An odd weekend in Thoroughbred racing found the winners of the Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness winner Cloud Computing humbled at Saratoga and long shots ruling in the $1 million Haskell in New Jersey.
Paid Up Subscriber won Sunday's feature at Saratoga by 32 1/2 lengths. Take that, Secretariat!
And ace jockey Mike Smith fell off a horse -- not his fault and he wasn't hurt but it scrambled the results of an important race.
Sanity was more the order of the weekend on the international front as Enable proved she's the best 3-year-old filly in Europe and maybe the best of all horses in that venue. Roly Poly won again, though, so she and her stablemate, Winter, still may have a say in all that.
France, Germany and South Africa had big races.
All that, later. Now, hear this:
Sunday's $600,000 Grade II Jim Dandy at Saratoga was billed as a showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness victor Cloud Computing. But neither of them was in the picture as Good Samaritan, making his first start on the main track, rallied from last of five and blasted down the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths. Giuseppe the Great, another who did not contest any of the Triple Crown races, was second as Always Dreaming faded from the pace to finish third, beaten more than 5 lengths. Pavel was fourth and Cloud Computing finished last after chasing Always Dreaming through the early furlongs. Good Samaritan, a Harlan's Holiday colt, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.69 with Joel Rosario in the irons. He won at first asking over the Saratoga turf last August, took the Grade II Summer Stakes at Woodbine in his second start and most recently was fourth in the Grade I Belmont Derby on July 8.
Good Samaritan's trainer, Bill Mott, said he and Elliot Walden of WinStar Farm decided to keep the colt on the grass when it became clear he wasn't going to be ready for the Triple Crown trail. "Last week, we came to the conclusion we should try this race," Mott added. "Initially, it was going to be the Travers and then the way this was coming up it looked like we were going to have a decent pace in this race and the horse was doing so well that we decide to make this choice." Now, he said, after Good Samaritan "looked pretty good" in the Jim Dandy, "We'll certainly nominate for the Travers and we'll talk about it. I don't see why we wouldn't give it a try."
Sunday's $1 million Grade I betfair.com Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park wound up with a field of seven 3-year-olds -- six of them also-rans in the Kentucky Derby. Naturally, it was the horse with the worst finish at Louisville, Girvin, who came running late to snatch the Monmouth win by a nose from McCraken with Practical Joke third and Irish War Cry fourth. Girvin finished 13th in the Run for the Roses, beaten 19 1/2 lengths. McCraken was eighth in the Derby, Practical Joke was fifth and Irish War Cry finished 10th. Battle of Midway, who got show money in the Derby, finished sixth in Sunday's race, beating only Hence, who was 11th in Louisville.
For all of that, Girvin, a Tale of Ekati colt, is no bum. He won the Grade II Risen Star and Grade II Louisiana Derby before the Churchill Downs debacle and finished second, a nose behind Irap, in the Grade III Ohio Derby June 24. His Haskell win carried a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November through the "Win and You're In" plan.
Trainer Joe Sharp said he and owner Brad Grady discussed Girvin's campaign after the Kentucky Derby "and we thought it was right by Girvin to give him a freshening. We thought the Ohio Derby was a good spot for him and close to home. From his effort there, we thought he deserved a shot in the Haskell. He was such a confident horse today."
Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Monmouth Cup was run at 1 1/16 miles but could have been a prep for any of the Breeders' Cup Championship races from the Sprint up to the Classic. Whatever might be, Sharp Azteca was as sharp as he needed to be -- and then some -- as he pressed the early pace, then kicked away from the other three starters and won by 7 1/2 lengths, ridden out by Paco Lopez. Donegal Moon, Just Call Kenny and Classy Class completed the order of finish. Sharp Azteca, a 4-year-old Freud colt, has done his best work at 7 furlongs. In his only previous try at 1 1/16 miles, he led and faded to finish second to Texas Chrome at Louisiana Downs. The Monmouth Cup win gives trainer Jorge Navarro plenty of options going forward, including a potential start in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, which will be run around two turns at Del Mar. "Mission accomplished," he said. "We put the mile and a sixteenth away."
Stellar Wind hooked up in a long stretch duel with Vale Dori in Sunday's $300,000 Grade I Clement Hirsch at Del Mar, finally winning by a neck over that stubborn foe. Faithfully was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third with a good effort. Stellar Wind, a Curlin mare trained by John Sadler, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.92 with Victor Espinoza in the irons. The result was almost an exact replica of the Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita on June 3, when Stellar Wind beat Vale Dori by a neck with a similar late surge. Stellar Wind now has won five of her last six races. In the midst of that span, she finished fourth in last year's Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff. "It looked like it was going to set up pretty much like the last race," Sadler said. "Vale Dori is the speed. We know we can't sit off her too far. You've got to hook into her and wear her down. No plans now. We'll start looking tomorrow. But for now, we're really happy."
Only three faced the starter for Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga and, in the end, it seemed there was only one to greet the placing judges. Paid Up Subscriber, with John Velazquez up, let the other two go first, then quickly took charge and ran away to win by 32 1/2 lengths. Terra Promessa was 4 lengths ahead of Apologynotaccepted. Paid Up Subscriber, a 5-year-old Candy Ride mare, finished 9 furlongs on a fast track in a pedestrian 1:51.31. She was second to Songbird in her last start. "When I got to the half-mile pole, it looked like it was turning my way, and from then on it was pretty easy for her," Velazquez said. "The other horses took back at the three-eighths pole, so when I got to the front, I decided to put the pressure on. She handled it very well."
Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont Stakes by a paltry 31 lengths.
Money'soncharlotte led from the start in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park and coasted in first, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Eskenformoney. The favorite, Carrumba, flattened out in the stretch and finished third. Money'soncharlotte, a 5-year-old Mizzen Mast mare, got 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.80 with Paco Lopez in the irons, notching her second straight win. Both came at the Jersey shore oval. "We pointed for this," said winning trainer Kelly Breen. "Monmouth is her home track and she's been training great. She's good right now and when a filly is good, she's really good."
Ransom the Moon got a clear shot up the rail in the stretch to win Saturday's $300,000 Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar as his two main rivals, Roy H and Mo Candy, were floated out to the middle of the track by a riderless horse and had to settle for second and third. The riderless steed was Drefong, second-favorite behind Roy H. Drefong, making his first start since winning last November's Breeders' Cup Sprint, ducked in at the chute just after the start, forcing jockey Mike Smith to abandon ship. Smith was not injured. His load lightned, Drefong took up a rail position alongside the leaders and played a major role in the outcome. Ransom the Moon, unaffected by the antics, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.63 with Flavien Prat in the irons, earning a guaranteed spot in this year's Breeder's Cup Sprint through the "Win and You're In" program. Prat said he thought on the turn that the free-running Drefong "was going to cause me problems. But I stayed behind him and then on the turn, he went outside and took the leader out with him. I got to go inside and it worked out perfectly ... I got lucky today. Sometimes racing is like that." Trainer Phil D'Amato said he likely will give Ransom the Moon, a 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon, a prep at Santa Anita where he won the Grade II Kona Gold Stakes in May and then return to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Coal Front, the odds-on favorite, took them all the way in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Amsterdam for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over a late-running Excitations. Singing Bullet faded late to finish a distant third. Coal Front, a Stay Thirsty colt, covered 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.05 for jockey John Velazquez, notching his third straight win. "It's hard to win a race, much less the first three," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "He beat a pretty strong group of older horses last time, and then to step up into a graded stakes, it just seems like he's getting better and better." Pletcher said he will consider Coal Front for the $500,000 Grade I Allen Jerkens Stakes on Aug. 26. "He's a horse with a strong pedigree and enough talent to stretch out when the time is right," Pletcher added.
In Saturday's $350,000 Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, El Deal was out and winging from the start and kicked away dramatically in the stretch to win by 8 lengths. Awesome Banner was second, a head in front of the favorite, Limousine Liberal. El Deal, a 5-year-old son of Munnings, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.26 under Javier Castellano. He won his two previous starts at Charles Town and Monmouth Park but was tackling more accomplished foes in the Vanderbilt for trainer Jorge Navarro. "I wasn't going to take him to Mountaineer," Navarro said. "He wasn't going to prove anything there. We're getting ready for the Breeders' Cup and big races at the end of the year, so I wanted owners to have fun. I called them up and said I thought it was time to see what he's about. I guess he is what he is."
Hunter O'Riley came flying on the outside in the final furlong of Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Bowling Green at Saratoga and was up in time to win by a neck over Bigger Picture and another neck from Sadler's Joy. The favorite, Ascend, rose to the lead at the top of the lane, then faded to finish fourth. Hunter O'Riley, a 4-year-old Tiz Wonderful ridgling, ran 1 3/8 miles over the firm inner turf course in 2:12.94 with Florent Geroux in the irons. It was his first stakes win although he did take a tough 1 1/2-miles allowance event on the Keeneland grass during the spring meeting. Winning trainer Jimmy Toner said he figured Hunter O'Riley was running for third or fourth. "It's like one of those things," he said in the winner's circle. "You're going to get that breakout race, and today was that breakout race so we're really excited."
Dragon Bay battled for the lead in Saturday's $175,000 (Canadian) Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine, finally seized the advantage and then held off the late run of the favorite, Can'thelpbelieving, to preserve the victory by 1 1/2 lengths. Pumpkin Rumble contested the early pace and held on for third. Dragon Bay, a 4-year-old Parading gelding, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:02.10 with Gary Boulanger handling the reins. Dragon Bay won the Grade II Eclipse Stakes in May but was sixth in the Grade II King Edward in his last start. "We kind of get caught between distance and surfaces," said winning trainer Stuart Simon. He'll do just about anything you ask of him to be honest. He's just a dream horse, he really is. He's been a gift to us and we're just happy to have him."
Money Multiplier almost doubled his backers' investment in the win pool in Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park. The 5-year-old Lookin At Lucky ridgling tracked the pace down the backstretch, took the lead on the turn and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Irish Strait. Kharafa was third. Not quite an even-money favorite, Money Multiplier paid $3.80 to win after finishing 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.91 for jockey Javier Castellano. It was his first race since finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf last fall. "It didn't quite work out the way I thought it would," said winning trainer Chad Brown, "with him getting jammed up behind a really slow pace. Javier used good judgment to pull him out of there and just pass everyone." He said he will look to the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 26.
My Italian Babbo outfinished the favorite, He Will, in Saturday's $150,000 California Dreamin' Stakes for state-breds at Del Mar, winning by a head it was another 2 lengths back to Soi Phet in third. My Italian Babbo, a 5-year-old Pappa Clem gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.91 with Corey Nakatani in the irons. It was his fourth career win in his first stakes try.
Filly & Mare Turf
Wekeela got through an opening on the rail turning for home in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III WinStar Matchmaker at Monmouth Park and sailed home first by 3/4 length. War Flag rallied outside to take second by 1 length over the odds-on favorite, Miss Temple City. Wekeela, a 5-year-old French-bred mare by Hurricane Run, scored her second win from five U.S. starts. She was second in two others and four of the five races have been graded stakes. She also was competitive at the highest level in Europe when trained by Jean-Claude Rouget. While Miss Temple City did not return to the winner's circle, she improved on her 13th-place finish in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in her last start. "My plan was to be right behind the horses, saving as much ground as possible," said winning rider Javier Castellano. "You need to have a perfect trip to beat Miss Temple City and that's what happened."
Jennifer Lynnette was away last in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Royal North Stakes for fillies and mares at Woodbine, came four-wide down the stretch and caught pacesetter Kasuga in the final strides, winning by a head. Nobody's Fault was 4 3/4 lengths farther back in third. Jennifer Lynnette, a 4-year-old Elusive Quality filly, ran 6 furlongs on firm going in 1:08.17 with Patrick Husbands at the controls. She has won three of her last five. The Royal North was her first graded stakes win. "It looked like a pretty tough race in terms of my horse," Husbands said. "I just said the only way I feel like I can win is just wait and give her one run. I let the field go then she picked it up and she got to the outside and just started to run."
Neither a driving rain nor the resulting soft turf could prevent 3-year-old filly Enable from running away from her older male rivals to win Saturday's Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Handicap at Ascot by 4 1/2 lengths. Ulysses, winner of the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse in his last start, finished second and Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes winner Idaho finished third. Idaho's full brother, multiple international Group 1 winner Highland Reel, was fourth while running gamely over ground that never has suited him.
With Frankie Dettori in the irons, Enable was eager early in the 1 1/2-miles race and stuck close to the pace. Dettori pushed the button shortly after the field was set down for the drive and Enable quickly put the matter to rest. The Juddmonte Farms homebred is by Nathaniel, the 2011 King George winner. She scored her third straight Group 1 victory following the Group 1 Investec Oaks at Epsom and the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.
British bookmakers reacted to the King George victory by making Enable the favorite for the Oct. 1 Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly.
While Enable stamped herself the best middle-distance filly in training in Europe, Roly Poly staked out some ground of her own at the mile distance, edging Via Ravenna by a neck in a thrilling finish to Sunday's Group 1 Prix Rothschild at Deauville. Siyoushake was only a short head farther back in third. Qemah, last year's winner and this year's favorite, missed the break and could not sustain a stands-side challenge in the final yards. She finished fourth under new rider Cristian Demuro. Ryan Moore hustled Roly Poly out of the gate turned back a challenge from Usherette, a Godolphin-owned Shamardal filly, and barely had enough left to handle first Siyoushake and finally Via Ravenna. Roly Poly is a War front filly owned by Coolmore and trained by Aidan O'Brien. She now has two straight Group 1 wins, which followed a pair of Group 1 seconds behind her stablemate, Winter.
Iquitos scored his second top-level victory, besting Best Solution by 1 1/2 lengths in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen July 30 in Munich. Potempkin was third and the favorite, Enjoy Vijay, settled for fourth in the 1 1/4-mile event, run over good turf. Iquitos, a 5-year-old son of Adlerflug, notched his first Group 1 win last September in the Longines Grosser Preis von Baden and moved on to the Group 1 Japan Cup two months later, where he finished seventh, beaten only 4 lengths in an impressive performance by Kitasan Black.
Many of South Africa's top horses lined up for Saturday's Group 1 World Sports Betting Champions Cup at Greyville but it was Sail South, a 17-1 shot who shadowed pacesetting Captain America, got by that one in the final 100 meters and won by 1 1/4 lengths. Matador Man came flying down the center of the narrow stretch but could do no better than third. Superstar filly Bela-Bela made a late run on the inside to finish fourth, Black Arthur was seventh, It's My Turn was eighth and Marinaresco, the Group 1 Vodacom Durban July winner a month earlier, never ran a lick and beat only Judicial. Brett Crawford trains the top two but would have forecast the result in the opposite direction.
Around the ovals:
Miss Sunset led from the start in Sunday's $150,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies, then drew off smartly to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Queen Bee to You was best of the rest, a neck in front of Dreamy Gal. Miss Sunset, an Into Mischief filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.34 with Mike Smith aboard.
Mr. Hinx pressed the pace in Friday's $150,000 Real Good Deal Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds, took over the lead in the lane and held off the favorite, Ann Arbor Eddie, by 1/2 length at the wire. Edwards Going Left was third. Mr. Hinx, a Ministers Wild Cat gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.79 for jockey Flavien Prat.
Outplay outran all six rivals in Friday's restricted $100,000 Curlin Stakes for 3-year-olds, leading from the start and winning off by 5 3/4 lengths. Small Bear beat the others with Perfect Partner another 3/4 length back in third. Outplay, a Bernardini colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.59 with John Velazquez in the irons.
Celtic Chaos worked to the lead in the stretch in Thursday's $100,000 John Morrissey Stakes for New York-breds, bumped with Ostorlenka near the finish and prevailed by a neck over that rival. Papa Shot came like a shot from the back of the field to finish third. Celtic Chaos, a 4-year-old Dublin colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a muddy, sealed track in 1:17.65 with Eric Cancel in the irons.
Secret Passion and Line of Credit dueled for the lead throughout Thursday's $65,000 Prairie Gold Lassie Stakes for 2-year-old fillies with the former prevailing by a nose. It was 5 more lengths back to Flat Out Gittin It in third and the odds-on favorite, Amberspatriot, finished sixth without making any impact. Secret Passion, a Kentucky-bred filly by Archarcharch, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.90, scoring her second straight win with Shane Laviolette riding.
The Tabulator rallied by pacesetting favorite Mr. Jagermeister in the stretch run of Friday's $65,000 Prairie Gold Stakes for 2-year-olds and won by 2 1/4 lengths over that foe. Land Battle was another 7 3/4 length back in third. The Tabulator, a Dialed In colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.09 with Jose Valdivia Jr. up. The Arlington-based colt now is 2-for-2 for trainer Larry Rivelli.
Chublicious got the lead in the stretch in Sunday's $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap for New Jersey-breds and held on gamely to win by a head from Fast Friar. The winner's entrymate, Visionary Ruler, was third so Mello Groove completed the trifecta. Chublicious, a 6-year-old gelding by Hey Chub, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.37 with Antonio Gallardo at the controls.
Mo Maverick stalked the pace in Saturday's $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes for 3-year-olds, bid for the lead on the turn and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Dover Cliffs, Harlan Strong and Holiday Bonus were second, third and fourth in a close bunch. Mo Maverick, an Uncle Mo colt, finished 1 1/16 miles over good turf in 1:42.80 with Eddie Castro riding.
Niigon's Eclipse took the lead in the stretch run in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Victoriana Stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares and held on through the final yards to win by a neck over Flipcup. Internal Bourbon was third, another 1/2 length in arrears. Niigon's Eclipse, a 4-year-old daughter of Niigon, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.68 with Patrick Husbands aboard.
Inflexibility stalked the pace in Sunday's $225,000 (Canadian) Wonder Where Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies, gradually wore down pacesetting Enstone and won by 1/2 length over that one. Mythical Mission was third. Inflexibility, a Scat Daddy filly, toured 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in course-record time of 1:58.88 with Luis Contreras in the irons. Unraced as a 2-year-old, Inflexibility has developed quickly, posting third-place finishes in the Woodbine Oaks and Queen's Plate. She now has two wins from five starts.
Hot Shot Kid held the lead in the stretch in Saturday's $85,000 Minnesota Derby for state-bred colts and geldings and held on to win by 3/4 length over Got Even Smarter. Fireman Oscar was another 8 1/4 lengths up the track in third. Hot Shot Kid, a Majestic Warrior gelding, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:42.91 with Alex Canchari up.
Double Bee Sting, the even-money favorite, kicked clear late in Saturday's $85,000 Minnesota Oaks for state-bred fillies, winning by 6 lengths. Two Be Royal was best of the rest, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Pinup Girl. Double Bee Sting, a daughter of Stay Thirsty, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:43.54 with Jareth Loveberry in the irons.
Pink Cotton, the favorite, had them all the way in Saturday's $50,000 Duke City Sprint for 3-year-olds and won by 3/4 length over onrushing long shot Evolve. Ranger Rod was third. Pink Cotton, a High Cotton colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.29 with Elvin Gonzalez in the irons.
Ready Prospector seized a big lead in Saturday's $75,000 D.S. Shine Young Futurity for Louisiana-bred 2-year-old colts and geldings, then just did hold on, beating the favorite, I Want a Picture, by a head. Cajun Creed was well back in third. Ready Prospector, a Custom for Carlos gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a sealed, wet-fast track in 1:05.46 with Gerard Melancon riding.
She'screative dueled to the lead in the 2-year-old filly companion feature and then cleared her rivals, winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Eye Craft, the early challenger, held second with Born to D' Wild another 4 lengths back in third. She'screative, a Creative Cause filly, got 5 1/2 furlongs on the wet-fast track in 1:06.53 under Dusty Shepherd.
Riser rose to the occasion in Sunday's $75,000 Emerald Downs Derby. Sent off the favorite, the Mizzen Mast colt quickly took the lead, opened a daylight advantage and found himself a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths out front at the end. Aqua Frio was second; More Power to Him, third. Riser got 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.41 with Eswan Flores in the irons.