The Independence Day weekend racing continued on Saturday with eight more graded stakes races plus one that will be soon from six different tracks. Belmont Park had the early headliner with the Grade 1, $500,000 Suburban
Handicap at a mile and a quarter. Mineshaft stamped his claim to the position of top handicap horse in North America with an easy 2 1/4 length win over Volponi and Dollar Bill in a final time of 2:01 2/5. Jockey Robby Albarado said: "I take nothing away from the rest of them, but Mineshaft just toyed with them
today. He was going so easy the first three-quarters, it felt
like he was getting into a trot. That's how easy he was going. I was going to
wait for Volponi or whoever the first challenger was and shake them off, and
that is just what happened. Volponi took a run at him, but this horse just
took off. I have always been impressed by him."
War Zone leads the way in the Poker Stakes at Belmont Park.
Also at Belmont was the Grade 3, $116,200 Poker at a mile on the turf. Trainer Bobby Frankel added to his domination of the stakes ranks with a win by favorite War Zone for owners Juddmonte Farm. He came wide in the stretch to win by a half length over Tracemark and Saint Verre in a final time of 1:32 3/5 for the mile. Frankel wasn't on hand for the victory, but was over at Monmouth Park for the United Nations Handicap. Jockey Javier Castellano said: "Bobby (Frankel) told me before he left to ride him confidently and be
patient. He broke well, then we fell back and I kept him covered up. I was able to save ground all the
way. We angled outside, and when I asked for run and he took off."
Balto Star winner of the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park.
Anstu Stable's Balto Star, a 37-1 shot making the most of his inside post, took command at the start and repulsed all challengers in the stretch to score an upset victory in the $750,000 United Nations Handicap (G1) at Monmouth Park on Saturday. The field was closing in at the wire, but with Jose Velez Jr. urging him on, Balto Star scored by a half-length over The Tin Man, who was a nose in front of Lunar Sovereign. Denon, the favorite in the turf route, finished fifth. Balto Star raced the mile and three-eighths in 2:12 3/5 to break the course record set in last year's United Nations 'Cap by With Anticipation, who finished last in this year's running. Jockey Jose Velez Jr. said, "They trained this horse perfectly. I was just a passenger today. They let me go early and I had no pressure until the top of the stretch. He rebroke at the sixteenth pole and just took off again."
Tap The Admiral winner of the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Tap The Admiral, ridden by John McKee, collared favorite Package Store at the eighth pole and held off a late charge from Freefourinternet for a 1 ľ-length win in Saturday's $288,500 Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. The five-year-old son of Pleasant Tap, who earned the first stakes win of his 27-race career, covered the mile on "firm" turf in 1:35.48. Freefourinternet closed from last on the far turn to take the place spot while Package Store, the 2-1 favorite, finished a half-length back in third. Jockey John McKee said: "It's my first Churchill stakes win and I'm just very honored to be a part of it. Mr. Carroll just said take him back and don't go on the lead too early and burn us out. Take him back, cover him up and make one run with him. That's exactly what I did. I had a lot of horse at the end and enough to finish up."
Ballingarry winner of the Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap at Arlington Park.
Ballingarry split horses at the top of the stretch and held off a late rally from Dr. Brendler to win the Grade 3, $219,200 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf by a half length Saturday at Arlington Park. The Laura de Seroux trainee covered the mile and half over "good" going in 2:28.30. The Stars and Stripes was the first win for Ballingarry since being purchased last fall by the partnership of Port Trust, Naify and San Gabriel Investments shortly after he took the Grade I Canadian International at Woodbine. Jockey Rene Douglas said: "Our plan was to get (to the front) off the break and go on from there and let him be himself. It didnít work that way because he didnít break that sharp. I had to go to Plan B and stay on the rail. He has a long stride. I just waited for the opportunity to get through and he exploded."
Madeira Mist winner of the Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine.
Skymarc Farm's Madeira Mist and jockey Patrick
Husbands outdueled First Quarter and Na Somsanith in the final jumps to win a
thrilling renewal of the Grade 3, $171,750 Dance Smartly Stakes by a scant nostril Saturday at Woodbine. At the finish of the mile and one-eighth turf stake for fillies and mares,
timed in 1:48.05, the Christophe Clement-trained Irish-bred four-year-old
outnodded longshot First Quarter to win her second career stakes race.
Byzantine wound up third, a length behind and only a half-length in front of
fourth-place finisher Diadella. Jockey Patrick Husbands said: "I knew the photo was close. She ran an honest race. I was happy with our position down the backside. About five furlongs out, she
jumped to her left lead. I put her back on her right lead, but about one
stride later, she was back on her left lead. I left her on her left lead
because I didn't want to get into a fight with her."
Dimitrova winner of the American Invitational Oaks at Hollywood Park.
Irish trainer Dermot Weld was back to his old tricks again when his trainee Dimitrova shipped in to Hollywood Park to capture the second running of the $750,000 American Invitational Oaks, a 1 1/4 mile turf event for three year old fillies. Jockey David Flores stalked the pace of Sand Springs, then going three wide into the stretch, the filly kicked it into gear with a furlong to go to win by 2 lengths in a very respectable 1:59.98. It was another neck back to Atlantic Ocean back in third. Flores said afterwards, "She's a tremendous filly. Dermot [Weld] told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. She's capable of doing anything. It's a privilege for me to ride a horse like this. I just tried to put her in a good spot."
Joey Franco winner of the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Invitational Handicap at Hollywood Park.
In the Grade 1, $300,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Invitational Handicap at Hollywood Park, Joey Franco and jockey Pat Valenzuela stalked the early pace of favored Avanzado and longshot Cappuchino, then going three wide into the lane, got the lead with a furlong to go and held off the late charging Publication to win by a head in a time of 1:21.56 for the seven furlong event as the 5-2 second choice. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 4-1 third choice Bluesthestandard, who was subsequently disqualified down to sixth place for interference in the stretch. Winning trainer Darrell Vienna said, "He had to work a lot harder today, and that might have been why he was veering out there in the stretch." Jockey Pat Valenzuela added, "This horse has gotten really good. He relaxed behind the leaders. And around the turn, he started to pick it up really nice. Through the stretch, he finished strong."
Magic Mission winner of the Royal Heroine Stakes at Hollywood Park.
The Grade 3, $112,000 Royal Heroine Stakes featured the older fillies and mares going a mile on the turf course. 6-1 shot Magic Mission settled well off the pace in eighth early on, then went four then five wide on the turn and through the stretch to catch pacesetter Little Treasure in the final strides to win by a head, in a time of 1:34.25. It was 2 lengths back to third place Bellski, while 2-1 favorite Southern Oasis was never in it, suffering traffic troubles finishing seventh.