UPI Horse Racing Roundup

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Sun Jewellery, with Ryan Moore up, reaches for the wire in Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup at Sha Tin. (HKJC Photo)
Sun Jewellery, with Ryan Moore up, reaches for the wire in Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup at Sha Tin. (HKJC Photo)

A minor upset on the Kentucky Derby trail and a 74-1 shocker on the road to the Kentucky Oaks highlighted U.S. weekend racing action.

Internationally, Chautauqua was an electrifying winner in Australia and could challenge for the Global Sprint Challenge Prize this year. Sun Jewellery won a thriller in Hong Kong and could make history there next month. A New York-bred won Japan's first Grade I event of the year in course-record time.


And, a premier American broadcasting outlet will dip its toe into international waters next month. Details on that tidbit in "News and Notes," below.

But first, these words ...

The Road to the Roses

Gun Runner, making his first start as a 3-year-old, took full advantage of the long Fair Grounds stretch in Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Veterans Ford Risen Star Stakes. With jockey Florent Geroux capping off a banner day, the Candy Ride colt emerged from a pace-stalking trip to take a 1-length lead at mid-stretch. He then held on gamely to win by 1/2 length over Forevamo. Mo Tom rallied stoutly from last of 11 to finish third despite being checked behind a fading rival. The early leader, Candy My Boy, held on for fourth. Gun Runner and Candy My Boy are both by Candy Ride. Forevermo and Mo Tom are both by Uncle Mo. Gun Runner, making his first start as a 3-year-old, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.94. At 2, he won his first two starts, then finished a close fourth behind Airoforce, Mor Spirit and Mo Tom in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club in the Churchill Downs slop. Airoforce, the favorite in the Risen Star, was never in contention and beat only one rival Saturday, likely exiting the Road to the Roses. "He's a very nice horse," trainer Steve Asmussen said of Gun Runner. "We're very lucky to have him. I thought Florent gave him a beautiful trip with how the track was playing. He's shown talent the whole time and it's definitely good to see him in the winner's circle in a race like this." Owner Ron Winchell said he expects Gun Runner to move along to the Louisiana Derby -- and beyond. "That's the dream, right? The Kentucky Derby," Winchell said. "He's been highly anticipated and a quality horse." Julien Leparoux, who rode Airoforce, said, "I don't know. He was traveling good, and then he put his head up and didn't pick it up." Trainer Mark Casse said Sunday the colt returned in good shape but that the Kentucky Derby is "unlikely" at this point.


Shogood was too good for nine rivals in Saturday's $50,000 WEBN Stakes over the Turfway Park all-weather course, a prep for the Spiral Stakes later in the meeting. The Illinois-bred Nobiz Like Shobiz colt, with Chris Emigh up, went quickly to the front and wasn't seriously challenged, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Blue Wings. Surgical Strike was a head farther back in third and the favorite, Banree, finished a dull sixth. Shogood finished 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.63. He had two wins last summer on the Arlington Park all-weather, including the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity, but showed little against stakes rivals on the dirt at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn. "I wanted to see what I just saw," said winning trainer Scott Becker. "He had some trouble in his last couple races, and I think this surface is more kind to him." Still, Becker said distance issues may prevent Shogood from progressing down the Turfway Triple Crown road.

Nightly News stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby in Arizona, led turning for home and turned back a challenge before drawing off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Gunfire applied the pressure and held on for second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Arizona Moon. Nightly News, a Misremembered gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.86 for jockey David Lopez.


Oaks preps

As the field turned for home in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds, Venus Valentine literally was out of the picture -- so far back that the simulcast signal did not include her. But then the golden rail opened up and jockey Corey Lanerie took advantage of one of the nation's longest stretches to guide the Congrats filly by the leaders to a 1-length victory -- at odds of 74-1. Midnight On Oconee was second, Shaken finished third and Royal Obsession was fourth. The odds-on favorite, Stageplay, had every chance at mid-stretch but faded badly in the final furlong, finishing fifth. Venus Valentine finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.24. Trainer Tom Amoss said the filly's string of three straight losses had to do with some physical problems, now cleared up. "We thought she had a real chance," he said. "But I guess, looking at it now, I'm as surprised as anybody." Lanerie noted his mount was bucking an apparent track bias in addition to everything else. "It looked like speed all day. But she came running home," he said.


Off the Tracks was bumped at the start of Sunday's $65,000 Margate Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park but got right back on track and went on to post a 4 1/4-lengths victory. Sugar Cone was second and Daddy's Great Bay third. The favorite, Tap to It, was the other party in the early bumping and finished fifth. Off the Tracks, a Curlin filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.28 for jockey Tyler Gaffalione. It was her first start since winning the Grade III Schuylerville at Saratoga last summer and trainer Roderick Rodriguez said she was only about 70 percent fit. He said he hopes to get the undefeated filly to the Florida Oaks and then on to the Kentucky Oaks.


Dubai (By Richard Gross)

With the skies cleared of an unusual Wednesday rain and hailstorm, fast dirt and good turf tracks allowed full fields to pursue a Thursday night of tight finishes and mixed results for trainers intent on aiming their charges to World Cup day, now fewer than five weeks away.

The featured Dubai Millennium Stakes over 1 1/4 miles of turf went to hometown Godolphin and Ireland's Tryster. The 5-year-old Shamardal gelding was looking a trickster until William Buick hit the gas pedal in the stretch for a harder-than-it-looked 2 3/4-lengths, last-to-first win over Saeed bin Suroor's hope, Haafaguinea, who in turn was a neck better than Doug Watson-trained Meadow Creek. Sanshaawes and Belgian Bill left some hope for their saddlers, Mike de Kock and George Baker, each a mere neck farther back.


An all-weather surface star in Europe with a perfect five wins on Polytrack and one on Tapeta in an 8-wins-in-11-starts career, there was some doubt Tryster could make a successful conversion to turf. "On paper, he had to be very competitive in this race," explained pleased trainer Charlie Appleby. "The question asked by a lot of people was whether he could show on the turf what he has on the all-weather and he has clearly done that tonight." Buick, driving another featured-race winner in a fine Carnival season, agreed. "You'd have to be impressed by his turn of foot. We have seen it before on Polytrack before but it is nice to see it on turf." It was the fourth consecutive win for Godolphin in this race and the first for Appleby, who may next aim his new grass star for the Dubai Turf on World Cup day, where he would meet reigning champion Solow and attempt to break the French Eurostar's streak of seven graded stakes wins, including five consecutive Group 1's.

The race of the evening, though, on a card co-sponsored by Range Rover and Jaguar went to the Rover as Hard Spun gelding Maftool carved through a narrow path to finish a half-length better than Cool Cowboy with Prayer For Relief getting none a neck back. At the finish, the first six were within a neck or a head with a fifth-place dead heat after 1 mile on the dirt in the Range Rover Sport.


That followed a 3/4-mile turf sprint with Fils Anges 3/4 length better than Kanaf with Mastermind smarter by a neck in third and Dark Emerald a mere 1/2 length darker in fourth. The win was a first at Meydan for Bahraini trainer Ali Jan in a successful return to Dubai for jockey Mickael Barzalona.

Sir Maximilian read the riot act to Roicead by 1 1/4-lengths in the appropriately named Jaguar 1,000-meter turf sprint with Roi de Vitesse a neck back and a neck more royal than fourth-place Caspian Prince in a 14-horse field. The 1 1/8-miles Land Rover Discovery dirt handicap also loaded 14 into the gates with Faulkner writing the script for a neck win over 11-year-old veteran Tiz Now Tiz Then with Let's Go not going as well 7 3/4 lengths back in third. "We will miss Super Saturday and perhaps look at the Godolphin Mile (on World Cup day)," indicated trainer Doug Watson of his plan for Faulkner's next run.

The evening's biggest crowd gathered in the gates for the closer as 16 horses started in the Jaguar 1 1/4-mile turf handicap with the trophy carried off in a 1-2-3-4 Godolphin finish by Carry On Deryck with Udododontu a half-length back, Secret Brief a brief 1 1/4 lengths back in third and Flash Fire a neck back in fourth.


While everyone awaits the Dubai debut of California Chrome Thursday, other invaders are hitting the Gulf shore. Keen Ice arrived in Dubai to begin training up to an expected World Cup prep in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Super Saturday March 5. With only two wins in 14 career starts, the 4-year-old Dale Romans-trained son of Curlin could still claim quite a career if he could snare a World Cup after being the only horse to best American Pharoah during the latter's Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic-winning 2015 season, that in the Travers at Saratoga last August. Todd Pletcher-trained Mshawish is next off the plane from the U.S. with the connections of New York-bred Breeders' Cup Classic runnerup Effinex still pondering a World Cup run.

On Friday at Jebel Ali, Haatheq was the narrowest of winners in the Jebel Ali Stakes, sponsored by Shadwell. With Dane O'Neill up, the vintage warrior defeated Farrier by a nose and Sefri by another neck at the end of 1,950 meters on the dirt. The three duked it out over the final 200 meters with Haatheq getting the nod on the outside of his rivals while finishing in 1:57.93. "He is a 9-year-old now but what a star," said winning trainer Dane O'Neill. "He just does not give up and that has gained the day for us here. I knew he would dig deep for me and he really has needed to." The son of Seeking the Gold has been a frequent visitor to the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on World Cup night, finishing fifth behind winner African Story in 2012, second to Soft Falling Rain in 2013, 10th in Variety Club's year of 2014 and fourth last year as Tamarkuz took home the lion's share.



Chautauqua was just up in a last, desperate lunge to get the best of Terravista and Japonisme in a tight finish to Saturday's Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington -- the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. Chautauqua, a 5-year-old gelding by Encosta de Lago, lagged well behind in the four-horse group that took the grandstand side of the course while two others went inside. With less than 100 meters to go, it still seemed impossible that Chautauqua could get the job done and it took a photo to show that he had, finishing 1,000 meters in 57.02 seconds with Dwayne Dunn riding. He was making his first start since finishing second behind Delectation in the Group 1 Darley Classic last November. Delectation could manage only a fifth-place finish in Saturday's run. "I hope the crowd were excited because, from my seat, it wasn't real pleasant for a while," Dunn said. Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said Chautauqua has a few more targets in Australia before he will consider chasing the US$1 million bonus on offer in the Global Sprint Challenge. But if all goes well, England and Hong Kong might catch a glimpse of the big grey later in the year.



Moanin raced in mid-pack and outside rivals in Sunday's Grade I February Stakes on the Tokyo Racecourse dirt, hit the lead with a quick move about 150 meters from home and held on to win 1 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Nonkono Yume, who was coming like a shot at the end. Copano Rickey, winner of the 2014 and 2015 February Stakes, could do no better than seventh in a tightly bunched finish. Moanin, a 4-year-old, New York-bred colt by Henny Hughes, finished in record time of 1:34.0 despite an official course rating of muddy. "I was aware of his strength and had every confidence in him so I'm truly happy we were able to win," said jockey Mirco Demuro in Japanese. "The trainer warned me of his bad breaks but he actually made a good spurt and after we were positioned well, I knew the title was ours. I'm glad that he stretched well in spite of losing concentration a bit after taking the lead rather early in the straight."

Hong Kong

Sun Jewellery put himself in position to make some history in next month's BMW Hong Kong Derby by eking out the narrowest of wins in Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup. Already the winner of the Hong Kong Classic Mile, Sun Jewellery would be the first horse ever to sweep the three-race series for 4-year-olds if he can extend his range from Sunday's 1,800 meters to the 2,000 meters of the Derby. All the races are HK Group 1 affairs. Under Ryan Moore, Sun Jewellery certainly wasn't giving up at the end of the Classic Cup. After rallying to the lead at 100 meters out, the Snitzel gelding held gamely as Werther, for the second race in a row, fell just short of catching him. The margin was a head with Blizzard and Eastern Express only a nose farther in arrears, dead-heated for third and fourth. "Sun Jewellery's a class horse and class usually tells over a distance," Moore said. "He's probably just better than them. He's got a class edge and that allows horses to go further than you'd think they would." Trainer John Size said Sun Jewellery will have the final about any limitations. "The distance doubt is always there," Size said. "It's something I don't think about. We just roll onto the next race and hope he gets it. ... He's manageable in a race and he's determined in a finish, so all those attributes you'd love to have in any horse."


England (well, Ireland)

Roman Impero and Mandatario may sound like members of the ancient Senate but, in fact, they're qualifiers for the All-Weather Championship Final Day on Good Friday at Lingfield after taking down their respective heats on Friday at Dundalk in Ireland.

Roman Impero, 3, nailed down a slot in the 3-year-old mile next month with a decisive victory in the 32Red Casino Race, a 7-furlongs qualifier on the Dundalk Polytrack. The Michael Halford trainee, by Holy Roman Emporer, was held up in third position, came to the lead in the final furlong and won with ease. "There should be more to come as he is a lazy sort at home," Halford said. "It was a good performance tonight and a mile will be no problem. ... If we are happy with how he comes out of this race, then I think we are likely to go for the Good Friday final."

Mandatario, trained by Jim Bolger and ridden by Kevin Manning, took the honors in the 2-miles Fast-Track Qualifier and now is eligible for the All-Weather Marathon on Good Friday. "Mandatario got the trip very well today," Manning said. "He settled and I always thought he would have too much pace for these opponents. When you step up to 2 miles, there is always a question mark. But I thought he would stay the trip. When I asked him to pick up, he did it in two strides."


Turfway Park

No, the northern Kentucky track isn't exactly "international" -- at least on most evenings. But it certainly was on Friday night as the Wesley Ward-trained Acapulco had a nice paid workout over the all-weather track in the featured allowance/optional claiming event. Irad Ortiz Jr. visited from New York to take the mount. Acapulco, a Scat Daddy filly making her first start as a 3-year-old, tracked a good clip early in the 6-furlongs affair, swung wide to avoid any entanglements and got by to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Sweet Ruth E. and Sweet Angel Roan can say they shared a trifecta with the Coolmore filly, who finished in 1:11.37. Acapulco won the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and finished second in the Group 1 Nunthorpe at York in her final start as a juvenile. Ward reportedly plans to give her another race at Keeneland before returning to Ascot in June.

{i:Back in the US of A: } Classic

Majestic Harbor took the lead heading for the clubhouse turn in Saturday's $125,000, Grade III Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds, showed the way and held off Eagle in the final strides for a narrow victory. Point Piper was third and the 3-5 favorite, International Star, suffered his first defeat in five Fair Grounds starts, finishing last of four. Majestic Harbor, an 8-year-old son of Rockport Harbor, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.86. "I figured I was the only speed in the race," said winning rider Corey Lanerie. "I just let him do his thing." Majestic Harbor finished fifth behind International Star, Eagle and others, in the Louisiana Handicap last month but had a terrible trip in that race. Trainer Paul McGee said he decided to wheel him back because he had been working well in the interim.



Barbados raced behind the leaders in Saturday's $100,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, came three-wide into the lane and went on to win by 1 length over Normandy Crossing. Street Spice was third and Fast Flying Rumor finished fourth. Barbados, a 4-year-old Speightstown colt, covered 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.96 with Victor Lebron in the irons. Barbados finished second in the Grade III Phoenix last fall at Keeneland, then got home 12th behind Runhappy in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Last year, he won the Grade III Hutcheson at Gulfstream going 7 furlongs but then was unable to find the winner's circle the remainder of the season. "He's such a classy horse," said winning trainer Michael Tomlinson. "We're looking for big things from him this year." Tomlinson attributed the poor showing in the Breeders' Cup to a foot problem that required Barbados be fitted with a bar shoe. "He didn't like the bar shoe at all and put out no effort," he trainer said.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Haveyougoneaway pulled away from stubborn rival Thirteen Arrows in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes at Oaklawn Park and went on to win by 2 3/4 length over that foe. Thoughtless rallied from well back to get show money. Haveyougoneaway, a 5-year-old Congrats mare, got 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.28 with Jareth Loveberry in the irons. "I was hoping for a lot of speed," Loveberry said. "That's what it looked like in the program, so I sat just behind it." Haveyougoneaway made it two straight wins at the Hot Springs meeting, following a victory last month in the American Beauty Stakes.



Chocolate Ride led them all the way in Saturday's $125,000, Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap and held off Roman Approval at the end by 3/4 length. Departing shadowed the winner most of the way but settled for third, another 1 length back. Chocolate Ride, a 6-year-old Candy Ride gelding, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.31 under Florent Geroux. He now has six wins from his last seven starts, including back-to-back victories in this event. He was claimed in November, 2014, for $40,000. "I had the best horse so I just tried to dictate the pace," Geroux said. "From there, he was super hard to catch." "I was a little surprised we got away as easy as he did early," said winning trainer Brad Cox. "But he's doing really, really well."

Filly & Mare Turf

Paulina's Love stalked the pace in Saturday's $200,000, Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita, moved to a daylight lead in the lane and held on to win by a neck over Stormy Lucy. Keri Belle was along to finish third. The favorite, Her Emmynency, was fourth. Paulina's Love, a 4-year-old Mizzen Mast filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.06 with Gary Stevens in the irons. "I've fallen in love with her," Stevens said. "I rode her with a lot of confidence, like she was the favorite. She minds, she lets me do what I want, whatever the pace scenario is. When she's done, I'd like to take her home and put her in my backyard."



Fair Grounds

Cinco Charlie was Numero Uno in Saturday's $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes, blasting out of the inside gate and riding the golden rail to a 2 3/4-lengths victory. Vigorous Titan was second, Officer Griffin was third and the favorite, Clearly Now, was never in contention after a tardy start and finished last. Cinco Charlie, a 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt, covered 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.39 after setting a sprightly pace under Florent Geroux. "He was super fast from the gate and from there, I just hung on," Geroux said.

Cash Control put a head in front of pacesetting Miz Money at the end of Saturday's $60,000 Daisey Devine Stakes for fillies and mares, winning by just that margin. Street of Gold finished third and the favorite, Notte d'Oro, settled for fourth. Cash Control, a 5-year-old Pioneerof the Nile mare, got about 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.12 under Shaun Bridgmohan.


Court Dancer led from the start in Sunday's $100,000 Broadway Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares and lasted, winning by a neck over Willet. Blithely was well back in third. Court Dancer, a 5-year-old War Chant mare, ran 6 furlongs on the fast inner track in 1:10.79 with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.


Good Luck Gus got by stablemate Royal Posse in the final jumps to win Sunday's $100,000 Haynesfield Stakes for New York-breds by a neck. Ostrolenka was third. Good Luck Gus, a 4-year-old Lookin at Lucky colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:43.76, also with Irad Ortiz Jr. up.

Clipthecouponannie dueled through 6 furlongs with Frosty Margarita in Saturday's $125,000 Franklin Square Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies, swapped the lead with that one and finally edged clear to win by 1/2 length. Wonderment and Red Atlantic completed the order of finish. Clipthecouponannie, an Uncle Mo filly, finished in 1:11.15 over the fast inner track with that same Irad Ortiz Jr. back from Kentucky to ride. Asked whether the filly could handle more distance, owner Mike Repole said, "We're going to find out in about four, five weeks because I think we're going to try her in the Gazelle and give it a shot. She's three-for-three now; she's a nice 3-year-old and I think we'll try to extend her long."

Gulfstream Park

Half the field failed to finish after a fall in Saturday's $75,000 Melody of Colors Stakes for 3-year-old fillies but the favorite, Cash Back, managed to avoid the trouble and won by 1 3/4 lengths over More Royalty. Dad's Kiddo was third. Cash Back, a Congrats filly, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 58.92 second under Jose Lezcano. She remains undefeated in three starts. The incident occurred at the top of the stretch as Brandy's Girl appeared to clip heels with More Royalty, who was leading. Brandy's Girl fell, tossing jockey Rafael Hernandez and Kandoo fell over her, throwing Joel Rosario. Hi Holiday swerved to avoid those rivals, losing rider Edgard Zayas, and Luis Saez pulled up My Dear Venezuela behind the mess. Hernandez suffered a broken collarbone and ribs and Rosario sustained a fractured wrist. Rosario's agent, Ron Anderson, said the jockey's helmet "split right in two so that helmet did its job and probably saved his life." Zayas and Saez were uninjured. Kandoo was euthanized.


{b:Tampa Bay Downs } You Bought Her took charge in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 Minaret Stakes for fillies and mares, drawing off to win by 4 1/4 lengths. No Fault of Mine finished second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of R Sassy Lass. You Bought Her, a 6-year-old Graeme Hall mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.02 with Brian Pedroza in the irons. {b: Sam Houston Race Park}

Thievery rallied three-wide around the turn in Saturday evening's $50,000 Two Altazano Stakes for Texas-bred 3-year-old fillies and outfinished pacesetting Indygo Rocket, winning by a neck. Easter Ellie finished third. Thievery, a Valid Expectations filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.16 under Iram Diego.

Bravura made all the going in Saturday's $50,000 Jim's Orbit Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings, repulsed a bid by Silver Doddge and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Silver Doddge held second with Jet Over flying in third. Bravura, an Early Flyer colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.59 with C.J. McMahon in the irons.

News and Notes:

You read it here first: Horse Racing Radio Network is going international. The Premier U.S. broadcast outlet and radio home for the Breeders' Cup and Triple Crown will be in Barbados the first Saturday in March to bring the Barbados Gold Cup to the world. It's the first overseas assignment for founder, president and anchor Mike Penna and analyst Jude Feld. But Feld knows Garrison Savannah Racecourse like the "backstretch of his hand". No problem, mon! Coverage will air on SiriusXM and on the HRRN website beginning at 3:00 EDT that afternoon.


Speaking of getting a late start on travel, Zenyatta's 3-year-old foal by Tapit, Ziconic, gave jockey Gary Stevens an unusual ride on Saturday at Santa Anita. Starting slowly and looking uninterested in his first-ever start, Ziconic was far, far back as the field turned for home. Stevens steered the colt to the outside and his genes appeared to kick in as he reeled in rival after rival, finally finishing third, beaten only 2 1/4 lengths. Trainer John Shirreffs said a two-turn maiden event is next up.

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