Some of the horses that took the worst of the Kentucky Derby, including third-place finisher Battle of Midway, returned to the track successfully during the weekend.
Japan's Horse of the Year was upset in a Breeders' Cup qualifying race. Pakistan Star was anything but a star in Hong Kong.
But, before the memories fade, let's take one last, brief capsule look at a wonderful renewal of Royal Ascot.
The first race on the first day Tuesday produced one of the week's most impressive performances as Ribchester won the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at 1 mile from Mutakayyef. Lady Aurelia delivered the highlight of the meeting for American fans as she blitzed top sprinters in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes, notching a Royal Ascot win for the second straight year for trainer Wesley Ward. And in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes, Godolphin's Barney Roy came out on top, defeating Lancaster Bomber and Thunder Snow with Coolmore's dual Guineas winner, Churchill, fourth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths.
The Prince of Wales's Stakes highlighted Wednesday's racing and a highlight it was with Highland Reel battling the final furlong to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Decorated Knight. The 2016 Breeders' Cup Turf winner could be headed to Australia for the Cox Plate after this triumph. Con Te Partiro, another of Ward's, scored a 20-1 upset win in the Sandringham Handicap.
Day Three featured the Gold Cup at 2 1/2 miles -- the apex of the meeting for many of the locals and an excuse to ramp up the already dramatic fashion parade yet another notch. The racing matched or exceeded expectations as Big Orange surged to the lead early in the race and refused to yield to Order Of St George in a tight stretch duel, winning by a short head. Atty Persse gave the great Frankel his first-ever Royal Ascot winner as a sire, taking the King George V Stakes at 1 1/2 miles, farther than Frankel himself ever tried.
Friday was another red-letter day for Coolmore, trainer Aidan O'Brien and jockey Ryan Moore as they sent out Caravaggio to an impressive victory in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at 6 furlongs, beating Godolphin's Harry Angel and Blue Point into second and third; and superb 3-year-old filly Winter to easily win the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at 1 mile over stablemates Roly Poly and Hydrangea.
The Tin Man took Saturday's Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes in a tight finish over Tasleet and Limato but had to sweat out a stewards' inquest before the result was made official. If there was a disappointment for the huge crowds, it was in the Hardwicke Stakes. Dartmouth, owned by Her Majesty the Queen, faded from a narrow late lead to finish fourth in the Hardwicke Stakes, denying the monarch her 24th Royal Ascot winner and trainer Sir Michael Stoute a record 76th win as a trainer.
American fans owe a debt of gratitude to NBC-TV sports for showing the entirety of the meeting live and to Lane's End and the other sponsors for making it possible.
Now, back to racing as practiced by relative commoners:
The Classic Division
Battle of Midway, making his first start since running third in the Kentucky Derby, faced some pressure in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita but never bent and eventually won with ease. With Flavien Prat aboard, the Smart Strike colt wasted no time taking the lead, repulsed a bid by B Squared as they turned for home and kicked away, winning by 4 1/4 lengths. B Squared held second while Term of Art and Quiet Dude completed the order of finish. Battle of Midway ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.25.
Battle of Midway finished second behind Gormley in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby before holding on for third down the long Churchill Downs stretch in the Run for the Roses. "I think he's showing that he's coming into being a good horse and able to run against top competition," said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, adding the $1 million Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park on July 30 is "the race that we've talked about. That doesn't mean we're absolutely going to do that. There are a few real tough horses that might go in that race. But we might run in there anyway."
Two races after the Affirmed, Collected was even more impressive in winning the $100,000 Grade III Precisionist Stakes for 3-year-olds and up. After stalking the pace, the 4-year-old City Zip colt zipped away from four rivals to win by 14 lengths. Cat Burglar was second and Accelerate found a bit of gas in the lane to get show money. Collected ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.52 with jockey Martin Garcia taking a tight hold in the final sixteenth.
"He's very special," Garcia said of Collected. "He can be on the lead or off of it. He can be wherever you want him to be. I let him be where he wanted to be today." The colt won last year's Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, then finished 10th in the Preakness and got a long vacation. Since his return in April, he is 3-for-3. Trainer Bob Baffert said he made the right move in bypassing the Grade I Gold Cup. "This middle distance is more his thing and I can see he reacts better. As long as I keep him like this, he's going to be really tough to beat," Baffert said. "I've always thought that when I get him to Del Mar I might try him on the turf. He was bred for it. We'll get him down there and work him and see."
The horses finishing 18th, 13th and 12th returned to the track Saturday to finish first, second and third, respectively in the $500,000 Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Irap, with Julien Leparouox in the irons, rallied three-wide down the lane, exchanged a little bump with Girvin and then got his nose on the wire just ahead of that rival. Untrapped was 4 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Fast and Accurate, who finished 17th in the Run for the Roses, made the early pace Saturday, then folded and finished last of nine. Irap, a Tiznow colt trained by Doug O'Neill, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.48.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Finley'sluckycharm made it three in a row and six of her last seven with an emphatic, front-running score in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Chicago Handicap at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old Twirling Candy filly, a heavy favorite, shot right to the front and kept edging away, finally winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Ivy Bell was second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Mayla. Finley'sluckycharm ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.17 with Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons. "She's great," trainer Bret Calhoun said Sunday morning. "We'll send her to Saratoga in a couple of weeks and aim for the Honorable Miss and the Ballerina" -- a Grade II on July 26 and a Grade I on Aug. 26, respectively.
On the Low Down was hustled to the lead in Saturday's $140,000 Mountain Top New Mexico Bred Thoroughbred Futurity and extended the advantage all the way to a 7 3/4-lengths victory. Blazing Navarone was second with Storm the Beach third. On the Low Down, a Dome gelding, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 58.13 seconds under Tracy Hebert.
Dream It Is dueled her way to the front in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) My Dear Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, then drew off smartly for her second straight win, defeating first-time starter Wild and Funny by 4 3/4 lengths. Obsolete was third. Dream It Is, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Shackleford, ran 5 furlongs on the all-weather track in 57.74 seconds under Luis Contreras.
Satono Crown outfinished Gold Actor at the end of Sunday's Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin and earning a fees-paid berth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf in November by virtue of the victory. Satono Crown, with Mirco Demuro in the irons, raced in mid-pack until the final turn. He came wide while Gold Actor stuck to the rail and for a few strides, it appeared to be a battle to the wire. But then Satono Crown found a little extra and won by 3/4 length. Mikki Queen was third.
Kitasan Black, the reigning Japanese Horse of the Year and the favorite Sunday, stayed prominent on the outside but faded badly in the final 100 meters, finishing ninth.
Satono Crown, a 5-year-old son of Marju, scored his third win in his last four starts. He was only third-favorite in Sunday's race even though he defeated Highland Reel in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin last December.
"We were able to race well while eyeing the strong Kitasan Black," Demuro said. "He felt really good turning the fourth corner and exerted a remarkable kick in the straight. He's really a G1 horse. I think this type of ground suits him. I always had confidence in him. Kitasan Black's rider, Yutaka Take, said his mount "just didn't respond as he usually does. I really don't know why."
Things got a little strange -- good and bad -- at Sha Tin on Sunday as the local racing season neared its end. John Size sent out the somewhat enigmatic Thewizardofoz to a victory that earned the trainer a record 92nd win of the season.
"That was the real 'Wizard' today," rider Joao Moreira said of the 5-year-old who has not been able previously to deliver on the promise he showed in his 3-year-old season.
Size missed the race but his assistant, Frankie Lor, said eclipsing 92 wins in a season "will be very hard to do. We still have a few meetings left, so hopefully we can add to it."
At the other end of the spectrum, Moreira was aboard Pakistan Star as the heavy favorite decided after about 200 meters of galloping in the Premier Plate Handicap that he was due a break. Planting his feet on the backstretch, he ignored the urging of jockey Joao Moreira long enough that, once he got going, he finished last -- 59.01 seconds behind the next-last horse in the race.
"He wanted to stop," Moreira said after weighing in. "I urged him and tried hard to get him running but he just didn't want to go."
Then the stewards hit Moreira with a fine of HK$10,000 for excessive use of the whip while he was trying to get Pakistan Star restarted.
Around the ovals:
Lady Joan tracked the pace set by Lover's Key in Sunday's $100,000 Cupecoy's Joy Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies, got by late and won by 3/4 length over that foe. The favorite, Paz the Bourbon, ran third all the way and finished in that spot. Lady Joan, a daughter of Courageous Cat, ran 7 furlongs on good turf in 1:22.98 with Luis Saez aboard.
In the Spectacular Bid Division for 3-year-old colts, Crawdaddy clawed his way past front-running long shot Heldatgunpoint to win by 3/4 length. T Loves a Fight was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third. Crawdaddy, a Girolamo colt, finished 7 furlongs on the grass in 1:22.83, also with Saez riding.
Super Marina came from last of four to win Saturday's $100,000 off-the-turf Wild Applause Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a neck over Belavais. It was another 11 1/2 lengths back to Talaaqy in third and yet another 30 1/4 lengths to the trailer, the aptly named Rum Go. Super Marina, a daughter of Warrior's Reward, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.78 with Manny Franco riding.
Street Surrender led all the way in Sunday's $100,000 Southern Truce Stakes for fillies and mares, refused to surrender when challenged by the favorite, Nickname, and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Nickname held second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of That's a Lady. Street Surrender, a 4-year-old Street Boss filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.43 with Evin Roman in the irons.
Katalox disputed the early pace in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bold Ruckus for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds, hooked up in a five-way battle for the lead and survived to win by a head over Dragon's Cry. The favorite, Sailing Home, came sailing home from behind the early combatants to finish third. Katalox, an Old Forester colt, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:09.50 with David Morgan up.
Six turf stakes for state-breds graced Saturday's card -- four for Maryland steeds and two for horses from Virginia -- each worth $75,000. The turf was firm.
Special Envoy nailed pacesetting odds-on favorite Rose Brier at the line to win the Edward Evans Stakes at 1 mile on the turf. With Daniel Centeno up, Special Envoy, a 6-year-old Stroll gelding, finished in 1:34.38.
The Nellie Mae Cox Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 mile on the green course went to the favorite Queen Caroline. The 4-year-old Blame filly led all the way and won by 1 1/4 length over Armoire. With Alex Cintron up, Queen Caroline was clocked in 1:36.24.
Daylight Ahead won a long stretch battle by a neck over Lovable Lady in the Jameela Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs on the turf. The odds-on favorite, Everything Lovely, was third. Daylight Ahead, a 4-year-old Mineshaft filly, got home in 1:09.13 with Katie Davis in the irons.
Tiz Our Time was across the line in no time at all in the White Oak Farm Stakes for Virginia-breds at 5 1/2 furlongs. Guns blazing from the start, the 5-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare won by 4 lengths over Lawyer Dave, completing the course in 1:02.09 with Jevian Toledo in the irons.
Do What I Say came from last of 10 to upset the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes for Virginia-bred fillies and mares, winning by 1 length over Sister Says. The odds-on favorite, Rapid Rhythm, was never in contention and finished seventh. Do What I Say, a 4-year-old Streeet Magician filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.80 with Cintron up.
Phlash Phelps rallied to take the Mister Diz Stakes for Maryland-breds by a neck over English Minister and another nose from Talk Show Man. Ben's Cat, who must be near the end of his string, finished ninth. Phlash Phelps, a 6-year-old Great Notion gelding, ran 6 furlongs on the grass in 1:08.40 with Victor Carrasco up.
Leona's Reward got the lead midway through Saturday's $75,000 George Lewis Memorial for Ohio-breds, then held off a late surge by Eightthehardway to win by a nose. The early leader and odds-on favorite, Buckeye Bullet, weakened to finish third, 3 3/4 lengths farther back. Leona's Reward, a 4-year-old filly by Parents' Reward, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:54.82 with Pablo Morales in the irons.
Justalittlesmoke, the odds-on favorite, kicked away from nine rivals in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 J. William Petro Memorial for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, winning by 7 3/4 lengths. School Board Prez was best of the rest, a head in front of La Nina Branca. Justalittlesmoke, a 5-year-old Smoke Glacken mare, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.44.
Proforma rallied to the lead three-wide in the stretch run in Saturday's $60,000 Jersey Shore Stakes for 3-year-olds and edged away to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Alex Again. Storming My Way was third. Proforma, a Munnings gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.14 with Jersey Joe Bravo in the irons.
Top Quality got to the lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $50,000 Irish Day Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and drew off to a 3 3/4-lengths win over Blazinbeauty. Retreat Yourself finished third. Top Quality, a Quality Road filly, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.88 with Juan Gutierrez up.
Lone Star Park
My Master Plan dueled with the favorite, Zippit E, through much of Saturday's $50,000 Lane's End Danny Shifflet Scholarship Stakes for Texas-bred fillies and mares, then went on about her business, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Zippit E held second, 1 length ahead of Gentle Secret. My Master Plan, a 4-year-old Oratory filly, got 1 mile on the muddy main track in 1:39.31 with Luis Quinonez up. The race originally was carded for 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass.
Citizen Geller rallied six-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 O.D. McDonald Stakes and got there first, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of pacesetting favorite Stormin the Jewels. Shining Source was third with a late rush. Citizen Geller, a 5-year-old Pro Prado gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.90 with Miguel Perez in the irons.
A.P. Zona came four-wide in deep stretch and won Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) River Rock Casino Handicap for 3-year-olds by a head over Driller. Fall at Last led the way, then tired to finish third. A.P. Zona, a Creative Cause colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.10 with Enrique Gonzalez aboard.