The turf specialists got several chances to prep this weekend with 9 major stakes across the country and in Europe last weekend with most on the turf. Here is a recap of them all courtesy of the NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited.
Race: $1 million Arlington Million (G1), 3-year-lds & up, 1 1/4 miles on turf
Road to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf – Mrs. John Magnier’s 4-year-old POWERSCOURT (GB) turned in a powerful charge on the outside to run by rivals in the stretch of Saturday’s Arlington Million, drawing clear by 1 1/2 lengths at the wire under jockey Jamie Spencer. Unfortunately, the Sadler’s Wells colt drifted toward the rail in the final sixteenth, bothering a couple of rivals enough for the stewards to disqualify him to fourth in the full field of 13. It wasn’t as bad as Storming Home’s antics in the shadow of the wire in last year’s Million when he ducked out and dropped jockey Gary Stevens, but Saturday’s incident did take something away from a very good race with an international class field. Brushwood Stable’s 4-year-old KICKEN KRIS was making a good rally of his own from mid-pack in the stretch, but got in tight along the rail, finishing second, but gained the victory after the stewards’ decision. Michael Tabor’s 28-to-1 MAGISTRETTI finished a length behind Kicken Kris in third and was moved up to second while Gary Tanaka’s lukewarm favorite EPALO (GER) finished fourth (moved to third) after getting bumped in the final sixteenth. Powescourt was the second choice getting ‘blinkers’ on from trainer Aidan O’Brien and affirmed his international standing with another good effort. He added to a strong record this year that included a big score in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh in May and runner-up effort in the Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot in June. Kicken Kris turned a disappointing season around in his previous start with a victory in the Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park. Kicken Kris won the Secretariat Stakes over the Million course and distance last year for trainer Michael Matz, and the 4-year-old Kris. S colt will likely have one more start before the John Deere Turf. Magistretti invaded from England for trainer Neville Callaghan and ran a big race. The 4-year-old Diesis colt will be left in the U.S. with trainer Patrick Biancone.
Race: $750,000 Beverly D Stakes (G1), fillies & mares, 1 3/16 miles (turf)
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Horseplayers might have been put off by a dull effort last out at Royal Ascot by Godolphin’s 5-year-old mare CRIMSON PALACE (SAF). She was let go at 10-to-1 in Saturday’s Beverly D Stakes at Arlington Park despite being ridden by European champion Frankie Dettori. Stalking a moderate pace in third down the backstretch, she rallied through stretch to win by a half-length, holding off the late rally of Fox Ridge Farm’s RISKAVERSE in the field 11 fillies and mares. Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier’s NECKLACE (GB) finished third, only a head behind the runner-up at 25-to1. Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum’s MUSICAL CHIMES, the 2-to-1 favorite, finished fourth. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Musical Chimes, a daughter of In Excess, never appeared comfortable, inheriting the lead early when no one else showed speed. Crimson Palace was an accomplished performer in her native South Africa for trainer Michael de Kock before being sold privately to Godolphin in Dubai over the winter. After joining Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, the granddaughter of Lyphard ran a big fourth against male rivals in the Dubai Duty Free in March on World Cup Day, beaten less than a length for it all. She won the Middleton Stakes at York in May prior her disappointing sixth-place try in the one mile Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot. Crimson Palace will be considered for a return trip to the U.S. for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Race: $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (G1), 3yos & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
Better Talk Now
Road to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf – Before Kicken Kris ran so well in the Arlington Million Saturday afternoon, the form of the 11-furlong Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park on July 17 was looking pretty strong already. Bushwood Stable’s 5-year-old gelding BETTER TALK NOW finished second, 11/2 lengths behind Kicken Kris in the Bowling Green and came back to capture Saturday’s 12-furlong Sword Dancer Invitational by 1 1/2 lengths over Jeri and Sam Knighton’s REQUEST FOR PAROLE. Anstu Stable’s favored BALTO STAR tired late to finish third after setting the pace to the furlong marker in the field of six. Trained by Graham Motion out of Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, Better Talk Now is a son of Talkin Man who has been a useful campaigner the last two years, but has risen to a new level with Saturday’s victory. He will be considered for the Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 11.
Race: $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (G1), 3-year-lds, 1 1/4 miles on turf
Road to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 3-year-old homebred KITTEN'S JOY was so highly thought of earlier this year that his connections considered a trip to England for a race at the Royal Ascot meet in June. They passed on that idea to take advantage of rich opportunities at home. The son of El Prado won his most important test to date in Saturday’s Secretariat Stakes, scoring by 3 1/4 lengths under regular rider Jerry Bailey after capturing the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in his previous start. Trained by Dale Romans, Kitten’s Joy is now seven for eight on turf, his only loss being a second place finish by a head in the Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs in June. Kitten’s Joy’s time for the mile-and-a-quarter was two-fifths faster than the Arlington Million. Romans said afterward that Kitten’s Joy would have one more start before a run at the John Deere Turf, but had not chosen a spot as yet. Peter Angelos’s GREEK SUN finished second for trainer Bobby Frankel, 1 1/4 length before Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier’s Irish invader MOSCOW BALLET (IRE) third in the field of seven 3-year-olds.
Race: $700,000 Prix Jacques le Marois (G1), 3yos & up, one mile on turf
Track: Deauville (France)
Finishing Order: 1-WHIPPER, 2-SIX PERFECTIONS (FR), 3-MY RISK (FR)
Margins: 1, 1 1/2, 1 1/2
Also ran: MAJESTIC DESERT (GB), SALSELON (GB), KHELEYF, BAQAH (IRE), FORMALHAUT, BYRON (GB), ATTRACTION (GB)
Winning Connections: Owner: Robert Strauss; Trainer: Robert Collet; Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Time: 1:38 2/5 (soft)
Road to the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile – Richard Strauss’ 3-year-old colt WHIPPER held Niarchos Family’s 4-year-old filly and defending NetJets Mile champion SIX PERFECTIONS (FR) safe in the final furlong to capture Sunday’s Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville by a length over ‘soft’ ground. Trained by Robert Collet, Whipper had finished second just a week ago in the 6 1/2-furlong Prix Maurice de Gheest at the French seaside course. Duke of Roxburghe’s English and Irish 1000 Guineas winner ATTRACTION (GB) was the 3-to-2 favorite but didn’t handle the soft going, finishing last of 10 in one of Europe’s championship tests for milers. Ironically, the Niarchos Family bred Whipper, by Miesque’s Son, under its American stable name of Flaxman Holdings. He was sold for $4,000 at the 2001 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Whipper will be pointed for the NetJets Mile at Lone Star Park with a start before in either the NetJets Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on Sept. 5 or Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot on Sept. 25. Six Perfections won the Mile at Santa Anita last fall for trainer Pascal Bary but had shown less than her best in two previous starts this year. The homebred daughter of Celtic Swing won the Jacques le Marois last summer in her final start before the Breeders’ Cup. Sunday’s soft conditions played against her but she ran very well and will not run again until her Breeders’ Cup title defense in Texas.
Race: $200,000 Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks (G2), 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 m.
Track: Monmouth Park
Finishing Order: 1-CAPESIDE LADY, 2-HOPELESSLY DEVOTED, 3-HABIBOO
Margins: 6 1/2, 3 1/4, nose
Also ran: ENDER’S SISTER, RINGS AND THINGS, PILFER
Winning Connections: Owner: So Madcapt Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Chris DeCarlo
Time: 1:42 (muddy)
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel – So Madcapt Stable’s 3-year-old filly CAPESIDE LADY had won three of four previous starts on ‘wet’ tracks for trainer Todd Pletcher and improved that record in the ‘mud’ Sunday at Monmouth Park. The daughter of Cape Town went to the front early in the Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks under jockey Chris DeCarlo and improved her position from there to score by 6 1/2 lengths over Liberty Stable’s HOPELESSLY DEVOTED in the field of six. A $65,000 2-year-old purchase at the Timonium sales last spring, Capeside Lady was making only her second start around two turns Sunday and obviously likes extra distance as well as wet track conditions. No immediate plans were revealed but Capeside Lady will be racing in the shadow of Pletcher-trained stablemate Ashado for now.
Race: $200,000 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G2), 3-year-olds & up, six furlongs
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint – A lot of patience was needed to see the best of Laura and Eugene Melnyk’s 6-year-old SPEIGHTSTOWN, a $2 million Keeneland July yearling purchase. Making only the 14th start of his career as the 9-to-10 favorite in Saturday’s A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, the chestnut Gone West horse equaled Spanish Riddle’s 22-year-old track record of 1:08 for six furlongs to win by 1 1/2 lengths under jockey John Velazquez. Overbrook Farm’s CLOCK STOPPER finished second, 11/2 lengths ahead of Leo Nechamkin II’s GATORS N BEARS in the field of six on a fast track. Speightstown was sidelined for over 20 months between the summer of 2001 and returning to competition for trainer Todd Pletcher last May. He began his career based in Canada with trainer Phil England and finished a good second to City Zip in the Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga as a 3-year-old before the long layoff. Racing only twice last spring at Belmont, Speightstown surfaced again at Gulfstream Park, winning the Artax Handicap in late March. He remains perfect in four starts this season with victories in the Churchill Downs Handicap on Derby Day and True North Breeders’ Cup on Belmont Day prior to Saturday’s brilliant performance. The Melnyks and Pletcher have Strong Hope set for the seven-furlong Forego Handicap at Saratoga on Sept. 4 and Pletcher suggested that the six-furlong Vosburgh at Belmont on Oct. 2 would likely be Speightstown’s final start before the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Race: $200,000 Pat O’Brien Breeders’ Cup (G2), 3yo & up, seven furlongs
Track: Del Mar
Finishing Order: 1-KELA, 2-DOMASTIC DISPUTE, 3-PICO CENTRAL (BRZ)
Margins: 4 1/2, 1 1/4, 4
Also ran: HASTY KRIS, TASTE OF PARADISE
Winning Connections: Owner: Jay Manoogian; Trainer: Mike Mitchell; Jockey: Tyler Baze
Time: 1:21 (fast)
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Gary Tanaka’s 5-year-old PICO CENTRAL (BRZ) emerged as the leader of the Sprint Division this spring after invading New York from California for stunning victories in the Carter Handicap and Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. Trained by Paulo Lobo, the son of Spend A Buck has been back home since then at Hollywood Park and was made the 2-to-5 favorite for Sunday’s Par O’Brien Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar. With jockey David Flores aboard, Pico Central went to the front under pressure early in the field of just five, holding a narrow lead through punishing early fractions of 21 4/5 and 43 4/5, but began to tire in the upper stretch. Jay Manoogian’s second-choice KELA rallied from last to run clear in the stretch, scoring by 4 1/2 lengths over David Bienstock and partners’ DOMESTIC DISPUTE with Pico Central another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Trainer by Mike Mitchell, Kela had rallied from last of 10 to win the six-furlong Bing Crosby Breeders’ Cup over the track on July 25. The versatile 6-year-old son of Numerous won the Texas Mile at Lone Star in late May. Domestic Dispute was making his first start since finishing sixth in the Dubai World Cup for trainer Paddy Gallagher. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song won the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in February before the long trip.
Race: $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (G2), 2-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs
Track: Del Mar
Finishing Order: 1-ROMAN RULER, 2-ACTXECUTIVE, 3-SLEWSBAG
Margins: 7, 10, 1 1/2
Also ran: THINGS HAPPEN, WETHERLY (DNF)
Winning Connections: Owner: Fog City Stable; Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: Corey Nakatani
Time: 1:15 4/5 (fast)
Road to the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Sunday’s Best Pal Stakes for 2-year-olds at Del Mar was only the second career start for Fog City Stable’s ROMAN RULER, but he came with a legion of supporters as the 1-to-2 favorite in the 6 1/2 furlong test. A son of freshman sire Fusaichi Pegasus trained by Bob Baffert, Roman Ruler put on a show to remember as he rallied from fourth down the backstretch to easily run clear to a seven-length victory over James McIngvale’s ACTXECUTIVE, also trained by Baffert. Unfortunately, trainer William Currin’s WETHERLY was injured nearing the turn and had to be euthanized. Roman Ruler was a $500,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase and represented Baffert’s fifth winner of the Best Pal. Roman Ruler may ship east next for a two-turn stakes race instead of the Del Mar Futurity on closing day at Del Mar, Sept. 8.
Previous weekend recaps:
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