Catch a Glimpse, Effinex and Irish raider Deauville sparkled in New York, Limato was a big winner in England and Zelzal continued to impress with a win in France -- all part of a weekend of midsummer Thoroughbred racing.
Arlington Park's "Million Preview" set the stage for next month's International Festival of Racing, where the Grade I Arlington Million is the centerpiece.
And, if you're looking to buy an undefeated potential Kentucky Derby candidate, see the "Juvenile" section below. If not ... just read on:
Filly & Mare Turf
Catch a Glimpse led all the way in Saturday's $1 million, Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational, opened a daylight lead in the lane and held on to win by 1/2 length over Time and Motion. The City Zip filly won her eighth straight race while facing top competition from both Europe and the United States and going a furlong and a half farther than in any previous start. With Florent Geroux aboard, she finished 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 1:59.89.
Coolmore, one of three European fillies in the race, chased the early pace and held on to finish third for trainer Aidan O'Brien. O'Brien's other starter, Ballydoyle, finished last of 13 and a French filly, Magnanime, got home 10th.
Geroux said Catch a Glimpse is a tricky horse to handle.
"She's getting better and better not getting upset before the race," he said. "Last year and this year, we've had trouble keeping her calm before the race. At the end, she gets bored and switches leads back and forth and goofs around. But she is who she is, and we're not going to change anything because it's working."
Norm Casse, assistant to winning trainer Mark Casse, said Catch a Glimpse will ship to Saratoga without a specific race on the agenda.
"It's always been race-to-race with her," he said.
The win earned her a spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf thanks to the "Win and You're In" program.
Faufiler overcame a slow pace to catch the frontrunners at the sixteenth pole in Saturday's $125,000 Modesty Stakes at Arlington Park and edged away to a 1 1/4-lengths victory. Al's Gal was second and Secret Someone held on after strolling along on the lead to finish third. Faufiler, a 5-year-old Galileo mare, ran 1 3/16 miles on firm turf in 1:56.12 under Jose Valdivia Jr.
Asked if he might bring Faufiler back next month for the Grade I Beverly D., trainer Graham Motion said, "We'd have to think about it, definitely. With the pedigree she has, a Grade I would be a great thing."
Bred by the Niarchos family and raced by their Flaxman Holdings, Faufiler started her career in France. Saturday's win was her second in six U.S. starts.
Real Smart got by the favorite, Photo Call, inside the furlong marker in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park and went on to win by 2 lengths over that rival. Swear By It was third, 1 1/4 lengths farther back. Real Smart, a 4-year-old Smart Strike filly, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:16.10 with Edgar Prado in the irons. She was stepping into stakes company for the first time with only two previous wins.
Guapaza loped along behind a leisurely pace in Sunday's $100,000 1 1/2-miles River Memories Stakes at Belmont Park, went to the lead with a furlong left and held off a late run by Trophee for a 1/2-length win. The early leader, Songoficeandfire, finished third and Villa Savoye completed the order of finish. Guapaza, a 5-year-old Chilean-bred mare, finished in 2:33.49 -- just slightly more than 10 seconds off the course record held by Big Blue Kitten. Winning trainer Chad Brown said he was "just trying her out at a mile and a half. She's never been that far before, so it was nice to see her stay. It opens a lot of doors for her. We don't have definite plans for her yet, but she certainly gives us a lot of options showing what she did today."
Last year's Belmont Oaks winner, Lady Eli, breezed four furlongs at Belmont Park on Sunday and trainer Chad Brown said the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf champion seems to have recovered well from a life-threatening bout with Laminitis. Brown has not yet scheduled a race for the filly.
Deauville, last seen finishing 11th in the Investec Derby at Epsom in England, shadowed the pace in Saturday's $1.25 million Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational, gained the lead in the lane and just did hold on to win by a neck over Highland Sky, who was flying in the final furlong. Beach Patrol was third, Camelot Kitten fourth and the favorite, Long Island Sound, finished sixth. Aidan O'Brien trains both the winner and Long Island Sound. Deauville, a Galileo colt, scored his first victory as a 3-year-old. He finished second, beaten only a nose, in the Grade II Dante Stakes at York before the Epsom flop.
O'Brien assistant T.J. Comerford said, "I saddled two good horses. The trip just worked out a little better for the winner. He finished stronger, had a good setup and was left with plenty of run. The best horse won and he gave a great effort ... It was a good day on him (Long Island Sound) as well. He's a decent horse and it's only his fifth start. He'll get better from this start."
Kasaqui rallied three-wide to take the lead in Saturday's $125,000 Arlington Handicap and held through the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Roman Approval was best of the rest with Messi third. Kasaqui, a 6-year-old Argentine-bred son of Lasting Approval, ran 1 3/16 miles on firm turf in 1:55.62 with Robby Albarado in the irons. The race is the local prep for the 1 1/4-miles, Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 13 and Kasaqui's owners expressed eagerness to tackle that race. He now has two wins and a second in his last four starts -- a skein interrupted by the spill in the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
"The plan today was for Robby to get him something to chase," said winning trainer Ignacio Correas. "The horse and Robby did perfect. Great plan. He gets a little bit bored on the lead."
Greengrassofyoming rallied from mid-pack in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Stars and Stripes Stakes at Arlington Park and won a four-way photo. A trio of noses behind were O'Prado Ole, Pumpkin Rumble and the odds-on favorite, last year's Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man. Greengrassofyoming, a 6-year-old gelding by Quest, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.74, just 0.35 second off the course record. He was claimed out of his last race at Churchill Downs for $65,500 and earned $58,800 for Saturday's victory. He also will be a potential candidate for either the 1 1/4-miles Arlington Million next month or, on the same program, the 1 11/16-miles, Grade III American St. Leger.
"I've been following this horse for the past couple of years and we were fortunate enough to get him last time with this race in mind," said winning trainer Mike Maker.
One Mean Man moved a step up the Arlington Park stakes ladder with an off-the-pace victory in Saturday's $125,000 Grade III American Derby, the local prep for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Million Day. With RobbyAlbarado up, the Mizzen Mast colt crossed over from an outside post position to save ground down the backstretch, advanced around the turn and found room outside to score by 1/2 length in 1:48.86. Oscar Nominated and Tequila Joe completed the trifecta.
"He was a little further back than I anticipated," Albarado said. "But he was there for me. Of all the times I've ridden him, that was probably his best finish."
Trainer Bernie Flint said One Mean Man also is one brave horse.
"He's a great horse and he has a big heart. In fact, the last time he was second, he thought he won," the conditioner said. That was in his previous start, last month's Grade III Arlington Classic. Flint said One Mean Man has an affinity for the track, portending a try in the Secretariat.
"His sister did very well here and she won the Pucker Up, so it only made sense to come back," he said.
Looking ahead a bit in this division: Flintshire worked 5 furlongs over the Belmont Park inner turf Sunday and trainer Chad Brown said the 6-year-old globetrotting veteran, now based in New York, is being pointed toward the $250,000 Grade II Bowling Green Handicap on July 30. Flintshire has two wins and a second from three U.S. starts.
"I'd like to keep him running out of his own stall all the way up to the Breeders' Cup and then go out on the road," Brown said. "That's where we're leaning."
Effinex bounced back from a sub-par effort in Grade I Stephen Foster to win Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Suburban at Belmont Park by a neck over pacesetting Samraat. Mubtaahij was third in his first start since finishing second to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup. Effinex, a 5-year-old son of Mineshaft, was plastered to the flank of Samraat throughout the 1 1/4 miles of the Suburban, then outgamed that rival in the final yards, finishing in 2:01.04 over a fast track. Mubtaahij, the favorite, made up some ground in the stretch and was well clear of Eagle in fourth.
"All things came together," said winning trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "I guess he's a natural at a mile-and-a-quarter. He's a grinder. It looks like he can outgrind anybody out there, it looks like. We'll take it."
As to his plans, Jerkens said, "You can't rule anything out."
Effinex finished second to American Pharoah in the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall, then won the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. After finishing third in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, he won the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, then beat only one rival in the Stephen Foster.
Exaggerator Saturday posted his first official work since finishing 11th in the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Keith Desormeaux said the Preakness winner remains on course for the $600,000 Grade II Jim Dandy July 30 at Saratoga.
Dark Nile moved to the leaders on the stretch turn in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Delaware Oaks and surged to a 1 1/4-length victory. A Place to Shine ran well in the lane to take second, 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Kinsley Kisses. The favorite, Browse, led early, then faded to beat only one rival. Dark Nile, a Pioneerof the Nile filly, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.54 with Daniel Centeno up. The Pennsylvania-bred now has four straight wins. A torrential rain forced a delay in the start of the Oaks and downgraded the track from fast to sloppy in a matter of minutes.
"Before the weather, we were planning on breaking, settling, follow the speed and making one run," Centeno said. "But after the weather, I did not want to be far back. Down the backside she was dragging me. She was getting a little tired in the end, but that may be because we started a little early. But she was dragging me."
Caren led from gate to wire in Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Bison City Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine. At the line, the Society's Chairman filly was 1 length to the good of Trini Brewnette, with Neshama third. Caren, with Jesse Campbell up, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.47. She entered the race off a third-place finish in the Woodbine Oaks.
Pure Sensation had things pretty much his way in Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Parx Dash, leading most of the way and winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Power Alert was second, 2 lengths in front of 10-year-old Ben's Cat. Pure Sensation, a 5-year-old gelding by Zensational, ran 5 furlongs on yielding turf in 57.35 seconds for jockey Kendrick Carmouche.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Coppa ran past the leaders early in the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Victory Ride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park, then staved off the late efforts of a pair of closers to preserve the win. Malibu Stacy was second, a neck behind, and One True Kiss was another head in arrears in third. Coppa, a daughter of Yesbyjimminy, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.23 for jockey Joe Talamo. The Florida-bred remains undefeated in three starts.
"When she got in front of those other fillies I really had a ton of horse under me and I thought we were going to open up a little bit," Talamo said. "She started out in a good way but when those two other fillies came through she really turned it on."
A.P. Indian tracked the pace in Saturday's $400,000 Grade III Belmont Sprint Championship, took over the lead in the stretch and then battled with Marking before prevailing by a head. Ready for Rye was a distant third. A.P. Indian, a 6-year-old Indian Charlie gelding, got 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.41 with Joe Bravo at the controls. It was his second straight win and first in a stakes.
"Horses like this make our job so easy," Bravo said. "He breaks from the gate with control, relaxes, turns off and breathes underneath me so comfortably that all you have to know is when to pull the trigger."
Trainer Arnaud Delacour said he will "definitely take a look at the races at Saratoga."
Fish Trappe Road came three-wide to gain the lead in upper stretch in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds and held off the favorite, Economic Model, for a 1 1/4-lengths win. Tale of S'Avall was third. Fish Trappe Road, a Trappe Shot colt, got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.84 with Luis Saez riding. The Bret Calhoun trainee scored his third career win.
Calhoun said the No. 8 gate "gave us a lot of options out there. He didn't have to be pushed. Luis rode him perfectly. "I've been playing this race out in my head for a couple of days since it was drawn, and it played out exactly the way I thought it would."
He said it's possible Fish Trappe Road will be pushed to contest the $500,000 Grade II Jim Dandy at the Spa on July 30 at 9 furlongs. The $500,000 Grade I King's Bishop in August is another option.
California Diamond got by pacesetting favorite Green With Eddie in the late stages to take Saturday's $125,000 Santa Anita Juvenile by 3/4 length. Silver Assault finished third. California Diamond, a Harbor the Gold colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.54 with Edwin Maldonado up. Now 2-for-2, he is owned by trainer Jeff Brocklebank, his wife and his brother.
"We started that a few weeks ago," the trainer said. "We just like to sell horses, period. We love California Diamond, but he is for sale."
Theonewewaitedfor arrived just in time in Saturday's $125,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Santa Anita. After taking the lead on the turn, the Creative Cause filly edged clear through the stretch and won by 2 3/4 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Miss Southern Miss. Demigoddess finished third. Theonewewaitedfor, with Rafael Bejarano up, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.82. It was her second win in as many starts.
"Ironically, she lived up to her name," said trainer Mike Harrington. "I named her and when I did I told the owner, 'This is the one we've waited for.' She's always been the best filly in the barn."
Around the globe:
Isfahan took the point with some 2 furlongs to run in Sunday's Group 1 Deutsches Derby at Hamburg and held on determinedly to win by a head over Savoir Vivre. Dschingis Secret finished third. Irish raider Landofhopeandglory found little of either in Deutschland, finishing next-last of 19 under Ryan Moore. Isfahan, a Lord of England colt, scored his third win from six starts for trainer Andreas Wohler.
Zelzal needed only a nudge to surge to the lead in the final furlong of Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jean Prat for 3-year-olds at Chantilly and eased home first by 2 lengths without much further encouragement from jockey Gregory Benoist. Stormy Antarctic finished second, a short neck in front of Spectre. Zelzal, a Sea the Stars colt, finished 1 mile on good turf in 1:34.48. It was his fourth win from five starts with the only loss coming in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains.
With a furlong to run, Limato blasted loose from a large and talented field in Saturday's Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket and quickly put the issue to rest, winning by 2 lengths despite drifting badly to the stands side in the late going. Suedois finished second with Quiet Reflection third. Among the better known, Sole Power finished eighth, Mongolian Saturday 11th, Twilight Son 14th and Arod last of 18. Limato, a 4-year-old Tagula gelding, missed the frame in only one of his previous eight races but had not won a Group 1 event. Nonetheless, he was sent off as the favorite. With Harry Bently up, he ran 6 furlongs on good to firm turf in 1:09.97. The race was the final British leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. Despite his seventh-place finish, Magical Memory's trainer, Charlie Hills, said he still is eyeing a trip to California late this fall for the Breeders' Cup Sprint down the Santa Anita hillside course.
Things are going well in Hong Kong and promise to go even better. Total turnover for the season concluded Sunday was HK$106.14 billion, or about US$13.6 billion -- the second-highest ever and down only a small amount from last year's record. However, Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said a key "astonishing" figure is the increase in comingling of wagering from other jurisdictions into the Club's already massive pools. Increasing overseas wagering on Hong Kong racing is a key element of the HKJC's long-term strategy.
"The commingling figure today is a record HK$74 million (US$9.15 million), which is HK$11 million (US$1.42 million) up on the previous record," Englebrecht-Bresges said Sunday. "This season the commingling turnover was up by 31 percent, which is amazing. We are already looking forward to another good season ahead, the first in Hong Kong's history to offer 88 domestic race meetings, and with an increase in our overseas simulcast occasions to 23, up from 15."
Werther was named Hong Kong Horse of the Year in ceremonies Friday night. The 4-year-old followed-up a victory in the BMW Hong Kong Derby with a stunning wide-margin triumph over international opponents in the Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, both at Sha Tin this spring.
Dr Blarney, the 1-10 favorite, won Saturday's $75,000 African Prince Stakes for Massachusetts-bred 3-year-olds by 15 3/4 lengths. Angry Patty and Brother Fred filled out the trifecta slots. Dr Blarney, a Dublin gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.96 with Tammi Piermarini up.
Forest Funds came from the back of the pack to take Saturday's $75,000 Jill Jellison Memorial Dash for fillies and mares by 1 3/4 lengths over Harp N Halo. Maggiesfreuddnslip finished third. Forest Funds, a 5-year-old Forestry mare, ran about 5 furlongs on firm turf in 58.04 seconds with Pedro Cotto Jr. riding.
Navy Nurse tracked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 Isadorable Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, took over in the stretch run and held on to score a 1-length victory over Chasing Blue. Navy Nurse, a daughter of Service Stripe, finished 6 furlongs in 1:14.04 with David Amiss aboard.
Silk Spinner finished four-wide in Sunday's $75,000 Rise Jim Stakes for Massachusetts-breds, nipping Worth the Worry by a neck. Simply Mas led briefly but faded to finish third. Silk Spinner, an 8-year-old gelding by Silk Broker, ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.37 with Harry Hernandez in the irons.
No Distortion dueled to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Long Branch Stakes for 3-year-olds and then eased away to a 3 1/4 lengths victory. Unbridled Daddy was best of the rest, followed by Uncle Vinny. The favorite, Azar, finished fourth. No Distortion, a Distorted Humor colt owned and bred by Brereton Jones, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:42.81 with Gabriel Saez riding.
Rainbow Heir led all the way to a 7 3/4-lengths score in Sunday's $60,000, off-the-turf Wolf Hill Stakes. Beantown Saint was second with the odds-on favorite, Saratoga Dreamer, well back in third. Rainbow Heir, a 6-year-old son of Wildcat Heir, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:02.72 with Antonio Gallardo in the irons.
Sweet On Smokey closed sharply in the final furlong of Saturday's $50,000 Dashing Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, catching the pacesetting favorite, Disco Chick, just in time. Stormy Sky was third. Sweet On Smokey, a 4-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:20.22 with Daniel Centeno riding.
Renown was just up at the wire in Saturday's $50,000 Cape Henlopen Stakes, nipping pacesetter Street Fashion by a nose. The favorite, Biz the Nurse, finished with energy but settled for third. Renown, a 5-year-old, British-bred gelding by Champs Elysees, ran 1 1/2 miles on yielding turf in 2:34.96 under Angel Cruz.
Cake Pop rallied wide from a stalking position in Saturday's $75,000 Hoover Stakes for Ohio-bred 2-year-olds and edged off to win by 1 1/4 lengths from Jocker Justice. The favorite, Crazycanberighted, found that traffic problems couldn't and finished third. Cake Pop, a Notional colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.64 with Malcolm Franklin up.
Kerfluffle rallied through the stretch to get there first in Sunday's $75,000 Cincinnatian Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies. Pretty Gritty was second with Mom Genes third. Kerfluffle, a daughter of Mr. Silver, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.02 with Perry Ouzts in the irons.
Sweet Acclaim started last of nine in Saturday's $50,000 Ellis Park Turf Stakes for fillies and mares, came wide around the field into the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Bitty Kitty was second, 1 3/4 lengths better than Personal Diary. Sweet Acclaim, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:45.30 with Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons.
Lone Star Park
Bling On the Music played a sweet tune for her backers in Saturday's $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Futurity for 2-year-old, Texas-bred fillies. The gray Too Much Bling filly jumped to the lead and accelerated through the stretch, winning by 8 1/2 lengths. Gold Shock beat the other five. Bling On the Music, with Luis Quinonez up, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 58.11 seconds.
In the companion event for colts and geldings, odds-on favorite Shaded needed a decision by the stewards to get the win. The Too Much Bling colt, ridden by C.J. McMahon, finished a head behind Boomer's Boy, who was ruled to have interfered in the stretch run, resulting in his demotion from first to fifth. The 5 furlongs required 59.75 seconds.
Presque Isle Downs
Bound bounded past pacesetting favorite R Frosty One in the late going to win Sunday's $100,000 Northern Fling Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares by 1/2 length. R Frosty one held second, 1 length better than Valued Strike. Bound, a 5-year-old Jump Start mare, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.92 with Julio Hernandez up.
Dynamic Strike and Granny's Kitten both rallied from well back in Sunday's $100,000 Leemat Stakes for state-breds with the former finishing a neck in front. The early leader, Grand Old Game, was only a neck farther in arrears in third. Dynamic Strike, a 6-year-old Smart Strike gelding, ran 1 mile on the all-weather course in 1:37.89 with Willie Martinez up.