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Ramon Dominguez and trainer Christophe Clement celebrate Gio Ponti's win in the Shadwell Turf Mile
Keeneland Race Course in Lexington had its "FallStars" opening weekend, which included six Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" stakes events with three of them among the five graded stakes on Saturday. There were two on Friday, the Darley Alcibiades (G1) and Phoenix Stakes (G3) won by Stephanie's Kitten and Hoofit, plus two more on Sunday, the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) and Bourbon Stakes.
Gio Ponti wins the Shadwell Turf Mile
Left: Gio Ponti in the winner's circle after the Shadwell Turf Mile. Trainer Christophe Clement said, "I felt many sensations over the last 1/16 mile. I'm delighted. It was a different kind of a race today. Ramon (Dominguez) was more aggressive; he was much closer to the pace than usual. I didn't think he was going to get there at the 1/4 pole. Yet again he proved me wrong, and he got there. He's a top-class horse, firm turf, mile to 1 1/4. The mile today was a bit quick as you saw for him. He was a bit unlucky this year. I've been running him on softer ground. There's nothing I can do; the program is made that way, and I cannot control the weather."
Right: Gio Ponti returns after the race.
Left: Second place finisher Get Stormy returns after the race. Jockey Garrett Gomez said, "We really didn't want to get into a speed duel, and I was just going to have to adapt to a situation and be willing to do as much as I could. I dropped him behind (Sidney's Candy) going into the first turn and had cover. I covered him up the backside and traveled beautifully. I went after (Sidney's Candy) going into the far turn a little bit, just put some pressure on him to get us up there, and when we turned for home we weakened him. We ran home and Gio Ponti had to work to get by him today."
Right: Third place finisher Sidney's Candy in the paddock. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "He ran very well. They were really running from behind, you know, they really finished well. I mean, we got beat by Gio Ponti – one of the best horses. I set up the pace and he came rolling to get me. I think (Sidney's Candy) ran his race. He looked good today, he continued to run."
Never Retreat winning the 2011 First Lady Stakes
Never Retreat in the winner's circle. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "She broke good. We were on the outside, so we were hoping to drop her in a little bit on the first turn. She put me in the race good, just nice and easy, and she finished good. I was on my own, but I know the filly. I rode her a couple of times before. I knew her, and I know she can do it."
Left: Second place finisher Together returns after the race. Jockey Colm O'Donoghue said, "It went very well – traveled, tracked the winner. She ran a very good race."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Daveron in the paddock. Trainer Graham Motion said, "(Jockey) Eddie (Castro) said she was a little bit intimidated. She's not used to being down on the inside in between horses like that. She's a little happier when she's clear, so he said it was a little bit hard to get her going. Then when it cleared up she came running, but by then it was a little bit too late."
Dullahan winning the 2011 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity
Dullahan in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "This is a special horse, and we've known it all along. We felt like he was a Grade 1-caliber racehorse. He showed it today. When you can overcome adversity and win a Grade 1, you're a really good horse. I thought he'd be laying a little closer to the pace. He closed more ground than I expected. We've really had high hopes for this horse. He's trained like a top horse all along. His half-brother (Mine That Bird) won the (2009 Kentucky) Derby."
Left: Second place finisher Majestic City returns after the race. His trainer Peter Miller said, "He ran super. He got a little rank when that horse (Personal Interest) came outside him. Garrett (Gomez) really had no choice but to kind of let him run a little bit. (It was) his first race around two turns and he got a little tired the last 1/16 mile. But I was very proud of the horse. We'll probably take him home, let him be home and relaxed and figure out where we go, what race, from there."
Right: Third place finisher Optimizer returns after the race. Jockey Robby Albarado said, "He broke a little tardy and we got shuffled back a bit, but I still thought he ran great. I don't think we've seen the depth of his talent yet."
Holiday for Kitten (inside) winning the 2011 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes over Musical Romance
Holiday for Kitten in the winner's circle. Her jockey Kendrick Carmouche said, "She broke in front, and I knew (Rapport) would be right on the lead or sitting second. I let him go to the lead, and I was sitting pretty comfortable at the 1/4 pole, coming into the top of the stretch. When I asked her to go home and switch leads, I knew right there I had enough horse to compete with the rest of the horses whenever a challenge would come on."
Left: Second place finisher Musical Romance in the paddock before the race. Her jockey Juan Leyva said, "This filly tried really hard. I just needed one more jump to get there. But what are you going to do?"
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Switch in the paddock. Her jockey Joel Rosario said, "They're running really fast. She tried and gave everything her best. A little farther might be better for her – 6 1/2 or 7 (furlongs). They are going really fast times. The horses that are going to the front, once they get to the front they don't stop; they carry it. They keep it moving. She was coming from behind, but I think a little farther might be better."
Havelock winning the 2011 Woodford Stakes
Havelock heads to the winner's circle. His jockey Robby Albarado said, "He left a little tardy. We anticipated being right behind the pace – not that far back. Having said that, they went quick enough, which was conducive to his running style. (At the top of the stretch) I didn't think I could get there (to the lead) as quick as I did. He's a nice horse, tremendous turn of foot. I swung him to the outside, and he ran by them."
Left: Second place finisher Perfect Officer returns after the race. Jockey Kendrick Carmouche said, "He ran a very good race. He always breaks so good and that's pretty much what the owner wanted. I wish I could just take him back a little bit further because when he gets to the last horse he runs past him but he waits on other horses."
Right: Third place finisher Country Day in the paddock before the race. Jockey James Graham said, "He was a little farther back than usual. They went quick; real quick, early. I was having to use him a little more than I wanted to. When he wasn't taking me I sort of just sat on him, sat quiet. Coming out of the turn he started inching in nice and easy, straightened up, and I called on him and he came running. The other horse just finished ahead of where we did."
Darley Alcibiades and Phoenix Stakes from Friday at Keeneland
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