In an eclectic weekend of Thoroughbred racing: World Approval won the Woodbine Mile, The Tabulator won the first race on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" and Winx won her 20th straight race.
Five races, including four for 2-year-olds, offered Breeders' Cup berths.
Sadly, RIP Penny Chenery.
World Approval got the best of some world-class turf runners in Saturday's $800,000 (Canadian) Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
The race was delayed briefly while a flock of geese was chased off the course near the furlong marker. And, when the gates opened, the 12-horse field raced pretty much as a bunched up flock. World Approval, under John Velazquez, pressed the pace through the first half mile with only about 6 lengths covering the field.
Around the turn, World Approval began to assert himself, finally drawing off to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Lancaster Bomber fought through some traffic early in the stretch run to finish a game second for the Coolmore team and Long On Value rallied from next-last to take third. World Approval, a 5-year-old Northern Afleet gelding, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:33.05, earning a berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile through the "Win and You're In" program. "As long as he's healthy, we are going to the Breeders' Cup," said winning trainer Norm Casse. "Am I confident we can win? I don't think I would change places with anybody."
Velazquez, who rode the horse for the first time, said he wasn't sure who might take the lead. "He broke well today, no one seemed to want the lead, I just kind of left him there and he held on very well," he said.
It was the third win in four tries this year for World Approval, who carries the black, white and red dots of Live Oak Plantation. All of his wins have come at 1 mile or a sixteenth longer. By contrast, several of his rivals have found more success going longer.
Johnny Bear, stepping way up in class, put a nostril in front of pacesetting favorite Hawkbill in the final jump to win Saturday's $300,000 (Canadian) Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Messi was third. Johnny Bear, a 6-year-old English Channel gelding, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:28.35 with Luis Contreras aboard for trainer Ashlee Brnjas. Johnny Bear had been toiling in mid-level optional claimers over the Woodbine turf while Hawkbill arrived in Toronto after finishing second in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin and, before that, winning the Group 2 Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket. "I was just thinking to stay in behind the eight horse (Hawkbill) and follow him and it worked out perfect," Contreras said. "I want to thank everybody for making him 15-1," added part owner John Brnjas. Hawkbill's rider, Colm O'Donoghue, said his mount "travelled well and moved great. He hit the line strong and it was a bob of the heads and, unfortunately, it didn't go his way."
Canessar saved ground into the stretch turn in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup, moved up between horses nearing the lane, then found room on the outside to get up and win by 1 1/4 lengths. The favorite, Infinite Wisdom, was second, 2 1/4 lengths to the good of Renown. Canessar, a 4-year-old French-bred gelding by Kendargent, ran 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:25.23 with Feargal Lynch in the irons. It was his first start in the United States for trainer Arnaud Delacour after a successful run in France on the fringes of the big time. Delacour said the gelding will move along the class ladder. "For this race, we thought the timing was right for the Grade 3 at Keeneland," Delacour said, referring to the Oct. 19 Sycamore.
Filly & Mare Turf
Uni rallied to catch pacesetting La Coronel in the stretch drive in Saturday's $400,000 Grade II Sands Point Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park and won a long duel by a neck over that rival. Fault was third. Uni, a British-bred daughter of More Than Ready, ran 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:48.97 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up. Uni was making her third U.S. start after coming from France. She was second in each of the first two runs -- the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational and the Grade II Lake Placid at Saratoga. Ortiz said the key in the Sands Point was getting a better break. Trainer Chad Brown added, "This is her best race to date and she's an exciting horse for the future. We really like her." Brown said he will talk to the owners about the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland Oct. 14.
Quidura raced behind the leading trio into the stretch run in Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian) Canadian Stakes at Woodbine, found a path between rivals and was in full command by the sixteenth pole, winning by 1 length over late-running Elysea's World. Starship Jubilee led the field into the stretch, gave way grudgingly and held on for third. The 1 1/16 miles over firm turf went in 1:45.26. Jockey Junior Alvarado said he never felt trapped behind the leaders. "I knew she was there for me any time I called on her so I wasn't worried," he said. Quidura, a 4-year-old English-bred filly by Dubawi, entered the Canadian off a second-place finish to Lady Eli in the Grade I Diana at Saratoga -- credential enough to make her the odds-on favorite Saturday. Trainer Graham Motion said he brought Quidura to the Canadian "because of the timing. I really hope to take her to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup so I wish this was still a 'Win and You're In'," he said. Raced in Germany early in her career, Quidura is owned by her breeder, Gestut Fahrhof.
On Leave prompted the pace in Saturday's $150,000 All Along Stakes for fillies and mares at Laurel Park, eased to the lead at the top of the stretch and gradually worked clear, winning by 1 length over Paige. Light Up Our World lost second by a nose after leading most of the way. On Leave, a 4-year-old Stuart Janney III homebred daughter of War Front, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.24 with Forest Boyce in the irons for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Snowday tracked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Dash, moved to the lead in the lane and held on to win by a head over Class and Cash with Rapid Dan only another head back in third. Snowday, a French-bred 7-year-old gelding by Falco, finished 6 furlongs on firm going in 1:09.02 with Daniel Centeno at the controls. Snowday has made a nice progression from optional claimers this season, winning the My Frenchman Stakes at Monmouth Park before finishing third, beaten only 1/2 length, in the Grade III Turf Monster at Parx in his last start. Mongolian Saturday, the 2015 Breeders' Cup winner, was second in the Parx race.
Always Thinking came running in deep stretch to upset Saturday's $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash for fillies and mares at Laurel Park. The 4-year-old Street Sense filly rallied down the outside of rivals and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Fire Key at odds of 25-1. Rocky Policy was third and the odds-on favorite, Miss Ella, was never in the mix after bobbling at the start. Always Thinking, owned by Godolphin and trained by Tom Albertrani, ran 6 furlongs on firm turf in 1:07.68, eclipsing the course record of 1:08.00 set by Texas Glitter in 2000. Always Thinking drew into the race from the also-eligible list and picked up her third career win.
The leader on the Road to the Kentucky Derby is: The Tabulator. The Dialed In colt earned 10 Derby qualifying points with a pace-stalking 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs, the first on the long list of Road to the Derby races. The favorite, Hollywood Star, finished second and Ten City was third. The Tabulator, with Jose Valdivia Jr. up for trainer Arlington-based trainer Larry Rivelli, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.50. It was his first start since a win in the Prairie Gold Juvenile in Iowa in July. The Iroquois win also earned The Tabulator a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile via the "Win and You're In" program. "When we turned for home in front he still looked around a little bit in the stretch," Valdivia said. "But I'm just glad we were able to get there. With this being the kickoff for the 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' and a Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In', it's very exciting to have a horse of this quality."
Therapist picked up his second win from as many starts in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Futurity. The New York-bred Freud colt broke through the gate before the race, then was among the last to exit the machine at the appropriate time. He advanced on the leaders in the lane and was along in the final yards to win by a head over Stroll Smokin. The favorite, Majestic Dunhill, was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Therapist got home in 1:09.50. He won his career debut at Belmont Park July 2. "I got lucky he didn't get hurt in the gate," Centeno said. "It was only his second start and he got nervous. He broke a little slow and I put him on the rail and I saved all the ground." Christophe Clement trains the colt.
Untamed Domain edged by the favorite, Hemp Hemp Hurray in the final yards of Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian) Summer Stakes at Woodbine, winning by a neck. Admiralty Pier was third. Untamed Domain, an Animal Kingdom colt out of the Lear Fan mare Ciao, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.73 with Joe Bravo aboard for trainer Graham Motion. He was the second Animal Kingdom juvenile to find the winner's circle at Woodbine during the weekend. Grace and Dignity, an Animal Kingdom filly out of the Smart Strike mare Precision Farming, won a Saturday maiden race handily in her first career start.
Patrona Margarita, dismissed at odds of nearly 24-1, rolled from the middle of the pack in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Pocahontas at Churchill Downs and was up to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Kelly's Humor. Sunny Skies was third and the favorite, retreated to finish ninth. Patrona Margarita, a Texas-bred filly by Special Rate, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.35 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up. She was last seen finishing a close third in the restricted Texas Thoroughbred Breeders' Futurity at Lone Star Park in July. The Pocahontas score earned her 10 points toward a potential spot in next spring's Longines Kentucky Oaks starting gate and a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies thanks to the "Win and You're In" scheme. The latter opening won't be used, however. "She's not Breeders' Cup eligible so we'll probably point towards the Alcibiades at Keeneland," said winning trainer Bret Calhoun.
Ismelucky collared Shaken Memories in deep stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Barretts Debutante Stakes at Los Alamitos, winning by 1/2 length over that one. Exuberance was third. Ismelucky, a California-bred filly by Lucky Pulpit, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.84 with Kent Desormeaux riding. After a second-place finish in her first career start, Ismelucky now has two wins from two tries for trainer and part-owner Jeff Bonde. "It was an eventful trip to say the least," Desormeaux said. "We got slammed at the start by (Funny Bean), then we had to wait for room, and then in the stretch, (Shaken Memories) was using her tail like a fan in front of us. This filly really showed me something today."
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Wise Gal made it 2-for-2 with a 4 1/4-lengths victory in Saturday's $100,000 Selima Stakes at Laurel Park. The Einstein filly was off a tad slowly, came five-wide to challenge for the lead and won despite drifting in late. Madame X. was best of the rest and Eighty Six Mets ran evenly to get show money. Wise Gal, with Steve Hamilton up, ran 6 furlongs on firm going in 1:09.43. She won at first asking over the same course a month earlier.
Capala Temptress raced well back through the early furlongs of Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Selima Stakes at Woodbine, found a seam between rivals at the eighth pole, went through and on to a 3/4-length victory. Pacesetter Dixie Moon was second, a head in front of Wonder Gadot. Capala Temptress, an Irish-bred daughter of Lope de Vega, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.12 with Joel Rosario riding for Newmarket-based trainer Marco Botti.
Chublicious, the outside chance in a field of four, wore down pacesetting Blu Moon Ace in the final yards of Saturday's $250,000 Grade III Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash and won by a neck over that one. The favorite, Whitmore, was 1 1/4 lengths back in third and Awesome Banner completed the order of finish. Chublicious, a 6-year-old gelding by Hey Chub, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.75 with Horacio Karamanos in the irons. It was Whitmore's second straight third-place finish after five consecutive wins. "This is nothing new," said owner David Gruskos. "The horse runs 1:08. The horse has been running 1:08s and threes on the sheets for two years. This is no mystery."
Ikerrin Road stalked the pace in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine, took over from pacesetter Boreal Spirit in the final sixteenth and won by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival. Majestic Slew was third and the favorite, Unbridled Juan, got home fifth of sixth. Ikerrin Road, an Irish-bred 4-year-old son of Iffraaj, scored his second straight win following an optional claimer over the Woodbine Tapeta course. He now is 5-for-7 over all-weather courses.
Filly and Mare Sprint
Saturday's $100,000 Open Mind Stakes at Churchill Downs was a bit of a hot mess. The odds-on favorite, Ivy Bell, clipped heels while chasing the lead at mid-stretch and dropped jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. Then Mayla, who got home first, was disqualified all the way down to fifth for coming over into the path of Ivy Bell, causing the incident. That left Grace's Treasure the winner, with the minor awards to Athena and Tricky Zippy. Neither Hernandez nor Ivy Bell was injured in the mishap. "It's a shame of what the circumstances were," said winning rider Jesus Castanon. "But my horse battled very hard today. I guess a win is a win, right? I'm just glad Brian is okay." Grace's Treasure, the adjudged winner, is a 4-year-old Rockport Harbor filly. The win was her second in a row, following an optional claimer at Belterra Park.
Moonlit Promise outfinished River Maid in Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Sweet Briar Too Stakes for fillies and mares at Woodbine, winning by 3/4 length. Southern Ring finished third. Moonlit Promise, a 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:15.66 with Gary Boulanger up.
In their last race, the Summer Colony at Saratoga, Romantic Vision finished last, beaten 35 lengths, while Blue Prize was second, just a nose behind the winner. In Saturday's $125,000 Grade III Locust Grove for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs, Romantic Vision outfinished Blue Prize, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over that rival Tiger Moth was third. Romantic Vision, a 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid mare, covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.91. "We just got a dream trip behind the speed," said winning rider Brian Hernandez Jr. "When the rail opened up she just responded perfectly and ran on well." In last year's Locust Grove, Romantic Vision beat only one rival and finished 24 1/4 lengths behind the winner.
Gigantic Breeze blew by all seven rivals in the stretch run in Sunday's $200,000 Presque Isle Mile, winning by 4 lengths over Ghost Hunter. The favorite, War Correspondent, was third with a late effort. Gigantic Breeze, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway gelding, ran 1 mile on the all-weather course in 1:35.62 with Mario Pino up for trainer Alexander McPherson. The Woodbine-based gelding now has six straight top three finishes.
Over the bounding main:
For the third straight race, Winx gave her legion of fans some anxious moments in Saturday's Group 1 Colgate Optic White Stakes at Royal Randwick, breaking a step slowly and leaving a lot to do with only 400 meters to go. But, as she did in the previous two, the super mare got the job done, easing past Happy Clapper at the 100-meter mark and going on to win by a bit more than 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Foxplay was well back in third. It was the 20th straight victory for Winx, a 6-year-old Street Cry mare, and another box ticked on her road toward a hoped-for third straight Cox Plate. "She's spot on," said trainer Chris Waller. "She comes to hand pretty well." Jockey Hugh Bowman, who never touched his whip, said of Winx' starting issues, "She's just tense. She's just so competitive. She just wants to get on with it. That's the one chink in her armor." Waller said he expects Winx will have one more race before the Cox Plate but said he hasn't yet decided where or when that will be.
One race after Winx' triumph, Redzel powered home first in the Group 2 Bowerman's Office Furniture Shorts, making his case for the rapidly approaching first running of the AUS$10 million Everest Stakes. However, a lot of attention was focused on a streak of gray flashing down the middle of the course in the final furlong as Chautauqua hit his best stride. That effort only earned Chautauqua a seventh-place finish but the Shorts is only 1,100 meters as opposed to the 1,200 meters of the Oct. 14 Everest and Chautauqua needed the race after taking more than 5 months off. None of that detracts from the performance of Redzel, a 5-year-old Snitzel gelding who now is 2-for-2 on the young season and winner of four straight dating back to the Australian autumn. "He's the most improved sprinter in the country and, in my estimation, he's a genuine chance for the Everest," said Bowman, scoring the stakes double.
At Flemington, Humidor produced a rather startling upset in the Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes, rallying from last and getting home first by 3 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Hartnell. Black Heart Bart was another 1/2 length back in third. Humidor, a 5-year-old Teofilo gelding, wound up last season nicely with a first and second in a pair of Group 1 events but was nowhere in his first two outings this season.
Around the ovals:
Citizen Geller found his best foot in the final sixteenth of Saturday's $70,000 Casey Darnell Stakes for New Mexico-breds, outfinishing Stormin the Jewels to win by 1/2 length. The pacesetter, Raider Red, was another neck back in third. Citizen Geller, a 5-year-old Pro Prado gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:02.43 with Miguel Perez in the irons.
Presque Isle Downs
Stardoza led from the first jumps in Sunday's $100,000 Mrs. Henry D. Paxson Memorial for 2-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred fillies and carried on, winning by 1 3/4 length over O'Paddy. P Sue was 2 3/4 lengths farther back in third. Stardoza, a daughter of Data Link, got 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.95 with Pablo Morales up.
Amy's Challenge went to the lead in Saturday's $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile, turned back Mr. Jagermeister's challenge at the top of the stretch and won by 3/4 length over that one. Another 18 lengths back, it was My Sweet Emma completing the trifecta. Amy's Challenge, a Kentucky-bred filly by Artie Schiller, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.58 with Jareth Loveberry in the irons.
Sir Navigator dueled for the lead through most of Saturday's $50,000 Tom Metzen H.B.P.A. Sprint, then edged away in the final stages to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Smooth Chiraz was second, 1/2 length ahead of Aden's Dream. Sir Navigator, a 5-year-old Henrythenavigator gelding, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.02 with Israel Hernandez riding.
Extravagant Kid rallied from midpack to win Sunday's $50,000 Tamiami Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths over Brandi's Girl. Diddley was third. Extravagant Kid, a 4-year-old gelding by Kiss the Kid, ran 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.80 seconds for jockey Juan Batista.
Katinka and Surprise Wedding hooked up in a ding-dong stretch duel in Saturday's $100,000 Miss Gracie Stakes for Florida-bred 3-year-old fillies with Katinka finally prevailing by a nose. The favorite, Gran Cherry, was gaining late but settled for third, another 1/2 length in arrears. Katinka, a Kantharos filly, ran 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:31.23 with Leonel Reyes in the irons.
Leona's Reward wore down pacesetting True Cinder in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 Catlaunch Stakes for Ohio-breds and won by 1/2 length from that one. Mixed Colors fell just a nose short of wresting second from True Cinder and the favorite, Eightthehardway, finished another 7 lengths back in fourth. Leona's Reward, a 4-year-old Parents' Reward filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.42 for jockey Pablo Morales.
Golden Gate Fields
Force circled the leaders in the stretch drive in Sunday's $65,000 Rolling Green Stakes and took command, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Camino Del Paraiso. G G Ryder rallied from last to finish third. Force, a 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding by Raven's Pass, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.64 with Juan Hernandez in the irons.
News and notes:
Penny Chenery, whose ownership of Secretariat was the springboard to a career of activism on behalf of horses, women and the sport, has passed away at age 95. Chenery took over management of her father's Thoroughbred operation in 1967 and struggled until Riva Ridge won the Kentucky Derby in 1972. That achievement was eclipsed the following year as Secretariat swept the Triple Crown series, finishing with a flourish in his 31-length Belmont Stakes masterpiece. Chenery used the fame that attached to her star's triumphs to become active in promoting the industry. She was the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and one of the first women admitted to The Jockey Club. She was instrumental in founding the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and created the Secretariat Vox Populi Award and the Secretariat Foundation, which assists and supports various charities within the racing community. She received the 2006 Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime contributions to the Thoroughbred industry.
Fred W. Hertrich III Friday was elected Chairman of the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors, replacing William S. Farish Jr. Hertrich, a director since 2015 and chair of the Sponsorship Committee, will serve a two-year term. He is the owner of Watercress Farm in Paris, Ky. Dan Pride of Godolphin was elected as vice chairman, also for a two-year term. Farish served as Chairman from 2006 to 2011, and again from 2013 until Friday. Farish will continue as a Director.