The weekend recap is back with 9 major stakes including 5 from North America and 4 from Europe. Here is a recap of them all courtesy of the NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited.
Race: $500,000 Woodward Stakes (G1), 3-year-lds & up, 1 1/8 miles
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge - Trainer Bobby Frankel sent out Medaglia d’Oro as the favorite in the last two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but had to settle for second both times. It appears Frankel may have another candidate that will at least be among the favorites this year in Stronach Stable’s 4-year-old homebred GHOSTZAPPER. Saturday at Belmont Park, the son of Awesome Again was the 2-to-5 favorite to remain undefeated this year in the nine-furlong Woodward Stakes. Ridden by regular partner Javier Castellano, Ghostzapper was in a duel for the lead from the start with Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr.’s SAINT LIAM and Edward Ciresa’s PRESIDENTIALAFFAIR through punishing fractions, including 1:08 3/5 for three-quarters. The latter was the first to give way but Ghostzapper was all out to win by a neck after Saint Liam carried him out to the middle of the track in the stretch run as they hit the finish less than a second off the track record. Ghostzapper won the Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont on July 4, his first start since capturing the Vosburgh Stakes over that track last fall. Regarded a top Sprint Division prospect coming into the season, Ghostzapper was brilliant winning his first start over a distance winning the nine-furlong Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park by nearly 11 lengths on Aug. 21. Frankel wasn’t ready to say whether or not Ghostzapper would run again before the Breeders’ Cup but did note that the colt is now four-for-four over the track where The Jockey Club Gold Cup is scheduled for 10 furlongs on Oct. 2. Sir Liam ran very well in his first start since finishing third in the Oaklawn Handicap in April for trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr., who said he would likely train the 4-year-old Saint Ballado colt up to the Classic.
Race: $500,000 Man o’ War Stakes (G1), 3-year-olds & up, 1 3/8 miles (t)
Road to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf – Michael Tabor’s 4-year-old MAGISTRETTI rallied from seventh of eight early in the race to win Saturday’s 11-furlong Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park by 1 1/4 lengths over Gary Tanaka’s EPALO (GER). The two international starters each made their American debut last out in the Arlington Million with Magistretti finishing third to Powerscourt (GB) but was moved up to second when that one was disqualified. Epalo finished fourth and was elevated to third. Epalo led the Man o’ War from the start and held a 3 1/2 lengths lead past the eighth pole before Magistretti rallied past the entire field on the outside. The result exposed the suspect form of the turf stakes division in the east this year. Bushwood Stable’s BETTER TALK NOW, winner of the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga last out, finished a non-threatening fourth. Magistretti was competitive in some of Europe’s best races over the last two seasons but loomed a notch below the top ones for trainer Neville Callaghan. Purchased as a weanling at Keeneland for $150,000, the son of Diesis was left in the U.S. after the Arlington Million and was placed with trainer Patrick Biancone, who has trained a number of top runners for Tabor, including this year’s Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart. Biancone indicated that Magistretti could have a final tune-up for the John Deere Turf in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic going 12 furlongs at Belmont on Oct. 2, a race certain to attract a stronger field. Tabor’s High Chaparral (IRE) won the 2002 John Deere Turf at Arlington Park and finished in the dead-heat with Johar in last year’s renewal at Santa Anita for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Race: $1.2 million Irish Champion Stakes (G1), 3yo & up, 1 1/4 miles on turf
Track: Leopardstown (Ireland)
Finishing Order: 1-AZAMOUR (IRE), 2-NORSE DANCER (IRE), 3-POWERSCOURT (GB)
Margins: Half, neck, 3/4
Also ran: GREY SWALLOW (IRE), RAKTI (GB), IMPERIAL DANCER (GB), DOYEN (IRE), MILLSTREET (GB)
Winning Connections: Owner: H H The Aga Khan; Trainer: John Oxx; Jockey: Michael Kinane
Time: 2:01 4/5 (good/firm)
Road to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf – H H The Aga Khan’s 3-year-old homebred AZAMOUR (IRE) expanded his horizons from a highly promising miler to at least a mile-and-quarter standout, winning Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown over an outstanding field. Ridden by Mick Kinane and trained by John Oxx, the son of Night Shift finished second in the Irish 2000 Guineas in May and won the St. James’s Palace at Royal Ascot on June 15 in his last two starts, but had not been tested beyond a mile until Saturday. J.C. Smith’s NORSE DANCER (IRE) finished second with Susan Magnier’s disqualified Arlington Million winner POWERSCOURT (GB) third in the field of eight. Godolphin’s DOYEN (IRE) was the favorite after his impressive victory last out in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes going 12 furlongs at Ascot. The 4-year-old son of Sadler’s Wells had nothing left in the stretch and retired to seventh in a performance that trainer Saeed bin Suroor and jockey Frankie Dettori were at a loss to explain.
Race: $500,000 St. Leger Stakes (G1), 3-year-olds, 1 3/4 miles on turf
Track: Doncaster (England)
Finishing Order: 1-RULE OF LAW, 2-QUIFF (GB), 3-TYCOON (GB)
Margins: Head, 1 1/2, 1
Also ran: MARAAHEL (IRE), MIKADO (GB), DARSALAM (IRE), GO FOR GOLD (IRE), LET THE LION ROAR (GB), FRANK SONATA (GB)
Winning Connections: Owner: Godolphin; Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor; Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Time: 3:06 1/5 (good/firm)
Road to the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf – The 14-furlong St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster, third leg of England’s Triple Crown, has not had a big impact in recent years among championship contenders in Europe, but Saturday’s renewal may have produced a couple of major international players. Godolphin’s RULE OF LAW finished second in the Epsom Derby and fourth in the Irish Derby in good efforts before winning the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month. Saturday, the 3-year-old Kingmambo colt won his biggest prize yet in the St. Leger by a determined head over Khalid Abdullah’s top-class 3-year-old filly QUIFF (GB). Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Rule of Law likely will be turned back in distance for his next start. Quiff was the co-favorite with Rule of Law after a stunning, 11-length score in the Yorkshire Oaks last month for trainer Michael Stoute. The St. Leger was only her fifth start and the homebred daughter of Sadler’s Wells appears to have a great future ahead of her. Stoute guided the career of the outstanding filly Islington (IRE), winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
Race: $250,000 Gazelle Handicap (G1), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel - Spendthrift Farm’s 1-to-2 favorite STELLAR JAYNE came again on the rail in the stretch after being headed by Ogden Mills Phipps’ DAYDREAMING to win Saturday’s Gazelle Handicap at Belmont Park by a length under jockey Robby Albarado. Buckingham Farm’s Maryland invader HE LOVES ME finished third in the field of six 3-year-old fillies going nine furlongs. Stellar Jayne re-affirmed her status as a contender for the Eclipse Award in her division. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the daughter of Wild Rush scored her biggest victory previously when capturing the Mother Goose Stakes in late June over division leader Ashado. She ran well to be second in her last two starts behind Ashado in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont and Society Selection in the Alabama at Saratoga with Ashado third. Stellar Jayne may not run again before the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Race: $325,000 Matron Stakes (G1), fillies & mares, one mile on turf
Track: Leopardstown (Ireland)
Finishing Order: 1-SOVIET SONG (IRE), 2-ATTRACTION (GB), 3-PHANTOM WIND
Margins: Half, 5, 4 1/2
Also ran: RED FEATHER (IRE), YESTERDAY (IRE), LIVADIYA (IRE)
Winning Connections: Owner: Elite Racing Club; Trainer: James Fanshawe; Jockey: Johnny Murtagh
Time: 1:36 4/5 (good/firm)
Road to the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile – Elite Racing Club’s 4-year-old homebred filly SOVIET SONG (IRE) won the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on July 6 by 2 1/2 lengths over Duke of Roxburghe’s previously undefeated 3-year-old filly ATTRACTION (GB). Saturday at Leopardstown, Soviet Song prevailed again over Attraction, but by only a neck after the latter led to the final strides in the one-mile test for fillies and mares. Soviet Song, a daughter of Marju trained by James Fanshawe, confirmed her status among Europe’s top milers winning the Matron after capturing the Falmouth over male rivals and finishing second to Refuse to Bend (IRE) in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Attraction won her first eight starts for trainer Mark Johnston, including the English and Irish 1000 Guineas. Soviet Song and Attraction may have another rematch in either the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot on Sept. 25 or the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 2.
Race: $350,000 Prix Vermeille (G1), fillies & mares, 1 1/2 miles on turf
Track: Longchamp (France)
Finishing Order: 1-SWEET STREAM (ITY), 2-ROYAL FANTASY (GER), 3-PRIDE (FR)
Margins: Half, half, neck
Also ran: VALLERA (GER), DIAMOND TANGO (FR), SILVERSKAYA, VISORAMA (IRE), LATICE (IRE), WHORTLEBERRY (FR), LUNE D’OR (FR), ANABAA REPUBLIC (FR), GLOIREZ (FR), PILGRIM OF GRACE (FR)
Winning Connections: Owner: Team Valor; Trainer: John Hammond; Jockey: Thierry Gillet
Time: 2:29 2/5 (soft)
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Sunday’s Prix Vermeille at Longchamp was expected to be a coronation for undefeated French Oaks winner LATICE (IRE), sending the 3-year-old daughter of Inchinor to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as one of the choices. However, Latice didn’t stay the 12-furlong distance on soft ground, finishing a disappointing eighth in the field of 13 fillies and mares. Four finished on the wire in a blanket with Team Valor’s 4-year-old filly SWEET STREAM (ITY) prevailing by a half-length at 30-to-1 with Stall Nizza’s ROYAL FANTASY (GER) second at 44-to-1. NP Bloodstock’s 40-to-1 PRIDE (FR) finished another half-length back in third. Sweet Stream began her career at home in Italy as a 2-year-old before moving on to France last year. The daughter of Shantou finished a close-up third at 53-to-1 last out in the Prix de Pomone at Deauville. Winning trainer John Hammond was not sure what might be next for her, but ruled out a chance in the Arc.
Race: $300,000 Garden City Breeders’ Cup (G1), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 m. (t)
Track: Belmont Park
Finishing Order: 1-LUCIFER’S STONE, 2-BARANCELLA (FR), 3-NOAH’S ARK (IRE)
Margins: 1 1/4, 3/4, neck
Also ran: NECKLACE (GB), MAMBO SLEW, TORRESTRELLA (IRE), SARATOGA SUGAR
Winning Connections: Owner: Team Solaris Stable; Trainer: Linda Rice; Jockey: Jose Santos
Time: 1:48 4/5 (good)
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Team Solaris Stable’s LUCIFER'S STONE rallied in the stretch to win Sunday’s Garden City Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park by 1 1/4 lengths over Gary Tanaka’s French invader BARANCELLA (FR). Jockey Jose Santos was aboard Lucifer’s Stone, who was 9-to-1 with the runner-up let go at 25-to-1 in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies. Denis O'Flynn and partners’ NOAH'S ARK (IRE) finished third, shipping in from Ireland. Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier’s NECKLACE (GB) finished fourth after a close-up third in the Beverly D at Arlington Park in her last start. Lucifer’s Stone is a daughter of Horse Chestnut trained by Linda Rice that has been a steady performer in her division all season. She and several others in Sunday’s international field are likely to meet again in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 16.
Race: $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (G2), 2-year-olds, seven furlongs
Road to the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Fog City Stable’s ROMAN RULER was widely regarded as the most brilliant 2-year-old colt seen in the country this summer after two odds-on romps in his first two starts for trainer Bob Baffert. A $500,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by freshman sire Fusaichi Pegasus, Roman Ruler was made the 1-to-10 favorite for the Del Mar Futurity last Wednesday (Sept. 8). However, he dropped a neck decision to Jay Em Ess Stable’s DECLAN'S MOON after a duel through the last furlong of the seven-furlong event with only four going to the post. Declan’s Moon had won his only previous start for trainer Ron Ellis by five lengths on July 31. The Malibu Moon gelding was a $125,000 yearling purchase at the Timonium (Md.) sales.
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