 with Santiago Gomez in the irons. Prize Exhibit was coming off an upset win three weeks ago in the Senorita Stakes at Santa Anita. Trainer Jim Cassidy lamented about his travails training the filly. "You have no idea how tough this filly is to train," he said. "She doesn't care. One work she started at the five-eighths pole, pulled up at the half, jogged to the three-eighths, galloped a little bit to the quarter pole, then took off and went all the way back to the five-eighths ... The Oaks is next."
Tiz Shea D shadowed pacesetting Mr. Z in Saturday's $500,000, Grade II Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand, went by at the quarter pole despite being floated very wide and won by 1 1/4 lengths over that foe. The favorite, Divining Rod, finished third, a head farther back. Tiz Shea D, a Tiznow colt out of the A.P. Indy mare Ender's Sister, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:43.02 with Jose Lezcano in the irons for trainer Bill Mott. The colt won at first asking in February at Parx Racing but had not been victorious since. He did, however, finish second to El Kabeir in the Grade III Gotham, run over a muddy track at Aqueduct. "He's been improving race by race," Mott assistant Kenny McCarthy told The Blood-Horse. "Looking at the (past performances), Bill said it didn't look like there was a lot of speed in here, and our horse had shown some speed, so we told Jose, 'Go ahead and let him be happy near the front.'
Midnight Cello was shuffled back at the start in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Hanshin Cup at Arlington Park but quickly worked his way to the lead and won easily, by 5 1/2 lengths over Mister Marti Gras, who was making his second start in as many weeks. The favorite, Hogy, got home third. Midnight Cello, a 5-year-old gelding by Midnight Lute, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:34.83 with Florent Geroux in the irons. "I had a great trip," Geroux said. "My horse bobbled a little bit in the gate but I was able to weave my way through and made the lead quite comfortably. From that point when I asked him to go while turning for home he responded very well."
Manipulated raced to an impressive, off-the-pace victory in his first career start in Saturday's $125,000 Rockville Centre Stakes for New York-breds. With Luis Saez in the irons, the Malibu Moon colt relaxed off the pace, came five-wide into the lane and won by 4 lengths over Lucky Lurie. Dr. Shane was third. Manipulated got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.67.
Stormation set a brisk pace in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows and none of his seven rivals could muster a challenge in the lane. At the wire, the margin was 1 length, with No Holds Barred and Wildly Divine filling out the trifecta slots. Stormation, a Stormy Atlantic colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.29 with Jorge Carreno in the irons.
Wonderment prompted the early pace in Sunday's $125,000 Lynbrook Stakes for state-bred juvenile fillies at Belmont Park, then asserted herself, jetting off to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Young Anna Lee was second and the favored entry of Bag of Tricks and Preying Mantis finished third and fourth. Wonderment, a daughter of Cosmonaut, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.47 with Javier Castellano up.
Who's Smokin took over on the turn in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Gold Lassie at Prairie Meadows and held off Cake Baby to win by 1 length. Native Princess put in a late bid to get show money, 1 3/4 length farther in arrears. Who's Smokin, a Smoke Glacken filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:06.00 with Alex Canchari up.
Covert Love found the most in the late going in Saturday's Group 1 Irish Oaks at the Curragh, reeling in pacesetting Together Forever and finally shaking loose from Jack Naylor to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Curvy, the favorite, was along for third. Covert Love, an Azamour filly, ran 1 1/2 miles on good turf in 2:30.38 under Pat Smullen. It was the fourth straight win for Covert Love and the first Group 1 trophy for her trainer, Hugo Palmer. Palmer noted the Oaks was only the fifth career start for Covert Love, adding, "Her biggest days, if they can get any bigger than this, are ahead of her." Because of her sudden emergence this season, she was not entered for most of the big races and needed a supplement of 40,000 pounds sterling for the Oaks. "Every penny she'd won, we spent on coming here," Palmer told Racing Post. The owning syndicate would have to put up supplements for most of the other potential targets, too.
Lathom came running down the middle of the course to beat 21 rivals in Saturday's rich Weatherby's Super Sprint for 2-year-olds at Newbury. The Compton Place colt reported home a neck in front of Mr Lupton, a stablemate in Richard Fahey's barn. Field of Vision was third and Excessable, the favorite, faded late to finish fourth. Lathom scored his second career win in a race that has a history of turning out valuable sprinters. Fahey saddled Peniaphobia to win the 2013 edition and had eight of Saturday's starters in his care.
Back in North America:
Ready for Romance showed the way in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ontario Damsel Stakes for 3-year-old, Ontario-bred fillies, then held on to win by a head over the odds-on favorite, Season Ticket. Green Doctor was third. Ready for Romance, a More Than Ready filly, toured 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.73 while toting Eurico Da Silva.
Her Majesty's Flag edged to the front in the stretch run in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Duchess Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by 3/4 length over Roaming. The odds-on favorite, Pohdi Pohdi, was third. Her Majesty's Flag, a daughter of Midshipman, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.91 with Omar Moreno up.
Heaven's Runway sat behind a fast pace set by Fast Anna in Saturday's $50,000 Hockessin Stakes, got by that one late and outfinished Bourbon Courage, winning by 3/4 length. Fast Anna held third with Purple Egg completing the order of finish in the scratch-plagued race. Heaven's Runway, a 5-year-old son of Run Away and Hide, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.19 with Trevor McCarthy up.
Ain't Got Time was quickly on the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Carl Hanford Memorial and didn't look back, winning by 3/4 length over the odds-on favorite, Normandy Invasion. Micromanage and Decisive Moment completed the order of finish amid yet another flurry of scratches. Ain't Got Time, a 4-year-old Roman Ruler colt, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in a quick 1:39.59 under Scott Spieth.
Saratoga Snacks vied for the lead throughout Saturday's $100,000 Saginaw Stakes for New York-breds, was headed twice but finally edged clear to win by 3/4 length over the late-closing Empire Dreams. Gridley Here was third. Saratoga Snacks, a 6-year-old Tale of the Cat ridgling, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.98 with John Velazquez in the irons.
Soul Driver drove from last of 11 to challenge pacesetter Forest Blue with a sixteenth to run in Thursday's $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds and battled to the wire before winning by a nose. It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Royal Albert Hall in third in the traditional opening-day feature. Soul Driver, a Street Boss colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.86 with Mike Smith riding.
Gas Total outfinished My Monet in Saturday's $80,000, off-the-turf Osunitas Stakes, a restricted event for fillies and mares. Theater Star was another 2 lengths back in third. Gas Total, a 6-year-old, Brazilian-bred mare by Sulamani, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good main track in 1:46.68 with Flavien Pratt up. There were seven "off the turf" scratches.
Antonia Autumn rallied from last of 10 to win Saturday's $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff by 2 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Kitten's Dumplings. Annulment finished third. Antonia Autumn, a 6-year-old Bernstein mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:45.47 with Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons. It was her first win outside the optional claiming ranks.
Glenard put in a stout rally to take Saturday's $100,000 J. Kenneth Self Shelby County Boys and Girls Club Stakes by 1 length from Thatcher Street. The early leader, Scotland Forever, held on for third. Glenard, a 5-year-old, British-bred gelding by Arch, ran 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:45.97 with Alex Cintron up. It was his second win in four starts since immigrating from England.
Cabana had to turn back a pair of challenges before emerging victorious by a neck over Call Pat in Saturday's $100,000 Mari Hulman George Stakes for fillies and mares. Sweet N Wicked finished third in the 1 1/16-miles event, run in 1:43.98 over a sloppy, sealed track. Luis Quinonez rode the winner, a 4-year-old Illinois-bred daughter of Flatter.
Ulanbator was always close to the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, seized the advantage in the stretch and scored by a nose over late-running Geothermal. Class Leader also was gaining at the end but could do no better than third. Ulanbator, a 4-year-old colt by Offlee Wild, got 1 mile and 70 yards on a sloppy track in 1:41.01 with Julien Leparoux in the irons.
Higher Logic came from last of nine to win Thursday's $85,000 Shelby County Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/4 length over Hay Little Bit. Joyous Lady was third. Higher Logic, a 5-year-old mare by High Fly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.37 with Dylan Davis up.
Son of a Nut dueled to the lead in deep stretch in Thursday's $85,000 William Henry Harrison Stakes and edged clear, winning by 1 3/4 lengths from Grandpa Grumpy. The odds-on favorite, Success Is Racing, finished third. Son of a Nut, a 3-year-old son of Unbridled Express, got 6 furlongs in 1:09.49, also with Davis riding.
Richies Sweetheart had to battle for the lead in Friday's $75,000 Brandywine Stakes for fillies and mares, got clear and then just survived the late run of Anusara to win by 1/2 length. Knit One Purr Two finished third. Richies Sweetheart, a 4-year-old, Illinois-bred filly by Bring the Heat, ran 5 furlongs on yielding turf in 58.71 seconds with E.T. Baird riding.
Tiger Ride took command late in Friday's $100,000, off-the-turf Ta Wee Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, drawing off two win by 5 lengths over Rachel's Ready. Flying Tipat was up late to get show money. Tiger Ride, a Candy Ride filly, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:42.78 with Alex Cintron in the irons.
Fusaichi Red started well back in Sunday's $70,000 Miss Woodford Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, charged up four-wide turning for home and got there first by 3 3/4 lengths over Coco's Wildcat. The favorite, Spark, finished third. Fusaichi Red, a Fusaichi Pegasus filly, flew 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:10.22 with Orlando Bocachica up.
Nona's Boy set a nice clip in Saturday's $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds and drew clear through the lane, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over Dontbetwithbruno. Black Martino finished third. Nona's Boy, a Distorted Humor colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.11 with Christopher DeCarlo up.
Jac's Fact took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 George Lewis Memorial for Ohio-breds and went on to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Deniro's Saint. Startin Something was third. Jac's Fact, a 4-year-old Kentucky Dane colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:53.64 for jockey Megan Fadlovich.
El Huerfano finished with a rush to upset Saturday's $65,000 Golden Bear Stakes for 3-year-olds, winning by 3/4 length over Holdthismiss and another 1/2 length from the favorite, Mr. Jay D. El Huerfano, a Tannersmyman colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.87 with Pedro Terrero in the irons.
Smile Again Theta gave her backers plenty to smile about in Friday's $60,000 (Canadian) Mademoiselle Handicap for fillies and mares, winning off by 19 1/4 lengths. Holiday Babe beat the other four with Sollie Go Nee Nee third and the odds-on favorite, Rock and Glory, fading to finish fourth. Smile Again Theta, an 8-year-old Smile Again mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:44.71 under Tony Maragh.
Quality Lane closed smartly down the lane to take Friday's $50,000 (Canadian) Northlands Oaks by 1 3/4 lengths over Star Lady. Wilko's Quiet Girl came from far back to finish third. Quality Lane, a Quality Road filly, ran 1 mile on a good track in 1:40.19 with Rafael Zenteno Jr. at the controls.
Blue Dancer waltzed out to an early lead in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Count Latham Handicap for 3-year-olds and said good bye, winning off by 8 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite, Purple Heaven was best of the rest, 2 lengths ahead of Aztec Key. Blue Dancer, a Bluegrass Cat gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:44.15 with Rico Walcott riding.
For Cash stalked the pacesetting favorite, Killin Me Smalls, in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Fred Jones Handicap, eased by that rival and got home first by 1 length. Killin Me Smalls held second, 6 1/2 lengths better than Deadly Truth. For Cash, a 5-year-old Stephen Got Even gelding, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.30, also with Walcott riding.
Silver Sashay surged to the lead on the stretch turn in Saturday's $60,000 Bougainvillea Handicap for fillies and mares and held on to win by 1 length over Celebrity Star. Zamquick ran well late to get up for third. Silver Sashay, a 5-year-old daughter of Eurosilver, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.58 seconds with Eduardo Nunez in the irons.
Bagg O'Day stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes, took the lead late and won by 1 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Rise Up. Evan's Calling finished third. Bagg O'Day, a 4-year-old gelding by Five Star Day, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in track-record time of 1:13.74 with Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons.
Belle Hill was along in time to win Saturday's $50,000 Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by 1 length from pacesetter Ethan's Baby. Suva Harbor chased the lead and held third, a nose farther back. Belle Hill, a Sky Mesa filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.14 under Leslie Mawing.
Barkley rallied by Gold Rush Dancer late to take Sunday's $50,000 Emerald Express Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings by 1/2 length. Wando Cat finished third. Barkley, a Munnings colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.04 with Javier Matias up.
Hold for More held up only briefly at the start of Sunday's $55,000 MTA Stallion Auction Laddie, then went on about his business, winning by 7 1/4 lengths. Plenty of Sun was best of the rest, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Bold Entry. Hold for More, a 3-year-old Hold Me Back gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:19.24 for jockey Dean Butler.