Winx was the bright star of weekend Thoroughbred racing, winning her second straight Cox Plate in a romp.
With U.S. racing gearing up for the Breeders' Cup in less than two weeks, relative quiet reigned on the American scene. The international venues more than picked up the slack.
The day before Winx's triumph, sprint star Chautauqua fizzled for a second straight time over the same Australian course. In Japan, Satono Diamond sparkled in the St. Leger. And a pair of Hong Kong races showed the way to the upcoming Longines International Races.
Here's the way to all the details:
Winx not only rolled to her 13th straight win and second straight Cox Plate on Saturday -- she did it with such authority that trainer Chris Waller now is eyeing Royal Ascot.
The 5-year-old mare was in gear from the start but in no hurry under Hugh Bowman, letting Vadamos take the early lead. Sweeping into the turn, supposed big threat Hartnell took a narrow advantage, only to see Winx blow past him on the outside and shoot off to win by 8 lengths.
"It's like a dream," Waller said, alluding strongly at taking the mare to England. "Getting to the other side of the world would be good. But she will be back next year. This is Australia's big race. That's what we're in the game for if the horse is fit and well."
In a Friday night shocker, top-ranked and heavily favorite Chautauqua was off slowly in the Group 1 William Hill Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley and couldn't make up the ground at the end, finishing seventh, beaten some 2 lengths by 60-1 long shot Rebel Dane. Fell Swoop and Japonisme were second and third, rewarding punters whose crystal balls were in good working order.
Ben Melham rode the winner for trainer Gary Portelli, scraping the paint throughout, then surging to the lead inside the furlong marker and hanging on desperately to score by a head. It was his eighth win but first since September of last year.
Chautauqua broke a step behind the field from the inside gate, checked briefly on the turn and had to alter course. He never, however, looked like getting to the leaders while suffering his second straight defeat.
Buffering finished sixth in the Cox Plate and the 9-year-old winner of seven Group 1 events will shuffle off to a well-earned retirement.
Satono Diamond swept by the early leaders as the field hit the straight in Sunday's Group 1 Kikuka Sho, or Japanese St. Leger, and kicked clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Rainbow Line and Air Spinel were second and third at long odds.
The race was the third leg of the Japanese Triple Crown and Satono Diamond improved on a third and a second in the previous two legs. He was only a nose back of Makahiki in the Japanese Derby with the winner of that going on to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Satono Diamond, a Deep Impact colt, ran 3,000 meters in 3:03.3 with Christophe Lemaire in the irons. He now has five wins from seven starts and looks a seriously rising star on the scene. "He is a top-class horse and definitely will be able to win other (Group 1) races," said Lemaire, who scored his first Classic win in Japan.
For a Group 2 event, Sunday's Oriental Watch 55th Anniversary Sha Tin Trophy had a lot of jewels in its movement. And the finest-meshing of the lot was Designs on Rome, who emerged from the rear to take the point with just more than 500 meters left in the 1,600-meters sprint. The old warrior held on to defeat Blazing Speed by a neck.
The 6-year-old "doesn't know how to get beat," said winning trainer John Moore. "He knows where the line is and anything that comes at him, he just knuckles down ... He's still a force to reckon with."
Moore said the race was supposed to be a tightener for the 2,000-meters Jockey Club Gold Cup next month and the win was a pleasant bonus. "We hope he pulls up sound and we can get him there for the race next month and move on to the (Longies) Hong Kong Cup in December," the conditioner said.
Lucky Bubbles, making his first start since May, got the lead in the straight in Sunday's Group 2 Premier Bowl at Sha Tin and dug deep to hold off the more in-form Amazing Kids for a gritty win against a tough field.
"I was never worried," said winning jockey Brett Prebble with a wry grin. Prebble admitted he could see Amazing Kids coming "and I knew he had the fitness edge so I knew he would be tough at the end when my bloke was vulnerable. But Lucky Bubbles, to his credit he fought on, he was never going to let him get by."
Winning trainer Francis Liu said the BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint on Nov. 20 will be next with a date in the Longines Hong Sprint as the true goal. The last two winners of that Group 1 race, Peniaphobia and Aerovelocity, were both in Sunday's field but neither figured in the outcome. Aerovelocity finished third and Peniaphobia was seventh. Thewizardofoz, the second-favorite, beat only one rival.
Rivet made all the pace in Saturday's Group 1 Racing Post Trophy for 2-year-olds at Doncaster and nailed down the win in the final furlong by holding off the Aidan O'Brien raider Yucatan by nearly 2 lengths. Salouen was third in the final Group 1 event of the British flat racing season and a traditional pointer to next year's Guineas and Derby.
Rivet, with Andrea Atzeni up for trainer William Haggis, picked up his third win from his last four starts -- a string interrupted by a fifth-place showing in the Dubai Dewhurst on Oct. 8. The Irish-bred colt is by Fastnet Rock out of the Galileo mare Starship and owned by the Starship Partnership.
Lightstream waited well back through the early furlongs in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Lexus Raven Run Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland, swung four-wide into the lane and got clear in the final yards for a 1 1/4-lengths victory. Malibu Stacy and Coniah filled the trifecta slots. Lightstream, a Harlan's Holiday filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.68.
"She really impressed me on the turn when I asked her," said winning rider Julien Leparoux. "She really took off, which actually made me go wider than I wanted to. But she got the job done."
Lightstream won the Beaumont during the spring meeting at Keeneland, then was third in the Grade I Mother Goose at Belmont and second in the Grade I Test at Saratoga before Saturday's score.
Acceptance battled with Richard's Boy for the whole 6 1/2 furlongs of Saturday's $100,000 California Flag Handicap for California-bred before prevailing by a head over that rival. Somethings Unusual was third, 1/2 length farther back. Acceptance, a 4-year-old Vronsky colt, finished in 1:11.51 over firm going.
"Strategy?" said winning trainer Kenny Black. "I just told Stewart to meet me in the Winner's Circle. I was pretty straightforward. The draw was really the key to it. I don't even want to think about what race might be next. I want to give him more time between races."
American Gal, the heaviest of favorite, ran to her notices in Sunday's $70,000 Anoakia Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, kicking away in the lane to a 6 1/2-lengths victory. Woot Woot beat the other, finishing 1/2 length ahead of Bernina Star. American Gal, a Concord Point filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.46 with Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Bob Baffert. She's 2-for-2.
Line Judge dueled for the lead in Saturday evening's $200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes, then took command in the final furlong, drawing off to a 2 3/4-lengths upset win. Tip Tap Tapizar was along late to take second by 1 1/2 lengths from the favorite, Cohen's Kat. Line Judge, a Spring at Last colt, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.79 under C.J. McMahon. The race, a prep for next month's $1 million Delta Jackpot, drew horses from as far afield as Canterbury Park in Minnesota and Monmouth in New Jersey.
Golden Mischief rallied by pacesetter Flatter Up in the final furlong to take Friday night's $100,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 1 3/4 lengths over that rival. Forest Circle was third and the favorite, Bring On the Bling, finished fourth. The race is the local prep for next month's $400,000 Delta Princess. Golden Mischief, an Into Mischief filly trained by Steve Asmussen, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.77 with Gerard Melancon in the irons.
Caren led the way in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Carotene Stakes for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies and went on to win by 1 length over Niigon's Eclipse. Calling Rhy Rhy was third. Caren, a daughter of Society's Chairman, ran about 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:49.10 with Jesse Campbell up.
Will She, in fact, did. The Wando filly seized the lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Fanfreluche Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies and roared off to win by 8 3/4 lengths. Green Freedom was second and the odds-on favorite, Heard That, was a nose farther back in third. Will She, with Jesse Campbell in the irons, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.06.
Where's the Widget led all the way in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bunty Lawless Stakes for Ontario-sired horses and held on to win by a neck over Nipgon. The favorite, Seffeara, was another length back in third. Where's the Widget, a 4-year-old Giant Gizmo gelding, covered 1 mile on good turf in 1:36.27 for jockey Eurico Da Silva.
Tiz a Slam rallied from well back in the pack to take Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Cup and Saucer Stakes for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds by 1 3/4 lengths over Tidal Dancer. Romeo O Romeo was a neck farther behind in third. Tiz a Slam, a Tiznow colt out of the Grand Slam mare Flaming Rose, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.95 with Da Silva aboard.
Roca Rojo rallied to the lead in the stretch in Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Athenia Stakes for fillies and mars and won by 3 1/4 lengths over Stormy Victoria. Mexican Gold was just a neck farther back in third. Roca Rojo, a 4-year-old Irish-bred filly by Strategic Prince, ran 1 1/16 miles on the soft inner turf course in 1:43.20 with Javier Castellano up. After winning both of her starts in Ireland last year, she scored her third win from four U.S. starts.
Dragon Bay stalked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 English Channel Stakes for 3-year-olds, joined the leaders midway around the turn and got home first by 1/2 length. Strike Midnight struck late, rallying from last of 11 to finish second, and Catapault was third. The favorite, Isotherm, made a brief run but then finished ninth. Dragon Bay, a Parading gelding, ran 1 mile on soft turf in 1:37.67 with Junior Alvarado up.
Saturday was Empire Classic Day. The main track was sloppy and they were off the turf.
Royal Posse shot to a big lead in the $300,000 Classic and easily held off the late run of the favorite, Governor Malibu, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over that one. Empire Dreams was third. Royal Posse, a 5-year-old Posse gelding, ran 9 furlongs in 1:52.15 under Irad Ortiz Jr.
Old Harbor drew off in the stretch to win the $200,000, off-the turf Ticonderoga for fillies and mares by 6 3/4 lengths. Tahoe Tigress beat the others with the favorite, Flipcup, another 8 3/4 lengths behind in third. Old Harbor, a 5-year-old daughter of Raffie's Majesty, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.05 with Manny Franco up.
Bar of Gold was solid gold in the $250,000 Empire Distaff. The 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly tracked the early pace, then took off when asked by jockey Joel Rosario and won by 18 lengths. Mecke's Madalyn was second, 5 1/2 lengths better than Jules N Rome. Bar of Gold ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.10.
Pat On the Back led throughout the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds and lasted, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Tellmeafookystory. The favorite, Gold for the King, was third. Pat On the Back, a Congrats colt, ran 1 mile in 1:40.08 with Dylan Davis up.
The $200,000 Mohawk Stakes came off the turf. Brother O'Connell took the lead and held it to the wire, besting the favorite, Tapitation, by a neck. Macagone was third and King Kreesa finished fourth. Brother O'Connell, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt, got 1 1/16 miles in the slop in 1:47.23 with John Velazquez up.
Bonita Bianca didn't seem to mind the conditions in the $250,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies. The Curlin miss led all the way and won by 5 1/4 lengths with Tainted Angel fading from the lead to finish second. It was another 11 3/4 lengths back to Bree's Got Heart in third. Bonita Bianca, with Irad Ortiz Jr. at the controls, ran 1 mile in 1:40.19.
Breakin the Fever was under pressure throughout the $150,000 Hudson Handicap but held on to win by 1/2 length from his stubborn opponent, odds-on favorite Weekend Hideaway. Drama King and Candid Desire completed a strung-out order of finish. Breakin the Fever, a 4-year-old Roaring Fever gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.97 with Nazario Alvarado up.
Quezon stalked the pace in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes for fillies and mares, went by the leader and won by 5 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Wonderment was second with Court Dancer third. Quezon, a 4-year-old daughter of Tiz Wonderful, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.38 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Saturday was Maryland Million Day for the state-breds. The turf was firm and the main track was fast.
Admirals War led throughout in the $150,000 Classic and won by 3 1/2 lengths over Bullheaded Boy with the favorite, Just Jack, another 9 1/4 lengths in arrears in third. Admirals War, a 5-year-old gelding by Elusive Charlie, ran 9 furlongs in 1:51.28 with Taylor Hole up. Heavy favorite Phlash Phelps rallied to win the $125,000 Turf by 1 1/4 lengths from Spartianos with Grandiflora another neck back in third. Phlash Phelps, a 5-year-old Great Notion gelding, ran 1 mile on the green in 1:34.52 with Victor Carrasco in the irons.
Devilish Love tracked the pace in the $125,000 Ladies before taking over the lead, then holding off Complete St. by a nose with the favorite, Northern Smile, third. Devilish Love, a 6-year-old Not For Love Mare, ran 9 furlongs on the turf in 1:47.69 with Alex Cintron up. Rockin Jojo took the $99,000 Distaff at 7 furlongs on the main track, defeating Cee Bee Cee Bee by 1/2 length in 1:25.06. Nicaradelic Rocks shadowed the pace in the $100,000 Sprint at 6 furlongs and got by to win by 1 length over pacesetting Morning Fire. The venerable 10-year-old Ben's Cat finished last of 6 in the Sprint, continuing an unprecedented losing streak for owner-trainer King Leatherbury. "It's disappointing," Leatherbury said of the outcome, promising to "take a look and evaluate it later."
Item led the way in the $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies, opened a daylight lead and held off She's Achance too by a head at the wire. Small Batch was third, another neck back and the favorite, Diamond Dollar, finished a facing seventh after a stumbling start. Item, an Orientate filly, got 6 furlongs in 1:12.45 with Tyler Connor up.
Greatbullsoffire closed inside Dancing with Maude in the final strides of the $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds and beat that rival by a head. Maryland's Best was third. Greatbullsoffire, a Bullsbay colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.48 with Carrasco in the irons.
Friday was Oklahoma Classics Day. The turf was firm and the main track was fast.
Runandyrun was up from last of nine just in time to win the $130,000 OKC Turf Classic by a neck from Charlie Webb, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.59 with Belen Quinonez up. Gianna's Dream dominated the $130,000 Distaff Turf Stakes, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Zeta Zody. The 3-year-old Twirling Candy filly ran 1 1/16 miles on the lawn in 1:42.68 with C.J. McMahon up.
Phantom Trip was up in the final strides to take the $175,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup by a neck over Z Rockstar, running the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.14 for jockey David Cabrera. Steel Cut pressed the pace in the $145,000 Distaff, then went by and drew off to win by 2 lengths over Mimi's Money, covering 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:41.63 under Chris Landeros.
Okie Diva was always close in the $100,000 Oklahoma Classics Lassie for 2-year-old fillies and won by 2 1/4 lengths over Baby K. The Chitoz filly ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.08 with Luis Quinonez up. Taxman's Quest rushed up to the lead in the $100,000 Juvenile and drew off easily, winning by 5 3/4 lengths with Euroncall third. The Euroears gelding finished in 1:10.98 with Brian McNeil in the irons.
Okie Ride ran by the early leader and favorite, Welder, in the final yards to take the $130,000 Sprint by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival with Perfect to Please third. Okie Ride, a 9-year-old Candy Ride gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.83 for Quinonez. Euro K Shotgun opened the festivities with a 1 3/4-lengths win over Devious Rumor in the $130,000 Distaff Sprint, running 6 furlongs in 1:10.08 with Qunionez up.