UPI Horse Racing Roundup: On Wings of Eagles the Derby is won

By ROBERT KIECKHEFER, UPI Racing Writer  |  June 5, 2017 at 11:06 AM
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Wings of Eagles and Solar Wind soared to victory in a weekend of Thoroughbred racing that also found Breeders' Cup Mile berths secured in California and Japan.

And those were just the highlights of a busy week around the globe.

Her majesty the Queen traveled to Epsom in a daffodil-yellow outfit and a hat with flowers to watch Wings of Eagles win the Derby. Even without fancy dress, you can read about it here:

The Derby

Wings of Eagles, second-longest shot among trainer Aidan O'Brien's six starters, flew down the final 100 meters on the Epsom Downs course on Saturday to snatch victory in the 238th Derby by 3/4 lengths from his yardmate, Cliffs of Moher. The favorite, Cracksman, was just a neck farther back in third with Eminent fourth.

It was the sixth Derby victory for O'Brien and first for jockey Padraig Beggy, who has ridden from the north of Ireland to Australia while waiting this big chance.

Wings of Eagles had won only one previous race but entered the Derby off a nice second in the Chester Vase.

Beggy said Wings of Eagles was relaxed and within himself through the whole 1 1/2 miles and ready to make a big run as the field headed for home.

"I knew I was going to pass most of the field but I didn't think I was going to pass them all like I did," Beggy said. "But I knew I was going to finish. Two furlongs out, I thought I was in with a chance. One furlong down, I knew I was going to win because of the momentum I had picked up and got."

Wings of Eagles, let go at odds of 40-1, is by 2011 Derby winner Pour Moi out of the Kendor mare Ysoldina. Pour Moi, in turn, is by Montjeu, the winner of both the French and Irish Derbies in 1999 and sire of an incredible roster of champions including Galileo and High Chaparral.

A few others of note in examining the Derby's order of finish: Benbatl was last around Tattenham Corner, then rallied stoutly to finish fifth, beaten only 3 1/2 lengths. Douglas MacArthur led until well around the final bend and was seventh past the judge, 4 3/4 lengths behind Wings of Eagles.

No-hoper Diore Lia, entered as a charity fund-raiser, was a non-runner after going through a pair of apprentice jockeys and an almost infinite amount of controversy in the two days before the race.

Oaks Day at Epsom

There were omens aplenty before Friday's Group 1 Investec Oaks. O'Brien's string for the weekend arrived very late because of an airplane issue. American filly Daddys Lil Darling bolted on her way down to the starting stalls and jockey Olivier Peslier "exited through the side door" to avoid an accident before the filly was caught and scratched. Lightning split the sky as the fillies were being loaded into the stalls.

Finally, a driving rain arrived midway through the race, just as pacesetter Pocketfullofdreams was fading, her job done. Her O'Brien stablemate and the race favorite, Rhododendron, took the lead at that point, per script. But it was the Juddmonte Farms homebred Enable who got the most benefit from the honest early pace, quickly passing Rhododendron and running on to win by 5 lengths.

Rhododendron held on for second, 6 lengths to the good of Alluringly, another of O'Brien's starters.

Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager for Juddmonte Farms owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said, "I think we are in a very fortunate position and I am so thrilled for Prince Khalid. It's his breeding operation and another homebred Classic winner is so vital for everything. I think we have to enjoy this and then think about the future."

O'Brien said Rhodendron's future will bear some thought, too.

"Ryan just felt the last furlong was a long furlong on our filly," O'Brien said. "Whether the trip was far enough for her or whether she just had a busy day, there was a lot of stuff. But she ran very well ... I would say that Rhodendron would be very happy going back down in trip."

As the racegoers were enjoying their jellied eel and awaiting the Oaks, they were treated to a classic performance in the day's other Group 1 event, the Coronation Cup.

Highland Reel, a Group 1 winner on three continents, made all the going in the 1 1/2-miles test and was doing battle in the final furlong with Hawkbill when that one suddenly drifted seriously to the right. That gave Frontiersman an opening and he moved through to finish second, 1 3/4 lengths in the wake of Highland Reel. Hawkbill salvaged third.

Highland Reel, a 5-year-old by Galileo, won last year's Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, then finished second to Satono Crown in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase. He was a fading seventh in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, run over unfavorable yielding turf, in his only previous start of 2017.

"Highland Reel is an amazing horse," said winning trainer O'Brien. "Tactically, he has speed and he stays. He's very versatile. He could run in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot if he needs it and maybe then on to the King George."

Detouring back to North America:

Distaff

Stellar Wind let Vale Dori make the lead in Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita, then found that rival unwilling to concede the advantage, winning by only a neck after a tight stretch battle. Finest City, the only other starter, was third from start to finish. Stellar Wind, with Victor Espinoza in the irons, finished the mile on a fast track in 1:36.14. Espinoza said he was forced to stick close early because the pace was slow but added he had faith the 5-year-old Curlin mare would finish well.

"She's always like that in the stretch. She won't do much on her own," Espinoza said of Stellar Wind. "She's amazing. She's an incredible mare. But I have to do my job. She always wins by enough. I have to encourage her to go forward. She's been like that from the first day I rode her."

Stellar Wind has won four of her last five starts, with victories sandwiching a fourth-place finish in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, when she missed the break. Trainer John Sadler said he's looking at the Grade I Clement Hirsch on July 30 at 1 1/16 miles.

Turf Mile

Bal a Bali had a lot to do when the field hit the turn in Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita. But jockey Mike Smith had them measured and got by pacesetting favorite Heart to Heart in the late going for the win. Farhaan came with a late charge, missing by 3/4 length and edging Heart to Heart for second. Bal a Bali, a 7-year-old Brazilian-bred son of Put It Back, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:32.22, earning an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile in November at Del Mar.

Calumet Farm, which acquired breeding rights last year, made a late decision to keep Bal a Bali in training for another year -- a call which has paid off with a pair of Grade I wins and a shot at a year-end title.

"The original owners, Mr. Rick Porter and Mr. Manganaro, only wanted to do the best for him," said trainer Richard Mandella. "Then, when Calumet picked up the breeding rights and decided to race him, they've only given me the encouragement to do the same thing. If all horses in the world had those kinds of owners they'd be better off." He confirmed the Breeders' Cup Mile "will be the long-term goal."

Frostmourne rallied from halfway back in the pack to take Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Penn Mile for 3-year-olds at Penn National by 1 1/4 lengths over Big Score. Cistron pressed the pace, held a brief lead and finished third. Frostmourne, a Speightstown colt, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.04 under Irad Ortiz Jr. Trained by Christophe Clement, Frostmourne won two of three starts as a juvenile, then finished second, beaten only 1/2 length in his only previous start as a 3-year-old.

Turf

Oscar Performance got all thumbs-up in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Pennine Ridge for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park. Leading all the way, the Kitten's Joy ridgling finished 1 1/2 lengths to the good of the favorite, Good Samaritan, who got a wide trip from the outside gate. Ticonderoga was a head farther back in third. Oscar Performance, with Jose Ortiz up for trainer Brian Lynch, ran 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:48.44.

It was his fourth win from seven starts and followed a last-place finish in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs. "I think the soft ground in Kentucky was hurting him," Ortiz said. Lynch agreed, adding he will move forward with the $1.2 million Grade I Belmont Derby on July 8 as the next big goal.

Filly & Mare Turf

Grand Jete raced off the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Eatontown Stakes for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park, swung four-wide at the top of the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Light In Paris edged Zipessa for third. Grand Jete, a 4-year-old, British-bred filly by Dansili, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.30 with Joe Bravo in the irons. The Juddmonte Farms homebred, trained by Chad Brown, now is 2-for-2 in the United States after racing in France in 2016.

Dynatail led in Saturday's $200,000 Penn Oaks at Penn National, gave up the lead briefly to Adorable Miss and then came again to win by 3/4 length. Party Boat was up for second and Adorable Miss held third. Dynatail, a Hightail filly out of the Dynaformer mare Southern Dynamo, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.63 under Luis Saez. It was her third career win and she also was a good fourth in the Grade III Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.

September Stars collared breakaway leader Responsibleforlove in deep stretch and went on to win Sunday's $75,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes at Santa Anita by 3/4 length. After the victory, however, jockey Gary Stevens dismounted quickly and the 4-year-old Sea the Stars filly was vanned off the track. Stevens said he "erred on the side of caution" and trainer Paddy Gallagher said he could find nothing specifically wrong with the filly once she was back in the barn. Responsibleforlove held on for second, a neck in front of Place des Voges. September Stars ran 10 furlongs on firm turf in 2:00.30. Morning-line favorite and last year's winner, Evo Campo, was a late scratch.

Turf Sprint

Richard's Boy was promoted to victory in Saturday's $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National when 24-1 long shot Bold Thunder was set down to second for ducking out sharply during the stretch duel. Those two finished just a head apart with Rainbow Heir a neck farther back in third. Richard's Boy, a 5-year-old Idiot Proof gelding, fifth in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night, made it back-to-back wins after taking the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico on Preakness weekend.

Tower of Texas put a nose in front of pacesetting Commute at the wire in Saturday's $175,000 (Canadian) Grade II Connaught Cup at Woodbine. Calgary Cat, coming from even farther back, finished third, just another head in arrears. Tower of Texas, a 6-year-old gelding by Street Sense, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:19.38 -- just 0.02 second off the course record -- under Eurico Da Silva. The Roger Attfield trainee has been a consistent player in graded stakes on the Ontario turf but his only previous stakes win was the Grade II King Edward in 2015. "He's a lovely horse. He really is," Attfield said. "He's so competitive. He's been hurt two years in a row, actually, and went back to the farm in Kentucky. This last year, I thought it was going to be the last time I was going to see him. Back he came in the spring, and said, 'Come on, let's get going.'"

Sprint

Limousine Liberal hit the lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs and found another gear, winning off by 2 1/2 lengths. Wilbo was second and The Truth Or Else rallied from last to get show money. Limousine Liberal, a 5-year-old Successful Appeal gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.12 with Corey Lanerie in the irons. He was second in this race last year and won the Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes over the same track in his last start on Derby Day. Winning trainer Ben Colebrook said the option to the Aristides was the Grade II True North at Belmont Park. "It was an easy decision to stay home and run again in the Aristides. He ran a tough race on Derby day and the race in New York was coming up tough," he said. He said the Grade II Belmont Sprint Championship on July 8 is next up.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Code Warrior dueled for the lead in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Grade III Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine, got the advantage in the lane and survived a late run by Minks Aprise to win by 3/4 length. Jennifer Lynnette finished third. Code Warrior, a 4-year-old filly by Society's Chairman, got 6 1/2 furlongs of all-weather track in 1:16.80 with Anne Sanguinetti riding. J.C. Racing Stable, owned by Sanguinetti's parents, owns Code Warrior. "It's pretty cool," Sanguinetti said. "I've just been riding her since she was 2. She's a little quirky. She's really sweet but she has her own way of doing things. It's kind of better, everybody thought, to stick with what works."

Classic

Matt King Coal led all the way to a 3 3/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $200,000 Mountainview stakes at Penn National. Page McKenney, Discreet Lover and Whatsthequestion ran 2-3-4 all the way around, completing the order of finish. Matt King Coal, a 4-year-old colt by Cool Coal Man, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in track-record time of 1:48.93 with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding. Matt King Coal, second to Imperative in the Grade II Charles Town Classic, is flying a bit under the radar for trainer Linda Rice in a division dominated by Arrogate, who is on an extended break after his amazing Dubai World Cup win.

Around the world:

Japan

The second guaranteed Breeders' Cup Mile spot up for grabs this weekend was in Sunday's Group 1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse and went to Satono Aladdin in a dramatic, stretch-running upset of last year's winner Logotype. With 200 meters to go, Logotype had opened a big lead on the field and seemed in full flight. But Satono Aladdin, with Yuga Kawada up, came widest of all in a virtual cavalry charge to win by a neck.

Red Falx was another neck back in third and a neck in front of Greater London, who, in turn, was another neck to the good of Air Spinel, who was 1/2 length in front of the better of the two Hong Kong invaders, Beauty Only. The other Hong Kong raider, Contentment, finished 12th.

"He had a good draw today and everything went as planned," Kawada said. "I concentrated on keeping him in a good rhythm and we had a perfect trip and I was able to take him wide for clear sailing. So I had every confidence in pinning the leader although Logotype was quite persistent. I knew that we had a good chance of winning the race."

Satono Aladdin, a 6-year-old son of Deep Impact, finished in 1:31.5 over firm turf. It was his first win at the highest level and followed a seventh-place showing in last December's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile, won by Beauty Only.

France

Brametot totally missed the break in Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, at Chantilly and raced near the back of the field until they straightened out for home. At that point, jockey Cristian Demuro got the Rajsaman colt out widest of all and punched the accelerator. From the 300 meters, Brametot closed resolutely and just got there in time, bettering Waldeist by a short head. It was his fourth straight win and, especially after the slow start, marked him in the top rank of European, English and Irish 3-year-olds. Recoletos was third, followed by the three Aidan O'Brien runners Taj Mahal, War Decree and Order of the Garter. Three Godolphin colts -- Bay of Poets, D'bai and Soleil Marin -- finished seventh, 10th and 11th.

Also on Sunday at Chantilly, Extreme long shot La Sardane, representing Team Valor International, won the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham for 3-year-old fillies while the favorite, Heuristique, finished last of five; Silverwave came from the back of a short field to win the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly at 1 1/2 miles by a neck over Talismanic; and cross-Channel invader Muthmir posted a minor upset in the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene at 5 furlongs.

South Africa

Edict of Nantes, the Cape Derby winner, scored a narrow victory over South African Derby winner Al Sahem in Saturday's Group 1 Daily News 2000. The pair came into the narrow Greyville stretch behind a tiring pacesetter and both shifted to the stands side for the final run. The verdict could have been closer than the official 1/2 length had Al Sahem not hesitated briefly in the final 100 meters. Horizon was a non-threatening third.

In the Group 1 Woolavington 2000 for 3-year-old fillies, Lady of the House scored a narrow victory over the favorite, Gimme Six, producing a Group 1 double for the owners, Mayfair Speculators.

Around the ovals:

Penn National

The Critical Way, making just his second start, gave up the lead to Midtowncharlybrown midway around the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Danzig Stakes for 3-year-old Pennsylvania-breds, then regained the advantage late, winning by 1/2 length. Sepicato finished third. The Critical Way, a Tizway gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.29 with Javier Castellano up. He won at first asking May 6 over a wet-fast track at Santa Anita.

Firsthand Report showed the way in Saturday's $100,000 Lyphard Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, turned back a couple of challenges and won by a neck over Imply. Lille's Answer was third. The 4-year-old Blame filly ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.60 with Castellano in the irons.

Grand Prix also led in Saturday's $100,000 New Start Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old fillies and held on for a 1-length victory over Rose Tree. Ianthe was third. Grand Prix, a daughter of Tale of the Cat, tallied just her second win in her 10th start.

Arlington Park

Babybluesbdancing waltzed away from seven rivals late in Saturday's $50,000 Purple Violet Stakes for Illinois-bred 3-year-old fillies, winning off by 7 lengths. Countess St Michel, a 52-1 shot, led early, went wide on the second turn and held on for second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of the favorite, Shezahotmama. Babybluesbdancing, a Sky Mesa filly, toured 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:38.16 with Julio Felix in the irons.

Smoke 'n' Gloat dueled to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Springfield Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds and ran on to win by 2 lengths over the favorite, Don't Split Tens. Cat's Runaway was another 5 3/4 lengths back in third. Smoke 'n' Gloat, a Smoke Glacken gelding, got home in 1:35.49 with Chris Emigh up.

Churchill Downs

Forgive, on the lead but under pressure all the way, held on to win Saturday's $65,000 Mighty Beau Stakes by a pair of heads. Mighty Mocha was second with a late surge, edging Platinum Prince, who contested the pace through the 5 furlongs. Forgive, a 4-year-old gelding by Sidney's Candy, finished in 56.31 seconds over firm turf with Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons.

Evangeline Downs

Iron Fist pressed the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Evangeline Mile, took a narrow lead in the stretch and held off Fear the Cowboy for a 1/2-length win. Dan the Go to Man was third. Iron Fist, a 5-year-old son of Tapit, finished in 1:37.62 on a sloppy track with Gerard Melancon in the irons. He was coming off third-place finishes in graded stakes at Fair Grounds and Lone Star.

Tigerstorm shook clear in the lane to win Saturday's $50,000 Lafayette Stakes for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds by 2 1/4 lengths. Meraki was second, another 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Set Hut. Tigerstorm, a Half Ours gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:25.00 with Melacon riding.

Efforting tracked the pace around the turn in Friday night's $50,000 Arcadiana Stakes for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies, confidently moved to the lead in the lane and won by 3 1/2 lengths. Rose Guitar was best of the rest, 3/4 length ahead of Rose La Rosa. Efforting, an Into Mischief filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.81 for jockey Colby Hernandez.

Hernandez made it a stakes double, guiding Pacific Pink from off the pace to win the $75,000 Spotted Horse Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 3/4 lengths from Sunny Oak. Vieja Luna was third. Pacific Pink, a 5-year-old daughter of Private Vow, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.08.

Prairie Meadows

Molleck took a narrow lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $63,500 Gray's Lake Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and held it, winning by 1/2 length over Han Sense, who was making his first start since he returned from a two-race visit to Meydan in Dubai. King Deuce was third, 2 1/4 lengths farther back. Molleck, a Henny Hughes gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.42 with Kevin Roman up.

Jayne's Idea kicked away in the stretch run of Friday night's $63,500 Bob Bryant Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over Rainbow Sparkle. Bossy Em was third. Jayne's Idea, a daughter of Woke Up Dreamin, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.74 with David Cabrera in the irons.

Emerald Downs

Riser sprinted to the lead in Sunday's $50,000 Coca Cola Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings and extended the advantage through the full 6 1/2 furlongs to a 5 1/4-lengths victory. Aqua Frio was second, 2 3/4 lengths to the good of Sharkzilla. Riser, an Ohio-bred colt by Mizzen Mast, finished in 1:15.26 with Eswan Flores riding.

Thistledown

Justalittlesmoke battled to the lead in Saturday's $75,000 Michael G Mackey Memorial Angenora Stakes for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, then asserted herself as an odds-on favorite should, winning by 2 3/4 lengths. La Nina Bronca was second and Proper Discretion finished third. Justalittlesmoke, a 5-year-old Smoke Glacken mare, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.00.

Hastings Racecourse

Venetian Mask got by pacesetting favorite Modern at mid-stretch in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) John Longden 6000 Handicap and edged clear to win by 2 lengths over that foe. Bistraya was third. Venetian Mask, a 6-year-old Pulpit gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.23 with Jeffery Burningham in the irons.

Snuggles took over in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Strawberry Morn Handicap for fillies and mares and eased away to win by 2 1/2 lengths Dear Lilly was second, 1 1/4 lengths to the good of Castellani. Snuggles, a 4-year-old daughter of Rosberg, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.94 with Rico Walcott up.

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