Shaman Ghost upset the Woodward Stakes as Saratoga wound up its classy meeting on Labor Day weekend, while Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia returned from a three-month break to win in Pennsylvania in weekend racing highlights.
Next year's Derby and Oaks hopefuls were on full display, principally Practical Joke at Saratoga and Klimt at Del Mar, which also wound up its summer program on Monday. Kentucky Downs continued its meteoric rise to midsummer prominence.
Internationally, Hong Kong kicked off its season with a sharp jump in international interest and Germany, England and Turkey hosted top-shelf action.
There's a lot to cover, and there may be a short quiz next period, so ... let's go:
Shaman Ghost found a seam toward the inside as the field straightened into the stretch in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga and prevailed in a four-way photo by a head over Mubtaahij, another head over the odds-on favorite, Frosted, and yet another head over long shot Breaking Lucky.
Shaman Ghost, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper colt, was last year's Queen's Plate winner and won the Grade II Brooklyn at Belmont this year before finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Grade II Suburban. He ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48.92 and the bold stretch move by jockey Javier Castellano clearly was the decisive factor. Mubtaahij, who got the rail on the turn, appeared on his way to victory before Shaman Ghost rallied through the final strides. Frosted, who had a troubled start, took the overland route, losing much more ground than the final margin. Breaking Lucky, at odds of 48-1 and more familiar with all-weather tracks, ran a huge race, pressing the pace most of the way.
Castellano said he saw the race develop into a stretch battle and reacted.
"When I saw Frosted moving on the outside, I decided to go on the inside, cut the corners, split horses," Castellano said. "The way he (Shaman Ghost) did it, he was very impressive today."
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he's not sure what's next for Shaman Ghost.
"I guess you have to consider the Jockey Club Gold Cup," he said. "We'll see."
The Grade I Gold Cup is Oct. 8 at Belmont Park.
Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains both Mubtaahij and Frosted, added, "Frosted was just very wide and he didn't break sharp. It just wasn't our day but we didn't get beat very far. Mubtaahij ran very well but just not himself."
Awesome Slew crossed over from the outside gate to take the lead in Monday's $300,000 Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing and widened the lead through the stretch to win by 7 lengths over Wild About Deb. Seeking the Soul finished third. Awesome Slew, an Awesome Again colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.92 with Paco Lopez up for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. It was his third win from six starts but first in a graded stakes.
Scuba had things all his way in Monday's $200,000 Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing, leading comfortably and winning off by 5 lengths. Hawaakom was second, 12 lengths to the good of Bodhisattva. Scuba, a 5-year-old Tapit gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on a fast track in 2:32.76 with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
Inspector Lynley stalked the pace in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Saranac Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, then out-finished favorite Camelot Kitten by a head for the win. Isotherm was another 1 length back in third. Inspector Lynley, a Lemon Drop Kid colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in a quick 1:46.68 for jockey Joel Rosario. He finished third in the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in his previous outing.
"I'm very pleased," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. "This horse was coming into the race really well and trained really well. He had some excuses his last three starts. Last start, he was wide in the Kent and the horse who beat him (American Patriot) came back and ran well in the Secretariat, so I thought that legitimized that race."
Out west, it was Free Rose using a pace-stalking trip to take Sunday's $250,000 Grade II Del Mar Derby. The Munnings colt took a daylight lead in the stretch, then held off Ralis by 1/2 length. Dressed in Hermes was third, a nose farther back and a nose in front of Monster Bea. The favorite, Blackjackcat, ran evenly to finish sixth.
Free Rose, with Norberto Arroyo Jr. riding, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.70. He joined the stakes ranks only after moving to California last month and won the Grade III La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar in his previous outing.
"His last race was very game," said winning trainer Richard Baltas. "A lot of people discounted it because speed was good that day, but he ran some pretty fast fractions and he didn't give up when they came at him."
Ring Weekend won a three-horse photo finish in Monday's $250,000 Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga. The camera found the 5-year-old Tapit gelding a neck better than Jay Gatsby, who was a nose in front of Take the Stand.
Ring Weekend, with John Velazquez up, rallied from a ground-saving trip and made contact with Jay Gatsby in the lane, then finished 1 1/16 miles on firm going in course-record time of 1:38.29. It was his third start and first win after a layoff of more than one year.
"He broke better, settled better and that was the difference today," Velazquez said. "And then when I asked him to run, he responded very easily."
Pleuven, the odds-on favorite, battled Flashlight for the lead in Monday's $50,000 Cliff Guilliams Handicap at Ellis Park, then went on to win by 1 length over that foe. One Touch was 3 1/4 lengths back in third. Pleuven, a 5-year-old, French-bred gelding by Turtle Bowl, ran 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:45.40 for jockey Channing Hill. He also won the Grade II Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs in June.
Filly & Mare Turf
Suffused saved ground through most of Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Glens Falls Stakes for fillies and mares at Saratoga, came wide into the stretch and battled German import Arles in the final strides to win by 3/4 length. Miss Chatelaine finished third and the favorite, Guapaza, had little left in the late going and finished sixth.
A 4-year-old British-bred filly by Champs Elysees, Suffused ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:13.55 with Jose Ortiz up. She is trained by Bill Mott for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms.
"She had a beautiful trip," Mott said. "Jose gave her a great ride. I had a lot of confidence in her. When he produced her, she punched."
He said he "wouldn't rule out" the $500,000 Grade I Flower Bowl at Belmont Park on Oct. 8.
Secret Someone rallied from last of eight to take Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes, rolling by the favorite, Cash Control, en route to a 3 3/4-lengths victory. Cash Control held second, a neck in front of She's Not Here. The early leader, Susie Bee, finished fourth.
"She's royally bred," Albarado said. "I expected a nice race from her, but not this explosive."
The winner was rebounding from an eighth-place finish in the Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park last month.
"I just don't think that was her best distance," Albarado said of the 1 3/8-mile Grade I event. "I think today was her best distance, going a mile. Anything over that is stretching it a little bit."
Michael Stidham trains Secret Someone on the Arlington all-weather surface.
Avenge tracked the pace in Sunday's $200,000 John C. Maybee Stakes at Del Mar, moved to a clear lead in the lane and held on to defeat Finest City by a head. Elektrum was 1/2 length farther back in third and the favorite, Sobradora Inc, was fifth with a belated effort.
Avenge, a 4-year-old War Front filly, ran 9 furlongs on firm going in 1:48.82 with Flavien Pratt in the irons to take her first graded stakes victory.
"We were kind of worrying about the mile and an eighth," said winning trainer Richard Mandella. "But I thought about it and said, 'You know what, we'll never know if we don't try.' That's why we're here. She was doing really well and whenever you've got a good horse that's improving, you never know."
Lady Shipman had to work for it but got home first by 1 length in Monday's $200,000 Turf Amazon at Parx Racing. After battling for the lead, the 4-year-old Midshipman filly finally edged clear in the final sixteenth to win by 1 length over Everything Lovely. Sunnysammi finished third. Lady Shipman, with Joel Rosario up, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 58.06 seconds. It was her fourth win in five starts since returning from Dubai, where she finished seventh in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, beaten only 2 3/4 lengths after a tardy start. She finished second in last fall's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, beaten a neck by Mongolian Saturday.
Successful Native had a successful start in Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint, quickly seizing the lead from the inside gate. He then proceeded to make all the going and held on at the end of 6 1/2 furlongs, winning by a neck over Hogy. Almasty finished third as the would-be late runners made no impact. The favorite, international Group 1 winner Undrafted, was taken back after a quick start, saved ground and rallied belatedly to finish fourth.
Successful Native, 5-year-old son of Successful Appeal, finished in 1:17.51 with Robby Albarado in the irons. His 10-1 odds seemed odd as he finished second in his last race at Saratoga, finishing only 1 length behind Long On Value with Undrafted third. But, as Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee often says, "It's an easy game."
"It was a big win for us, he ran really big," said winning trainer Aubrey Maragh. "Coming into the race, I thought he was going to run a big one. He just beat the favorite, and this was the first time he ran against such a big group."
Maragh said Successful Native could run next in Keeneland's $150,000 Grade III Woodford on Oct. 8.
Doctor J Dub led all the way to an upset win in Monday's $300,000 Grade III Turf Monster at Parx Racing, beating fellow long shot Two Notch Road by 1/2 length. Pool Winner was third and the favorite, Power Alert, finished fifth after a start that was anything but alert. Doctor J Dub, a 6-year-old Sharp Humor gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 58.73 seconds with Sheldon Russell up.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Lucy N Ethel led all the way to a nice upset win in Sunday's $300,000 Grade II Prioress for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, defeating Dearest by 1/2 length. Takrees was third and the favorite, Off the Tracks, was a close fourth.
Lucy N Ethel, a Pennsylvania-bred filly by During, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.33 with Jose Lezcano in the irons. She remains undefeated after four starts but went off at odds of 22-1 in the Prioress, principally because she had not raced since winning the Grade III Old Hat at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 2 -- then having a chip removed from a knee.
"She's good enough for this, obviously," said part owner Steve Perry. "We were hoping to run good, maybe hit the board or possibly do what we did. We were pretty confident but it's hard. This was a lovely group of horses. These are some of the best in the world as far as sprinters go."
Power Jam dueled to the lead in Monday's $75,000 Pirate's Bounty Stakes and edged clear in the final sixteenth, winning by 1 1/2 lengths from Kafister. Mrazek got show money. Power Jam, a 4-year-old Concord Point ridgling, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:02.10 with Stewart Elliot up. Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert, he now has three wins from five starts and is one to watch for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia dominated in the stretch run of Saturday's $150,000 Princess of Sylmar for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 6 1/2 lengths over Disco Rose. Linda Mimi was third, another 4 1/2 lengths back. Cathryn Sophia, a daughter of Street Boss, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.69 with Paco Lopez up. After winning the Oaks, she finished third in the Grade I Acorn and got a three-month freshening before returning for this race.
Uchenna rallied from last of six to win Monday's $100,000 (Canadian) Belle Mahoney Stakes at Woodbine with Hot Kiss 1 1/2 lengths in her wake. Whimsicality was another 2 lengths back in third. Uchenna, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Fastnet Rock, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.74 for jockey Patrick Husbands. The win was her third since shipping to North America from England, where she also raced on all-weather surfaces.
Klimt battled to the lead at mid-stretch in Monday's $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Futurity and obviously enjoyed the 7 furlongs as he rolled to a 4 1/2-lengths victory. Straight Fire was next, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Midnight Pleasure. Three others were outdistanced.
A Quality Road colt out of the Dixie Union mare Inventive, Klimt finished in 1:21.80 with Rafael Bejarano up. He now has three straight wins, including the Grade II Best Pal earlier in the Del Mar meeting. Trainer Bob Baffert saddled his 13th Futurity winner for owner Kaleem Shah.
"We've always thought that going two turns is where he's really going to excel," Baffert said. "He's got a great mind, will sit off of horses and Bejarano rode a great race. He didn't chase anything, he just sat, rode his own horse and showed a lot of patience ... When you're fortunate to have great clients who will buy these great horses, good things happen."
Practical Joke nailed the two leaders, Royal Copy and Pretty Boy Flash, in the closing yards of Monday's $350,000 Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga, winning by a neck and a nose. The favorite, Classic Empire, wheeled at the start, dumping jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
Practical Joke, an Into Mischief colt out of the Distorted Humor mare Halo Humor, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.39 under Jose Ortiz. He's 2-for-2, with the previous win coming early in the Spa meeting.
"He was able to sit off and track the pace," said winning trainer Chad Brown, who locked up the Saratoga training championship. "Jose gave him an unbelievable ride and he looked like he was extending away in the stretch so I don't think any added distance will be an issue."
Brown said the $500,000 Grade I Champagne on Oct. 8 at Belmont is the likely next target.
Tip Tap Tapizar dueled down the stretch with Holiday Bonus in Sunday's $100,000 Sapling at Monmouth Park, finally prevailing by a neck. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Sonic Mule in third.
Tip Tap Tapizar, a Tapizar colt out of the Storm Cat mare Counterpoise, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.00 with Paco Lopez up. The colt, trained by Steve Asmussen, finished third in the Grade III Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs in July and second in the Grade II Saratoga Special before Sunday's victory.
Three Rules pressed the pace in Saturday's $300,000 Affirmed Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, took over easily when asked by jockey Cornelio Velazquez and coasted home first by 5 1/2 lengths from Front Loaded. Legacy Azteca was third at a big price. The Gone Astray colt ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.89 with Cornelio Velazquez in the irons, winning his fourth start without a loss.
Asked if he plans to turn down lucrative offers, owner Bert Pilcher said, "You know, I can't make up my mind. I want to (keep him). But there again, he's such a valuable animal and how can a guy as broke as I am keep a horse worth this kind of money ... But that's what I'm planning to do unless something crazy happens."
Mo Soul emerged from a cavalry charge down the stretch to upset Friday's $150,000 I'm Smokin Stakes for state-breds at Del Mar, getting by the favorite, California Diamond, in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/2 lengths. California Diamond held second, 5 lengths better than Rinse and Repeat. Mo Soul, surprisingly is not by Uncle Mo -- he is a Cal-bred -- but rather by Phantom Wildcat. He ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.21 with Tiago Pereira riding.
Thunder Dome attended the pace in Monday's $152,974 Rio Grande Senor Futurity for New Mexico-bred juveniles at Ruidoso Downs, led in the stretch and won by 3/4 length over the favorite, Another Brother. Happy Hennessey was third. Thunder Dome, a Dome gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.74 with Ricardo Jaime up.
All Right shadowed the pace in Saturday's $350,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, blasted to a 2-lengths lead in the long stretch run and just did hold on to win by a neck over Parlor at odds of 44-1. Hot Dad was third and the favorite, Ancient Warfare, ran evenly to finish sixth.
In just his second career start, All Right, a Dominus colt out of the Touch Gold mare Smart Touch, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:25.66 for jockey Channing Hill. The win followed an excellent effort at Ellis Park, where he was beaten only 3/4 length with a wide trip.
Winning trainer Kellyn Gorder said he figured All Right "is so well balanced that I thought he really would handle the up and down of this course. I galloped this horse about a month ago, and hadn't been back on him. I rode him three days ago. I came back into the barn and I don't usually tout horses. I said, 'It's going to be fun to win a maiden for $350,000.'"
He said he will eye something at Keeneland and possibly the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Bowies Hero raced mid-pack in a big field in Saturday's $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile, came four-wide into the lane and outfinished the late-running favorite, Big Score, by 1 length. It was another 6 1/4 lengths to Billy Big in third. Kentucky Colonel finished fifth.
Bowies Hero, an Artie Schiller colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.40 with Rafael Bejarano in the irons. He won at first asking at Lone Star Park in July, changed hands and was sent to trainer Phil D'Amato and now is 2-for-2.
"When I saw the video of this horse when he broke his maiden at Lone Star, I wanted this horse in the worst way and it all worked out," D'Amato said. "We'll take him to Santa Anita for the Zuma Beach."
Sweet Loretta wrested the lead from stablemate and favorite Cherry Lodge at the top of the lane in Saturday's $350,000 Grade I Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, then was unable to hold off the late run of Pretty City Dancer. The two hit the line together and the judges ruled a dead heat. Cherry Lodge was third, 5 3/4 lengths farther back. The winners are both by Tapit -- Sweet Loretta out of the Bluegrass Cat mare I thinkisawapudycat, Pretty City Dancer out of the Carson City mare Pretty City. The pair finished 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.18, but the stewards conducted an inquiry into some erratic running in the final furlong before letting the result stand. Sweet Loretta now is 3-for-3; Pretty City Dancer, 2-for-3. The race was a "Win and You're In' for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and, thus, potentially chewed up two spots in that starting gate.
Union Strike ran by the favorite, American Cleopatra, in deep stretch to win Saturday's $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Debutante by 2 1/4 lengths over the full sister to American Pharoah. Champagne Room finished third.
Union Strike, a daughter of Union Rags out of the Smart Strike filly Classic Strike, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.22 with Martin Garcia at the controls. She finished second in her career bow July 31 and entered the race a maiden.
"We didn't have any worries going up against those other horses," said trainer Shelbe Ruis, who scored her first stakes win of any kind in a Grade I. "They had all the pressure. We were the longshot, but we knew what we had so we were really excited."
Garcia said a change in bits helped get Union Strike off to a smoother start than her initial effort, adding, "the farther they go, the better she's going to be."
Made Me Shiver spurted to the lead on the turn in Monday's $100,000 Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park and shook clear, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Easy Money. Star Super was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Made Me Shiver, an Ontario-bred filly by Maclean's Magic, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.25 with Antonio Gallardo riding. She won at first asking at Churchill Downs, then ran fourth in the Grade III Schuylerville at Saratoga before Sunday's win.
Cajun Delta Dawn set sail over a wet-fast track in the stretch run of Saturday's $300,000 Susan's Girl Division of the Florida Sire Stakes and ran on, winning by 5 lengths over Stormy Embrace. U S Diva was third, 3 lengths ahead of the odds-on favorite, Sweet Tooth Haven.
Cajun Delta Dawn, a Kantharos filly out of the Awesome Again mare Cajun Dawn, ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.91 with Juan Leyva in the irons. Owner Curtis Mikkelson said his home on the Crystal River had been swamped by Hurricane Hermine, taking on 2 feet of water.
"This makes up for it," he said after Cajun Delta Dawn's win. "Maybe not to my wife, but to me it does."
Sippin closed with a rush from well back to land Sunday's $191,093 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity for New Mexico-breds at Ruidoso Downs by 1/2 length over pacesetting Vocally. Back Seat Kiss was in with a chance but flattened out to finish third. Sippin, a daughter of Swizzle Stick, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.23 with Christian Santiago Reyes riding.
Diamond Dollar was along late to win Sunday's $100,000 Mark McDermott Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds at Presque Isle Downs by 1 1/4 lengths from pacesetter Sixers City. Howboutthemcowboys was a close third. Diamond Dollar, a Not For Love filly running against colts and geldings, got 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.90 with Huber Villa-Gomez up.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Lull took up station on the rail and just behind the early leaders in Saturday's $350,000 Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs, came out for running room and beat the pacesetter, Caroline Test, by 1 1/4 lengths. Lady Hansen rallied from mid-pack to get show money.
Lull, a War Front filly out of the Tiznow mare Quiet Now, ran 7 furlongs in 1:26.04 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up. She won her first start at Belmont in July, then took a bad fall after clipping heels in the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga last month in her only other start.
"Her last start was very bad, unfortunately," said Tomas Brandenourger, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. "We were just hoping that she would come back okay, and she did; so, she came back quickly and proved to us that she is fine."
As to the future, he added the filly can go longer, so, "There is Keeneland and the Miss Grillo at Belmont Park. But I will let Christophe decide on that. We just want to make sure she comes back okay and decide where to go after that."
With Honors pressed the pace in Monday's $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, took over when asked on the second turn and held on gamely to win by 1/2 length over You Missed It. Lady Beware finished third. With Honors, a War Front filly, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.85 under Flavien Prat. She now is 2-for-2 with both wins coming where the Surf Meets the Turf.
"Good job by Flavien," said winning trainer Keith Desormeaux. "We'll go to Santa Anita for the Surfer Girl and then hopefully she's ready for the big event," referring to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Coasted got off to a bit of a rough start in Thursday's $100,000 P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga, moved up a bit down the backstretch and finally got through a hole on the inside in time to win by 1 length over Noble Ready. Majestic Bonnie was third, another 3/4 length in arrears.
Coasted, a Tizway filly trained by Leah Gyarmati, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.25 for jockey Jose Lezcano, posting her second straight win.
"It's nice to know you have a bold horse who can bull her way through," said winning trainer Leah Gyarmati. "I think probably the Miss Grillo ($200,000 Grade III on Oct. 2), then hopefully the Breeders' Cup."
Quiet Reflection raced in midfield through the first half of Saturday's Group 1 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock, starting picking off rivals inside the half mile and went on to win comfortably, 1 3/4 lengths to the good of The Tin Man. Suedois finished third and Limato was among three non-runners on account of softening turf conditions. Quiet Reflection, a 3-year-old filly facing older runners of both genders, scored her seventh win from nine starts. That skein also included a victory in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. The top two appear likely to face off again in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Oct. 15 at Ascot.
Iquitos came from last to win Sunday's Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden in the German spa city, 2 3/4 lengths to the good of Nightflower. Pagella finished third in the 144th running of the 1 1/2-miles fixture, run in a driving rain. The 4-year-old Adlerflug colt scored just his second career win, both of them coming at Baden-Baden. Iquitos, trainer Hans-Jurgen Groschel and jockey Ian Ferguson all scored their first Group 1 win. Groschel said Iquitos now is a candidate for both the Preis von Europa at Cologne and the Grosser Preis von Bayern in Munich although he also earned a "Win and You're In" spot for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Parvaneh won Saturday's T. Von Zastrow Stutenpreis for fillies and mares, earning a spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf via "Win and You're In" deal.
Blond Me outfinished Silent Attack in a tight duel through the final furlong in Sunday's Group 1 Topkapi Trophy at Veliefendi in Istanbul, winning by a neck. The home team gave the invaders a scare as Dayim Benin also ran well late to finish third, only a head behind Silent Attack, the heavy favorite from the Godolphin stable. Blond Me, a 4-year-old, Irish-bred filly by Tamayuz, had been going through a rough patch since her last victory in April. Silent Attack, by contrast, had two wins and two seconds in his last four starts. He appeared to have Sunday's race in the bag but suddenly drifted right, opening the door for Blond Me.
Godolphin got a measure of balm for that tough beat and for Frosted's defeat at Saratoga as Move Up moved up and flew by the pacesetter late to take Sunday's Group 2 International Bosphorus Cup at Veliefendi by 2 lengths from Fly By Me. Mickael Barzalona rode the winner for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Move Up, a 3-year-old Dubawi colt, scored his fourth win from seven starts.
Godolphin and bin Suroor also had the second- and third-place finishers in the local Group 3 International Thrace Trophy -- Top Score and Best Solution. A local, Waneta, won by a head over Top Score in the event for 2-year-olds.
The season opener in Hong Kong: 1) Drew a crowd of 63,963 and record turnover of HK$1.214 billion, up 5.8 percent from last year; 2) Provided an early look at some contenders for the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong International Races in December, and; 3) Clearly demonstrated that Hong Kong's project is quickly gaining support worldwide. Starting from the last of those points, HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges reported commingling turnover from last year's season opener grew by 41.2 percent.
"This is a remarkable testament to both our loyal and dedicated fans and the growing interest on our product from overseas markets," he said.
Lucky Year was the winner of the Sha Tin feature, the Chief Executive's Cup, and trainer Danny Shum said he will be pointed to the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint. Blizzard was stopped badly at the top of the lane and still managed to finish third and his trainer, Ricky Yiu, said he has a bright future sprinting, too. Yiu also praised his Packing Pins, third in last season's Group 1 Champions Mile, who finished fifth while going too short to show his best.
"Packing Pins ran well there," Yiu said. "He's just lost that good turn of foot over 1,200 meters -- even 1,400 -- compared to last season. He really needs a mile now."
Thus, he indicated, the Longines Hong Kong Mile is on the agenda. Altogether, a bright start to a highly promising season.
News and notes:
The National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association will honor broadcaster Dave Johnson, recently retired jockey Russell Baze, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and retired Southern California turf writer Hank Wesch at its annual dinner during Breeders' Cup week. Former jockey Rene Douglas will receive a special award.