Sir Anthony upset Audible in Florida and long shot Long Range Toddy earned the winner's 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in Oklahoma in highlights of weekend Thoroughbred racing.
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint runner-up World of Trouble was an easy winner on the Gulfstream Park undercard while Breeders' Cup bust Glorious Empire returned to glory.
On the international scene, Japan's weekend Grade 1 race was for 2-year-olds -- and that also produced a minor upset.
We're off and running...
Audible's presumed trip to the Pegasus World Cup in January hit a small bump in the road in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Harlan's Holiday at GulfstreamPark. Sir Anthony, a 3-year-old Illinois-bred last seen at Hawthorne Race Course, outfinished the odds-on favorite, winning by 1/2 length with a rail-hugging trip from the back of the field. Apostle was only a neck farther back in third as Sir Anthony, a Mineshaft ridgling, ran 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy track in 1:45.14 with Brian Hernandez Jr. up.
Audible was making his second start since finishing third in this year's Kentucky Derby. In his two previous trips over the Gulfstream track, he won the Grade II Holy Bull and the Grade I Florida Derby. Sir Anthony, meanwhile, was riding a three-race win streak but his biggest previous score was the Bruce D. Memorial on the Arlington Million undercard Aug. 11.
"He's been a promising young colt who took a while to figure it out," winning trainer Anthony Mitchell said of Sir Anthony. "But now that he's figured it out, who knows where we go from here?"
Audible's trainer, Todd Pletcher, said he didn't want to blame the wet track but did so anyway.
"You hate to use the track as an excuse," Pletcher said. "But obviously it rained quite a bit and they sealed the track. It seemed like he was just never really taking him there and handing the track the way we would have hoped."
The Road to the Roses
Long Range Toddy was a long shot choice in Sunday evening's $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile in Oklahoma. But that didn't stop the Take Charge Indy colt from outfinishing his much more highly regarded stablemate, Bankit, by a head for the win and the 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points attached thereunto. With Richard Eramia riding, Long Range Toddy rallied from a stalking position and finished in 1:39.75.
Long Range Toddy was allowed to start at odds of better than 18-1 despite having won his last two starts, both over the track, for trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen also trains Bankit as well as three other also-rans in the Springboard Mile. The 10 points he earned in Sunday's race boost Long Range Toddy into a four-way tie for the No. 4 spot on the Churchill Downs "Road to the Kentucky Derby" list.
Galilean, a prohibitive favorite, did not disappoint in Sunday's $100,000 King Glorious Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds at Los Alamitos. The Uncle Mo colt led all the way, shook off a mild challenge from Our Silver Oak and powered on to win by 9 lengths over that rival. With Flavien Prat up for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Galilean got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.06. And, no, the six-horse field did not include any of Bob Baffert's juveniles. While Galilean has made steady progress, winning twice from three starts, all of his races have been restricted affairs.
Hollendorfer also trained King Glorious, whose wins included the 1988 Hollywood Futurity and the 1989 Haskell. He said he was pleased Galilean passed his first test around two turns. "The fact that he can route makes a big difference,"the trainer said. "He has speed and if we can make him tactical as well we'll be in a lot better position."
At Tampa Bay Downs, Gladiator King surged to the lead late in Saturday's $100,000 Inaugural Stakes and drew off down the sloppy stretch, winning by 3 lengths over the favorite, Mercusio. Regally Irish was third. Gladiator King, a Curlin colt out of the Hennessy mare Golden Dawn, ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.49 for jockey Daniel Centeno. He now has three wins from his last four starts, the loss coming in the Grade II Remsen at Aqueduct, where he finished sixth.
Blindwillie McTell dueled to the lead in Sunday's $150,000 Great White Way Division of the New York Stallion Stakes, then worked clear and ran on to a 2 1/2-lengths victory. Thorny Tale was second, 2 3/4 lengths to the good of Kaden's Courage. Blindwillie McTell, a Posse gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:11.80 with Dylan Davis riding. It was his first win after running second in his career debut. Trainer Linda Rice sees more state-bred competition in the gelding's future.
Coming up: The second of four races in the "Japan Road to the Derby," the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun is Wednesday at Kawasaki Racecourse -- a National Association of Racing track. Twenty points to the winner and remember, the winner of the first in the series was the filly Make Happy, so it's really a three-race series. Or maybe two, since Make Happy also is entered in this one.
Cowgirls Like Us stalked the pace in Sunday's $110,000 Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park, was put to a drive early in the stretch run and got the job done, winning by 3 1/4 lengths. Bella Alicita was second, 1 1/2 lengths better than Discreet Beauty. Cowgirls Like Us, a daughter of My Golden Song, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.73 with Iram Diego at the controls, scoring her third consecutive win.
Forgotten Hero overhauled pacesetting favorite Sassy Agnes turning for home in Saturday's $150,000 Fifth Avenue Division of the New York Stallion Stakes, got by and went on to post the 1-length upset. Sassy Agnes never quit and held second by 7 1/4 lengths from Cartwheelin Lulu. Forgotten Hero, a gray Mission Impazible filly, toured 6 furlongs on a good track in 1:13.08 with Mike Luzzi up. She now is 2-for-2.
Forgotten Hero "does it in the mornings and the afternoons," said winning trainer John Toscano. "She has a lot of talent."
At Los Alamitos, Kookie Gal took charge in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for California-breds and won off by 4 lengths. Hotitude was best of the rest with Creative Instinct another 1/2 length behind in third. Kookie Gal, a daughter of Boisterous, got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37.18 with Flavien Prat riding for trainer Peter Miller, who also trains Creative Instinct.
Prat said an equipment change helped. "Peter Miller made the right decision to take the blinkers off today," the rider said. "She relaxed perfectly and then gave me a real good kick in the stretch."
And at Tampa Bay Downs, Fashion Faux Pas didn't make any mistakes in Saturday's $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes, leading from the start and winning by 4 lengths. Peruvian Appeal was along late to take place money from the favorite, Lovesick. Fashion Faux Pas, a Flatter filly, ran 6 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:11.65 under Daniel Centeno. She's 2-for-3 after breaking her maiden at Laurel Park.
Glorious Empire led the way in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, turned back a challenge from Hi Happy and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Qurbaan found his best stride in deep stretch to edge Hi Happy for second. Glorious Emperor, a 7-year-old, Irish-bred gelding by Holy Roman Empire, ran 9 furlongs on good turf in 1:48.44 with Edgar Prado in the irons.
Winner of both the Grade II Bowling Green and Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga, Glorious Empire was making his first start since finishing 13th in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. In July 2017 he was not taken for $50,000 at Saratoga in his only exposure in a straight claiming race.
"We had a great campaign in Saratoga and went into the Breeders' Cup pretty confidently," said winning trainer Chuck Lawrence, adding Glorious Empire didn't handle the sodden turf at Churchill Downs. He said it will be up to owner Matt Schera whether to put up the ante for a slot in the inaugural $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Jan. 26 over the same greensward.
Tequilita tracked the early leader, Tapa Tapa Tapa, in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park, took over the point a furlong out an kicked clear to a 2 1/2-lengths victory. Electric Forest, caught in traffic at the top of the lane, was up for second, 3/4 length to the good of Tapa Tapa Tapa. Tequilita, a 4-year-old filly by Union Rags, finished 1 mile over the sloppy track in 1:37.62 with Luis Saez riding.
Winning trainer Michael Matz said Tequilita is scheduled to be bred this spring to Street Sense but might make one more start. "If it's her last race, then she went out on a winning note," he said.
At Remington Park in Oklahoma, Clever Serve rallied from last of seven to win Sunday's $110,000 She's All In Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths over Cosmic Burst. Adore finished third. Clever Serve, a 4-year-old To Honor and Serve mare, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.79 with Ramon Vazquez in the kip. She was not taken when trainer Steve Asmussen ran her for a $30,000 tag a year ago at Churchill Downs and Sunday's win, her first in a stakes race, boosted her 2018 earnings to just shy of $150,000.
Filly & Mare Turf
Capala Temptress settled in mid-field down the backstretch in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III My Charmer Stakes at Gulfstream Park, made steady progress through the final quarter mile and got clear late, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. The favorite, La Moneda, held a brief lead at the top of the lane and finished second. Special Event was third. Capala Temptress, a 3-year-old, Irish-bred filly by Lope de Vega, ran 1 mile on good turf in 1:39.08 with Joel Rosario riding.
"It was a good trip," Rosario said. "She broke well and on the backside she was there for me. I was only waiting to have some clear run at the end. The track was a little soft but it seemed in good shape so I was very happy. She's a runner. She just likes to run."
In Saturday's restricted $120,000 Marion County Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings at Tampa Bay Downs, World of Trouble had no trouble at all with seven rivals, taking flight down the stretch en route to a 13 3/4-lengths victory. Noble Drama was best of the rest, 3/4 length ahead of Weisser. World of Trouble, a Kantharos colt, finished 7 sloppy furlongs under Antonio Gallardo in 1:22.50 despite being well in hand late.
It was a serious mismatch as World of Trouble, second in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in November and third in last year's Tampa Bay Derby on the main track, was matched against fellow Florida-breds with significantly less to show.
"He can sprint on dirt and he can sprint on turf, and the real question is do I look down the line to go from 7 furlongs to a mile or longer as he gets older and gets more relaxed?" asked owner Michael Dubb. "It's a great problem to have."
Filly & Mare Sprint
Dream Pauline had to work for it but finally prevailed by a neck over Stormy Embrace in Saturday's $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After wresting the lead from a long shot pacesetter on the turn, Dream Pauline seized a daylight lead but then had to hold off a late run by Stormy Embrace to seal the deal. Pacific Gale was well back in third. Dream Pauline, a 3-year-old Tapit Filly out of the Wild Rush mare Dream Rush, ran 6 furlongs on the sloppy track in 1:11.10 with Javier Castellano aboard. It was her third win from just four career starts.
"We decided to give her a little time off -- little issues but she's just been a little bit unlucky not to run a little more often," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "She's very lightly raced. Hopefully she'll be back on Jan. 26 in the Hurricane Bertie."
By the way, Wild Rush, racing in the Stronach Stables colors, dead-heated with Silver Charm for the win in the 1998 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park.
Admire Mars found a little extra in the final 100 meters of Sunday's Grade Asahia Hai Futurity at Hanshin Racecourse while the odds-on favorite, Gran Alegria, faded to finish third, edged by 77-1 long shot Kurino Gaudi.
Admire Mars and Gran Alegria both chased It's Cool around the turn. When that one gave up the ghost, Admire Mars and Gran Alegria both challenged for the lead but only Admire Mars could maintain the move and worked clear to win by 2 lengths.
Admire Mars finished in 1:33.9 over firm turf through a light drizzle. It was the fourth win in as many starts for the colt, trained by Yasuo Tomamichi, all four at the 1,600-meters distance
"Just as he did in his last start, he made a clean break today," said winning rider Mirco Demuro. "It was our plan to keep our eyes on Gran Alegria and everything went smoothly. He showed a terrific turn of foot. He's a smart colt and hates to lose so I'm looking forward to seeing how he improves next season."
The final major race of the year for Japanese 2-year-olds is the Hopeful Stakes at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) Dec. 28 at Nakayama Racecourse. That race recently was granted Grade 1 status.
Il Mercato turned back one challenge in the stretch run of Saturday's Group 1 Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini at San Isidro Racecourse in Buenos Aires, then had to hold off the favorite, Sixties Song, before prevailing by a head. The victory makes the 3-year-old son of Not for Sale the first horse to earn an automatic slot in the 2019 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge program.
Il Mercato completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.52 over a course listed as heavy.
Il Mercato came into the Carlos Pellegrini off a third-place finish, beaten 6 lengths, in the Group 1 Nacional Stakes Nov. 11 at Palermo. He broke his maiden by nine lengths in his fourth start in an 11-furlong race on Sept. 16 at Palmero and followed that with a second-place finish in the Group 2 Eduardo Casey over the same course and distance Oct. 15.
Hong Kong Zac Purton rode five winners on Sunday's card at Sha Tin Racecourse, extending his total of Hong Kong triumphs to 900. "I came to Hong Kong hoping to ride one win and here we are over a decade later with 900. It's very satisfying," he said. Purton, the reigning champion in Hong Kong, still has a way to go to catch the all-time wins leader, Douglas Whyte, who has 1,809 and counting. England
Stargrazer rallied from well back in a field of eight to win Saturday's All-Weather Championships All-Weather Qualifier at Newcastle, getting by the favorite, Festival Of Ages, in the final furlong and holding on by 1 length. Higher Power was third and All-Weather star Watersmeet settling for fourth. Stargrazer, a 5-year-old by Canford Cliffs, earned a guaranteed free start in the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships on Good Friday, April 19.
"Stargazer deserves to take his chance on Finals Day now," said trainer Phil Kirby. "He is a very, very strong traveller in his races and has plenty of toe. He does stay every yard of two miles -- I don't think it matters whether they go quick or slow really as both suit him -- he was very good today.
Back in North America and around the ovals:
Tampa Bay Downs
Silver Bay won a three-way scramble in Saturday's $120,000 City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. With Samy Camacho up, Silver Bay raced behind the pacesetters, rallied four-wide into the stretch and won by a neck. Broadway Run got by Catoria in the final jumps to annex place money. Siver Bay, a daughter of Currency Swap, ran 7 furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:25.74.
Sydney Freeman rallied four-wide into the stretch in Sunday's $70,000 Useeit Stakes for Oklahoma-bred 3-year-old fillies and quickly cleared, winning by 4 3/4 lengths from Three Chords. The Tizway filly ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.96 with Ramon Vazquez in the irons.
United Patriot stalked the pace in Sunday's $70,000 Jim Thorpe Stakes for Oklahoma-bred 3-year-olds, asserted himself turning for home and won off by 3 1/2 lengths. Daaher's Success was best of the rest. United Patriot, a Flat Out gelding, got 1 mile in 1:40.68 with David Cabrera up.
Lone Rock battled down the stretch with Harlan Punch in Sunday's $75,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial before prevailing by a neck. Mocito Rojo also was in the mix most of the way and finished third, another neck in arrears. Lone Rock, a Majestic Warrior colt, was timed in 1:42.62 for 1 mile and 70 yards on the fast track. Alex Canchari rode.