West Coast dominated the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby while Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman was victimized by a bad trip and finished second to It Tiz Well in the $1 million Cotillion Stakes in the highlights of weekend Thoroughbred racing.
The weekend also included some performances that promised trips to the Breeders' Cup, even without the "Win and You're In" guarantee.
Things were quiet on the international front, pending a flurry of activity in the week ahead.
But first, this:
After his dominant victory in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, it would be foolish not to add West Coast to the list of leading candidates for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Classic. With Mike Smith riding confidently, the Flatter colt raced second behind Outplay down the backstretch, moved to the lead entering the turn and drew off with only mild encouragement to win by 7 1/4 lengths. Irap was up for second but lugged in badly in the final sixteenth, was pulled up and vanned off with a career-ending injury. Giuseppe the Great finished strongly to get show money at odds of nearly 50-1. The 9 furlongs went in 1:49.91 over a fast track.
West Coast, owned by Jerry and Mary West, entered the national picture with a victory in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes day. He returned home to California to win the Grade III Los Alamitos Derby, then flew back to the East Coast and won the Grade I Travers at Saratoga. That victory sparked comparisons to Arrogate's meteoric rise to prominence with a win in the Travers last year -- an even more dominant performance that presaged his victory in the Breeders' Cup.
"He is just learning how to run," said Bob Baffert, who trains both Arrogate and West Coast. "To have a 3-year-old this time of year, and the way he won the Travers and now winning this race, he is going to be horse to reckon with."
Added Smith: "He is really a good horse. "He is just better than they are right now, as far as 3-year-olds go."
Baffert also trains Collected, who defeated Arrogate in the Grade I Pacific Classic, and is likely to have three of the four favorites for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Stephen Foster, Woodward and Whitney winner Gun Runner also will have significant support. After Saturday's race, however, Baffert wasn't ready to confirm either Arrogate or West Coast for the Classic. Smith is the regular rider for both horses.
On the Parx undercard, Page McKenney tracked the pace in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Derby Championship Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, took over from the favorite, Matt King Cole early in the stretch run and kept to task, winning by 1/2 length. Just Call Kenny was up for third, 3/4 length ahead of Matt King Coal. Page McKenney, a 7-year-old Eavesdropper gelding, got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.17 with Horacio Karamanos up. Page McKenney, trained by Mary Eppler, now is 6-for-7 over the Parx strip.
On Sunday at Remington Park, Untrapped found another gear in the late going and got by the favorite, Battle of Midway, to win the $400,000 Grade III Oklahoma Derby by 1 3/4 lengths. Battle of Midway held second, another 3 1/4 lengths better than Gato Del Oro, followed by Colonelsdarktemper and Girvin. Untrapped, a Trappe Shot colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.62 with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons for trainer Steve Asmussen. After a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Untrapped reported third in both the Grade III Ohio Derby and the Grade III Indiana Derby.
It Tiz Well took the measure of Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman in the final furlong of Saturday's $1 million Grade I Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing, blowing by outside the favorite to win by 2 lengths. Lockdown, who led into the stretch, finished third, 1/2 length ahead of Mopotism. It Tiz Well, an Arch filly trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.67. Prior to the Cotillion, she won the Grade III Delaware Oaks and finished second to Elate in the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga. It Tiz Well took the worst of the tactical situation Saturday. She broke poorly from the No. 10 gate, then advanced boldly along the rail down the backstretch to hook up with Lockdown. She clearly had the better of that rival but had no answer to the challenge from It Tiz Well.
"Very satisfying," said Dan Ward, assistant trainer to Jerry Hollendorfer. "She has been running good races and improving all the time. I thought we had a good chance. I thought we might get that trip. She did a super job."
Abel Tasman's rider, Mike Smith said the race was a bit of a mish mosh after his mount started slowly. He said he dropped to the rail because Abel Tasman "pretty much ran off with me ... She was pulling me so hard and she just took me there and I thought maybe she could pull it off but it was too much to do. She'll be fine for the Breeders' Cup. It wasn't one of her best but she ran well."
At Churchill Downs, Pinch Hit rallied to the lead at the top of the lane in Saturday's $100,000 Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and held on to win by a neck from Champagne Problems. Jordan's Henny was third and the favorite, Grade II Fair Grouds Oaks winner Farrell, was an uninvolved fifth. Pinch Hit, a Harlan's Holiday filly, finished the 7 furlongs over a fast strip in 1:23.27 under Jon Court. It was her third win from her last four starts and followed a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Groupie Doll at Ellis Park. "In the Groupie Doll she got herself into a hot pace but she sat a much better trip tonight," said winning trainer Brad Cox.
Tequilita raced in mid-pack in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Charles Town Oaks, began moving toward the leaders on the turn and advanced steadily to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Yorkiepoo Princess, at odds of 75-1, led briefly and held second, a head in front of Overture and another nose in front of Berned. The favorite, Shimmering Aspen, was sixth. Tequilita, a Union Rags filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:26.01 with Luis Saez aboard. She finished seventh in the Kentucky Oaks and third in the Grade I Longines Test Stakes at Saratoga before Saturday's win.
Champagne Room was sent right to the front by jockey Mario Gutierrez in Sunday's $200,000 Remington Park Oaks and was never challenged, winning by a comfortable 3 3/4 lengths. Ever So Clever beat the other three with Babybluesbdancing third. Champagne Room, a Broken Vow filly, negotiated 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:42.05. Peter Eurton trains the filly, who was making just her second start after winning last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.
Sharp Azteca had 'em all the way in Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park and drew off at the end to a 4-lengths victory. Divining Rod was second, 5 1/4 lengths better than Tom's Ready. Sharp Azteca, a 4-year-old Freud colt, got the one-turn mile on a fast track in 1:34.12 with Paco Lopez riding. Sharp Azteca, third in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile in Dubai in March, made it back-to-back wins after taking Grade III Monmouth Cup in July. Asked about this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, winning trainer Jorge Navarro said, " "We're going to see how he comes out first, step by step, and then hopefully we'll get there."
Coal Front took the lead early in Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Gallant Bob for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing, battled head-to-head with American Pastime and finally edged clear to win by 1/2 length over that one. Petrov, running as an entry with Coal Front, finished third and Aquamarine added a bit of value to the trifecta. The winner, a Stay Thirsty colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.94 with John Velazquez up for trainer Todd Pletcher. His only loss in six starts came in the Grade I H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga, where he was fifth behind winner Practical Joke.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Highway Star edged by the favorite, Carina Mia, in the closing stages of Sunday's $300,000 Grade II Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park winning by neck. Quezon was third. Highway Star, a 4-year-old filly by Girolamo, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.91 carrying Luis Saez. The filly has been a consistent performer on the New York circuit, winning eight of 13 career starts and missing the board only twice. Winning trainer Rodrigo Ubillo said her next start likely will be the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar, adding, "We're not certain yet."
Off Limits came from last of five to take Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at Belmont Park by 4 3/4 lengths. Sassy Little Lila led early and held second, a head better than Celestine. Time and Motion was third and Malibu Stacey completed the order of finish. Off Limits, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Mastercraftsman trained by Chad Brown, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:32.51 under Joel Rosario. She has three wins and two seconds from her last five starts but was making her graded stakes debut. Brown's assistant, Cherie DeVaux, said, "The one-mile distance seems to be her affinity. Chad and (owner Martin) Schwartz gave her some time off between this year and last year which seems to have benefited her tremendously."
Run Away trailed the majority of the field halfway through Saturday's $100,000 Barretts Juvenile at Los Alamitos, rallied stoutly into the lane and outfinished Smokem, winning by a head. Crazy Uncle Rick, a first-time starter, led much of the way and held on to get show money. Run Away, a Run Away and Hide colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.17 with Flavien Prat up for trainer Simon Callaghan. His only loss in five starts was a third-place finish in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity.
Battle Station stationed himself at the front of the field straight out of the gate in Friday's $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds and cruised home first by 9 1/4 lengths without much encouragement from jockey Kendrick Carmouche. The even-money favorite, Inalienable Rights, managed to work by What a Catch in the stretch to finish second and What a Catch was a fading third. Battle Station, a Warrior's Reward colt trained by Wesley Ward for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, covered 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.83, scoring his second win in as many tries.
Around the ovals:
Iron Fist and Code West hooked up in a stretch duel in Sunday's $175,000 Governor's Cup with Iron Fist prevailing by 3/4 length at the wire. American Dubai was third, another 6 lengths back. Iron Fist, with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.31.
Ivan Fallunovalot took the lead when asked by jockey Luis Quinonez in Sunday's $175,000 David M. Vance Sprint Stakes and drew off convincingly, winning by 3 lengths over Wings Locked Up. Counterforce finished third. Ivan Fallunovalot, a 7-year-old Valid Expectations gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.19 -- just 0.09 second shy of the track record established in 1991.
Turbo Street tracked the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Remington Green Stakes, moved to the lead in the lane and was all out to score by a neck over Paternal Pride. Net Gain was third and Texas Chrome was fourth. Turbo Street, a 5-year-old Australian-bred gelding by Encosta de Lago, got 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.91 with Santana riding.
Final Arrow, at odds of 41-1, led early in Sunday's $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes for 2-year-olds, gave up the advantage and then came again to win by 1/2 length over Land Battle. Flat Lucky, the favorite, rallied belatedly to finish third. Final Arrow, a Texas-bred gelding by Crossbow, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.30 with David Cabrera up.
Get Jets and Call Provision both came rolling down the stretch outside the early leaders in Sunday's $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York-breds with Get Jets winning the battle by a nose. Another deep closer, Kharafa, was 3/4 length farther back in third. Get Jets, a 4-year-old Scat Daddy colt, ran 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf in 1:47.74 with John Velazquez in attendance.
Fourstar Crook got the upper hand in the lane in Sundy's $125,000 John Hettinger Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, kicking away to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Tizelle. Ack Naughty ran well late to finish third. Fourstar Crook, a 5-year-old Freud mare, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.05 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Kris Who was quickly out to the lead in Sunday's $100,000 New Mexico State Fair Futurity for state-breds and drew off to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Kama Rollin was second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Golden Band. Kris Who, an Indian Firewater gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.20 with Alfredo Juarez Jr. up.
Firsthand Report showed the way in Saturday's $100,000 Alphabet Soup Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds and just did hold on to win by a nose over Bern' James Bern. Edge of Reality was third. Firsthand Report, a 4-year-old Blame filly, got 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.60 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Sparkles' Girl pressed the pace in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Classy 'n Smart Stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares, then dueled down the lane with Trini Brewnette before winning by a head. Internal Bourbon was 1/2 length farther back in third. Sparkles' Girl, a 4-year-old daughter of Society's Champion, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.42 with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons.
Mr Havercamp rallied five-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Vice Regent Stakes and outfinished King and His Court, winning by 1 length. The early leader, Dragon's Cry, held third. Mr Havercamp, a Court Vision gelding, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:33.82 with Eurico Da Silva riding. The race was restricted to Ontario-sired 3-year-olds.
Proper Discretion ran like an odds-on favorite should in Saturday's $75,000 Diana Stakes for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, kicking away in the stretch run to an 8 1/4-length victory. La Nina Bronca was best of the rest, 3/4 length to the good of Mayas Queen Neetee. Proper Discretion, a 4-year-old Discreetly Mine filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.82 with Ricardo Feliciano up.
Big Game Baby started wide in Saturday's $75,000 Elge Rasberry Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, made steady progress through the field and outfinished the odd-on favorite, Bermuda Star, to score by 1/2 length. Our Sweet Sydni was third. Big Game Baby, a Gold Tribute filly, got 1 mile on firm turf in 1:38.02 with Gerardo Mora riding.
Jack Snipe's made a bold sustained run through the closing furlongs of Saturday's $75,000 A.L. (Red) Erwin Stakes for 3-year-olds and was there in time to score a 1-length victory over Fee Do. Culp's Hill was third an the favorite, Magic Vow, settled for fourth. Jack Snipe's, a Half Ours gelding, finished 1 mile on the green course in 1:35.75 for jockey Jansen Melancon.