Last weekend was another busy one with nine major stakes across North America and England. Here is a recap of them all courtesy of the NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited.
Race: $300,000 Chinese Cultural Center Stakes (G2), 3yo & up, 1 3/8 m. (t)
Road to the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf - Narrowly beaten in his last two stakes starts at Woodbine, Sam-Son Farm's 4-year-old homebred SHOAL WATER would not be denied Sunday as he won the 11-furlong Chinese Cultural Center Stakes. Trained by Mark Frostad and ridden by Todd Kabel, Shoal Water opened up a clear lead in the upper stretch, but had to fight off Gustav Schickedanz' MOBIL, who set most of the pace and came again after the winner passed him. A son of Smart Strike, Shoal Water set a course record in the victory, as Sam-Son stablemate STRUT THE STAGE finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Mobil in the field of eight. Charles Fipke's PERFECT SOUL (IRE) finished a disappointing fifth, but he is obviously a better miler at this point in his career.
Race: $250,000 Arlington Handicap (G2), 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
Road to the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf - Bob and Beverly Lewis' 4-year-old SENOR SWINGER was a multiple stakes-winner on turf for trainer Bob Baffert as a 3-year-old last year and had run well in several races this year. The roan/gray son of El Prado won the Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 12 over Hard Buck and finished second (dq to third) in the Firecracker Breeders' Cup in his last two starts prior to Saturday's Arlington Handicap. Stretching out to 10 furlongs, Senor Swinger rallied along the hedge in the stretch under jockey Brice Blanc and drove to a neck victory over Team Block's local favorite MYSTERY GIVER. Sidney Port Trust, Marsha Naify and San Gabriel Investments' BALLINGARRY (IRE) finished third, 1 1/2 lengths back as the narrow choice over the winner. The first three from the Arlington Handicap will be considered for the Arlington Million on Aug. 14 over the same course and distance, although against a much stronger field.
Race: $250,000 American Derby (G2), 3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles (turf)
Track: Arlington Park
Finishing Order: 1-SIMPLE EXCHANGE; 2-COOL CONDUCTOR; 3-TOASTED
Margins: Neck, 3/4, 1 1/4
Also ran: GWAIHIR (IRE), UP ANCHOR, SAMWISE, KILGOWAN, CAIMAN
Winning Connections: Owner: Moyglare Stud; Trainer: Dermot Weld; Jockey: Patrick Smullen
Time: 1:54 4/5 (firm)
Road to the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf - Irish champion trainer Dermot Weld did it again Saturday at Arlington Park. The acclaimed international horseman shipped Moyglare Stud's homebred SIMPLE EXCHANGE (IRE) from Ireland to capture the American Derby, a race he won in 2000 with Pine Dance and last summer with Moyglare's Evolving Tactics. Irish jockey Patrick Smullen came along for the ride on Simple Exchange, a son of Danehill making only his second start this year after finishing fourth in a 'listed' stakes during the Royal Ascot meet. David Garner's Kentucky shipper COOL CONDUCTOR finished second in the field of eight 3-year-olds, beaten 1 1/4 lengths. Sidney Port Trust's Arlington Classic winner TOASTED was a nose behind the runner-up as the 6-5 favorite invading from California again. The first three are likely to meet again in the Secretariat Stakes over the same course on Aug. 14.
Race: $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), 3yo fillies, 1 1/4 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Presented by Nextel - Starlight Stable, Paul Saylor and John Martin's ASHADO is the clear leader of the 3-year-old fillies after adding another major prize to her growing resume. Saturday at Belmont Park, trainer Todd Pletcher sent her out as the odds-on choice in the 10-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks, and she relished the distance, drawing off to win by 4 1/2 lengths under jockey John Velazquez. Spendthrift Farm's STELLAR JAYNE finished a clear second over William Clifton, Jr.'s MAGICAL ILLUSION in the field of six. A $170,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, Ashado finished second to Halfbridled in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita last year. Prior to Saturday's impressive tally, the daughter of Saint Ballado had won the Fair Grounds Oaks in March and Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. She was upset when second to Stellar Jayne last out in the Mother Goose at Belmont on June 26, a race she obviously needed. Ashado will likely be odds-on for her next start in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 21.
Race: $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (G1), 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/8 miles (t)
Road to the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile - Sunday's Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar was quite an ambitious spot for a horse to make his first start since the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita last fall. Apparently, it was no problem for Prestonwood Farm's 7-year-old SPECIAL RING and trainer Julio Canani as the son of Nureyev went wire-wire to score by three-quarters over Prestonwood stablemate BAYAMO (IRE) as the 9-10 entry. Special Ring won the Eddie Read last year as well, but Sunday was making his first start since finishing eighth with a rough trip in the stretch of the NetJets Mile at Santa Anita. The only challenge for Special Ring in Sunday's race came from Bayamo briefly in the upper stretch, but was easily turned back. Red Oak Farm's second choice SWEET RETURN (GB) finished third, beaten three-quarters by Bayamo in the deep field of 10.
Race: $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap (G1), fillies & mares, 1 1/8 miles (t)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum's 4-year-old Kentucky homebred filly MUSICAL CHIMES was the 2-1 second choice in Saturday's John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar. That was in spite of not having won a race in five previous starts since coming to the U.S. last fall. Her backers in the talented field of six fillies and mares were well rewarded as she rather easily ran by rivals on the outside in the stretch under jockey Kent Desormeaux to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Michael Nentwig and Dallas Van Kempen's LIGHT JIG (GB) trailed throughout, although beaten only three lengths for it all in the compact field. A daughter of In Excess, Musical Chimes shipped to California last fall from France for trainer Andre Fabre and finished a good second to Tates Creek in the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita. She remained in California with trainer Neil Drysdale. Musical Chimes finished 11th with trouble in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf and completed her campaign with another close second in the Matriarch at Hollywood Park in late November. In her only two starts this year before Saturday she faced male rivals, finishing second in an allowance and seventh in the Charles Whittingham Handicap, although beaten only four lengths by the winner. Musical Chimes and Moscow Burning are expected to meet again in the Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 14.
Race: $150,000 Modesty Handicap (G3), fillies & mares, 1 3/16 miles (turf)
Track: Arlington Park
Finishing Order: 1-BEDANKEN; 2-AUD; 3-SHACONAGE
Margins: 3/4, 1/2, 3
Also ran: DELICATESSA, OCEAN SILK, JULIE'S PRIZE, BLUE SKY BABY, BERET
Winning Connections: Owner: Pin Oak Stable; Trainer: Donnie K. Von Hemel; Jockey: Don Pettinger
Time: 1:57 (firm)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Last Saturday's Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park was the local prep for the track's Beverly D Stakes to be run over the same course and distance on Aug. 14. Pin Oak Stable's 5-year-old mare BEDANKEN was the 7-5 favorite in the Modesty and earned a chance in the richer Beverly D after scoring by three-quarters of a length over Willmott Stable's AUD, shipping in from Kentucky. Andrena Van Doren's SHACONAGE was another half-length in third, also shipping in from Churchill Downs. Bedanken is a homebred daughter of Geri trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, who sent out Bien Nicole to finish second in both the Modesty and Beverly D last year. Bedanken has been a solid middle distance turf stakes performer for the last two seasons and had won the Possibly Perfect overnight stakes over the course on July 5. This year's sixth running of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Lone Star Park will be run at 1 3/8 miles around three turns after the last three renewals were contested at 1 1/4 miles around two turns over courses that could accommodate that distance. The first two editions at Gulfstream Park and Churchill Downs were contested at 1 3/8 miles and were won by American-trained Eclipse champions Soaring Softly and Perfect Sting, respectively.
Race: $250,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup (G1), 3yo & up, six furlongs
Track: Del Mar
Finishing Order: 1-KELA, 2-POHAVE, 3-HOMBRE RAPIDO
Margins: 1 1/4, 2 1/2, 3
Also ran: REVELLO, ATTACK ALLERT, GREEN TEAM, COURT'S IN SESSION, GLICK, DISTURBINGTHEPEACE, BEAU'S TOWN
Winning Connections: Jay Manoogian; Trainer: Mike Mitchell; Jockey: Tyler Baze
Time: 1:08 2/5 (fast)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Sprint - Frequently, horsemen will suggest horses need more distance for their best. In the case of Jay Manoogian's 6-year-old KELA in Sunday's Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup at Del Mar, it appeared he wanted less ground to cover. Last of 10 early in the six-furlong test as a 9-1 chance under Tyler Baze, Kela circled the field on the turn and drove to a 1 1/4 lengths victory in 1:08 2/5. Kagele Brothers and Ty Leatherman's favored POHAVE finished second with Granja Vista Del Rio Stable's HOMBRE RAPIDO third. David Hulkewicz' 6-year-old BEAU'S TOWN shipped in from Louisiana Downs to defend his Bing Crosby victory of last summer, but was shuffled back early and retired to last. Trained by Mike Mitchell, Kela is a son of Numerous and was coming off fourth-place finishes in the 1 1/16 mile Lone Star Park Handicap and seven-furlong Triple Bend Breeders' Cup in his last two starts. Mitchell indicated his next start would likely be the Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup going seven furlongs on Aug. 15 or the Del Mar Breeders' Cup going one mile on Sept. 5.
Race: $1.4 million King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (G1),
3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles on turf
Track: Ascot (England)
Finishing Order: 1-DOYEN (IRE), 2-HARD BUCK (BRZ), 3-SULAMANI (IRE)
Margins: 3, head, 1 3/4
Also ran: GAMUT (IRE), VALLEE ENCHANTEE (IRE), TYCOON (GB), BANDARI (IRE), HIGH ACCOLADE (GB), WARRSAN (IRE), PHOENIX REACH (IRE), LUNAR SOVEREIGN
Winning Connections: Owner: Godolphin; Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor; Jockey: Frankie Dettori Time: 2:33 (good/firm)
Road to the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf - The Godolphin team has thought quite highly of 4-year-old homebred DOYEN (IRE) for some time. Saturday at Ascot the son of Sadler's Wells rewarded the high expectations with a stunning three-length victory in the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Team Victory's 33-1 American challenger HARD BUCK (BRZ) finished a game second in the high-class field with Godolphin's SULAMANI (IRE) third. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori, Doyen reportedly could have won the 12-furlong fixture as he pleased and is being compared to such former Godolphin stars as Daylami (IRE), Fantastic Light and Swain (IRE). Doyen showed promise last year as a 3-year-old when second in the Prix Niel and fourth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe behind Dalakhani (Ire), who would go on to be acclaimed European Horse of the Year. In this year two starts prior to Saturday's tour de force victory, Doyen had finished second in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and won the Hardwicke Stakes by six lengths over the course and distance during the Royal Ascot meeting. Races indicated for his future include the Irish Champion at Leopardstown (Sept. 11), Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp (Oct. 3) and John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park. It was a bold and sporting move by Hard Buck's owners and trainer Ken McPeek to make the rare U.S. to Europe invasion and Hard Buck proved again their belief that he is a world class performer at the distance. The 5-year-old son of Spend A Buck showed that earlier this year when second in the 12-furlong Dubai Sheema Classic in late March. McPeek said after the race that a return for the Arc was under consideration. Sulamani, fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita, appears to be returning closer to his top form.
Previous weekend recaps:
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