UPI Horse Racing Roundup: Songbird highlights American racing weekend

Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Morticia wins Saturday's Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park. Photo courtesy of Laurel Park
Morticia wins Saturday's Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-olds at Laurel Park. Photo courtesy of Laurel Park

Songbird continued her flight of conquest with a hard-earned victory in a highlight of American weekend racing while Enable, Harry Angel, Shakeel and Roly Poly earned victories on the international front.

Hong Kong wound up its longest season with record results and the promise of more to come.


There's plenty to come, right here:


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Songbird flew right to the front in Saturday's $750,000 Grade I Delaware Handicap and, despite some relentless pressure from Martini Glass, won her second straight race. The 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly, with Mike Smith aboard, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:03.96. Line of Best Fit was third.

"We were a little nervous at the eighth-pole, but we won and that is all that matters," said winning owner Richard Porter.

"I feel great and we pulled it off," Smith added. "There is always a little pressure and if there is not, there is something wrong. I take this very seriously. These races are not easy. These are the kind of races you get beat in. If she did not run there would have been a whole lot of doubt, but she responded."

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Songbird has won 13 of 14 starts, losing only by a nose to Beholder in last fall's Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said her next race is not yet set.


Also Saturday, Overture led from the start in the $200,000 Grade III Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand and held nicely, beating the favorite, Mopotism, by 1 length. Majestic Quality finished third. Overture, a Congrats filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.79 with Julien Leparoux riding for trainer Bill Mott. Overture was making just her fifth career start and scored her second win.


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Irap waited behind the early pace in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand, came eight-wide into the stretch and quickly put matters to rest, winning off by 5 lengths. Colonelsdarktemper beat the others with Untrapped a further 1 3/4 lengths in arrears. Irap, with Mario Gutierrez up, got 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.21. The Tiznow colt won the Grade II Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland, then finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby. He bounced back from that to win the Grade III Ohio Derby in his previous start.

Out west, West Coast found his best stride late in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Los Alamitos Derby, rallying from off the pace to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Klimt, B Squared and Colonist finished behind the winner in that order with less than 1/2 length separating them. West Coast, a Flatter colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.65 with Drayden Van Dyke in the irons. Winner of the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park in his previous start, West Coast now has four wins and two seconds from six starts. "He took off the last eighth of a mile," said winning trainer Bob Baffert. "He needs to learn how to run like that. Mission accomplished." Baffert said he will consider sending West Coast back to the east for the $1.25 million Grade I Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 26. "I mile and a quarter should suit him," he said. "I think it would be a good spot for him."


At this time last year, Baffert was preparing a little-known colt named Arrogate for a shot at the Travers.


Frostmourne waited behind a breakaway leader in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds at Delaware Park, reeled that one in at the top of the stretch and kicked away to win by 6 lengths. Master Plan and Adonis Creed filled the trifecta slots. Frostmourne, a Speightstown colt, ran 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:49.95. "He settled down nicely," said winning rider Joel Rosario. "The horse pulled away a little bit, but I took my time and I got into his stride. He relaxed and when I asked he responded."

Disco Partner got clear in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont Park and finished well, winning by 3 3/4 lengths. Jet Jets and Bondurant were second and third. Disco Partner, a 5-year-old son of Disco Rico, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.49 for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. "We'll have to think about putting together a nice summer campaign," said winning trainer Christophe Clement. "I think he's top class. He's not Breeders' Cup eligible, so I'll have to speak with (owners) Mr. and Mrs. Generazio and we'll try to map out the next two to three starts for him between now and the end of the year and try to do the best we can."


Turf Sprint

Morticia broke on top in Saturday's $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park, took back behind Smiling Causeway, then came again to win by 1 3/4 lengths over that rival. Deer Valley was third, another 1 3/4 lengths back. Morticia, a Twirling Candy filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.29 with Jose Lezcano up for trainer Rusty Arnold. She has won four of her last five starts with a second in the Grade III Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland sandwiched in that streak. "I've been riding her a couple times already and she's a very nice filly. She's all heart," said Lezcano, who has been aboard for all three of Morticia's stakes wins. "She tries hard and she wants to win all the time."


Pink Lloyd dueled to the lead in Sunday's $140,000 (Canadian) Vigil Stakes on the Woodbine all-weather course and widened the lead down the lane to a 2 1/4 lengths victory. We Deer You was second; Western Elegance, third. Pink Lloyd, the odds-on favorite, ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.18 for jockey Eurico Da Silva. "He ran very, very hard the last quarter," da Silva said. "My horse was running very, very relaxed. You saw the end where he really kicked hard. He's a wonderful animal. He's amazing. You ride a horse like this and it gives you such a great feeling."



What a Catch led from the start in Saturday's $100,000 Rockville Center Stakes for New York-bred juveniles and went on to win by 1 length from the favorite, Morning Breeze. Analyze the Odds was 6 lengths farther back in third. What a Catch, a Justin Phillip colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.21 with John Velazquez up. "I thought he was very professional," said Byron Hughes, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "He acted good in the paddock and post parade, broke sharp and fought off the second-place horse. He's always been pretty classy, a bit precocious 2-year-old. He's been benefitting from that and stepping up every time we've asked him." What a Catch is 2-for-2 with both wins at Belmont.

Juvenile Fillies

Pure Silver was pure gold in Sunday's $100,000 Lynbrook Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies, leading all the way to a 1 1/2-lengths victory over the favorite, I Still Miss You. One Last Cast was third and Northernstreetgal completed the order of finish. Pure Silver, a daughter of Mission Impazible, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.40 with John Velazquez in the irons. "After the last start we knew she had the speed out of the gate and she showed it again today and she was able to hang on," said Byron Hughes, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. "We will see how she comes out of the race and from there it will be somewhere at Saratoga for sure."




Harry Angel turned the tables on his 3-year-old rival, previously undefeated Caravaggio, in Friday's Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. After tracking the early pace, the Dark Angel colt, running in Godolphin blue, got the lead in the final furlong and held off last year's winner, Limato, by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths. Brando was third and Caravaggio, the favorite, struggled home fourth after a second straight sluggish start. In their last start, the Grade I Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Harry Angel contested the early lead and had no answer when Caravaggio ran by him for the win. Harry Angel now has three wins and three seconds from six career starts.

On Friday at the Newmarket July meeting, Roly Poly rolled over six rivals in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Wuheida. Arabian Hope was along late to secure third for Godolphin with Josephine Gordon riding. Roly Poly, with Ryan Moore up for trainer Aidan O'Brien and the Coolmore partners, ran 1 mile on good to firm going in 1:36.01. In her two previous starts, the Group 1 Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, Roly Poly finished second to stablemate Winter, who did not contest the Falmouth.



Shakeel caught pacesetting Permian in the final 100 yards of Friday's Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Saint-Cloud for 3-year-old colts and geldings and won the 1 1/2-miles fixture by a head bob. Venice Beach was 1 length farther back in third. With William Buick up, Shakeel raced in the middle of the nine-horse field before being asked to improve position 2 furlongs out. He responded and gradually wore down the leader. Shakeel, an Aga Khan homebred Dalakhani colt, scored his second win from six starts for trainer Alain Du Royer-Dupre


Enable completed the "Oaks double" with a victory in Saturday's Group 1 Irish Oaks at the Curragh, winning every bit as easily as she did in her previous start at Epsom in the Group 1 Investec Oaks. With Frankie Dettori up for trainer John Gosden, the Juddmonte Farms hombred daughter of Nathanial sat just behind the early speed, took over 2 furlongs out and won as she pleased. Rain Goddess, the better of the two Coolmore runners, was up for second, 5 1/2 lengths in arrears. The Aga Khan's Eziyra was third. Enable has won all three starts as a 3-year-old.


Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Jockey Club wound up its 2016-17 season Sunday at Sha Tin with growth so impressive that CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said, "It has surprised me how strong it has been. Following a recession-driving 2 percent drop in handle the previous year, this year's total turnover was a record HK$117.456 billion (around US$15 billion), up 10.7 percent.

The season was extended by five meetings this term, to 88. But Engelbrecht-Bresches noted that meant only 22 additional races and attributed a big part of the overall growth to a substantial increase in commingled simulcast revenue -- one of the HKJC's long-term initiatives.

"If you look at last year, the total turnover from commingling was HK$3.47 billion (US$44 million), which was 3.3% of the total," the CEO said. "This year, with our expanding portfolio of partners, total turnover from commingling was HK$6.5 billion (US$83 million), an astounding increase of 87.1 percent and 5.7 percent of the total."

Around the ovals:


Tulsa Queen rallied from last of six to upset Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Duchess Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning by 1/2 length over Just Be Kind. My Arch was third and the favorite, Conquest Vivi, settled for fourth. Tulsa Queen, a Pennsylvania-bred Cactus Ridge filly, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.51 with Mario Pino up.


Indiana Grand

Beauty rallied from last of seven to win Saturday's $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff by 1/2 length over Linda. The early leader, Sky My Sky, finished 1/2 length farther back in third. Beauty, a British-bred daughter of Sea the Stars, got 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.27 with James Graham in the irons.

Western Reserve was in command all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Warrior Veterans Stakes, winning by 3 3/4 lengths from One Mean Man. Special Ops was second with the favorite, Chocolate Ride, fourth after pressing the pace. Western Reserve, a 5-year-old Indian Charlie gelding, finished 1 1/16 miles on the green course in 1:41.83 with Florent Geroux up.

Tiger Moth rallied five-wide into the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Mari Hulman George Stakes for fillies and mares and outfinished Mo d'Amour, winning by 2 1/2 lengths. Big World was third as the even-money favorite. Tiger Moth, a 5-year-old Street Sense mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.31 under Geroux.

Eagle survived a rough start in Saturday's $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, took the lead in the lane with a rail move and just lasted, winning by a head over Fear the Cowboy and another nose from Mor Tom. Eagle, a 5-year-old Candy Ride colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:40.24 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up.


Delaware Park

No Distortion took charge in the late going in Saturday's $50,000 Carl Hansford Memorial, opening a daylight lead and coasting home a 2 1/2-lengths winner. Sea Raven was second, 1 1/2 lengths to the good of Discreet Lover. No Distortion, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.90 under Edwin Gonzalez.

Struth battled Always Sunshine into submission in Saturday's $50,000 Hockessin Stakes, exiting a tight duel to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Always Sunshine held second, 6 3/4 length ahead of Eighty Three. Struth, a 5-year-old Curlin gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.64 with Gonzales up.

Laurel Park

Just Howard got a head in front of Bonus Points at the wire in Saturday's $50,000 Caveat Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds. Good Reasoning was third. Just Howard, an English Channel colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.87 with Alex Cintron up.

Gulfstream Park

King's Ghost and Quebec both rallied by pacesetting Cowgirl Tough in the stretch run in Saturday's $50,000 Treasure Coast Handicap for fillies and mares with King's Ghost prevailing by a nose. Cowgirl Tough held third. King's Ghost, a 5-year-old Ontario-bred mare by Ghostzapper, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.13 with Jorge Ruiz in the irons.


Monmouth Park

Lipstick City came four-wide past the leaders to take Saturday's $75,000 Boiling Springs Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths over Majestic Bonnie. Watch Your Six finished third. Lipstick City, a City Zip filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:45.70 under Nik Juarez.

Disco Chick took over the lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $60,000 Regret Stakes for fillies and mare and got away to a 2 1/4 lengths victory. Court Dancer was second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, Bustin Out. Disco Chick, a 6-year-old Jump Start mare, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.69 with Hector Caballero in the irons.


He's the Reason dueled with Boundary Bay throughout Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) Spaghetti Mouse Stakes for 2-year-olds, gained the narrowest of leads in the stretch and won by a neck over that rival. European was third. He's the Reason, a gray gelding by The Factor, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.90 with David Lopez riding.

Daz Lin Dawn was along late to take Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Supernatural Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by 1 3/4 lengths over Yukon Belle. Babys Got Track was third. Daz Lin Dawn, a daughter of Popular, was a popular winner as odds-on favorite, finishing 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.57 under Richard Hamel.


Northlands Park

Ruffenuff battled for the lead in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Northlands Oaks, then edged away to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Saveitforarainyday. The favorite, Anstrum, finished third. Ruffenuff, a daughter of Dialed In, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.22 with Quincy Welch riding.

Trooper John marched well clear of the rest in the stretch run of Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Count Lathrum Handicap for 3-year-olds, winning by 9 1/2 lengths over Double Bear. Real Quality was third. With Keishan Balgobin in the irons, Trooper John, a Colonel John gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.28.

Prairie Meadows

Sweet Persuasion rallied wide to the lead in Saturday's $70,000 Iowa Stallion Stakes for nominated 3-year-olds and kicked clear, winning by 2 lengths over K Kiddo. K Kash was third. Sweet Persuasion, a Discreetly Mine colt, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.27 with Terry Thompson up.

In the companion for nominated 3-year-old fillies, Honolulu came from well off the pace to win by 2 lengths over Runfastandloud. Hey Baby was third and the favorite, Jayne's Idea, was last of nine after making the early lead. Honolulu, an Oklahoma-bred filly by Maclean's Music, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:44.31 with Kevin Roman in the irons.


Emerald Downs

He's Not Grey, the only first-time starter in the field, was up in the final sixteenth to win Sunday's $50,000 Emerald Express for 2-year-old colts and geldings by 3 1/2 lengths over Bullet Drill. Brown Tiger was a neck farther back in third. He's Not Grey, a Slew's Tiznow colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.04 with Juan Gutierrez in the irons.

Bella Mia led all the way in Sunday's $50,000 Angie C. Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Faith Flys Again. My Aunt Mo was third. Bella Mia, a daughter of Harbor the Gold, got 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.06 with Julien Couton up.

Citizen Kitty rallied from mid-pack to take Sunday's $50,000 Boeing Stakes for fillies and mares by 4 1/2 lengths from Princess Katie. Princess Kennedy was third. Citizen Kitty, a 5-year-old Proud Citizen mare, ran 1 mile in 1:36.84 with Couton in the irons.

Mach One Rules drew off in the stretch run to win Sunday's $50,000 Mt. Rainier Stakes by 2 lengths over Bistraya. Barkley finished third. Mach One Rules, a 4-year-old Harbor the Gold gelding, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.55 with Isaias Enriquez up.


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