Weather played havoc with one of Saratoga's big weekends, forcing the postponement of two major turf races, but you'd never have known it by looking at Diversify after Saturday's Whitney.
Mr. Freeze won the West Virginia Derby for fun. Separationofpowers edged Mia Mischief in the Test Stakes at the Spa. And Cambodia won the Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar.
Two-year-old action heated up. And Ellis Park staged a series of preview races for the upcoming Kentucky Downs season.
On the international scene, Battaash confirmed his sprinting dominance as Glorious Goodwood ran its course.
Let's run this course:
The $1.2 million Grade I Whitney, one of Saratoga's most storied events, was delayed by more than a half hour as a violent thunderstorm unleashed lightning and torrential rain on the spa. It made no difference to Diversify, who shot out of the gate, led all the way and coasted home first, unsullied by any of the mud covering the others racing in his wake.
At the line, the 5-year-old Bellamy Road gelding was 3 1/2 lengths out front. Mind Your Biscuits demonstrated the 9 furlongs is not much to his liking. In his first try past a mile, the internationally renown sprint specialist couldn't make up any ground in the stretch, barely holding second over Discreete Lover. Bellamy Road, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Rick Violette, ran the sloppy course in 1:49.62 after setting a demanding early pace.
"I knew somebody was going to be coming, no matter what," Ortiz said. "It's a Grade I, and there's nice horses who want to win the race. He proved he could keep going. Only nice horses can do that. He was steady. He wasn't dying at the end, he'd keep trying. He did it the right way."
Diversify backed up his victory in the Grade II Suburban, going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park July 7 and earned a guaranteed "Win and You're In" spot for the Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Churchill Downs.
Violette said he will discuss plans with Diversify's owners. "But the Jockey Gold Cup will certainly be part of the plan."
Mind Your Biscuits' trainer, Chad Summers, lamented the fact no other rival challenged Diversify early. "We just let him get a little bit too loose. We we're afraid of that," he said, adding he thinks Mind Your Biscuits might have a better shot at Churchill Downs in the fall.
Otherwise in the Classic division:
Mr. Freeze jumped to the early lead in Saturday's $500,000 Grade III West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park, turned back a challenge early in the stretch run and romped the rest of the way, winning by 8 lengths. Draft Pick was second, 1/2 length ahead of High North. Mr. Freeze, a To Honor and Serve colt trained by Dale Romans, ran 9 furlongs in 1:47.95 with Robby Albarado riding. It was his third win from four starts to go along with a second in the Grade III Iowa Derby.
In Saturday's $200,000 Grade III West Virginia Governor's Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, Leofric battled with stablemate Term of Art through most of the 1 1/16 miles, swapped the lead and finally prevailed by a neck. It was a further 1 lengths to Matrooh in third, followed by Imperative a Hawaakom. Leofric, a 5-year-old son of Candy Ride, was clocked in 1:42.72 with Florent Geroux up. He was second in the Grade III Razorback at Oaklawn Park this spring but Saturday's win was his first graded stakes.
Realm was up in the final strides in Sunday's $100,000 Alydar Stakes at Saratoga, winning by a head over Chilean-bred Kurilov. Patch was third and the favorite, Timeline, reported fourth, beating only Outplay. Realm, a 5-year-old Haynesfield gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.02 with Junior Alvarado up.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Separationofpowers unleashed a sustained rally through the stretch run in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, catching Mia Mischief in the final strides and winning by a neck over that rival. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Kelly's Humor in third. Star Guitar will still have to wait his big sire breakthrough as Minit to Stardom faded to finish sixth.
Separationofpowers, a Candy Ride filly, scored her second Grade I win, the earlier being the Frizette at Belmont Park last fall, going 1 mile. Since then, said trainer Chad Brown, she has had problems with minor injuries. "I'd love to stretch her back out," Brown added. "She showed last year in the Frizette that she can go farther than 7 furlongs. I'm not exactly sure which race yet. We'll enjoy this win and make sure she's healthy."
Sunday was the inaugural running of an innovative four-race program at Ellis Park, funded by Kentucky Downs and designed as preps for that track's big turf races next month. Kudos to everyone working to improve racing through cooperating and sharing.
Arklow, the odds-on favorite, had all he could do to win Sunday's $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Calumet Farm Turf Cup at Ellis Park by a head over Zapperini. Sir Dudley Digges was third in a high-quality field of eight. Arklow, with Shaun Bridgmohan up, tracked Zapperini most of the way, engaged that rival in a hot duel through most of the stretch and just did prevail, finishing 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:00.57.
Filly & Mare Turf
Cambodia tracked the early pace in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar, came to the lead three-wide leaving the final turn and drew off to score by 2 1/2 lengths. Madame Stripes was second, a head in front of Sophie P in a five-horse scrum for the minor awards. Cambodia, a 6-year-old War Front mare, finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.51.
"She put me up there in the race," jockey Drayden Van Dyke said of Cambodia's effort. "She's got that natural speed and she wants to be in the race. I was just biding my time. I had a couple to beat, but I had good aim."
I'm Betty G led early in Sunday's $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf at Ellis Park and held stoutly, winning by 1 length over English Affair. Bonnie Arch was third. I'm Betty G, a 4-year-old Into Mischief filly, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:32.64 with Tyler Gaffalione scoring his first Ellis win.
Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Waya Stakes at Saratoga fell victim to overnight downpours. It was rescheduled for next Sunday, Aug. 12.
River Boyne outfinished Arawak in Sunday's $150,000 Grade III La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds at Del Mar, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. Calexman was third. River Boyne, an Irish-bred colt by Dandy Man, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.93 for jockey Flavien Prat. He's won five of his last six starts.
"He's a nice horse to ride," Pratt said. "And I don't think he'll have any problems with more distance. He's showed he can handle it." Trainer Jeff Mullins said the Del Mar Derby "is probably the next step."
Uni rallied from last of seven to take Saturday's $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga by a head after a stretch duel with Precieuse. Pas de Soucis, the early leader, held third. Uni, a 4-year-old More Than Ready filly, got 1 mile of soft turf in 1:40.09 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up. It was her second straight win and third from six starts since coming over from France.
Chad Brown, who trains both Uni and Precieuse, said, "Both horses ran great. No surprises. They both were training super and that I was confident that they would handle the soft ground and Uni handled it a little bit better today. They both were training very similar."
Mr. Misunderstood tracked pacemaker Siem Riep through most of Sunday's $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile Stakes at Ellis Park, took over the lead late and won by 1 1/4 lengths. Siem Riep held second, 3/4 length in front of Galton. Mr. Misunderstood, a 4-year-old Arch gelding, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:33.24 with Shaun Bridgmohan up.
The $100,000 Lure Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga lawn also was postponed because of the heavy rain and rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11.
Sandy'z Slew led most of the way in Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Troy Handicap at Saratoga and held on to win by 3/4 length over Blind Ambition. Jockey Jose Ortiz then pulled up the 8-year-old Limehouse gelding after the finish and he was vanned off the track. Sandy'z Slew finished 5 1/2 furlongs on soft turf in 1:05.07. "I think he'll be okay," Ortiz said. "He didn't break down."
Jazzy Times was along late to post an upset win in Sunday's $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint at Ellis Park, beating Extravagant Kid by 1/2 length. Maniacal was third and the favorite, Will Call, defeated only one rival. Jazzy Times, a 5-year-old Discreetly Mine gelding, ran 5 1/2 furlong on firm turf in 1:00.91 with Ty Kennedy riding.
Bellafinia surged quickly to the lead in Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Sorrento at Del Mar, raced slightly off the rail and was never seriously challenged, winning by 4 1/4 lengths. Del Mar May was second, a nose in front of Boujie Girl. Bellafina, a Quality Road filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.61 with Flavien Prat aboard for trainer Simon Callaghan. She was second in her only other start at Los Alamitos.
"I think she's a filly with a big future and she's just going to keep getting better," trainer Simon Callaghan said of Bellafina. He said he won't commit to the Del Mar Debutante because "when you've got a filly that you think this much of, it's better to be a little patient and work your way back from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies."
Mae Never No broke sharply in Saturday's $60,000, off-the-turf Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park and never looked back, jetting off to a 7-lengths victory as the odds-on favorite. Amy Farah Fowler was second, 3/4 length ahead of Margie Is Livid. Half the 12 original entrants scratched after the surface change. Mae Never No, a daughter of No Nay Never, ran 5 furlongs on a sloppy, sealed track in 57.98 seconds with Jose Ferrer riding.
Capture Your Dream, the odds-on favorite, led much of the way to a 1 1/4-lengths victory over Capture Friday in Saturday's $100,000 Desert Vixen Division of the Florida Sire Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Capriati, steaded at the start, came with a late run to finish third. Capture Your Dream, a daughter of Uncaptured, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.31 with Tyler Gaffalione aboard. She advanced her record to 2-for 2.
Silvercents outfinished Raising the Ante in Saturday's $60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile fillies for state-breds at Louisiana Downs, winning by 3/4 length. With Sasha Risenhoover in the irons, the Goldencents filly ran 6 furlongs in 1:12.93.
Tiz Breathtaking took back early in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Shady Well Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies, then came with a wide rush in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Sav led briefly and held second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Appella. Tiz Breathtaking, a Tiznow filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:05.00 with Eurico Da Silva up.
Muskoka Wonder overhauled pacesetting favorite Crawl From the Bar at mid-stretch in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Clarendon Stakes for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Moon Swings ralled from last to finish third. Muskoka Wonder, an Into Mischief colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:04.47 with Patrick Husbands riding.
Mooji Moo Jr. set a quick early pace in Saturday's $60,000 off-the-turf Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park and held gamely, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Tybalt. Dalliance was a neck behind that one in third. Mooji Moo Jr., a Posse colt out of the Jeblar mare Mooji Moo, finished 5 sloppy furlongs in 58.39 seconds for jockey Jairo Rendon.
Tap the Wire pressed the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Graduation Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds, took over when prompted by jockey Drayden Van Dyke and won off by 3 1/2 lengths. Luck's Royal Flush was second, 3/4 length better than Oliver. Tap the Wire, an Eddington colt, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:05.48, remaining undefeated after two starts.
At Gulfstream Park, Cajun Firecracker won an eventful three-way battle to the finish in Saturday's $100,000 Dr. Fager Division of the Florida Sire Stakes, defeating Fully Loaded by a neck. Fully Loaded, however, was set down to third for drifting out in the lane, impeding long shot Garter and Tie, who was promoted to place money. Cajun Firecracker, a Cajun Breeze colt, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.94 with Miguel Vasquez in the irons. He now is 2-for-2.
Magic Tale set a pressured pace in Saturday's $75,000 Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes for Ohio-breds, then edged clear in the late running, winning by 3 lengths from Diamond Dust. It was 11 3/4 lengths farther back to Private Drive in third. Magic Tale, a Tale of the Cat colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.82 for jockey Albin Jiminez.
Cabo's Rumor tracked the pace in Saturday's $60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile for state-breds at Louisiana Downs, took charge in the lane and won by 3 lengths over the favorite, Beto. Cabo's Rumor, an Amanecer de Oro colt, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:13.01 with Emanuel Nieves up.
On the world stage:
Glorious Goodwood didn't lose any of its sparkle after the Group 1 events were done thanks to a remarkable performance by Battaash in Friday's Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes. The 4-year-old Dark Angel gelding, racing for Sheik Hamdan, took complete charge in the final 2 furlongs of the 5-furlongs dash, drawing off late to win by 4 lengths. Granted, the competition wasn't off the top shelf as Take Cover raced alone down the center of the course and reported 1/2 length to the good of Muthmir. Battaash, with Jim Crowley riding for trainer Charlie Hills, got home in a quick 56.50 seconds.
Battaash also won the King George last year, then went on to win the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye in his seasonal finale. He was second to Blue Point in the Group 1 King's Stand at Royal Ascot in June. Hills indicated the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York is the next target, likely followed by a defense of the French title.
On Saturday, it was another triumph for Godolphin as Cross Counter ran home a 4 1/2-lengths winner over Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee in the Group 3 Qatar Gordon stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/2 miles. The margin could have been greater as William Buick virtually eased Cross Counter home. The victory opened a wealth of possibilities -- potentially including the Melbourne Cup -- for the winner, a Teofilo gelding who was competing in his first pattern race, while Dee Ex Bee still is being pointed toward the Group 1 St Leger. The Gordon, while only a Group 3 event, can be a signpost for stardom with Highland Reel, Ulysses and Crystal Ocean among recent winners.
A parade of long shots held sway in Sunday's Group 1 Larc Prix Maurice de Gheest as Polydream edged James Garfield for the win with The Tin Man third. The favorite, City Lights, had no late kick in the 6 1/2-furlongs affair and finished fifth.
Polydream, a 3-year-old Oasis Dream filly, perhaps should not have been as big a surprise as her nearly 6-1 odds indicated, having won a Group 3 event in her previous start for trainer Freddie Head.
Well Timed held off Night of England in the closing stages of Sunday's Group 1 Henkel-Preis der Diana, or German Oaks, at Dusseldorf, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over that foe. Wonder of Lips was third.
Well Timed, a German-bred filly by Holy Roman Emperor, remained undefeated in three starts while stepping up to the top level for the first time. Filip Minarik had the mount for trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho.
Back in North America:
Hence, in from Churchill Downs, broke last of six in Saturday's $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap, made up all the ground with a very wide move and drew off to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Oh So Regal was best of the rest, 3 lengths to the good of Pinson. Hence, a 4-year-old Street Boss colt trained by Steve Asmussen, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:51.04 with Alfredo Juarez Jr. riding. It was his first win since last year's Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows.
K P Wildcat tracked down front-running Super Humor a furlong from the line in Saturday's $55,000 Albuquerque Distaff Handicap and drew off to win by 3 length over that foe. K P Wildcat, a 5-year-old Include mare, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.58 with Roimes Chirinos in the irons.
Saturday's $60,000 Super Derby Prelude devolved into an old-fashioned, take-no-prisoners, four-way battle to the finish with Autumn Warrior holding off G's Turn by a neck. Zanesville was a head behind that one in third and just a nose better than McFeeley. Autumn Warrior, an Orb gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.41 with Colby Hernandez up. He now is 3-for-3 with the first two wins coming against fellow Louisiana-breds.
The rest of the Saturday Louisiana Cup card was for state-breds. See the relevant sections above for the 2-year-old results. Otherwise: P Boo was on the lead under pressure all the way in the Filly & Mare Sprint but held on to win by a neck over Dixie Brees; Bermuda Star came from off the pace to win the Distaff by 4 lengths over Eskenformore; In the Navy stalked the pace before winning the Turf Classic by 1/2 length over Magic Vow; and Monte Man led, gave up the lead and came again to win the Sprint by a neck from Cheers to Berti.
Someday Jones tracked pacesetter Saratoga Jack through the early furlongs of Saturday's $100,000 Robellino Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds, moved to the lead turning for home and drove clear, winning by 2 lengths. Saratoga Jack held second by a neck over Monongahela. Someday Jones, a 5-year-old son of Smarty Jones, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.70 with Frankie Pennington in the irons.
Line of Vision rallied from next-last to win Sunday's $100,000 (Canadian) Eternal Search Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies by 3/4 length. Clickity Clack was best of the rest with She's Got Fire a head behind her in third. Line of Vision, a daughter of Court Vision, got 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:46.84 with Luis Contreras riding.
Saturday's four stakes, each worth $75,000, were for Virginia-breds. All four came off the turf and onto the fast main track.
Altamura, a 3-year-old Artie Schiller filly, led most of the way to defeat What the Beep by 1 1/4 lengths in the Camptown Stakes for fillies and mares. The favorite, Up Hill Battle, pressed the pace, then tired to finish third. Altamura ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.78 with Channing Hill up.
Paulita pressed the pace in the William M. Backer Stakes for fillies and mares, took the lead in the stretch and won by 2 lengths from Queen Caroline. It was 5 1/4 lengths farther back to Secret Or Not in third. Paulita, a 3-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, ran 1 mile in 1:38.23 with Daniel Centeno riding.
River Deep led from the start in the Hansel Stakes and extended his advantage throughout, winning by 7 1/4 lengths. Carbon Data was second, another 5 1/4 lengths in front of Jump Ship. River Deep, a 4-year-old Arch colt, ran 1 mile in 1:36.68 under Sheldon Russell.
Homespun Hero dueled the even-money favorite, Determined Vision, into submission in the Meadow Stable Stakes, eventually drawing away to win by 1 length over that one. Fly E Dubai was third and Limehouse Louie was a distant fourth and last after four scratches cut the field in half. Homespun Hero, a 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.89 with Centeno up.
Fiesta led from the start in Saturday's $100,000 Jill Jellison Memorial Dash for fillies and mares and continued well to win by 2 1/1 lengths over Orecchiette. Eye on Berlin was a long shot third. Fiesta, a 4-year-old Speightstown filly, ran about 5 furlongs on yielding turf in 58.40 seconds with Luis Ocasio riding.
Raider got by Dazzling Chic in the stretch drive to win Saturday's $60,000 (Canadian) Sonoma Handicap for 3-year-old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths. I Miss Back When finished third. Raider, a Stephanotis filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:45.63 with Rico Walcott in the irons.