It was a weekend of firsts on Epsom Downs in England as Masar handed Godolphin and jockey William Buick their first-ever Derby win and Forever Together made the Oaks her first career victory.
Cracksman bucked the "first ever" trend, landing his fifth straight in the Coronation Cup at Epsom -- but just barely. A colt sired by a Japanese stallion won the French Derby while a colt bred in Kentucky by a British stallion won the Group 1 in Japan.
In North America, Pink Lloyd won his 11th straight stakes race at Woodbine, Unique Bella welcomed a return to Santa Anita and Catholic Boy welcomed a return to turf. Hawkish swooped in late to win the $500,000 Penn Mile.
Starting on the Epsom Downs ...
Masar took complete charge of Saturday's Investec Derby at Epsom as the field came off the hill and into the final run to the wire. As rivals fell back, the Godolphin-owned son of 2008 Derby winner New Approach kept finding more for jockey William Buick and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Dee Ex Bee. Roaring Lion was third and the hot favorite, Saxon Warrior, settled for fourth. Saxon Warrior had some traffic issues but did not look like troubling Masar in the end.
The outcome was a dream come true for Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and master of Godolphin, and trainer Charlie Appleby.
"It is something special to win the Derby," Sheik Mohammed said. "I am very happy that he has won today and very proud that the horse has come from Dubai.
"Horses are my blood so this is a very special day for me. I love horses and I love racing."
Buick, twice second in the Derby, said he could not immediately express his feelings, but gave it a shot anyway: "Winning the Derby is really special," he said. "It is the pinnacle of our sport. It's the Holy Grail, the be all and end all and its means everything.
"It's lovely for Charlie, Sheikh Mohammad and his family and I'm delighted to win the race."
Appleby -- who earlier this year landed his first World Cup night winners at Meydan -- added, "I have always said since I started this job that all I wanted to do was to be the first person to have the Derby winner in Godolphin blue."
While both camps were keeping their own counsel about next steps, neither denied the possibility of a rematch between Masar and Saxon Warrior in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh June 30.
More from Epsom, France, Japan and South Africa in a bit. First, back in North America:
Unique Bella returned to familiar environs in California and returned to the equally familiar winners' circle with a convincing win in Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita. Second last time out in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn in her first trip outside the Golden State, the 4-year-old Tapit filly left nothing to chance in the Beholder. With Mike Smith up, she pressed pacesetter Paradise Woods, took the lead on the stretch turn and quickly put daylight between herself and her rivals. German-bred La Force made a late run to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths behind and 5 1/2 lengths in front of Paradise Woods.
Unique Bella finished in 1:35.60, scoring her eighth win from 11 starts, most of them in graded stakes. "She's very temperamental and you've really got to get along with her," Smith said. "Even if I am getting along with her, something else could set her off. The gate could set her off, the pony's tale could swish and hit her...so, you've just got to hope everything goes well. They (the gate crew) know her really well here. She's very unique ... Bella."
Catholic Boy hooked up in a stretch battle with odds-on favorite Analyze It in Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Pennine Ridge Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, gave up the lead to that rival and came back to win by a neck. Channel Cat finished third, another 4 1/4 lengths back. Catholic Boy, a More Than Ready colt, finished 9 furlongs on the firm inner turf course in 1:45.78, less than a second off the course record set by Shakespeare in 2005.
Catholic Boy started his career on the green course, winning the Grade III With Anticipation at Saratoga before finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Detoured to the main track, he was a major threat on the Triple Crown trail until he finished fourth in the Florida Derby. Now, winning trainer Jonathan Thomas said he's pointing Catholic Boy to the $1.2 million Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational on the lawn. "Absolutely," he said. "It's a great addition to the racing scene. Essentially, it's a turf classic, so to speak."
Filly & Mare Turf
Causeforcommotion waited well back of the pace in Sunday's $100,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita, came three-wide to take the lead in the lane and won by 1 length over Queen Blossom. Pantsonfire ran evenly to finish third. Causeforcommotion, a 4-year-old Americain filly, finished 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:01.00 with Geovanni Franco up. The J. Eric Kruljac trainee has worked her way up the ladder, finishing second in the Grade III Santa Barbara in her previous start.
Hawkish steadied early in Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Penn Mile for 3-year-olds at Penn National, raced near the back of the field into the turn and then took over, winning off by 3 lengths. Way Early and Coltandmississippi finished second and third at long odds. Hawkish, an Artie Schiller gelding, got 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.16 with Manny Franco handling the reins.
Hawkish, trained by James Toner, now sports a record of three wins from four starts, the loss being a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March.
Got Stormy worked to the lead in the stretch drive in Saturday's $200,000 Penn Oaks, then had to find a little more to repulse the late bid of the favorite, Thewayiam, who settled for second but only by a neck. Goodthingstaketime was third. Got Stormy, a daughter of Get Stormy, stormed 1 mile on the green course in 1:34.76 with Tyler Gaffalione up.
Caribou Club got through along the inside turning for home in Saturday's $175,000 (Canadian) Connaught Cup at Woodbine, dueled to the lead and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Tower of Texas came from last of eight to edge the favorite, Conquest Panthera, for place money. Caribou Club, a 4-year-old City Zip gelding, ran 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:20.22 with Gary Boulanger up. It was his fourth win from his last five starts.
Because Caribou Club wears extension blinkers, Boulanger said, "I just had to help him out of the gate for the first 20 yards. Once I got in position, I was just sitting there, waiting for a spot."
Long On Value started last of six in Saturday's $75,000 Mighty Beau Stakes, circled the field on the turn and won going away by 1 3/4 lengths. Kid Perfect and Fort Fortitude filled the trifecta spots. Long On Value, with Florent Geroux up, ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 57.31 seconds. The 6-year-old son of Value Plus scored his first win in more than 22 months but finished second in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in 2017 and 12th in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. "He showed today he's a legitimate graded stakes-type horse," said winning trainer Brad Cox. "Florent had a perfect trip and he closed really strong down the lane. We'll look at the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint as the ultimate goal for him in the fall."
Morticia battled for the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash at Penn National, then edged away to win by 1 length over Rocky Policy. Just Talkin was third. Morticia, a 4-year-old Twirling Candy filly, scampered 5 furlongs over firm going in 56.35 seconds with Jose Lezcano at the controls, scoring her seventh win from 13 starts.
Oak Bluffs responded quickly when extricated from traffic late in Saturday's $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup, surging to the lead and a 3/4-length victory over Dubini. The early leader, Pool Winner, salvaged show money. Oak Bluffs, an 8-year-old Defrere gelding, ran 5 furlongs on firm going in 56.10 seconds under Paco Lopez, posting his sixth straight in-the-money finish. Pure Sensation was scratched.
Chief Cicatriz tracked the early speed in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs, moved sharply to the start and drew away, winning by 6 1/4 lengths. Mr. Crow was best of the other six, finishing 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Wilbo. Chief Cicatriz, a 5-year-old Munnings gelding, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.44 with James Graham up. A former denizen of New Mexico and Arizona tracks, he finished fifth in the Grade II Churchill Downs Sprint on Derby Day in his previous start.
"This horse got into trouble when he ran on Derby Day," said winning trainer Shawn Davis, world champion saddle bronc rider and rodeo superstar in the mid 1960s. "He had some excuses in some of his other races, too. Tonight we knew we would see what he's all about. He was coming into the race in great shape and we saw the real Chief Cicatriz."
Back on the international beat:
Forever Together, with Donnacha O'Brien riding for his trainer father, Aidan, took charge in the final furlong of Friday's Group 1 Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs, drawing clear to a 4 1/2-lengths victory over the favorite, Godolphin's Wild Illusion. They were followed in order by three more from O'Brien's string -- Bye Bye Baby, Magic Wand and Flattering.
Forever Together, a Galileo filly from the Theatrical mare Green Room, finished second to Magic Wand in the Chester Oaks May 5 but entered the Oaks a maiden -- a circumstance the elder O'Brien attributed to the nasty weather in this year's Irish spring. "The ground was so bad we couldn't stand it, so we skipped the maidens and she ran a lovely race at Chester," he said.
"I think we will go to the Irish Oaks now," O'Brien said. Obviously we will have to see what the lads want to do, but you'd be thinking she'd love the Curragh. We're very happy with all the fillies, really."
Wild Illusion ran well, staying in the thick of things until the late going. "Wild Illusion ran really well," said trainer Charlie Appleby. "She has just been outstayed I think. She has run a very solid race there."
Ryan Moore said Magic Wand, rated the best of O'Brien's going in, "didn't enjoy the ground," which was drying after significant rain early in the week while rated "soft".
Also Friday at Epsom, Cracksman finally got the job done as the odds-on favorite in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom -- but not before he and jockey Frankie Dettori gave his supporters a nasty scare. Subbing for his injured stablemate, Enable, Cracksman on paper was unbeatable in the 1 1/2-mile test. But inside the final 200 meters, he looked well beaten by pacesetter Salouen.
Cracksman settled well off the pace and Dettori seemed in no hurry to get him going. By the time he pushed the button, he found Salouen unwilling to give any quarter. Only after Dettroi shifted Cracksman sharply to the right toward the stands-side rail did he begin to chew into the lead and he was only in front in the final few jumps, winning by an official head. German raider Windstoss was a gallant third, 3 3/4 lengths further in arrears with Idaho fourth. Godolphin's hope, Hawkbill, was virtually eased in the stretch.
Cracksman won his fifth straight race but showed none of the dominance on display when he took the Group 1 British Champions Stakes by 7 lengths last October.
Both Dettori and trainer John Gosden initially blamed the close call on Epsom's severe downhill run into the stretch. Saturday, however, Gosden said the problem came in the instant before the start, as Cracksman lunged and gave his head "an almighty whack ... He must have run the race in a complete daze."
Gosden said the 4-year-old Frankel colt ate up well Friday night and, barring any further repercussions, will still take his place at Ascot in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes.
With 200 meters to run in Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, at Chantilly, a half dozen horses looked to have a chance. But only Study of Man found the needed stamina to finish out the 2,400 meters, winning by 1/2 length over Patascoy with another long shot, Louis d'Or, a head behind him. Study of Man, with Stephane Pasquier up for trainer Pascal Bary, notched his third win from four starts while testing Group 1 waters for the first time.
"It's a fantastic chapter to add to the story of Miesque (Study Of Man's granddam)," Alan Cooper, racing manager for the winning owners, the Niarchos family, told Racing Post. "When I saw him today I was very calm, because he was very calm. He has that fantastic blend of speed and stamina."
Study of Man also gave his sire, Japanese star Deep Impact, a "derby double" just eight days after Wagnerian won the Japanese Derby -- a remarkable achievement even though another Deep Impact colt, Saxon Warrior, was unable to make enough impact in the Investec Derby, finishing fourth.
Later on the card, Waldgeist kicked away late to win the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly by 3 lengths over Dschingis Secret as the favorite, Cloth of Stars, continued to disappoint as a 4-year-old, finishing a one-paced sixth of seven. Cloth of Stars was second to Enable in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe but the Godolphin runner was second and twice third this season before Sunday's flop.
Also Sunday at Chantilly, Mission Impassible won the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile; Finsbury Square was the comfortable winner of the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene going 5 furlongs; and Pollara was the popular winner of the Group 2 Prix de Royaumont for 3-year-old fillies.
While progeny of Japanese stallion Deep Impact were making their impact around the world, it was a Kentucky-bred son of British-based Frankel, Mozu Ascot, who found a seam between Aerolithe and the favorite, Suave Richard, in deep stretch and rallied to an upset victory in Sunday's Grade I Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse. Mozu Ascot, with Christophe Lemaire aboard, conquered Japan's top milers and up and coming middle-distance Grade I winner Suave Richard en route to his first top-level victory.
Real Steel, third in the Group 1 Dubai Turf in March, defeated only one rival in the Yasuda Kinen. The only foreign entrant, Hong Kong-based Western Express, finished 10th of 16.
"I didn't have any specific plan before the race," Lemaire said. "The only thing I wanted to do was to have my horse relaxed and to follow a good horse in the straight ... Once I found a gap, I asked for full power from the horse with my whip and he responded very well and kept on strongly to the finish line."
Mozu Ascot started his 4-year-old season with three consecutive runner-up efforts, most recently the Azuchijo Stakes at 1,400 meters just a week prior to the Yasuda Kinen.
"Of course, being a Frankel colt there are lots of expectations for bigger titles and later becoming a great sire," trainer Yoshito Yahagi said. "Many of the fillies sired by Frankel tend to be rather highly strung, but this colt is easy to handle and great to work with."
Surcharge scored a mild upset in Saturday's Grade I Daily News 2000 for 3-year-olds at Greyville and Oh Susanna was a narrow winner as the big favorite in the companion filly event, the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000.
The races figured to sort out young contenders for the Grade 1 Durban July but, going in, trainer Justin Snaith said he was no more than 50-50 about targeting that race for Oh Susanna so the outcome may not be definitive.
Oh Susanna, a Street Cry filly, scored her third win in a row, all in Grade 1 events. She vanquished some of the big names in South African racing in her previous start, the Sun Met, as Marinaresco finished third, Legal Eagle fourth and Captain America fifth. Saturday, she was tested a bit more than expected but called on her class in the final 100 yards to win by 1/2 length over Fiorella.
Surcharge, a Gimmethegreenlight colt trained by Stuart Pettigrew, entered the Daily News 2000 after consecutive runner-up showings in the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas, the Grade 1 S A Classic and the Grade 1 S A Derby. The race favorite, Snaith-trained Do It Again, exited a second in the Grade 1 Investec Cape Derby but could do no better than fourth in Saturday's heat, albeit beaten just over 1 length for it all as Surcharge prevailed with a late run down the middle of the course.
Around the world, around the clock:
Pink Lloyd had only three rivals in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Achievement Stakes for Ontario-breds but his easy victory nonetheless was quite an achievement -- his 11th straight stakes win. Forced to work for the lead early after rearing at the start, the 6-year-old Old Forester gelding quickly asserted dominance and galloped home first by 3 lengths, eased up buy jockey Eurico Da Silva.
The win streak extends back to the Jacques Cartier Stakes April 15 of last year and includes last year's Grade III Vigil Stakes and Grade II Kennedy Road. The latest win puts Pink Lloyd's earnings past the $1 million mark in Canadian funds.
"I'm so proud of him," said his trainer Robert Tiller after the victory. "I'm so in love with him -- I really, truly am. I'm just so affected by this horse ... We're enjoying this run. It's going to end one day. I've said it many times. But the party is still on!"
Loving Lynda was along in the final strides to win Sunday's $200,000 Melair Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies by 1/2 length over the favorite, Spiced Perfection. One Fast Broad was third. Loving Lynda, an Empire Way filly, got 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.94 with Geovanni Franco in the irons.
Take the One O One stalked the pace in Saturday's $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds, rallied to the front in the stretch and won by 1 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Hardboot. Psycho Dar finished third. Take the One O One, an Acclamation colt out of the Jump Start mare North Freeway, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.37 with Joe Talamo at the controls for trainer Brian Kornier.
Bronx Beauty led most of the way to a 2-lengths win over Smokinpaddylassie in Saturday's $100,000 New Start Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old fillies. With John Velazquez in the irons, the Liaison filly covered 6 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.35.
Imply came three-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Lyphard Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares and rallied to a 1 1/2-lengths victory over Great Soul. Imply, a 5-year-old E Dubai mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.69 with Julio Hernandez up. A rarity these days: The 11-horse field included three entries due to common ownership.
Smooth B tracked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Danzig Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, took the lead in the final furlong and went on to win by 3 lengths. Midnight Poker was best of the rest. Smooth B, a Weigelia colt, ran 6 furlongs on the main track in 1:11.21 for jockey Jose Lezcano.
Gunnison rallied from last of six with a three-wide move into the lane and ran on strongly to win Saturday's $60,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 1/4 lengths from Strike Me Down. The Bernardini colt ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.26 under Jevian Toledo.
Devileye seized the lead in the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Addison Cammack Memorial for Illinois-breds and held sway, beating the favorite, Gone Ghost, by 1 3/4 lengths. It was a long way back to Spectacular Road in third. Devileye, a 4-year-old Indygo Shiner gelding, got 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.23 with Carlos Marquez Jr. aboard.
Puntsville, the odds-on favorite, ran to notices in Saturday's $75,000 Isaac Murphy handicap for state-bred fillies and mares, kicking away late to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Go Lady Jay, was second, 1/2 length better than Delicate Lady. Puntsville, a 5-year-old Cashel Castle mare, got home in 1:10.24 under Marquez.
Wise Market dueled for the lead in Sunday's $50,000 (Canadian) River Rock Casino Handicap for 3-year-olds, got the advantage then survived the late charge of the favorite, Argosy Fleet, to win by 1/2 length. Wise Market, a British Columbia-bred colt by Mass Market, got 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast strip in 1:17.47 with Amadeo Perez up.
Toni Ann's Miracle dueled to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Emerald Downs Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, then took over in the lane, winning off by 4 1/4 lengths. Cypress Park was second. Toni Ann's Miracle, a Florida-bred filly by Hear No Evil, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.19 with Perez riding.
Shimshine opened a big lead in the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Western Canada Handicap for 3-year-olds, then was all out to hold off Star Czar by a head at the wire. Shimshine, an Alberta-bred gelding by Wilco, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.72 with Rico Walcott in the irons.
True Cinder was primed and ready for Saturday's $75,000 Michael G. Mackey Memorial Angenora Stakes for Ohio-bred distaffers. When turned loose by jockey Gerardo Corrales, the 4-year-old Alcindor filly quickly drew off to win by 6 3/4 lengths. La Nina Bronca was second as True Cinder finished in 1:10.22 over a fast track.
One Last Empress led into the turn in Friday's $60,000 Bob Bryant Stakes for Iowa-bred 3-year-old fillies and kicked away to win by 4 lengths. Sequence of Events was second. One Last Empress, a Daaher filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.31 with Larren Delorme up.
Sure Fire Friend was under pressure on the lead all the way in Saturday's $60,000 Gray's Lake Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds, turned back three separate challengers and won by a nose over the third, Holt County. Sure Fire Friend, a Yes It's True gelding, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.06 with Ken Tohill aboard.
Riser led from gate to wire in Sunday's $50,000 Governor's Stakes, scoring by 4 1/4 lengths from Barkley. Mach One Rules settled for third. Riser, a 4-year-old Ohio-bred colt by Mizzen Mast, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.23 with Juan Hernandez riding.