Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Big Turf Weekend

Kent Desormeaux on Kicken Kris (far right) yells at Jamie Spencer on Powerscourt for fouling him after the finish of the Arlington Million.

Date: 8/14/04

The stars of the turf division had their chance to shine on Saturday with four Grade 1 races and one Grade 2 contested over the lawn. Three of the races were part of Arlington's International Festival of Racing, including their signature event the $1 million Arlington Million over 1 1/4 miles.

The Million definitely had an international feel, with several shippers from Europe and one from Canada. Sent off as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite in the large field of 13 was Epalo from Germany, winner of the Group 1 Singapore Airlines Cup in May. Second choice at 9-2 was Powerscourt from the powerful barn of owner John Magnier and trainer Aidan O'Brien. He was coming off a three-race losing skid after winning the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup in May.

When the field got underway before a crowd of 30,414, Frankie Dettori sent 9-1 shot Vespone to the front. With 15-1 shot Sabiango just a length off, he took the field through a half in 47.49 and 3/4 in 1:12.04 over the firm course. Favorite Epalo kept in close contention in third, while Powerscourt raced far back in tenth down the backstretch. Turning for home, Vespone dropped out of contention while Sabiango briefly inherited the lead after a mile in 1:36.60. Jockey Jamie Spencer took Powerscourt out wide and he circled the field six wide, gaining ground with every stride early in the stretch. With a furlong to go, Powerscourt angled inward, grabbed the lead at the 1/8 pole, but at about the 1/16 pole under the hard right-handed whip of Spencer, bumped into Epalo who deflected into Kicken Kris on the rail. Kicken Kris recovered from the interference to rally inside but the damage was done. Powerscourt finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Kicken Kris at the line, in a final time of 2:00.08. It was a length back to 24-1 shot Magistretti in third, and Epalo finished fourth. Jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard Kicken Kris, and Andrasch Starke aboard Epalo claimed foul against Spencer, and after a lengthy deliberation, the stewards disqualified Powerscourt placing him fourth behind Epalo. So, Kicken Kris was declared the winner, Magistretti second, and Epalo third. This was the second year in a row that the Million first place finisher was disqualified.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 4   Kicken Kris        Desormeaux   21.40   11.20  6.60
12   Magistretti        Prado                25.00 11.60
 7   Epalo              Starke                      4.00

Winning Time:  2:00.08

$2 Exacta 4-12              678.80
$2 Trifecta 4-12-7        7,390.60
$2 Superfecta 4-12-7-10  31,920.40
Results Chart from Equibase.

Winner Kicken Kris at Belmont earlier this year. Winning trainer Michael Matz said, "He's acted for the last four weeks like he came out of the Bowling Green very good. He acted like he was a good horse and he showed it today. I wish I had an answer for his race at Churchill (6th in the Turf Classic), but we were happy the way he turned himself around."

Jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "I lost so much momentum. Lo and behold when he got all four feet on the ground, he re-broke. It was a very, very good performance. He was a deserving winner."

Disqualified winner Powerscourt finishing first. Jockey Jamie Spencer said before the stewards' decision, "I had the best horse. If they (the stewards) take my number down, I think I'll cry." Spencer declined comment after the decision.

Crimson Palace winning the Beverly D.
The $750,000 Beverly D Stakes featured the distaff turf division, with Musical Chimes sent off as the 2-1 favorite in a field of eleven fillies and mares. Musical Chimes and 7-1 shot Aubonne battled on the front end through 3/4 in 1:15.48, then Frankie Dettori took 10-1 shot Crimson Palace out wide on the turn, asked for run, and got it as the 5-year-old mare edged clear in the final strides to win by 1/2 a length over 8-1 shot Riskaverse, in a time of 1:56.58 for the 1 3/16 mile distance. It was just a head back to 25-1 shot Necklace in third, and a neck back to the favorite Musical Chimes in fourth. Results Chart from Equibase.

Winning jockey Frankie Dettori makes his signature jump from Crimson Palace in the winner's cricle. He said, "I think maybe the straight track at Ascot was a bit too much for her. She handled the turns here very well. She was in control and showed a good kick. It's great to get her back to the way she was because she ran a couple of disappointing races back home. A great job by the team to get her back together."

Winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor said, "She's a great filly. When she won the race in England, we knew she was a very tough filly and she came back from that race really well. The last race before we sent her here was disappointing. She showed she had the class to win a Grade or Group I. Well have to see how she comes back, but we'll consider the Breeders' Cup."

Kitten's Joy winner of the Secretariat Stakes.
Three-year-olds competed in the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes over 1 1/4 miles. Just seven went to post, with Kitten's Joy sent off as the 9-10 favorite. Pat Day and 9-1 shot Cool Conductor got an uncontested lead early, and were as much as 5 lengths clear of the pack through a mile in 1:35.38. Jerry Bailey kept Kitten's Joy out of trouble back in sixth down the backstretch. Turning for home, Kitten's Joy showed his class as he surged to the front going four wide, then grabbed the lead at the 1/8 pole and drew away to a commanding 3 1/4 length win over 3-1 second choice Greek Sun in 1:59.65, faster than the Million final time. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Moscow Ballet in third. Results Chart from Equibase.

Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "He's gotten a little better with each start and this was his best yet. I was a little concerned down the backside because it didn't look like he was getting hold of the racetrack but when Jerry swung him out, he had a lot of horse. I thought with this quality of horse that they could go 46 and change (to the half) and keep going, but he just had a big run down the lane. We've been pointing for this race since January. We never really had a plan for after this. We need to find just one race between now and the Breeders' Cup."

Winning jockey Jerry Bailey said, "He settled back off a decent pace and just put them away at ease. It was an amazing turn of foot. Actually, he got there a little too quick because he did goof around when he made the lead but we can adjust to that."

Better Talk Now winner of the Sword Dancer.
At Saratoga, horses looking for more distance than the Million went in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap at 1 1/2 miles. Only six went to post in this event, run over a yielding inner turf course. Pacesetter Balto Star was sent off as the 3-2 favorite, and when the field got underway, as expected he led the way through the first mile in a slow 1:40.23 as jockey John Velazquez attempted to slow the pace down as much as possible. 16-1 shot B. A. Way pressed the early pace early on. Turning for home, 8-1 shot Better Talk Now, who had trailed the field around the first two turns while saving ground along the hedge, angled out and rallied down the center of the course. 2-1 second choice Request For Parole, who had stalked the pace earlier, reached the front with a furlong to go but was no match for Better Talk Now, who got 1 1/2 lengths clear at the line, after a final time of 2:28.49 for the 1 1/2 mile marathon distance. It was another 3/4 length back to favorite Balto Star. Results Chart from Equibase.

Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "That was very great. I felt like I had a lot of horse, but once you get them out, you never know if they're going to respond. When I got him out, he responded so nicely."

Winning trainer H. Graham Motion said, "He's a horse that is not easy to ride. But things are really falling into place lately. I thought the pace was legitimate. I knew the ground had to be very soft. I could see how relaxed our horse was and I knew they wouldn't let Balto Star get away with an easy pace. I felt confident. We're obviously going to have to consider the Man o'War Stakes."

Blackdoun winner of the Ja Jolla Handicap.
Capping off the turf action on the day was the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar, a $150,000 event for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles. A field of seven went to post including 9-10 favorite Blackdoun. 42-1 longshot Austin Barber got an uncontested early lead saving ground on the hedge through 3/4 in 1:11.45 before he dropped out of contention. Blackdoun settled in sixth early on, also saving ground, then coming out at the top of the stretch, rallying strong down the center of the course and split rivals inside the 1/8 pole to get the win by 3/4 length over 3.30-1 second choice Semi Lost, in a time of 1:41.03 over the firm course. It was another 3/4 length back to longest shot Bedmar in third. Results Chart from Equibase.

Winning jockey Corey Nakatani said, "He hasn't lost a beat. Sometimes with these horses that run in the country for the first time, when they come back they're not the same. But this one is just unbelievable. He's so athletic. We were in close quarters all the way around, but he was relaxed for me. Julio (trainer Canani) said 'Don't change a thing.' So we didn't. I rode him with a lot of confidence. A lot of confidence. He's a special one."

Winning trainer Julio Canani said, "He's a very nice horse. I wasn't going to run in the La Jolla, but he came back from the Oceanside so good, he wanted more. So I took him to the track, he had two easy works and came to the race. I don't want to jinx myself (by comparing him to Ladies Din), but Ladies Din was a super horse. This horse just ran a sixteenth of a mile today. If he comes back in good shape we'll go to the Del Mar Derby and he'll win."

Speightstown winner of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga.
Although turf routes were the order of the day, the top sprinters of the east also competed, in the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at 6 furlongs on Saratoga's main track. 9-10 favorite Speightstown lived up to expectation, shaking off 11-1 shot Mike's Classic after a prolonged duel on the front end, then pulling away to win by 1 1/2 lengths over closer and 3-1 second choice Clock Stopper in a track record equaling time of 1:08.04. The win is Speightstown's fourth in as many starts so far this year. Results Chart from Equibase.

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "This horse has been perfect this year. You could see when he turns for home, that he's wanting in, and that's after flying early. When you talk about equaling track records here, it is pretty serious stuff. He's just so good right now, it's scary. This horse will definitely not run in the Forego. We'll talk to Eugene and Laura (Melnyk, owners) about the Vosburgh or going straight to the Breeders' Cup."

Winning rider John Velazquez said, "I think he is one of the best sprinters in the country. He's done everything right and he's been perfect. You can't complain about that. I was more nervous during the first part of the race to get hooked up and have nothing in the end. Luckily, we got a break in the first and second quarters. At the top of the stretch he was ready. I just shook the reins and he took off."

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