Trainer Chad Brown cleaned up on a very international edition of the Arlington International Festival of Racing, winning two of the three Grade I events with a 1-2 finish in the Million and a 1-2-3 sweep in the Beverly D.
A few potential 2-year-old starts were on display at Saratoga and Del Mar.
On the international scene, that star blazing brightly in the French sky Sunday was Alpha Centauri, with a trajectory likely headed straight to Churchill Downs in November.
Duchossois, the horse, won his career debut on the Million undercard at Arlington. And the human Duchossois, Richard L., the still-spry 96-year-old chairman of Arlington, said with a straight face he didn't know anything about the Animal Kingdom colt until he saw his name in the program. A pleasant surprise!
And there were a few surprises in this:
Robert Bruce, under a perfectly timed ride by Irad Ortiz Jr., got by stablemate Almanaar in the shadow of the wire to win by 1/2 length, capping an unbelievable day for trainer Chad Brown. English raider Century Dream finished third but was disqualified to fourth for interfering with Catcho En Die, who got show money. Robert Bruce, a 4-year-old Chilean-bred colt by Fast Company, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:02.29, earning a "Win and You're In" bid to the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf and an invitation, delivered in person by the CEO of the Japan Racing Association, to the Group 1 Japan Cup in November.
Spring Quality was scratched from the Million after not traveling well from the East Coast. Divisidero also scratched to run instead in the $500,000 Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga, where he finished third. The Million favorite, Oscar Performance, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Jose Ortiz but walked into a horse ambulance under his own power.
Robert Bruce, owned by his breeder, Haras Convento Viejo, represents an ongoing effort by the Chilean Thoroughbred industry to build its U.S. market. "It's a tradition in Chile that the winner of the Classics is sent to the U.S.," said Haras Convento Viejo's Carlos Lavin. "But we brought him here because we could not sell him here."
Since arriving in the United States, Robert Bruce has won the Grade III Fort Marcy at Belmont and finished sixth, beaten just 1 length with a rough trip, in the Grade I Manhattan.
After being encouraged to consider Japan, which offers a $2 million bonus for a Million-Japan Cup Double, Lavin asked, "When is the race?" It is Nov. 25 -- 22 days after the Breeders' Cup Turf. Golden Pheasant won both the Million and the Japan Cup but did it in consecutive years -- the Million in 1990 and the Tokyo classic in 1991.
Two races before the Million, Carrick rallied down the stretch to win the $400,000 Grade I Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds by a neck over the odds-on favorite, Analyze It. Bandua came from Ireland to finish third with an even effort under William Buick. Carrick, a Giant's Causeway colt owned by Donnegal Racing and trained by Thomas Morley, finished the 1 1/4 miles over turf rated good in 2:01.04 -- more than a full second faster than the Million, run over a course upgraded to firm.
Carrick was making only his fourth career start. After winning twice at Belmont, he finished third in the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park. Donnegal's Jerry Crawford said the quick progress has the owning partnership wild with excitement. "We'll see how he comes back," Crawford said. "But we are going to look at the biggest races." That, he said, will include the Breeders' Cup. "And we're really excited about next year," he added. "Some of the partners are eager to go to Royal Ascot." Crawford also has taken Donnegal horses to Dubai several times. Dubai and Ascot, he said, "Would be a great exacta."
The finish was a rare disappointment on the day for Brown, who trains Analyze It. The colt, who won his first three races, now has three straight seconds, by margins of a neck, a head and a neck -- all in graded stakes. Another disappointment was Hunting Horn, the Aidan O'Brien trainee who came from Ireland to finish third in the Grade I Belmont Derby July 7 but faded badly in the Secretariat to get home eighth under Ryan Moore.
In France, the exceptional filly Alpha Centauri earned a berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile with a victory in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le Buffard Jacques le Marois Sunday at Deauville. See the International section.
At Saratoga, Voodoo Song proved a "horse for the course" in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Fourstardave. The 4-year-old English Channel colt ran his record over the Spa greensward to 5-for-5 with a front-running victory, holding on by 1/2 length from Delta Prince in the final yards. Divisidero, running here instead of the Million, finished third and the favorite, Heart to Heart, lost heart late, fading to finish last. Voodoo Song, with Jose Lezcano up, ran 1 mile on the good inner turf course in 1:35.96.
"He ran so well last year on a firm course," Trainer Linda Rice said of Voodoo Song. "We've had nothing but rain for two weeks here, so I was very concerned about it. With other speed in the race as well, Heart to Heart was a concern. But our Plan A was to go to the lead and establish (the lead) from the beginning. Jose Lezcano rode him beautifully, and here we are."
Inspector Lynley broke a step slowly, then rallied from last to first in Saturday's $100,000 Lure Stakes at Saratoga, winning by 3/4 length over the favorite, Projected. Conquest Panthera held a brief lead and settled for third. Inspector Lynley, a 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid, ran 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:43.30 with Jose Lezcano up. Mr Cub finished last.
Winning trainer Shug McGaughey gave Lezcano credit for Inspector Lynley's win. "He didn't hit the panic button when he didn't break out of there right away and let him get his feet under him and thankfully, Plan B worked out," McGaughey said.
Filly & Mare Turf
Sistercharlie swept to the lead at mid-stretch in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park and held off a late run by Fourstar Crook to win by 1/2 length. Thais led the field into the stretch and held on for third, giving Brown a 1-2-3 finish. He also saddled Inflexibility, who finished fifth. And ... it was his fourth straight win in the Beverly D.
Sistercharlie, a 4-year-old Irish-bred filly by Myboycharlie, got 1 3/16 miles on the firm Arlington turf in 1:56.77 with John Velazquez up. She was second in last year's Group 1 Prix de Diane, or French Oaks. In the United States, she earlier finished second in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational, won the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, finished second to Fourstar Crook in the Grade II New York at Belmont and won the Grade I Diana at Saratoga.
"She's very consistent," Brown said. "She's the type of mare any trainer would love to have. Brown also bowed to his late mentor, Bobby Frankel, saying: "He loved this race. He loved coming to Arlington, a big supporter. He taught me so much and to be able to come back and use his training techniques, everything he taught me, to come here and have success in this race is really special." Frankel won the race twice, with Possibly Perfect in 1995 and Heat Haze in 2003.
The Beverly D. win conferred upon Sistercharlie a "Win and You're In" spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November at Churchill Downs.
Secret Message broke awkwardly in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Arlington Park, saved ground through the second turn and then rallied seven-wide and swooped to a 1 1/4-lengths victory over Pamina. Princess Warrior came from last of 12 to finish third. Secret Message, a Hat Trick filly, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:50.01 with Irad Ortiz Jr. up for trainer Graham Motion.
Daring Duchess jumped alertly from the inside gate in Saturday's $120,000 (Canadian) Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine, led the entire 12 furlongs and ended a stretch duel with a 3 3/4-length victory. Get Explicit finished second, 3 3/4 length ahead of Creative Thinking. Daring Duchess, a 6-year-old Arch mare, finished in 2:31.16 with Rafael Hernandez riding.
Saratoga's weather problems continued to plague the $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes Sunday. Postponed from last weekend, the race came off the turf and only four faced the starter. Tricky Escape led all the way to win by 3 3/4 lengths over the odds-on favorite, Mom's On Strike. It was another 10 lengths back to Lotte and Savannah Bell completed the order of finish. Tricky Escape, a 5-year-old daughter of Hat Trick, ran 10 furlongs on the fast main track in 2:04.08. The turf version was slated to go 12 furlongs.
World of Trouble had none at all in Wednesday's $100,000 Quick Call Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga, leading all the way and winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Fig Jelly. Dirty was third. World of Trouble, a Kantharos colt, got 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:04.11 with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. The Florida-bred was third in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby and fourth in the Grade II Woody Stephens before switching to the turf sprint. He started his career for a $25,000 tag.
Champagne Problems rallied from well back under Calvin Borel to win Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Groupie Doll Stakes for fillies and mares at Ellis Park. Sense of Bravery led until deep stretch and held second, 1/2 length in front of Pinch Hit. Champagne Problems, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, got home in 1:36.74 over a fast track.
Barkley got first run to the lead in the stretch and held on to win Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs by 1 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Alert Bay. Oh Marvelous Me was third. Barkley, a 5-year-old son of Munnings, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:34.93 with Javier Matias in the irons.
Sir Anthony split rivals in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 Bruce D. Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park and kicked clear, winning by 2 lengths at odds of 35-1. Nobrag Justfact was second, 3/4 length ahead of P R Radio Star. Sir Anthony, a Mineshaft ridgling, finished the one-turn mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.62 with Florent Geroux in the irons. It was his second win in his 11th start.
Decorated Soldier led all the way to a solid 2 1/4-lengths win over Gigantic Breeze in Sundays' $150,000 (Canadian) Grade III Seagram Cup at Woodbine. Florida Won was a nose farther back in third. Decorated Soldier, a 5-year-old Proud Citizen gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.71 for jockey Gary Boulanger.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Yuvetsi dueled odds-on favorite Anonymity into submission in Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar, then cleared through the lane, winning by 2 1/2 lengths. Anonymity held second while Skye Diamonds and Deer Valley completed the order of finish. Moonshine Memories and Turkish Tabby were scratched. Yuvetsi, a 4-year-old Bodemeister filly, scampered 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.22 with Tyler Baze in the irons. Moving up in the ranks for trainer John Sadler, the filly achieved her first graded stakes win. Anonymity's jockey, Flavien Pratt, commented, "She was just flat today."
Win the War dueled to the lead in Saturday's $120,000 (Canadian) Duchess Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine and edged clear, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Hanalei Moon -- a 1-2 for trainer Mark Casse. Win the War, a daughter of War Front, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:23.17 with Patrick Husbands riding.
In a race filled with impressive maiden winners, Sue's Fortune opened a daylight lead in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga, then held on to win by 1/2 length over Virginia Eloise. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Guacamole in third and the favorite, Lyrical Lady, hit a sour note while fading from the lead to finish next-last of six. Sue's Fortune, a Jump Start filly out of the Catienus mare Democrat Taxes, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a good track in 1:19.83 with Junior Alvarado up for trainer Jeremiah Englehart.
Owned and bred by Richard Nicolai, Sue's Fortune now is 2-for-2. "I think the biggest thing for her is her first race," Englehart said. "She goes out she takes the lead and she runs away. This race she stalked. She's a racehorse. Now we just have to find out when she's right for her next race and try to find what the next spot is going to be."
It's time for the 2-year-olds to start sorting themselves out and, at least on the West Coast, it's Instagrand doing the sorting. The Into Mischief colt easily put four rivals to the sword in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Leading all the way, the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee extended his margin through the straight, winning by 10 1/4 lengths, ridden out by Drayden Van Dyke. Sparky Ville was second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of Synthesis.
Instagrand won at first asking in June at Los Alamitos and now is 2-for-2, making his $1.2 million purchase price as a yearling look a bit less formidable. "Cadillac ... Professional," Van Dyke said.
"He broke good even though he had been standing in there awhile," Hollendorfer said. "Then Drayden got this colt to relax and he did his thing. I think it is an improvement (over his first start) in that he did it so much easier. We'll look at the Futurity for him, for sure."
Out east, Call Paul dueled with Tight Ten through most of Sunday's $200,000 Grade II Saratoga Special, then ever so slightly eased away in the final yards to win by 1 length. Spinoff and Meade completed the order of finish. Call Paul, a Friesan Fire colt, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.55 with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding for trainer Jason Servis.
Call Paul won at first asking at Delaware Park in July and now is 2-for-2. "This horse acts like he'll run further," Servis said. "I did the same thing with Firenze Fire, broke his maiden, shipped him the day before, and he won the Sanford." He said the $500,000 Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park Oct. 6 is a possible step forward.
Mr Wrench It cranked things up late in Friday night's $65,000 Prairie Meadows Juvenile, rallying from last, blitzing by the odds-on favorite, Prince Pierce and charging off to win by 6 3/4 lengths over that one. It was another 6 1/4 lengths to Castlewood Terrace in third. Mr Wrench It, a Florida-bred colt by Lookin at Lucky, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:46.89 with Ramon Vazquez aboard.
B B Dude was the king of Saturday's $50,000 Manzano Stakes for 2-year-olds at Albuquerque, leading from the start and winning by an easy 2 1/2 lengths for jockey Enrique Gomez. Nat Geo came from last to finish second and McAwesome retreated after contesting the early pace, finishing well back in third. B B Dude, a Kentucky-bred colt by Shakin It Up, ran 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:11.06. The Steve Asmussen trainee won at first asking at Churchill Downs, then reported fifth in the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity at Lone Star.
Alpha Centauri dominated Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le Buffard-Jacques le Marois at Deauville, stamping herself as the best miler in Europe and earning the "Win and You're In" spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile should the Niarchos family choose to take on the rest of world.
Racing in the stands-side group down the Deauville straight, the Mastercraftsman filly sat confidently in second until the 200 meter mark, hit another gear for jockey Colm O'Donoghue and spurted clear to a 2 1/2-lengths win. Recoletos was second and With You third in a field chock full of previous Group 1 winners. It was her fourth straight win, all at the Group 1 level.
"Coming here taking on colts, I thought maybe I was mad," winning trainer Jessica Harrington told Racing Post. "But she's won all her races with such ease I thought we may as well try this and see how we're going. She's a once-in-a-lifetime filly for me to train. She's just amazing."
Breeders' Cup media guru Jim Gluckson points out Alpha Centauri's owner, the Niarchos Family, also under the name Flaxman Holdings, has won the Breeders' Cup Mile six times. In 1987, Miesque -- Alpha Centauri's great-granddam -- won under the name of patriarch Stavros Niarchos. Miesque repeated as the Mile winner at Churchill Downs the following year. Spinning World captured the Mile at Hollywood Park in 1997. Domedriver won it at Arlington Park in 2002; the filly Six Perfections captured the Mile in 2013; and Japanese-bred Karakontie scored in 2014. If Alpha Centauri makes the trip, it will be hard to keep her off that list.
Harrington noted the owners' support for the Breeders' Cup over the decades but cautioned about counting on Alpha Centauri to continue the tradition. "It will have been a long year by then, won't it?" she asked, rhetorically.
Advertise, with Frankie Dettori up for trainer Martyn Meade, battled the whole 6 furlongs before landing Sunday's Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix for 2-year-olds at the Curragh by 1/2 length over So Perfect. The Irish Rover, Indigo Balance and Sergei Prokofiev completed the order of finish.
Advertise, a Showcasing colt owned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds, ran his record to three wins and a second from four starts. The second came in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot behind Calyx.
Best Solution, the Godolphin raider, spotted the field a big lead in Sunday's Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Berlin, made up all the ground and was in front for the final 500 yards, winning by a neck over a stubborn Sound Check. Royal Youzmain was third.
Best Solution, a 4-year-old Kodiac colt, made it two in a row following the Group 2 Princess of Wales Arqana Racing Club Stakes at Newmarket July 12.
Back in North America:
Always Sunshine pressed the pace made by My Boy Tate in Friday's $100,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes, took over when asked by jockey Frankie Pennington and won by 2 lengths. My Boy Tate held off Silver Ride to salvage second. Always Sunshine, a 6-year-old son of West Acre, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.79.
Goodbye Brockley and Wegetsdamonnys rallied outside the early leaders at mid-stretch in Thursday's $100,000 Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for state-bred 3-year-old fillies and dueled to the wire with Goodbye Brockley prevailing by a nose. Kreesie found some late speed to get show money. Goodbye Brockley, a Cosmonaut filly, ran 1mile on the yielding inner turf course in 1:39.25 with Luis Saez up.
Cordiality stalked the pace in Friday's $150,000 Solana Beach Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, took over and kicked away to a 2 1/4-lengths victory over Queen Bee To You. Cheekaboo was another 1 length back in third. Cordiality, a 5-year-old Papa Clem mare, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.14 with Tyler Baze up.
Avie's Mineshaft came from last of five to upset the favorite, Dixie Moon, in Sunday's $225,000 (Canadian) Wonder Where Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies. Safe To Say was third, an additional 7 1/2 lengths in arrears. Avie's Mineshaft, a Mineshaft filly, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 2:03.67 with Gary Boulanger riding.
Believe in Royalty and Kowboy Karma rallied from last and next-last in Sunday's $75,000 Ellis Park Derby to finish 1-2 in that order, separated by 1/2 length. Traveling Midas led much of the way and earned show money. Believe in Royalty, a Tapit colt, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.96 with Gabriel Saez in the irons.
Lewisfield edged Laki by a nose in Sunday's $100,000 Polynesian Stakes only to have that order of finished reversed by the stewards as a result of interference in deep stretch. Rockinn On Bye was third. Laki, the adjudged winner, is a 5-year-old Cuba gelding. The 7 furlongs on a good, sealed track took 1:23.24.
Saturday's $55,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes for fillies and mares came off the turf, four were scratched and the best of the rest proved to be Amapola. The 4-year-old Broken Vow filly rallied from off the pace and drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Well Acquainted and Unaquoi filled the trifecta. Amapola, with Paco Lopez up, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:03.83.
Mr. Jagermeister was the odds-on favorite and much the best in Saturday's $100,000 Minnesota Derby, winning off by 10 lengths. Cinco Star and Twoko Bay filled the exacta spots in the race for Minnesota-breds. Mr. Jagermeister, an Atta Boy Roy colt, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:40.37 with Leandro Goncalves up.
Firstmate easily ran by pacesetters Rock That Jewel and Helen'sphotoflash in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Minnesota Oaks, winning by 4 1/2 lengths. Firstmate, a Midshipman filly, got 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:44.36 under Ry Eikleberry.
Dame Plata dueled with Notte Oscura through the early stages of Saturday's $50,000 MTA Sales Graduate Futurity for state-bred and sold 2-year-olds, then asserted himself, winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Notte Oscura held second, 11 3/4 lengths in front of the closest competitor. Dame Plata, a Cross Traffic gelding, ran 5 furlongs in 58.34 seconds with Jareth Loveberry riding.
Altissimo led most of the way in Saturday's $75,000 Honey Jay Stakes for Ohio-breds and coasted home first by 3 3/4 lengths over Mo Dont Know. Altissimo, a 5-year-old Noble Causeway gelding, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.40 with Christian Pilares in the irons.
Sir Bronx set a pressured pace in Saturday's $50,000 (Canadian) Westerner Handicap, worked clear in the late going and won by 3 3/4 lengths over Royal Warrior. The favorite, Killin Me Smalls, reported last of five. Sir Bronx, a 5-year-old Bellamy Road gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.86 with Shamaree Muir in the irons.
Ritzy A.P. took over in the lane in Saturday's $55,000 Joseph T. Grace Handicap, drawing clear to a 2 1/4-lengths victory over More Power to Him. Ritzy A.P., a 4-year-old English Channel colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.89 with Ricardo Gonzalez aboard.
Saturday's card included seven events for Iowa-breds. Thus:
Topper T, a Bellamy Road colt, led all the way to a 3 1/2-lengths upset win in the Iowa Cradle for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Olive Oyl stalked the pace in the Iowa Sorority for juvenile fillies and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
Tin Badge was by far the best in the Iowa Breeders' Derby, winning by 8 1/2 lengths. Tracy Racy opened a big lead in the stretch and held on to win the Iowa Breeders' Oaks by 1 length from Glitzy Lady.
Itsallaboutyou came four-wide into the lane and drew off to a 3 1/4-lengths win in the Dan Johnson Sprint.
One Fine Dream rallied by favorite No Holds Barred to win the Governor Terry E. Branstad for colts and geldings by 4 1/2 lengths over that foe. And Mywomanfromtokyo was a popular 8 3/4-lengths winner in the Donna Reed Stakes for fillies and mares.
Mobil Solution was along late to win Sunday's $75,000 Horizon Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds. Roscoe P. Coltrane was 1 1/2 lengths back in second and 1/2 length to the good of Birdacious. Mobil Solution, a Mobil gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.84 with Luis Rivera at the controls.
Bloomin Perfect led all the way in Sunday's $50,000 Gold Rush Futurity and held sway, winning by 2 3/4 lengths over Collusionist. Bloomin Perfect, a Colorado-bred filly by Majesticperfection, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.62 with Scott Stevens in the irons.