Desert Encounter returned across the Atlantic to win the Grade I Canadian International at Woodbine for the second straight year while the local team won the other two graded turf stakes on the card, highlighting weekend horse racing action.
Trainer Chad Brown sent out winners at both Keeneland and Belmont Park.
On the international scene, Quadrilateral and Pinatubo flashed brilliance in 2-year-old events in England and Chrono Genesis made a claim as Japan's best 3-year-old filly with a weekend victory.
Away we go.
Desert Encounter strolled out of the gate in Saturday's $800,000 (Canadian) Grade I Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine and raced last of six into the stretch. Hitting anoher gear, he was in full flight with 2 furlongs to run, split rivals and got home first by 1/2 length, winning the race for the second straight year. Alounak also came from well back to take second, a neck in front of the favorite, Ziyad. Desert Encounter, a 7-year-old Halling gelding, took 2:28.62 to negotiate 1 1/2 miles of good turf with Andrea Atzeni up for trainer David Simcock. It was his third straight win following Group 3 triumphs at Windsor and Newbury.
Philip Robinson, racing manager for Desert Encounter's owner, Abdulla Al Mansoori, left the door open for the gelding to return next year and attempt to join Joshua Tree as the only three-time Canadian International winners. "It would be lovely," he said. "I dare say if he's still a happy horse like he is now, for sure, he'll be back. He enjoys it here, why not?"
Desert Encounter wins Saturday's Grade I Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine for the second straight year, Michael Burns photo, courtesy Woodbine
Filly & Mare Turf
Starship Jubilee, operating on her home course, pressed the pace made by the favorite, Red Tea, in Saturday's $600,000 (Canadian) Grade I E.P. Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares at Woodbine, took over from that tiring foe on the stretch turn and rumbled home first by 1 length. Durance, visiting from Germany, was along for second, a head in front of Platane, representing France. Red Tea faded to finish eighth. Starship Jubilee, a 6-year-old Indy Wind mare, got 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 2:03.29 with Luis Contreras in the irons. She finished fourth in the 2018 E.P. Taylor but came to his year's edition off a win in the Grade II Canadian over the Woodbine greensward.
"It being a mile and a quarter is always tough, but it being a Grade 1 and being in our backyard, that kind of helps soften the blow," said Starship Jubilee's trainer, Kevin Attard. "She was so convincing when she won her last start and she came out of that race in great shape. She's worked really well in the interim and Luis gave her an incredible ride today."
Attard said the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf "might be on the table now."
At Keeneland, Cambier Parc showed the way in Saturday's $500,000 Grade II Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for 3-year-old fillies, widened her edge in the stretch and reported first by 1 length over Castle Lady. Princess Carolina was third and Magnetic Charm, owned by Queen Elizabeth II, finished last of eight, fading through the stretch after pressing the early pace. Cambier Parc, a daughter of Lemon Drop Kid, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.54 with John Velazquez up. She now is 5-for-7 for trainer Chad Brown, won the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in her previous start and shows all the hallmarks of another superstar from that barn.
Despite the potential, Brown said the Breeders' Cup likely is not in the picture for Cambier Park. Instead, he said, it's "most likely" the QE II was her final start of 2019. "That's what we talked about going into the race," he said. "Give her a real nice break. She's got all the earmarks of a horse that's going to have a great career at 4 and 5. We'll leave that decision up to Larry (owner Larry Best of OXO Equine), but that's what we’re thinking."
Florent Geroux, who rode Magnetic Charm, said it was "a great experience" to ride for the Queen. "I just wish I could have done better for her. I hope she watched it. I wish she would have won, but that's the way it is sometimes," Geroux said.
At Belmont Park, Brown racked up another one as New and Improved started last of seven in Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Sands Point Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, improved position quickly in the stretch run and was in command by the sixteenth pole. Feel Glorious also had good late foot but fell 1/2 length short in finishing second. Romantic Pursuit was third. New and Improved, a daughter of Cairo Prince, ran 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.44 with Joel Rosario up.
"The pace was fine up front, so I just kept her going easy early," Rosario said. "She was there for me when I asked her and when we got to the turn she hit that gear and kept going. She was very impressive."
City Boy, up from the optional claiming ranks, stalked the pace in Saturday's $250,000 (Canadian) Grade II Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine, then outfinished Reconfigure and Richiesinthehouse, winning a three-way photo by a head and another head. The favorite, Blind Ambition, finished fourth after a rough start. City Boy, a 5-year-old City Zip gelding, ran 6 furlongs on yielding turf in 1:18.18 under Jesse Campbell. His last seven races, dating back to December, had been in optional claiming races and he had won none of those.
"I nominated him, before his last start, to this," said Mike Keogh, who trains City Boy for The Estate of Gustav Schickedanz and Don Howard. "I just thought if no heavy hitters shipped in, it would be worth taking a shot. And, that's what happened."
As Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee is fond of saying, "It's an easy game."
Oleksandra saved ground into the stretch in Friday's $150,000 Grade III Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland, got off the fence and snuck through between rivals to win by 2 lengths. Morticia ran evenly to finish second and Girls Know Best, the early leader, finished third. Oleksandra, a 5-year-old, Australian-bred mare by Animal Kingdom, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.79 -- just 0.35 second off the course record -- with Joel Rosario steering for trainer Neil Drysdale. Like many Keeneland turf winners, she was coming off a good effort at Kentucky Downs -- third in the $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint, a race won by Morticia.
Oleksandra is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup and the possibility of a supplemental entry was addressed by Barry Irwin, CEO of her ownership group, Team Valor International. "If I look at it from an intellectual point of view, the answer would be, 'No,'" Irwin said. "When emotions get involved and a horse wins like this, anything is possible." Either way, Irwin said Oleksandra will remain in training in 2020. "She's only going to be five and a half," he noted of the Southern Hemisphere-bred.
At Belmont Park, Fire Key was firing on all cylinders in the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Floral Park Stakes for fillies and mares, rallying from third to score in a five-way photo finish. Fire Key was a neck in front of pacesetting Goldwood with Fear No Evil, Dynatail and Lady Mamba separated by a head, nose and neck, respectively. It was another 23 lengths back to the trailer, Mominou. Fire Key, a 6-year-old Friesan Fire mare, traveled 6 furlongs on firm going in 1:08.29 with Julien Pimentel in the irons.
Leucothea put on a show in Sunday's $100,000 Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita, leading straight out of the gate and distancing the field in the stretch. The favorite, Shedaresthedevil, was second, albeit 8 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Éclair was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third. Leucothea, a Midshipman filly, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.81 with Abel Cedillo riding for trainer Peter Miller. Leucothea won her first two starts, finished eighth in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante and then unseated her rider in the Grade I Chandelier in her previous start. After that, said owner Jeff Hayes, "We didn't know exactly what we had. But today is a better indication."
Pinatubo took the lead late in Saturday's Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and rolled home first by 2 lengths, trailed by a quartet of Coolmore rivals. Pinatubo, a Godolphin homebred by Shamardal, remained undefeated in six starts for trainer Charlie Appleby and notched his second straight Group 1 win following the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National at the Curragh.
With William Buick up, Pinatubo waited behind most of his rivals, made up some ground 2 furlongs out and hit the front with the final furlong to go. Arizona, under Seamie Heffernan, gave chase but couldn't match strides and settled for second, followed by stablemates Wichita, Year of the Tiger and Monarch of Egypt.
"He is a very good horse who will go on to produce good horses, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and master of Godolphin, said of Pinatubo. "The Shamardals are very fast. I will be looking forward to seeing him next year." Sheik Mohammed was on hand to witness the colt's sixth win.
Quadrilateral maintained her perfect record -- and her status as the early favorite for the 2020 1,000 Guineas -- with a narrow victory over a stubborn Powerful Breeze in Friday's Group 1 bet365 Fillies Mile at Newmarket. The Juddmonte Farms hombred daughter of Frankel chased down Powerful Breeze with a rather bold rail move in the closing stages of the 1-mile test and scored by a head. The leading two were trailed by Love and Cayenne Pepper. Quadrilateral, with 19-year-old Jason Watson up for trainer Roger Charlton, finished in 1:37.75 over going rated good to soft.
The entry to the Fillies Mile required a 40,000-pounds supplement fee and Charlton said he initially questioned the investment and thought about a lesser target. On second thought, he said, "I was thinking it's not often good fillies come along, we could go and win that and keep the dream open for May rather than taking on the best. Management encouraged me (to go for the Fillies' Mile) and the result was good."
Looking forward a week, British Champions Day faces some boggy going as Ascot officials watch rain and more rain fall on the already nearly waterlogged course. A decision will be made by the end of the week whether to move the races to an inner course used primarily for jumps -- a contingency plan vetted and tested some time ago. Nonetheless, some potential runners who find off going unsuitable might pass up the chance. Perhaps one or two might re-target the Breeders' Cup turf events.
Chrono Genesis, third in the first two legs of the Japanese filly Triple Crown, surged to a late lead in the third leg, Sunday's Grade 1 Oka Sho at Kyoto Racecourse, and ran on to win by 2 lengths. The victory was her first at the top level but, coupled with a second in last year's Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and thirds in the first two legs of this year's series, gives her bragging rights as the best of her generatioin.
A daughter of the French-bred Bago, Chrono Genesis raced just back of the lead group into the final turn, got room outside while pinning down rival Curren Bouquetd'or for a critical few seconds, then surged to the victory. Curren Bouquetd'or trailed in second with Shigeru Pink Daiwa third. Danon Fantasy, a disappointment since her victory in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, faded from contention to get home eighth.
Chrono Genesis, with Yuichi Kitamura riding for trainer Takashi Saito, finished the 2,000 meters in 1:59.9 over turf rated good despite rains from Typhoon Hagibis that forced cancellation of racing in Tokyo.
"I was able to race her in an ideal position while eyeing Danon Fantasy in front. She was responding really well at the fourth corner so I was able to make bid with confidence," Kitamura said.
Saito said Chrono Genesis now is primed for a shot at older rivals in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) Nov. 10.
Shadow Hero put the beat on Castelvecchio and long shot Battenburg in Saturday's Group 1 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes at Royal Randwick, reporting first by 1 length as the favorite. Castelvecchio barely edged Battenburg for second as the top two made up a lot of ground in the late going with Castelvecchio taking an extremely wide turn into the stretch. Shadow Hero, a Pierro gelding, made it two in a row following a Group 3 win at Rosehill Sept. 28. Castelvecchio, a Dundeel colt, has not won in three starts this season after finishing his last campaign with a victory in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes.
At Caulfield, Cape of Good Hope apparently found the Southern Hemisphere to his liking as he edged Black Heart Bart in the final stride in Saturday's Group 1 Ladbroke Stakes in his first start since arriving from Ireland via Upstate New York. Harlem was third in the 2,000-meters test and the favorite, Avila, settled for fourth. Cape of Good Hope, a 4-year-old Galileo colt and a full brother to both Highland Reel and Idaho, had only two wins before leaving home, finishing third in the Saratoga Derby Invitational Aug. 4 on his way south. He arrived in Australia only two weeks before the race. On to the Cox Plate.
Flit landed the Schweppes Thousand Guineas narrowly over Missile Mantra while Super Seth, with a late run down the outside, was an equally close victor in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas -- both at 1,600 meters.
Aethero is only a still-learning 3 years old but that didn't stop jockey Joao Moreira from proclaiming, "He's a star! He's a star!" Saturday after the Sebring gelding lowered the Sha Tin course record for 1,000 meters to 54.69 seconds, erasing the 12-year-old mark set by Sacred Kingdom. Aethero got loose from the pack in the final 100 meters and rolled home an easy winner by 2 1/2 lengths. Among those in his wake was Voyage Warrior, the only other horse in the past decade to have broken the 55-seconds barrier.
"Voyage Warrior is no slouch, so what Aethero did today, breaking the record -- and there's not a great tailwind here -- shows what I've been saying about him," said trainer John Moore, who has handled the likes of Beauty Generation. Able Friend and Viva Pataca. "I believe he has the makings to be a superstar."
Moore said the he is eyeing the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint for Aethero, with a prep in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint. But he said he needs to correct some tendencies that led to defeat in the horse's last outing over 1,200 meters. "He's still a work in progress," Moore added.
The victory was one of five on the day for Moreira, exending his lead over defending champion Zac Purton. Ironically, Purton normally partners Aethero and will regain the mount. He had a previous commitment for Saturday's tilt.
Back in North America, swinging around the ovals:
On Sunday, Red Knight rallied four-wide into the lane and got by pacesetter Paret in the final sixteenth to capture the $100,000 Point of Entry Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. Paret held second and the favorite, Pillar Mountain, was third. Red Knight, a 5-year-old Pure Prize gelding, finished 1 1/2 miles of firm turf in 2:25.94 with Junior Alvarado riding. It was his first win since a 2-mile turf affair at Gulfstream Park last December.
Just Grazed Me came out in the stretch run in Saturday's $100,000 California Distaff for state-bred fillies and mares, made steady progress toward the front and got there first by 1 3/4 lengths from Don't Sell. Gypsy Blu and S Y Sky were a pair of necks back in third and fourth. Just Grazed Me, a 4-year-old Grazen filly, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:01.82 with Geovani Franco up for trainer Phil D'Amato.
Gamble's Candy pressed the pace in Sunday's $120,000 (Canadian) Ruling Angel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, took over a furlong from home and won by 1 1/4 lengths. Ellyb was second, a neck in front of Missmizz. Gamble's Candy, a Twirling Candy filly, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:15.36 under Luis Contreras.
Trevilion waited behind the leading pair through snappy early fractions in Saturday's $100,000 Gold Cup for Louisiana-breds, moved smoothly to the lead when prompted and drew off to win by 4 lengths. Mageez, Jimi's a Star, Just Stormin and Double Star trailed in that order in a close pack. Trevilion, a 3-year-old gelding by Lone Star Special, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.85 with Diego Saenz at the controls.
In Friday's $100,000 Magnolia Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, Mariah's Galaxy put away the odds-on favorite, Remember Daisy, early in the stretch run and went on to win by 4 length over that foe. Special Blessing was a further 2 3/4 lengths back in third. Mariah's Galaxy, a 5-year-old mare by Greeley's Galaxy, finished 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.72 for jockey Kevin Smith.
Mugaritz led from the first jumps in Sunday's $60,000 Bull Dog Handicap and drew off nicely in the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths. More Power to Him was second, a nose to the good of Rocky Tough. Mugaritz, a 4-year-old Dialed In gelding, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.53 with Ricardo Gonzalez up.
Infinite Patience patiently prompted the pace in Sunday's $75,000 (Canadian) Fantasy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, eased to the lead when prompted and drew off to a 4 1/4-lengths victory as the solid favorite. Enchanted Lady, Miss Prospector and Everything's Quiet completed the order of finish. Infinite Patience, a Sungold filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.16 with Antonio Reyes in the irons.