Collected handed Arrogate his second straight loss, Winx scored her 18th straight win and a heavy dose of turf racing during the weekend provided some more clues to the upcoming Breeders' Cup grass races.
Far across the globe, the China Horse Club held its sixth race meeting on mainland China with international jockeys taking on locals for the enjoyment of CHC members and lots of local fans.
Fanning out to cover all this ...
Collected jumped to the lead in Saturday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar, then held on gamely though the stretch to hand Arrogate his unprecedented second straight loss. Arrogate closed gamely, in contrast to his flat effort in the San Diego Handicap in his previous start, but fell 1/2 length short at the line. Accelerate finished third in the Pacific Classic, 3 3/4 lengths farther back.
While Arrogate ran credibly well, the result leaves this fall's Breeders' Cup Classic a much more wide-open affair than it seemed just a month ago, when Arrogate appeared invincible after consecutive wins in the Travers, last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup.
Collected, a City Zip colt who share Bob Baffert's barn with Arrogate, ran the 1 1/4 miles of the Pacific Classic in 2:00.70 with Martin Garcia in the irons. The chestnut colt, out of the Johannesburg mare Helena Bay, has won all four starts this year. Accelerate came to the Pacific Classic after an emphatic victory in the San Diego but, before that, finished third behind Collected in the Grade III Precisionist at Santa Anita.
"Arrogate, at least he tried today," Baffert said. "He's getting there. But I think that when I ran him in the San Diego it messed up his psyche a little bit. I don't think I have a problem bringing him back in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But he's got to be fresh, just like Collected came in here fresh. And Collected is a very good horse."
Arrogate's rider, Mike Smith, added, "If he just improves a little bit, we'll be all right. He was a lot better today than last time -- just not good enough."
Meanwhile, Gun Runner, second behind Arrogate in Dubai, has been on fire since his return to the States. Saturday's result boosted his stock, too.
Chief Know It All, last seen finishing second in a Churchill Downs allowance event, stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, got the lead in the lane and held on to win by 1/2 length over the dead-heat duo of locally based favorite, Trooper John, and Double Bear in third. Chief Know It All, a Flashy Bull colt, ran 1 3/8 miles on a fast track in 2:17.06 with Rico Walcott riding.
Elate took up a tracking spot right out of the gate in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Alabama for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, surged to the lead at the top of the lane when turned loose by jockey Jose Ortiz, and drew off powerfully to win by 5 1/2 lengths. The early leader, It Tiz Well, held on for second, a head better than Salty. The favorite, contested the early pace, then faded badly to finish eighth. Elate, a Medaglia d'Oro filly, ran 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:02.19. Elate was second behind Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman in her previous start in the Coaching Club American Oaks. The Alabama was her first graded stakes win.
"I'm glad that she won," Ortiz said of Elate, "because ever since the first day I got on her in the morning, we thought she was going to be a really nice filly. She won by 12 lengths first time out and then she went a little bit off form -- just being kind of green, breaking a little slow. I'm glad she put herself together and look what she can do when she matures."
Money'soncharlotte got first shot at the lead in the late going of Saturday's $200,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes at Thistledown and easily held off the favorite, Martini Glass, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Mo d'Amour was third as the big purse attracted distaffers from around the eastern half of the country. Money'soncharlotte, a 5-year-old Mizzen Mast mare, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:51.48 with Paco Lopez in the irons for trainer Kelly Breen.
Hunt tracked down the leader at mid-stretch in Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Del Mar Handicap and fended off a late bit by Itsinthepost to win by 3/4 length. Flamboyant was just a head farther back in third. Hunt, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred gelding by Dark Angel, ran 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:14.93 under Flavien Prat, earning a "Win and You're In" berth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf in November over the same course. The win backed up his victory a month earlier in the Grade I Eddie Read Stakes. "It was a masterful ride," said winning trainer Phil D'Amato. Flavien just bided his time, let the race develop a little, found a seam on the inside and turned him loose. He got it done."
Can'thelpbelieving settled in mid-pack through most of Sunday's $175,000 (Canadian) Grade II Sky Classic Stakes at Woodbine, made his move turning for home and prevailed in the final furlong, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Noble Thought. Pumpkin Rumble finished third. Can'thelpbelieving, a 6-year-old Irish-bred gelding by Duke of Marmalade, ran 11 furlongs on the firm turf in 2:14.95 with Joe Bravo in to take the ride for trainer Graham Motion. In his two previous starts he was second in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park and second again in the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine. Woodbine's Northern Dancer and Pattison Canadian International are among the upcoming stakes possibilities for Can'thelpbelieving. "You've got a really nice turf program here so I'm sure," said Jane Buchanan, racing manager for Motion. "We'll just see how he comes back and I'm pretty sure we'll probably reconsider coming back up here."
Channel Maker, hard to handle in the early going, rallied through the stretch to take the lead in Sunday's $400,000 (Canadian) Breeders' Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds at Woodbine, then fought off a bid by Final Copy to win by a nose. King and His Court finished third. The result wasn't posted official until the stewards had sorted through -- and disallowed -- three separate claims of foul. Channel Maker, an English Channel gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:29.70 with Rafael Hernandez up for trainer Bill Mott. He finished fourth in the Queen's Plate.
Conquest Panthera challenged pacesetting Dowse's Beach in the stretch run in Saturday's $175,000 (Canadian) Play the King Stakes at Woodbine, survived some bumping in deep stretch and won by a neck over that rival. Glenville Gardens was 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Conquest Panthera, a 5-year-old Kitten's Joy gelding, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:21.20 with Patrick Husbands in the irons. After several in-the-money finishes, it was his first graded stakes win for trainer Mark Casse. "The only two bad races from looking at the form were when he went long," Husbands said. "You take away that, he had two Grade I races there and he didn't get beat far. He showed that he was the best horse today."
Filly & Mare Turf
Proctor's Ledge waited behind several rivals through most of Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Lake Placid Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, came wide into the stretch under Javier Castellano and inched to the lead and clear, winning by 3/4 length. The favorite, Uni, trailed right behind the winner all the way and finished second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Party Boat. La Coronel and Coasted completed the order of finish. Proctor's Ledge, a Ghostzapper filly, ran 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:47.74, doubling down on her victory in the Grade III Lake George at the Spa on July 21.
"She's something else, to beat fillies like that so impressively," said Proctor's Lodge's trainer, Brendan Walsh. "She's been threatening all the time to do this and getting better and better ... I don't know about the Breeders' Cup," he added. But he mentioned the possibility of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 14.
On paper, Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Del Mar Oaks looked wide open and that's just how it played out on the turf. Dream Dancing, Beau Recall and Madame Dancealot, all rallying from near the back of the 12-filly field, duked it out down the lane before Dream Dancing prevailed by a nose over Beau Recall with Madam Dancealot, the favorite, just another neck behind in third. Dream Dancing, a Tapit filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.06 under Julien Leparoux. Julie Stormfelt, assistant to winning trainer Mark Casse, said, "There was a very good pace up front, which she likes. She has more than one run and a very good kick and when I saw her coming down the stretch I was just screaming, very happy. This is my first time travelling with a horse and it's nice to be a winner."
Tribalist undoubtedly set some kind of record with his victory in Friday's $100,000 Green Flash Stakes at Del Mar. The 6-year-old Tribal Rules gelding broke his maiden in July 2014 at Del Mar, then did not race again until August 2015, when he won an allowance event over the same track. Idle for another year, he made his next start in a Del Mar allowance in 2016 and won that, too. He again took the full year off before Friday's win. He did it the hard way, too. Squeezed at the start, Victor Espinoza finally found room between rivals at mid-stretch and got Tribalist up to win by a head over pacesetting Gutsy Ruler. The favorite, Richard's Boy, was another 1/2 length in arrears in third. Tribalist ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 56.93 seconds.
Blackjackcat stalked the pace set by the favorite, Midnight Storm, in Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Del Mar Mile, rallied by that one and then won a three-way scramble to the wire, beating Vyjack by a head and Om by another length. Midnight Storm faded to finish fourth. Blackjackcat, a 4-year-old Tale of the Cat gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.06 with Kent Desormeaux up.
Tricky Escape came from last of seven to post a minor upset win in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Violet Stakes for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park. The favorite, Light Up Our World was second, 1 1/4 lengths back and a head in front of Gianna's Dream. Tricky Escape, a 4-year-old Hat Trick filly, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.91 with Chris DeCarlo in the irons for trainer Lynn Ashby.
Flameaway tracked the pace in Friday's off-the-turf $100,000 Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga, launched a bid after the field straightened out into the stretch and was along to win by 1 1/2 lengths over El Dulce. Dial One found some late foot to get up for show money. Flameaway, a Scat Daddy colt trained by Mark Casse, finished 5 1/2 furlongs on a muddy, sealed track in 1:06.69 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
March X Press overcame a messy start and traffic issues in the stretch to win Wednesday's $100,000 Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga by 1/2 length over Fairyland. Sugar Queen was another 1/2 length behind in third. March X Press, a Shanghai Bobby filly trained by Todd Pletcher, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.69 with Jose Ortiz piloting.
Dak Attack, under a well-timed ride by Robby Albarado, launched his attack entering the stretch run of Sunday's $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile and ran on by the leaders to win by 2 lengths. Northern Trail was second at odds of more than 81-1 and the odds-on favorite, Ten City, finished third. Dak Attack, a Ghostzapper colt out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Spell, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.96. Trained by Dale Romans, the colt won at first asking at Churchill Downs in June and had been idle until Sunday's race. "Man, we knew that horse was bred right, and he did the right things in the race," said owner Dennis Albaugh. "We were very happy with him. He's a strong one coming into this next season."
Kelly's Humor rallied from well back in Sunday's $75,000 Ellis Park Debutante, swinging way wide to pass her rivals down the lane and went on to win by 1 length over the favorite, Upset Brewing. Sunny Skies was third. Kelly's Humor, a Midnight Lute filly out of the Distorted Humor mare Cauy's Humor, got 7 furlongs in 1:24.63 with Shaun Bridgmohan up. She is 2-for-2 with both wins coming at Ellis Park for trainer Brad Cox. "These Ellis Park stakes races, maiden specials and allowance races top to bottom are really good races," Cox said. "This is solid racing, a good race quality-wise. Coming into it? Honestly, I was hoping to be third."
Around the ovals:
Verve's Tale stalked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Summer Colony Stakes for fillies and mares, then hooked up in the stretch drive with Blue Prize and was all out to prevail by by a nose. It was a further 6 3/4 lengths back to Fuhriously Kissed in third. Verve's Tale, a 4-year-old filly by Tale of Ekati, got 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.53 with Jose Ortiz riding.
Nikki My Darling led all the way to an 8-lengths victory over the odds-on favorite, Justalittlesmoke, in Saturday's $75,000 Pay the Man Stakes for Ohio-bred fillies and mares. Star Mabee was 4 1/2 length farther back in third. Nikki My Darling, a 3-year-old Creative Cause filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.82 with Luis Colon aboard.
Crabcakes scuttled along behind the early pace in Saturday's $75,000 Miss Disco Stakes for 3-year-old Maryland-bred fillies, took over in the lane and got there first by 1 1/4 lengths. Hailey's Flip was second with Faze the Nation another 7 lengths back in third. Crabcakes, a daughter of Great Notion, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:07.88 under Forest Boyce.
Just Howard was just up in the final jumps to win Saturday's $75,000 Find Stakes for Maryland-breds by a neck over Ghost Bay. Dothat Dance was third. Just Howard, a 3-year-old colt by English Channel, ran 9 furlongs on soft turf in 1:57.10 with Alex Cintron at the controls.
Bawlmer Hon pressed the pace in Saturday's $75,000 All Brandy Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, took over and opened a big lead when asked by jockey Sheldon Russell and coasted home first by 2 lengths over Nickyrocksforpops. Look Who's Talking finished third. Bawlmer Hon, a 4-year-old Silver Train filly, got 9 furlongs on the soft turf in 1:58.04 with Sheldon Russell riding.
Killin Me Smalls led from gate to wire in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Westerner Handicap, winning by 9 lengths over Zippity Zap. Royal Warrior was third. Killin Me Smalls, a 7-year-old gelding by Marcavelly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.24 under Keishan Balgobin.
Anstrum rallied by pacesetting Parcam Cowgirl in the final strides to take Saturday's $75,000 (Canadian) Sonoma Handicap by a head. Saveitforarainyday was 6 lengths farther back in third. Anstrum, a Rosberg filly, toured 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.55 with Balgobin in the irons.
Sir Bronx set a pressured pace in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Timely Ruckus Stakes, then inched away to win by 3/4 length over Private Money Game. Annie's Candy was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third. Sir Bronx, a 4-year-old Bellamy Road gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.48 with Shamaree Muir riding.
Tara's Way took command in the stretch run of Satuday's $75,000 (Canadian) City of Edmonton Distaff and won by 1 length over a closing Quality Lane. The favorite, Port Protection, finished third. Tara's Way, a 4-year-old daughter of Tizway, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.34 with Muir up.
On the international front:
Supermare Winx got her season off to a successful start, winning her 18th straight race in the Bob Ingham Warwick Stakes. But to do it, she virtually had to replicate Arrogate's stunning performance in this year's Dubai World Cup. Like Arrogate at Meydan, Winx was off last in Saturday's Group 2 event, spotting the field some 5 lengths. At the top of the lane, with stablemate Foxplay taking the lead along the rail, jockey Hugh Bowman got Winx going into the face of a headwind and got her there for the narrow victory. Foxplay held third. "Hugh never panicked," said trainer Chris Waller. "We know she is going to get beat someday but when it happens, you wouldn't want her to have excuses." Bowman said he "wasn't nervous" and knew the start was in the past and the stretch run was the future. "All I could do was get her into her rhythm and ride the race," he said. Waller has the 6-year-old Street Cry mare primed for another lucrative campaign during the Australian springtime.
Last but far from least, the China Horse Club staged its sixth race meeting in conjunction with the China Equine Cultural Festival Sunday at Ordos in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China with a rich horse heritage dating back centuries.
The four races featured horses brought to mainland China from training centers around the globe and jockeys from Russia, Australia, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago flew in to compete with local riders over the sand track at Yiqi Racecourse.
A crowd estimated at 16,000 turned out, braving a morning downpour which cleared in time for the races and the attendant cultural festivities. When things got going, the international jockeys booted home two winners with the local team accounting for the other two races.
The meeting was the sixth staged by the CHC, which is building a complex at the Yiqi Racecourse that includes a breeding complex, equine-equipped "estates" and improvements to the track itself. The races are designed to maintain and expand interest in horse ownership among Chinese entrepreneurs and to demonstrate to the Chinese government that racing on the mainland is popular and should be supported and encouraged.