Favorites tumbled around the world in weekend racing, from decisive losses by Irish War Cry and El Areeb on the Kentucky Derby trail to narrow defeats of Chautauqua in Australia and Postponed in Dubai.
Bright spots included another victory by Unique Bella, the best 3-year-old filly in America, and Soul Stirring, a daughter of Frankel and the best 3-year-old filly in Japan.
Another was Decorated Knight, who could have stayed in England to contest the Winter Derby and the All-Weather Championships finals but instead won a Group 1 race at Meydan on the Super Saturday card.
Yet another was jockey Joao Moreira's performance Sunday at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. The "Magic Man" booted home eight winners -- a Hong Kong record.
It was, indeed, a super weekend all around but we'll be judicious with the superlatives as we proceed with:
The Road to the Roses
Gunnevera broke last of 10 in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Xpressbet Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, advanced down the backstretch and circled four-wide into the stretch to reach contention. Jockey Javier Castellano then found another gear and the Dialed In colt quickly pulled clear to win by 5 3/4 lengths in a mild upset. Practical Joke was along for second, 1/2 length in front of pacesetting Three Rules.
The favorite, previously undefeated Irish War Cry, faded badly and finished seventh.
Gunnevera, trained by Antonio Sano, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.25.
Sano reported Sunday morning Gunnevera was fine after his effort.
"It was very exciting. The horse demonstrated that he was the best horse in the race," Sano said. "Right now, the horse has demonstrated he's the best, to me." He said he is "90 percent" certain Gunnevera will move forward to contest the $1 million Florida Derby April 1 -- the race that boosted Nyquist to Kentucky Derby glory last year.
The winner of last November's $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, Gunnevera started his 3-year-old season running second behind Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull Stakes over the same course Feb. 4.
The latter's trainer, Graham Motion, said his colt also seemed fine Sunday and blamed himself for not advising jockey Joel Rosario to take back and let someone else make the pace.
"I think it was a combination of maybe laying a little too close to a pretty good pace ... and maybe just regressing off his last race when he ran such a big race," Motion said of Irish War Cry's fading finish. He said the Florida Derby is doubtful.
J Boys Echo rallied to the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and went on to post the 6-1 upset win. Cloud Computing was second, another 7 1/2 lengths better than the odds-on favorite, El Areeb, who led early under pressure and then found nothing when put to the test turning for home, snapping his four-race win streak.
J Boys Echo is a Mineshaft colt out of Letgomyecho, who is by Menifee, runner-up to Charismatic in the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Robby Albarado steered the bay colt over 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:46.34.
J Boys Echo, trained by Dale Romans, had only a maiden win to his credit going into the Gotham and finished third behind El Areeb in the Grade III Withers in February.
"They were moving pretty quick up on the back side," Albarado said. "I swung him out and he took off and I hand-rode him home. He was really impressive ... I don't want to say too much, but he's a nice horse. He's a good colt."
Romans said J Boys Echo will resurface in either the Grade II Wood Memorial at the Big A or the Grade II Blue Grass at Keeneland in a final Kentucky Derby prep.
"A little bit of pressure is off so we need a performance worthy of going to the Derby next out and keep him together for a couple more months," the trainer said.
"I think it's great to win in New York. If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere. I said that one time and got me a song out of it," added the loyal Kentuckian.
El Areeb's trainer, Cathal Lynch, said the colt exited the race in good shape and blamed the early pressure for the Gotham fade. "Pace makes the race and it kind of cost us," Lynch said.
New Orleans invader It's Your Nickel trailed early, then blew by En Hanse at the top of the lane in Saturday's $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park and scampered off to a 6 1/2-lengths victory over that foe. Star Empire was a further 1 1/4 length back in third. It's Your Nickel, a Dialed In colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.66 with James Graham in for the ride.
Both horse and rider came from Fair Grounds, where It's Your Nickel won his past two races, one by disqualification and one on turf for trainer Kenny McPeek. The Battaglia was his first try on the all-weather. En Hanse, a son of Hansen, won the local WEBN Stakes Feb. 17.
"He was farther back than I wanted to be," said winning jockey James Graham. "He wasn't handling the track real well at first so I just let him go on, but once he got his head down and got into a rhythm on the backstretch, he was traveling beautifully. From the seven-eighths pole he was doing it easy. He ran to his works."
The Battaglia is the local prep for the $500,000 Grade 3 JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes on March 25.
In Dubai, Cosmo Charlie was up front all the way around in Saturday's $250,000 Al Bastakiya sponsored by Emirates Skywards and held off Qatar Man, winning by 1 length. Capazano was third. Fawree, one of the favorites, lunged at the start, dislodging jockey Bernard Fayd'Herbe but neither horse nor rider appeared seriously injured.
The race was a prep for the Group 2 UAE Derby on World Cup night -- a race which awards 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. Cosmo Charlie was sixth in the UAE 2,000 Guineas and will face much tougher opposition if he moves on to the big race, including UAE 2,000 Guineas winner Thunder Snow.
After the dust cleared, Gunnevera jumped to the top of the Kentucky Derby qualifying points leaderboard with 64 and J Boy's Echo was second with 53.
Road to the Oaks
Unique Bella finally got a little bit of a challenge in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita but shrugged it off and rolled on to her fourth straight win. Abel Tasman, a "new shooter" against the division leader, ranged up to within 1 length of Unique Bella at mid-stretch but the latter shifted gears effortlessly and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Abel Tasman held second by 8 lengths over Spooky Woods.
Unique Bella, a Tapit filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.11 with Mike Smith aboard and, despite her dominance over fellow 3-year-old fillies, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he has no desire to run Unique Bella against either 3-year-old males or top older distaffer Songbird.
"We have a very talented filly and we'd like to look at the Kentucky Oaks," he said. "We like to take one step at a time. We'd like to go for the Santa Anita Oaks, and if we win or do well, then we'll try to go to Kentucky ... I don't have any thoughts about running her against the boys, but some other folks do, I guess," he added.
Abel Tasman was making her first start as a 3-year-old. The Quality Road filly won the Grade I Starlet at Los Alamitos to wrap up her 2-year-old season and was facing Unique Bella for the first time. Jockey Joe Talamo said he feels she will improve.
Miss Sky Warrior made it three wins in a row, rallying from a pace-stalking trip to take Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park by 1/2 length over Jordan's Henny. Summer Luck was third.
Miss Sky Warrior, a First Samurai filly, was making her 3-year-old debut. She finished last season with wins in the Grade III Tempted and the Grade III Demoiselle, both at Aqueduct. With Paco Lopez up for trainer Kelly Breen, Miss Sky Warrior traveled 1 mile around a single turn in 1:38.49.
"I like to say the further she goes, the better she goes. I don't know," Breen said. He said the owners are talking about the next steps with an eye on Unique Bella's performances in California. "We'll have to step up our performance to run against her. But maybe we'll see her in the Kentucky Oaks," he said.
Perfect Prediction sprinted to the lead in Friday night's $50,000 Take Charge Brandi Stakes at Delta Downs and wasn't caught, striding off to a daylight victory over the heavy favorite, Golden Mischief. Shes Trickey was third. Perfect Prediction, a Majesticperfection filly, was bred by her owner, Brereton Jones, and trained by Larry Jones. Roberto Morales rode the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25 3/5. It was her second win and first in a stakes race.
On the international front:
Long River showed the way in Saturday's Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 and coasted home first, 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Special Fighter. The favorite, Chilean-bred Furia Cruzada, was third. Long River, a 7-year-old son of A.P. Indy out of the Awesome Again mare Round Pond, finished the 2,000 meters in 2:04.20.
Long River finished second in Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge at 1,600 meters but was eighth of nine in the middle leg, run 300 meters longer. The race is the local lead-in to the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 25.
"The trainer will decide where he goes," said winning rider Mickael Barzalona. "He has the speed for the Godolphin Mile but I would imagine the Dubai World Cup would be the chosen option."
Three horses -- Dubai Millennium in 2000, Street Cry in 2002 and Electrocutionist in 2006 -- have won both Round 3 and the World Cup in the same season.
Barzalona said the slight step up in trip wasn't an issue in Saturday's race.
"We never reached the distance because we went such an easy pace," he said.
The issue will be far different in three weeks' time as the international contingent headed for the Dubai World Cup, led by the world's No. 1-rated horse, Arrogate, looks like a stiff challenge for the Al Maktoum combatants.
Special Fighter's performance on Saturday is worthy of note as the Irish-bred son of Teofilo was making his first start since finishing fourth behind California Chrome in last year's World Cup.
Decorated Knight was qualified for the All-Weather Championship finals in England on Good Friday but, instead, detoured to Dubai where he came with a rush under Andrea Atzeni to capture Saturday night's Group 1 Jebel Hatta by a neck over Folkswood with Muffri'ha third.
Decorated Knight, a 5-year-old son of Galileo out of a Storm Cat mare, was well back and trapped with 400 meters to run. He finally got a clear path with 300 meters left and caught Folkswood in the final jumps, finishing 1,800 meters on the turf in 1:49.95 in a race that is a logical lead-in to the $6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night.
"We discussed this after the (all-weather) race," Atzeni said. "This horse was already a Group 3 winner so there was no point in staying in the UK for the Winter Derby. The pace was not quick, which did not suit him. But he has a good turn of foot and stays further so I was always pretty hopeful. He should be spot on for the Dubai Turf."
Trained by Roger Charlton, Decorated Knight now has won half of his 12 starts and is improving with age, Atzeni said.
Prize Money nipped one of the world's top horses, Postponed, by a neck in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold. Emotionless was third, another 3/4 length back, giving Godolphin runners first and third in the race, a prep for the $6 million Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, which Postponed won last season.
Prize Money, a 4-year-old by Authorized, has advanced quickly since he was gelded last year and scored his second straight win at the World Cup Carnival. He ran 2,410 meters, or about 1 1/2 miles, in 2:19.42 with Adrie De Vries up for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Postponed was reluctant to load, then raced well back of the early leaders. Turning for home, De Vries stole a march on the favorite, putting him in a box. By the time Andrea Atzeni found room on the inside, Postponed's run had been postponed too long and his final effort got him by a brave Emotionless but couldn't match Prize Money.
"This horse is just improving all the time and is a very useful 4-year-old, said De Vries. "I actually thought we hit the front a bit too soon but I had to take the opportunity when it presented itself. He should give a good account of himself in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic and probably has more to offer yet."
Postponed was making his first start since finishing fifth behind Found in last fall's Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly. Before that, he reeled off six straight wins, dating back to the Group 1 King George at Royal Ascot in 2015.
"He ran well," Atzeni said of Postponed. It was his first run back this year and it was a bit of a messy race. But he came back well."
Morawij was out and flying in the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal at 1,200 meters on the dirt, opened a big lead with 200 meters left to run and then just did hold off Cool Cowboy by a head. Hong Kong-based Dundonnell was third by another 1 1/4 lengths after pressuring the winner through much of the race. Morawij, with Christopher Hayes up, finished 1:11.25 in a race that foreshadows the $2 million, Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, which is likely to feature much tougher customers. The 7-year-old Exceed and Excel gelding came off a victory at 1,000 meters at Jebel Ali in his last outing.
Dundonnell's trainer, Caspar Fownes, said he was disappointed his 7-year-old didn't persevere through the late going but said he plans to move ahead to World Cup night.
Heavy Metal was in front as the field exited the chute, led all the way and kicked off to a 6 1/2-lengths victory in Saturday's Group 3 Burj Nahaar, a 1,600-meters race on the dirt course leading to the $1 million, Group 2 Godolphin Mile on March 25. Ross and Alabaster finished second and third while last season's 3-year-old filly sensation, Polar River, continued her slide, finishing last of 13.
Heavy Metal, a 7-year-old gelding by Exceed and Excel, finished in 1:37.21 under Mickael Barzalona. He picked up his third win from five starts at the Carnival.
Jungle Cat ran strongly through the final 200 meters to take the Nad Al Sheeba Turf Sprint by 2 lengths from Baccarat with The Right Man third. Jungle Cat, a 5-year-old horse by Iffraaj, got the 1,200 meters on the grass in 1:08.23. Charlie Appleby trains the top two for Godolphin.
Baccarat, while falling short, made a dramatic move from well back on the stands side, weaving through traffic while Jungle Cat had a straight shot to the lead nearer the inside rail.
"We knew we had two live chances and they have both run very well," Appleby said. "Jungle Cat has enjoyed a far smoother passage than Baccarat and both more than merit their place in the Al Quoz Sprint."
The race presages the $1 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night. The Al Quoz this year replaces the Golden Shaheen as Dubai's leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
The performance of the day was by jockey Joao Moreira, who won eight of the day's 11 races. That's a local record although the "Magic Man" has done it twice before, once in his native Brazil and again at Kranji in Singapore.
"I really don't have words to describe it. It's amazing. We know how tough it is to make it here in Hong Kong," Moreira said. "I didn't expect it to happen, to be honest. To ride eight winners in a day here in Hong Kong is more than special."
Making it even more special: Moreira was shut out in 10 rides at Sha Tin the previous Sunday.
"A wave of the wand, a puff of smoke and the 'Magic Man' pulls one out of the hat," enthused the Sha Tin track announcer as Moreira booted home Prawn Baba for his eighth score.
The cherry in Moreira's sundae was a blistering victory down the Sha Tin straight on Mr Stunning, a 4-year-old that the rider touted as a rising star. Mr Stunning drafted behind pacesetting Amber Sky, shifted to the stands side 400 meters out and quickly put the matter to rest, winning by 2 lengths over Not Listenin'tome in 55.65 seconds.
"We haven't seen his best yet," Moreira said. "He's an exciting type ... I don't think 1000 meters is his best. I think 1,200 will see the best of him and that's what we want anyway. All the big races are over longer."
Trainer John Moore, meanwhile, was ecstatic about the performance of Not Listenin'tome, who was carrying 131 pounds to Mr Stunning's 115 and is targeted for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night. "He's run a very good race with Dubai in mind," Moore said. "I'm very pleased with that."
Le Romain narrowly edged Chautaqua in Saturday's Group 1 Canterbury BMW Stakes, run over 1,300 meters of heavy turf. Rains had threatened to force cancellation of the meeting earlier in the week. Le Romain, with Glyn Schofield up, got home a nose in front of the one-time world sprint leader after a spirited stretch run that saw the pair racing stride by stride until the final jumps. Hauraki finished third.
Le Romain, a 4-year-old Hard Spun gelding, finished in 1:20.00. Jockey Tommy Berry, who rode Chautauqua, said the effort proves his horse is back to the form that found him on top in the Group 1 Chairman's Sprint Prize last spring at Sha Tin. It also may have set up a rematch in the Group 1 George Ryder at Rosehill on March 18 with not only Le Romain but also the super mare Winx, who would be seeking her 16th consecutive win.
Two races later, Inference, with Berry up, defeated Invincible Gem in the Group 1 Girvan Waugh Randwick Guineas, running 1,600 meters on the deep going in 1:40.91. Comin' Through was third and the tepid favorite, Man From Uncle, finished fifth. Inference is a 3-year-old colt by So You Think.
At Randwick, Hey Doc justified his favorite status, albeit lukewarm, with a 3/4-length victory in Saturday's Group 1 Australian Guineas. The Duporth gelding, with Luke Currie aboard, bested Prized Icon with Snitzson third. The 1,600 meters went in 1:34.01. It was his first win at the highest level.
Soul Stirring, a Frankel filly who obviously inherited some of her sire's talent, raced just behind the leading group in Saturday's Group 2 Tulip Sho or Japanese 1,000 Guineas Trial at Hanshin, advanced with complete authority in the final 200 meters and remained undefeated with a 2-lengths victory. Miss Panthera was second with Lys Gracieux third. Soul Stirring, with Christophe Lemaire up, ran 1,600 meters on firm turf in 1:33.2. She won all three of her starts as a juvenile and was making her first 3-year-old start.
Cardenas caught pacesetting My Style in the final yards of Sunday's Group 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi or Japanese 2,000 Guineas Trial at Nakayama, winning by 1/2 length over that rival. Danburite was third. Cardenas, a Deep Impact colt out of the French Deputy mare French Riviara, won twice last season and was making his 2017 bow. Yuichi Fukunaga rode the winner over 2,000 meters of firm turf in 2:03.2.
Watersmeet took back behind the early lead in Thursday night's Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City, rallied to the lead in the final furlong and survived an inquiry before gaining the win.
The mark Johnston-trained 6-year-old already had won twice during the All-Weather Championship series but at distances of 12 and 14 furlongs. The Chelmsford City race was at 2 miles and provides him a slot in the Betway Marathon over the same distance on All-Weather Championship Finals Day on Good Friday, April 14.
Visionary kicked strongly at the end for jockey Pat Smullen to take Friday's Fast-Track Qualifier at Dundalk, catching Rock In Peace to win by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Tuff Love was third. Visionary, by Dream Ahead, earned a place in the 3-year-old All-Weather Championships over 6 furlongs in the Good Friday finals. Friday's race was 7 furlongs. Trainer Robert Cowell said he will speak to owner Khalifa Dasmal about plans.
On Saturday at Lingfield, Second Thought turned a hat trick of All-Weather wins, rallying to take the 7-furlongs feature on Polytrack. He already earned a place in the 3-year-old final with a win in a Fast-Track Qualifier in January at Kempton Park.
Also at Lingfield, My Target scored his fourth consecutive course victory at 1 mile, rallying from the back of the field to win by 1/2 length over Franco's Secret. My Target is on for the Sunbets Mile Final on Good Friday.
Dorsett captured the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup for the second straight year Saturday and for the second straight year defeated rivals owned and campaigned by Gold Cup regulars Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Dorsett trailed the field early and it appeared the Ramseys' High Noon Rider was home free turning into the final run. But Dorsett found another gear and ran by to win by less than a length. High Noon Rider and the Ramseys' other entry, Keystoneforvictory, finished second and third.
Last year, Dorsett defeated Watchyourownbobber, denying the red-and-white Ramsey silks their fourth win in the island nation's signature race, which was covered live for the second straight year by Horse Racing Radio Network (www.horseracingradio.net) with Mike Penna and Jude Feld on the spot.
Back in the US of A:
On the turf:
Wake Forest was along just in time to win Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Mac Diarmida by a head over a late-running Patterson Cross. Reporting Star was third, a neck farther back. Wake Forest, a 7-year-old, German-bred son of Sir Percy, ran 1 3/8 miles on the firm Gulfstream green in 2:30.54 with Javier Castellano in the irons for trainer Chad Brown. It was his first win since the Grade I Man o' War at Belmont Park last May although he had been very close in some big events. "Here at Gulfsream," said part-owner Michael Dubb, "you need the right kind of trip to win ... We weren't sure how well he'd run off the layoff. Now we're looking for a very exciting year."
Dream Dancing found a seam along the inside in deep stretch and got through to win Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Herecomesthebride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over the odds-on favorite, Coasting. Party Boat finished third. Dream Dancing, a Tapit filly owned and bred by John Oxley, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.78 with Julien Leparoux aboard. Trainer Mark Casse said he had some anxious moments when Leparoux seemed bottled up behind horses. "Then, he dove inside and I thought, 'Gee, I hope something opens up.' Even when it did, she had lost a lot of momentum," Casse said. In four turf starts, Dream Dancing now has three wins and a second. Coasting was making her first start since finishing second, beaten only 1/2 length, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Suffused, under Jose Ortiz, took her time near the back of the field in Saturday's $150,000, Grade III The Very One for fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park, advanced like a flash outside rivals on the turn and drew off with ease, winning by 5 lengths. Quiet Kitten and Paige, the longest shots in the race, were second and third. Olorda, who showed the way, gave way as quickly as Suffused advanced and finished last of six. Suffused, a Juddmonte Farms homebred 5-year-old by Champs Elysees, ran 1 3/16 miles on firm turf in 1:51.40. She now has been first or second in each of her last six starts. Ortiz: "I just let her relax and made one move. They were going a little faster than I expected. That's why I was back there."
Ticonderoga rallied from well back in the field to win Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Palm Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Gulfstream Park turf, defeating Kitten's Cat by 1 length with Snap Decision third. Ticonderoga, a Tapit colt, was making his first start since finishing fourth after a tardy start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall at Santa Anita. With Joel Rosario up for trainer Chad Brown, Ticonderoga covered 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:40.38. "He's a quirky horse, hard to figure out," Brown said. "We've made some changes and it worked out. We're going to try to stretch the horse out eventually, maybe take him to Keeneland for the Transylvania. Eventually, we'd like to take him to the Belmont Derby if he can get a mile and a quarter."
Heart to Heart led from the start and ran on to a smart victory in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park. Bondurant was second, 3/4 length back with Conquest Panthera third. Heart to Heart, a 6-year-old son of English Channel, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.63 with Julien Leparoux scoring his fourth win on the card. Heart to Heart, a confirmed front-runner, came off a victory in the Grade II Fort Lauderdale at 1 1/16 miles over the same course in January. The key to the win, Leparoux said, "Just letting him run free. He's a cool little horse to ride ... Today he broke very sharp and was free on the lead."
Celestine led from the opening jumps in Saturday's $100,000 Sand Springs Stakes for fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park and, try as she might, Catch a Glimpse could not catch her in what amounted to a two-horse race. At the wire, Celestine was 2 lengths in front of Catch a Glimpse with Lori's Store third.
Out west, Stormy Liberal took the lead heading into the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes at Santa Anita, then had to find another gear to hold off Perfectly Majestic by a nose at the line. Danzing Candy finished third. Stormy Liberal, a 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding, ran about 6 1/2 miles down the firm hillside turf course in 1:11.89 with Norberto Arroyo Jr. up.
Rockshaw pressed the pace through the first half mile of Saturday's $125,000 Gazebo Stakes for 3-year-olds, then went to the fore and drew off to win by 4 lengths as the favorite. The early leader, Laughingsaintssong, held second, 2 1/2 lengths better than Balandeen. Rockshaw, a Maclean's Music colt, negotiated 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.27 with Geovanni Franco in the irons.
Kathballu emerged from a three-way pace duel to win Saturday's $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for fillies and mares by 3/4 length. Natural Wonder ranged up from last of six to finish second, a neck in front of Marquee Miss. The favorite, Fantastic Style, was in front early but faded to finish fifth. Kathballu, a 5-year-old Bluegrass Cat mare, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.25 with Channing Hill up.
Pretty N Cool opened a big advantage early in the stretch run in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Las Flores for fillies and mares at Santa Anita and the favorite, Constellation, fell 1 3/4 lengths short of catching her at the wire. Ponder Lea was another 3/4 length back in third. Pretty N Cool, a 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.49 with Martin Garcia riding for trainer Bob Baffert.
Bird Song led all the way to a 1 1/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Fred Hooper Stakes. After shaking off a pace challenge, Bird Song was clear all the way. Realm was second and Tale of S'avall finished third. Bird Song, a 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt, ran the one-turn mile in 1:36.07 with Julien Leparoux scoring riding triple in just the fifth race of the day. Winning trainer Ian Wilkes said Bird Song's fading second behind Tommy Macho in his last race reflected a conditioning issue. "It was a last-minute decision to run in that race. This time I had him ready." Wilkes said he wasn't concerned about the early duel with Mr. Jordan. "He's a fast horse. That's his cruising speed," Wilkes said.
Isabelle led from the start in Saturday's $150,000 Heavenly Prize for fillies and mares at Aqueduct and opened up in the lane to win by 12 lengths. The even-money favorite, Genre, beat the other four with Chorus Line third. Isabelle, a 6-year-old Successful Appeal mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track in 1:46.04 with Kendrick Carmouche up. She was doing really well coming into the race," said Leanna Willaford, assistant to winning trainer Bill Mott. "I really don't know where we'll go from here. I'm just happy we've gotten to keep her this long during breeding season."
Let Us Be Glad stalked the pace in Saturday's $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes, came three-wide on the stretch turn to take the lead entering the lane and got clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Trust Factor. Benwill was third. Let Us Be Glad, a 5-year-old Eskendereya gelding, ran about 1 mile on firm turf in 1:37.42 with Gabriel Saez in the irons.