There were lots of graded races last weekend and a total of 9 major stakes across the country and in Europe. Here is a recap of them all courtesy of the NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited.
Race: $1 million Pacific Classic (G1), 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/4 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge - Jockey Jerry Bailey got along fine with his new mount Sunday in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar. With Bailey aboard for the first time, Diamond A Racing Corp.'s 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic winner PLEASANTLY PERFECT drove to a hard-fought length victory over Stonecrest Farm's Kentucky invader PERFECT DRIFT. Sultan Saud al Kabeer's TOTAL IMPACT (CHI) finished third, another three-quarters back in the field of eight going a mile-and-a-quarter. Trained by Richard Mandella, Pleasantly Perfect was the even-money favorite despite finishing second last out in the San Diego Handicap on Aug. 1, his first start since winning the Dubai World Cup on March 27. The 6-year-old son of Pleasant Colony, whose regular rider Alex Solis is injured and out for the season, re-affirmed his position atop the Dodge Classic Division. Mandella didn't offer a specific plan to get to his Breeders' Cup defense at Lone Star Park, although he may decide to train Pleasantly Perfect up to the Classic without a prep. Perfect Drift may be the best horse in the world not to have won a race this year with over $500,000 in earnings after a game effort in the Pacific Classic. Jockey Pat Day had to wait for an opportunity to swing the 5-year-old Dynformer gelding for clear running room in the stretch and his rally fell just a length short. Trained by Murray Johnson, Perfect Drift had to settle for runner-up honors as he did in the Cornhusker Breeders' Cup and Whitney Handicap in his two previous starts. Hollywood Gold Cup winner Total Impact ran well to be third while Robert Bone's previously undefeated CHOCTAW NATION, winner of the San Diego Handicap, rallied from last to finish fourth. Pleasantly Perfect gave Mandella his third victory in the Pacific Classic, following Dare and Go's upset over Cigar in 1996 and Gentleman in 1997.
Race: $250,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup (G2), 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/4 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge - It was not cold and wet Sunday at Saratoga, conditions that usually favor Mary and Joseph Grant and T.J. Kelly's 6-year-old EVENING ATTIRE. However, the clear sunny afternoon and fast track didn't stop the 7-to-1 chance from running down rivals in the stretch to win the Saratoga Breeders' Cup by five lengths over Sackatoga Stable's hometown favorite FUNNY CIDE. Martin Schwartz's second choice BOWMAN'S BAND rallied for third, 3 3/4 lengths behind Funny Cide in the field of eight going a mile-and-a-quarter. Evening Attire is a roan/gray Black Tie Affair gelding trained by Pat Kelly. The homebred was winless in six previous starts this year after having his best season in 2002 when he won the Saratoga Breeders' Cup and The Jockey Club Gold Cup prior to a fourth-place finish behind Volponi in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington Park. Kelly said after the race that another run at The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Oct. 2 was likely to be his next start. Last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Funny Cide ran another good race for trainer Barclay Tagg, beating the horses most thought were the top contenders. The 4-year-old Distorted Humor gelding had lost photo decisions in the Massachusetts Handicap and Suburban Handicap in his last two starts.
Race: $200,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup (G3), 3yo & up, 1 1/8 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge - Stronach Stable's 4-year-old homebred GHOSTZAPPER made a smooth transition from the Breeders' Cup Sprint Division to the Dodge Classic Division Saturday at Monmouth Park. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Ghostzapper made his first start ever beyond seven furlongs in the nine-furlong Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup, splashing to score by 10 3/4 lengths at the expense of three rivals. Ghostzapper was ranked high among the nation's sprinters after a smashing victory in the Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park on July 4, his first start since capturing the Vosburgh at Belmont in late September of 2003. Ghostzapper is a son of Stronach Stable's 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, who went unbeaten in six starts that year for trainer Pat Byrne. Ghostzapper has now won six of eight career starts and Frankel said he would use the Woodward Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 11 as a final tune-up for the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Race: $700,000 Juddmonte International (G1), 3yos & up, 1 1/4 +miles (t)
Road to the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf – Godolphin Racing's 5-year-old SULAMANI (IRE) has been an important player in international racing since winning the 2002 French Derby for breeders Niarchos Family and trainer Pascal Bary. Sold privately to Godolphin after finishing second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe that fall, the son of French Derby winner Hernando landed another big prize last Tuesday (Aug. 17) at York, capturing the Juddmonte International by three-quarters of a length under jockey Frankie Dettori. J.C. Smith's NORSE DANCER (IRE) finished second at 16-to-1 and Niarchos Family's previous unbeaten favorite BAGO (FR) finished third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up in the field of nine. ‘Soft' ground conditions prevailed last week at York, playing to Sulamani's strength and against Bago. Sulamani's scored major victories last year in the Dubai Sheema Classic, Arlington Million (on Storming Home's disqualification) and the Turf Classic at Belmont Park before finishing fifth in the John Deere Turf at Santa Anita. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Sulamani ran well but lost his first three starts this year, although he finished a good third behind Godolphin stablemate Doyen (IRE) in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last out in late July. Bago came into the Juddmonte undefeated in six starts for trainer Jonathan Pease, including victory in the Grand Prix de Paris last out at Longchamp on June 27. The homebred son of Nashwan is being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Race: $750,000 Alabama Stakes (G1), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/4 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel - Trainer Allen Jerkens was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975 with one of his many talents as a horseman having the right horse for the right race on the right day. Saturday at Saratoga, Marjorie and Irving Cowans's 3-year-old filly SOCIETY SELECTION splashed down the outside in the stretch to win the coveted Alabama Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths under jockey Cornelio Velasquez at nearly 6-to-1. Spendthrift Farm's 10—to-1 STELLAR JAYNE was second, a half-length ahead of Starlight Stable and partner's 3-to-5 favorite ASHADO in the mile-and-a-quarter fixture. After the race, Jerkens volunteered that it was owner Irving Cowan's decision to run in the Alabama rather than next weekend going seven-furlongs against older fillies and mares in the Ballerina Handicap. A homebred daughter of Coronado's Quest, Society Selection had won the seven-furlong Test Stakes early in the Spa meet and Jerkens said he had felt the Alabama distance might be beyond the filly's scope. Last year, Society Selection finished 10th with a tough trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita, a race in which her dam, Love That Jazz, finished second at Woodbine in 1996. Society Selection will now be pointed to the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 9. Pletcher indicated that the Oct. 2 timing of the Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park might fit best in plans for Ashado.
Race: $400,000 Yorkshire Oaks (G1), fillies & mares, 1 1/2 miles + on turf
Track: York (England)
Finishing Order: 1-QUIFF (GB), 2-PONGEE (GB), 3-HAZARATA (IRE)
Margins: 11, 1 1/2, 9
Also ran: PUNCTILIOUS (GB), SAHOOL (GB), DANELISSIMA (IRE), ROYAL TIGRESS, MENHOUBAH
Winning Connections: Owner: Khalid Abdullah; Trainer: Michael Stoute; Jockey: Kieren Fallon
Time: 2:38 (soft)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Lord Derby's English and Irish Oaks winner Ouija Board (GB), top rated in the Filly & Mare Turf Division was scratched from last Wednesday's (Aug. 18) Yorkshire Oaks by trainer Ed Dunlop because of ‘soft' ground conditions. That was no problem for Khalid Abdullah's 3-year-old filly QUIFF (GB), who romped by 11 lengths under Kieren Fallon. The Juddmonte homebred by Sadler's Wells was making only her fourth career start and gave trainer Michael Stoute his ninth victory in the race. Stoute won last year's renewal with Estate of Lord Weinstock's Islington (IRE), who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita. Quiff broke her maiden at Salisbury in May and finished third to Punctilious in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot prior to the Yorkshire Oaks. Juddmonte Farms won the 2001 Filly & Mare Turf at Belmont for trainer Andre Fabre.
Race: $300,000 Del Mar Oaks ((G1), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles on turf
Track: Del Mar
Finishing Order: 1-AMORAMA (FR), 2-TICKER TAPE (GB), 3-SWEET WIN
Margins: Nose, 1, 1/2
Also ran: SEDUCER'S SONG, SAGITTA RA, WESTERN HEMISPHERE, RED TOP (IRE)
Winning Connections: Owner: Marsha Naify and Woodside Farm; Trainer: Julio Canani; Jockey: David Flores
Time: 1:46 1/5 (firm)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Marsha Naify and Woodside Farms' 3-year-old filly AMORAMA (FR) had finished behind Jim ford, Daron Pearson and Jack Sweesy's TICKER TAPE (GB) in four California stakes this year. Saturday at Del Mar, Amorama had her day when she rallied from last of seven at 19-to-1 to beat favored Ticker Tape a nose in the Del Mar Oaks at nine furlongs on turf. Trained by Julio Canani, Amorama campaigned in France last year with trainer Maurice Zilber. She made her American debut in the Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park in late November, finishing fourth. Ridden Saturday by David Flores, Amorama finished fifth last out, beaten four lengths by Ticker Tape in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 3.
Race: $250,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1), 2-year-olds, seven furlongs
Road to the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile – Cash is King Stable's AFLEET ALEX went into Saturday's Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga undefeated in three starts as the clear leader of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Division in the east. Based at Delaware Park with trainer Tim Richey, the son of Northern Afleet had won the Sanford Stakes opening week at Saratoga by 5 1/2 lengths, but had to work a lot harder Saturday. Ridden in all of his starts by Jeremy Rose, Afleet Alex was all out to win by a neck over John Somers' Calder invader DEVILS DISCIPLE over the ‘sloppy' track. Peachtree Stable's FLAMENCO was another 1 3/4 lengths behind in the field of seven in the seven-furlong test. A $75,000 Timonium 2-year-old sales purchase, Afleet Alex will run next in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 9 before the Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park. Devils Disciple ran a big race for trainer Joe Waunsch as the Devil His Due gelding was under pressure on the lead throughout from the one post, and appeared to have the wire measured until the final strides. Waunsch said afterward that options for him include the Champagne but more likely the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland around two turns, also on Oct. 9.
Race: $250,000 Spinaway Stakes (G2), 2-year-old fillies, seven furlongs
Sense of Style
Road to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies – Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's 2-year-old filly SENSE OF STYLE made a big impression last year when she was sold for $800,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales. After drawing off to win Friday's Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga by 6 3/4 lengths under Edgar Prado, the daughter of Thunder Gulch looked like a bargain. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Sense of Style had won her debut and only previous start on Aug. 1 at Saratoga by 2 1/2 lengths as the favorite and went to odds-on in the Spinaway. John Oxley's MISS MATCHED finished second with Gary Zwerling's PLAY WITH FIRE third in the seven-furlong test. Biancone indicated after the race that the Matron Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 19 would be the likely target before the Breeders' Cup.
Previous weekend recaps:
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