Blazing Speed (center, orange silks), narrowly edges Victory Magic and Werther in Sunday's Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. Photo by HKJC
There will be no Triple Crown this year but there will be a showdown between the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes -- perhaps the start of another of those storied rivalries that have marked thoroughbred racing down through the years.
Exaggerator, who had lost all four of his previous meetings with Nyquist, including the Kentucky Derby, turned the tables Saturday in the Preakness Stakes, running by his rival in the stretch to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Cherry Wine nosed out previously undefeated Nyquist for second.
Trainer Keith Desormeaux, feeding Exaggerator carrots and apples Sunday morning at his barn at Pimlico, said the Curlin colt will stick around "Old Hilltop" for as long as a week before shipping to Belmont Park to take on Nyquist again in the June 11 Belmont Stakes.
Cherry Wine also is expected to contest the 1 1/2-miles Belmont, as is the Japanese-owned Lani, who finished ninth in Louisville and fifth in Baltimore. There undoubtedly will be some newcomers as well.
Desormeaux, whose brother, Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux, rides Exaggerator, said he is looking forward to the rematch.
"It's fun. This is fun," he said Sunday. "There was no pressure on me yesterday. The pressure was on Nyquist to keep the record perfect."
And, he said, the longer Belmont should favor his colt.
"My horse is a little more skewed toward distance as far as pedigree is concerned," Desormeaux said. "He's Curlin. Curlin could run all day. He got beat a nose in the Belmont. Curlin is known in the industry as a classic-producing horse. He's out of a Vindication mare, who's by Seattle Slew. It's distance on top of distance. He should relish it."
Nyquist, possibly by contrast, is by freshman sire Uncle Mo, whose progeny have been winning stakes races all over the country. There were four Uncle Mo's in Saturday's 11-horse Preakness field. But, other than Nyquist's win at 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs, the youngsters have yet to be tested at a distance of ground in top company.
Nyquist's trainer, Doug O'Neill, said he's ready for Round 3 of the Triple Crown and Round 6 of the rivalry with Exaggerator. The original plan, he said, was "to try to point to the Triple Crown, all three races, and ideally win all three. But I thought he ran a real gutsy race yesterday and just wanted to make sure he looked good this morning before committing to going to the Belmont."
Nyquist did, in fact, look fine, O'Neill confirmed.
The rematch would be the first between Derby and Preakness winners since 2013, when Derby winner Orb and Preakness winner Oxbow finished second and third, behind Palace Malice. In 2011, Preakness winner Shackleford finished fifth and Derby victor Animal Kingdom was sixth with Ruler On Ice wearing the New York laurels.
We needn't mention Sunday Silence and Easy Goer -- or even Secretariat and Sham -- to get the juices flowing.
There was plenty more going on during the weekend. In a cornucopia of racing from coast to coast: Go Maggie Go led a 1-2 finish for trainer Dale Romans in the Black-Eyed Susan, Lady Shipman and Paulassilverlining led the female sprint contingent and Takeover Target won the Longines Dixie at Pimlico.
On the international front: The Derby crystal ball remained cloudy in England; the favorite won the Japanese Oaks in a rough stretch run; a thrilling finish and a return to glory graced Hong Kong's Sunday card; and the Durban July field got a shakeup in South Africa.
It must be noted that Sasha Risenhoover rode the winner in Friday's Mamie Eisenhower Stakes at Prairie Meadows.
The morning-line favorites, Stanford and Page McKenney, both scratched out of Friday's $300,000, Grade III Sagamore Spirit Pimlico Special, leaving Noble Bird to inherit the favorite's role at post time -- and the victory. The 5-year-old son of Birdstone left no doubt, either, leading from the early jumps and extending the advantage to win by 11 1/4 lengths. Idolo Portendo was best of the rest, 6 lengths ahead of Warrioroftheroses in an easy one for the placing judges. Noble Bird, with Julien Leparoux along for the ride, finished 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:55.18. Noble Bird won the Grade I Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs 11 months ago but suffered a hip injury and had been struggling ever since.
"Before his last start, I told a couple news people that I've been doing this for 37 years and he's one of the toughest horses I've ever trained," said conditioner Mark Casse. "After his last race, 'No, he's the toughest.'"
Second Summer took the lead heading for home in Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Californian Stakes at Santa Anita and held off the late charge of Hard Aces, winning by 1 length over that one. The favorite, Lieutenant Colonel, led early and finished third. Second Summer, a 4-year-old Summer Bird gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.29 with Mario Gutierrez in the irons. Winning trainer Peter Eurton now has a lot to look forward to.
"It could be a fun summer. The timing allows us a chance to let him come down for a second, but not much," Eurton said. "I've never had a colt that was this good, going long on dirt. I didn't realize that the Gold Cup was a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race."
Go Maggie Go bounced back nicely from her fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks with a hard-fought victory in Friday's $250,000, Grade II Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. After dueling with Kinsley Kisses though most of the race, Go Maggie Go finally got a bit of separation at mid-stretch and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths despite drifting out late. Ma Can Do It, at 50-1 odds, was up for second, a head in front of Kinsley Kisses. The favorite, Oaks runner-up Land Over Sea, was off a step slowly, endured some traffic problems and could only rally wide to finish sixth. Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia did not contest the Black-Eyed Susan. And division leader Songbird, who missed the Oaks after incurring a fever, is back on the worktab with a nice, 4-furlongs breeze Sunday at Santa Anita. Go Maggie Go, a Ghostzapper filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:51.81 with Luis Saez up. Dale Romans, who trains both Go Maggie Go and Ma Can Do It, said he was worried about the pace duel but not surprised at the outcome.
"I mean, Luis got off her in the Oaks and told me she might be the best filly he's ever ridden," Romans said, "I know she's the best I've ever had. She's doing things horses aren't supposed to do. It's only four starts in and she's won two Grade II's and fourth in the Kentucky Oaks. What more can you ask for?"
Land Over Sea's trainer Doug O'Neill said his filly was "the victim of a rough trip ... We'll live to fight another day."
Race sponsor Adena Springs problematically offered the winning filly a season to Ghostzapper.
The older set contested Friday's $150,000, Grade III Allaire DuPont Distaff at Old Hilltop with Ahh Chocolate rallying from a pace-stalking position to take the lead in the stretch, then holding off the late run of Theogony to win by 1/2 length. Joint Return added value to the trifecta after racing last most of the way. The favorite, Mei Ling, finished sixth. Ahh Chocolate, a 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.82 with Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons. Her first win of 2016 followed a pair of third-place finishes. "I was thrilled," said winning trainer Neil Howard. "She's such a nice filly. All of these races are so damned tough. It was an honest pace, she really dug in down the stretch."
Lady Shipman exuded class as she rallied outside the early leaders to win Saturday's $100,000 The Very One Stakes at Pimlico by 2 1/4 lengths. Joya Real and Exaggerated filled the trifecta slots but the race was clearly Lady Shipman's. She ran 5 furlongs on good turf in 57.85 seconds with Joel Rosario up for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Last year, the Midshipman filly had seven wins from 10 starts, winding up with a neck loss to Mongolian Saturday in the Breeders' Cup. After winning her opener as a 4-year-old, she finished seventh, beaten only 2 3/4 lengths, in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night at Meydan. After two months off, she easily won the License Fee Stakes at Belmont Park.
"She's a star, Lady Shipman," McLaughlin said. "She does everything right and just keeps winning." He said he ran her back Saturday because she was doing so well after returning from Dubai. Going forward, he said, "We really don't have a plan."
A few years ago, owner and trainer King Leatherbury tried unsuccessfully to raise money to supplement Ben's Cat to the Breeders' Cup. The Parker's Storm Cat gelding looked like a risky investment then. Now, at age 10, he incredibly is starting to look like a brighter proposition -- certainly a better bet than Ken Ramsey's plea for help to get Oscar Nominated into this year's Kentucky Derby. After Rocket Heat ran out of gas in the final furlong of Friday's $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico, it was Ben's Cat just up at the wire to win by a neck, trailed by Spring to the Sky. Rocket Heat, an easy winner of the Grade III Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs two weeks earlier, settled for third. Ben's Cat, scoring his fifth win in this event, finished 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.10 with Trevor McCarthy at the controls.
"He just keeps going," Leatherbury said. "They say too many thrills will kill you, but I can attest that that is not the case. I'd have been dead a long time ago if that were true. This is actually the horse that keeps me going, fortunately." He said he's making reservations for next year's renewal of the McKay.
Wild Dude overhauled pacesetter Subtle Indian in the late going of Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita and went on to win by 1 length over that foe. Cautious Giant finished third. Wild Dude, a 6-year-old horse by Wildcat Heir, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.10 with Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. He was second in the Grade III Los Angeles at Los Alamitos in his previous start and has been a consistent graded stakes performer for the past two seasons.
"We gave this horse a little time and he's been training really well," Hollendorfer said. "I thought he would run a heck of a race. I didn't know if the number one post would hurt him, but he got real lucky and got through, so that was what won the race for him."
Always Sunshine tracked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Sagamore Spirit Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico, then took charge in the stretch, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over All Star Red. Rockinn On Bye was third while well-fancied Salutos Amigos and Cinco Charlie finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Always Sunshine, a 4-year-old West Acre colt, obviously liked the rainy weather and muddy track, finishing 6 furlongs in 1:10.49 with Frankie Pennington aboard. He now has five wins from 11 starts but Saturday's was his first graded stakes win.
"I was very confident going in," said winning trainer Ned Allard. "I was really up for this horse's race. He's such a nice horse. He's turned into a monster. He's one of those horses that trains like a good horse, acts like a good horse, and now he has to go out and prove it. He's on his way to doing that."
Justin Squared ducked in at the start of Saturday's $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico, quickly recovered and showed the way. After opening a big lead in the lane, the Zensational colt held on to win by 2 lengths over Counterforce with Formal Summation ruining a lot of trifecta tickets at 45-1. With Martin Pedroza up, Justin Squared ran 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:11.41. The Bob Baffert-trained colt remains undefeated in three starts, the first two over fast tracks in California and Baffert said he is so speedy that Pedroza doesn't realize how fast he works.
"He's an extremely fast horse. We're just going to slowly try to get him to the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He's ridiculously fast," Baffert said.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Paulassilverlining ran to her notices in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Vagrancy Handicap for fillies and mares at Belmont Park, emerging from behind a pace duel to win by 3 1/4 lengths. West Coast Chick made the pressured lead and held on for second, 3/4 length to the good of Stormy Sky. Paulassilverlining, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:15.82 for jockey Jose Otiz. She won the Grade II Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct in her previous outing and has missed hitting the board only twice in 14 starts.
"Jose gave her a perfect ride," said winning trainer Michelle Nevin. "What more could we want? Each step she shows us more and more with her development. We're not sure where we're going to go next but she definitely showed us a lot today."
Lost Raven, previously a front-runner, broke next-last in Friday's $150,000 Grade III Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico, came wide for running room at the top of the lane and was up for a 3/4-length victory. One True Kiss also rallied from well back to take second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of the pacesetter, Quick Release. The favorite, R Girls a Charmer, faded to finish eighth. Lost Raven, an Uncle Mo filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.43 for jockey John Velazquez.
"I was a little concerned because she's never been that far back in her career," said winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "I knew that 22 and change (the early pace) at Pimlico is flying, so I was hoping the fractions were fast enough to allow her to come from behind."
Disco Chick danced away to an 8-lengths victory in Friday's $100,000 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico. Leading all the way, the 5-year-old Jump Start mare ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.33 with Trevor McCarthy up. Dallas Cowgirl was second and the prohibitive favorite, California invader Fantastic Smile, could do no better than third. Disco Chick posted her sixth straight exacta finish.
"I really didn't think they'd let me open up a few lengths," McCarthy said. "When they let her do that, no one's going to stop her."
Takeover Target came running down the middle of the track in the final furlong of Saturday's $250,000, Grade II Longines Dixie at Pimlico and the perfectly timed move netted a win. Ring Weekend and Grand Arch looked like finishing 1-2 before Takeover Target took over and they settled for second and third. El Kabeir, making his first turf start, led early but eventually beat only Za Approval. Takeover Target, a 4-year-old Harlan's Holiday colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.76 toting Joel Rosario. It was his first win since last October when he took the Grade III Hill Prince at Belmont Park. Rosario said his perfect timing was dictated a bit by circumstances.
"The horse in front of me started to stop and I had to take hold because there was another horse coming up outside of me," the rider said. "He got right back in stride, though. He is always close and I knew that he would be today."
Bullard's Alley sat comfortably off the leaders in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, bid for the lead three-wide entering the stretch and won off by 2 1/4 lengths. Johns Kitten rallied from last of six to get place money, 1/2 length ahead of Roman Approval. The favorite, Dynamic Sky, led briefly but retreated through the stretch run and beat only one rival. Bullard's Alley, a 4-year-old Flower Alley gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on good turf in 2:36.01 for jockey Francisco Torres. Assistant trainer Natalie Glyshaw said the original plan was to run only if the race came off the turf. Ultimately, she said, "It was a small field and you don't always get the chance to run against small fields on the turf, so we took the shot."
Filly & Mare Turf
Mizz Money pressured pacesetter Josdesanimaux through the early furlongs of Saturday's $150,000, Grade III Gallorette Handicap for fillies and mares at Pimlico, then put that one away only find a life-and-death battle with 75-1 shot Vielsalm in the final sixteenth. After looking at the photographic evidence, the stewards posted Mizz Money the winner by a head. Heath made a late run and just missed nipping Vielsalm for second. Nisharora broke a step slowly, raced inside and did not reach contention, finishing ninth.
"She was really relaxed early on," said winning rider Javier Castellano. "We were really going slow early. I liked the way she did it today. At the top of the stretch, she gained a little bit. When she saw the other horses coming, she took off again."
Mizz Money, a 4-year-old Mizzen Mast filly, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.93 over good turf. She was making her first start after a successful winter campaign in New Orleans that included a victory in the New Orleans Ladies in her last start.
Gone Away rallied from next-last of 14 to take Friday's $100,000 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico by a head over Family Meeting and another head from Wessex. The favorite, Spinamiss, was never involved and finished 11th. Gone Away, a Leroidesanimaux filly out of the Mecke mare Miss Tullamore Dew, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.68 with Florent Geroux up. It was her second win from five starts.
"It worked out great," Geroux said. "We let them go early and she relaxed early pretty good toward the rear. When it was time to go, she gave me a good kick."
Lightstream strolled out of the gate in Saturday's $100,000 Soaring Softly Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, settled near the rear of the field and came wide into the lane to pass them all and win by 1/2 length. Summer Reading and Welcoming were second and third. Lightstream, a Harlan's Holiday filly, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:20.54 with Eric Cancel in the irons. It was her first try on the grass and third win from as many starts. Trainer Brian Lynch said he's coveting the $1 million, Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 9.
"Hopefully, she qualified herself to get an invitation to that and it's certainly on the radar," he said. "I'll have to consult with my owners and, obviously, at this stage, she's eligible for a lot of conditions. We'll just take a deep breath and go from there with her."
Marengo Road returned for the first time to the surface where he broke his maiden and won Saturday's $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico by 1 1/4 lengths over Aquaphobia. Conquest Windycity was third. Marengo Road, a Quality Road colt, finished 1 mile on good going in 1:39.04 under Julian Pimentel. Since his first win at 1 mile on the grass at Laurel last fall, Marengo Road had won twice at the same distance on the main track, including the Miracle Wood Stakes in February.
"He runs well on all surfaces, although I may keep him on the grass after this performance," said winning trainer Mike Trombetta.
American Freedom had to battle for the lead thoughout Saturday's $100,000 LARC Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds, was headed by Voluntario in the stretch and fought back gamely to win by 1 length over that rival. Dazzling Gem was along for third. American Freedom, a Pulpit colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the muddy Pimlico main track in 1:44.85 with Florent Geroux in the irons.
Over the waters:
England and Ireland
With less than two weeks to go to the Investec Derby at Epsom, the picture remained cloudy after an upset win on Saturday at the Curragh in Ireland. Galileo Gold -- not a Derby candidate anyway -- was bidding for a Guineas double in the Group 1 Tattersall Irish 2,000 Guineas but had traffic issues from the inside stall and could only watch Awtaad zip away to steal the big prize. Meanwhile, Air Force Blue, once a top chance for the Derby, turned in his second straight clunker, beating only one rival while eased at the end. But the day was for Awtaad, his 83-year-old trainer, Kevin Prendergast, who last won the race four decades earlier, and jockey Chris Hayes, who admitted he "didn't sleep for a week," so excited was he about his chances. Awtaad, a Cape Cross colt, raced comfortably in mid-pack until Hayes sensed Frankie Dettori, aboard Galileo Gold, was in a jam along the rail. At that point, with nearly 2 furlongs to run, Hayes sent Awtaad to the lead and he won by 2 1/2 lengths over the English 2,000 Guineas champ. Blue De Vega was third. It was the fourth straight win for Awtaad but his first start, never mind victory, in a group event. It also was his first try beyond 7 furlongs as he covered 1 mile on yielding to soft going in a glacial 1:45.26. He is one of 22 going forward for the 1 1/2-miles Derby on June 4 but his connections said on Sunday they're much more likely to target the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot at 1 mile.
Sunday at the Curragh delivered another upset as Jet Setting narrowly defeated Minding in the Group 1 Irish 1,000 Guineas as the latter tried for her own Guineas double. Jet Setting, a Fast Company filly trained by Adrian Keatley, won by a head with binoculars required to find the remainder of the field. Minding scored her third straight victory in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in her previous start.
Supplemental entries for the Derby -- at a cost of 75,000 pounds sterling -- are due May 30 and several are expected, including Dante Stakes winner Wings of Desire; French Group 2 winner Cloth of Stars; Linguistic, who finished second Saturday in a listed race at Newmarket; and Lingfield Derby Trial winner Humphrey Bogart.
Meanwhile, on Sunday at the Curragh in Ireland, Fascinating Rock rocked on through the straight to an easy victory in the Group 1 Gold Cup. After letting Success Days show the way, jockey Pat Smullen sent Fascinating Rock to the lead with 2 furlongs left and the 5-year-old son of Fastnet Rock was quickly in command, winning by 3 3/4 lengths. Found hit her best stride late but could do no more than second with Success Days holding on for third. The Grey Gatsby and Time Test were non-runners. Fascinating Rock, trained by Dermot Weld, finished the 1 mile, 2 1/2 furlongs over soft to yielding conditions in 2:20.72. He now has beaten the Aidan O'Brien-trained filly twice in their three head-to-head meetings.
Blazing Speed took down Hong Kong's final international Group 1 of the season, narrowly defeating Victory Magic and the favorite, Werther, in Sunday's Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup. With Neil Callan up for trainer Tony Cruz, Blazing Speed hit top gear rounding the bend and hit the wire in a too-close-to-call tandem with Victory Magic and the photo to decide the outcome. Werther, dominant winner of last month's Group 1 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup, was not quite as comfortable at Sunday's 2,400 meters but still managed to finish third. For Blazing Speed, it was a second win in the race, following a 2014 victory. It was four wins in a row for Cruz, who also saddled winners California Memory in 2013 and Helene Super Star last year.
"Once we hit the corner and I straightened him up," Callan said, "I just gave him one slap down the shoulder and he immediately came into the bridle and I knew he'd give me everything to the line. Whether that was win, lose or draw I knew he'd go out fighting. And he did but on the right end."
Cruz said the 7-year-old gelding is "easy to train. He has a fantastic character ... As long as he keeps going, we'll keep going with him."
In Sunday's companion HK Group 3 Sha Tin Vase, a 1,200-meters sprint, Peniaphobia bounced back from a total flop in last month's Group 1 Chairman's Sprint prize, tracking a hot early pace before taking over in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Amazing Kids. Peniaphobia won last December's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint but beat only one rival last month.
"I told everyone we'd see a different horse this time," said Cruz, who also saddled Peniaphobia. "He had a bit of mucus after the last race but this time he was a much fitter horse."
Peniaphobia also finished third in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on World Cup night in March.
"That's it for the season now," Cruz said. "He doesn't want 1400 meters, so we'll pack him up for next season and look ahead to defending his title in December."
Sinhalite missed the break in Sunday's Group 1 Yushun Himba, or Japanese Oaks, at Tokyo Racecourse, saved all the ground down the backstretch and came out at the top of the stretch, looking for running room. Jockey Kenichi Ikezoe bulled Sinhalite through a narrow gap inside the 200-meter mark and the Deep Impact filly did the rest, quickly accelerating to score by a neck over Ceccino. Biche was third. Sinhalite ran 2,400 meters on firm going in 2:25.0. "We missed a beat coming out of the gate and had to race further back than intended in the early stages," Ikezoe said. "But we were able to recover some ground along the way. I was instructed by the trainer to save as much ground as possible since we had a good chance in the race from a good inside draw, so I didn't attempt to go wide, squeezing our way between horses instead. Once escaping the crowd, she responded really well and switched into gear." Sinhalite was a narrow second to Jeweler in the Oka Sho in preparation for Sunday's race and, with that rival sidelined by injury, she was the favorite. Ceccino came into the Yushun Himba with three wins from four starts, including a Group 2 victory in her previous try.
Solid Speed scored a narrow win and survived an inquiry Friday in the Group 2 Bettingworld 1900 at Greyville -- a race that serves as a primer for the upcoming Group 1 Durban July. Power King finished second in the 1900 last year before winning the July. St Tropez was second in Friday's heat and the judges looked at a replay to determine whether a late drift by Solid Speed might have affected the outcome. Dynamic was third and The Conglomerate fourth. Solid Speed is a 5-year-old by Dynasty.
Conquest Enforcer led all the way to win Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for Candian-foaled 3-year-olds by 7 3/4 lengths. Songs and Laughter, Ultraflame and Springhouse completed the order of finish. Conquest Enforcer, an Into Mischief colt out of the Victory Gallop mare Keen Victory, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.73 with Patrick Husbands up. He ambitiously started his career last year by finishing fourth in the Grade II Summer Stakes, then won the Cup and Saucer in mid-October. The Queenston was his 3-year-old bow.
Tiz Imaginary rallied from last of six to take Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Fury Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies. With Luis Contreras in the irons, the Tizway filly edged by pacesetting favorite Jennifer Lynnette, winning by 1/2 length. Crumlin Spirit finished third. Tiz Imaginary ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:25.43.
Trace Creek, at 44-1 odds, slipped through along the rail in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Hanshin Cup and went on to win by 1 length over 21-1 shot Francois. Valiant City was third and the favorite, Midnight Cello, could only pass tiring rivals to finish sixth. Trace Creek, a 6-year-old son of Harperstown, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:36.25. "They just said play it by ear, however he comes out just let him run his race," said winning rider Julio Felix. "At first he wasn't getting over the track but at the end he started running, dug in when I asked him, and then he started playing around a little at the end."
Thatcher Street was along late to win Saturday's $65,000 Opening Verse Stakes by 1/2 length over Pleuven. The pacesetter, Aztec Brave, checked in third. Thatcher Street, a 5-year-old Street Sense gelding, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:38.22 with Brian Hernandez riding. The odds-on favorite, Green Mask, finished sixth.
Bradester had 'em all the way in Saturday's $75,000 Majestic Light Stakes, scoring by 2 1/4 lengths. Adirondack King ran second without applying any pressure to the leader and finished in that position, 6 1/2 lengths to the good of Encryption. Bradester, a 6-year-old son of Lion Heart, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.76 with Joe Bravo right at home in the irons.
Sosweetitiz worked quickly to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Mizdirection Stakes for fillies and mares down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita and held gamely, winning by 1/2 length over Miss Double d'Oro. The favorite, Swift Lady, finished third. Sosweetitiz, a 4-year-old Grand Slam filly, finished about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.70 with Mike Smith riding.
Sky and Sea was on the lead and under pressure from Rockin the Bleu's throughout Saturday's $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes for Minnesota-bred distaffers, finally inching clear in the final furlong to win by 3/4 length over that rival. It was 5 1/2 lengths back to Thunder and Honey in third. Sky and Sea, a 5-year-old Latent Heat mare, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.79 with Alex Canchari up.
Bourbon County dueled with Hold For More in Friday's opening-night feature, the $60,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for state-bred colts and geldings, than shook clear and won by 1 3/4 lengths over that rivals. Evert was third. Bourbon County, a 6-year-old Dehere gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.32 with Canchari in the irons. Canterbury officials announced in April they were reducing takeout to the lowest in the country. With that reduction in place, opening night handle was $840,999, an increase of 33 percent over 2015 opening night.
Ooey Gooey came three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $60,000 John Wayne Stakes for Iowa-bred colts and geldings, surged to the fore and won by 1 1/4 lengths from You Funny Man. Rushin' Rubietta was third and the odds-on favorite, Shock Hazard, faded from the lead to get home fourth. Ooey Gooey, a 5-year-old Political Force gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.41 with Glenn Corbet in the irons.
It's the Swede overcame a stumble at the start in Friday's $60,000 Mamie Eisenhower Stakes for Iowa-bred distaffers, took the lead and drew off to a 2-lengths victory over Who's Smokin. Golden Tiago finished third. It's the Swede, a 3-year-old Yes It's True filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.07 with Sasha Risenhoover in the irons.
Jacky's Notion got a late start in Saturday's $50,000 Fancy Buckles Stakes for West Virginia-bred distaffers, rallied wide into the lane and went on to take a 3/4-length victory over Nay's Back. Blisstikus finished third and the favorite, R C's Daisyduke, finished sixth after being steadied. Jacky's Notion, a 3-year-old Great Notion filly, scampered 4 1/2 furlongs on a muddy track in 52.40 seconds with Oscar Flores at the controls.
Estrella was up in the final yards to win Sunday's $50,000 Hastings Stakes for fillies and mares by a head over Ethan's Baby with Citizen Kitty and additional 5 lengths back in third. Estrella, a 4-year-old filly by Henrythenavigator, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.30 with Erick Lopez in the irons.
O B Harbor dueled to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Stakes, then took command and went on to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Absolutely Cool was up for second, a head in front of Kaabraaj. O B Harbor, a 4-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding, toured 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.59 with Jose Zunino riding.