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UPI Horse Racing Roundup

Saturday's Belmont Stakes settled nothing in terms of this year's 3-year-old championship but it sure did tee up some interesting summertime battles leading up to the usual climax against older foes in November's Breeders' Cup Classic.

For anyone who hadn't heard, Dornoch won the Belmont, joining Preakness winner Seize the Grey and Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan in splitting the Triple Crown three ways. So we'll battle on, with several others still very much in the mix and a few new ones knocking on the door.

Meanwhile, the New York Racing Association put on a real show around the "Belmont at Saratoga" -- the temporary venue while Belmont Park itself is being rebuilt. A few highlights from the massive de facto festival, with details to follow:

National Treasure made a statement in the Met Mile; Cogburn blazed to a course-record time in the Jaipur Stakes; Book'em Dano booked himself some nice future starts with a victory in the Woody Stephens; Thorpedo Anna showed her Kentucky Oaks win was no fluke; Randomized and Idiomatic reprised their Breeders' Cup Distaff finish but in the reverse order; Godolphin dominated the Manhattan on the turf … and more.

Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, Monmouth Park also had significant action. Look north to Woodbine as the Oaks and King's Plate heave into view over the horizon.
 
The Belmont

Dornoch finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby with a nightmare trip from the inside gate but trainer Danny Gargan and jockey Luis Saez never lost faith. The colt, a full brother to 2023 Derby winner Mage, repaid that faith in the Belmont. After taking the lead, he was headed at the top of the stretch by rookie stakes contender Mindframe, whose wandering trip down the lane might have cost him the win but proved his ability. He finished second, 1/2 length back, and Kentucky Derby runner-up Sierra Leone was third. Mystik Dan and Seize the Grey didn't figure after Seize the Grey faded from the lead.

The rain that held off for the big races came to Saratoga Springs Sunday morning but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the players.

Gargan said Dornoch returned in good order, adding the $1 million Grade I Haskell July 20 at Monmouth or the $500,000 Grade II Jim Dandy a week later at the Spa would be the options "if he runs before the Travers." That's the $1.5 million Travers Stakes Aug. 25 at Saratoga, a.k.a. the "Midsummer Derby".

Kenny McPeek, trainer of Mystik Dan, said his colt was tired after the Belmont -- no surprise as he was the only horse who competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown. He said the Travers and the Pennsylvania Derby are targets.

"He deserves a break," McPeek said. "It's a little disappointing not to run better than that (eighth). But it's not supposed to be easy, right?"

Todd Pletcher said he's going to think about plans for Mindframe and his other Belmont runners -- Antiquarian, who finished fifth, and Protective, who got home seventh. "It will take some time to sort that out," said the trainer, who has lots of other quality runners to spot in various divisions.

Gargan will have another one to schedule after Society Man ran from the back of an eight-horse field to win Sunday's $400,000 Grade III Matt Winn Stakes for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs by 2 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Who Dey. The Good Magic colt, with Corey Lanerie up, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.33. Society Man finished second in the Grade II Wood Memorial, then 16th in the Kentucky Derby.

"He's shown he's been able to do a couple of things in his career and has some different dimensions," Lanerie said of Society Man. "The way he was able to relax today, it showed me he doesn't have a problem with longer distances than this."

Bob Baffert will have another oar in the water, too, in the form of Parenting, a Justify colt who scampered off to a 7 1/2-lengths victory as odds-on favorite in Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita. Parenting, with Juan Hernandez in the irons, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.57. He's 2-for-2 and Baffert said, "We are proud of him. And it is nice to have a nice fresh three-year-old for the summer campaign."

Classic

Crupi, making his first start since finishing 10th in the Dubai World Cup in March, rallied from last to win Saturday's $350,000 Grade II Suburban at Saratoga by 1/2 length over Bendoog, sixth in last year's World Cup. Masqueparade finished third. Crupi, a 4-year-old Curlin colt trained by Todd Pletcher, got his first graded stakes win with Irad Ortiz timing his late move perfectly. He got the 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:02.71.

Oaks

Kentucky Oaks winner Thorpedo Anna backed up that effort with a dominant victory in Friday's $500,000 Grade I Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga. With Brian Hernandez Jr. up, the Fast Anna filly shadowed pacesetter Just F Y I, took the lead near the five-sixteenths pole and kicked away to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Leslie's Rose. Power Squeeze was a long shot third and Just F Y I faded after losing the lead, finishing sixth. The Kenny McPeek trainee now has five wins from six starts, none of the victories by less than 4 lengths, but the trainer said he's no longer considering pitting her against colts to find stiffer competition.

"She's going to run in the Coaching Club (American Oaks) and the Alabama," he said. "We will nominate her to the Travers but I think it's more likely Mystik Dan will come back in the Travers."

At Santa Anita, jockey Tyler Baze held on as Sugar Fish stumbled badly at the start of Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Summertime Oaks, then got the aptly named Accelerate filly into high gear in the stretch, winning off by 9 3/4 lengths as the longest shot in the four-filly field. Odds-on favorite Nothing Like You was second, followed home by Jane Austin and Show Card. Sugar Fish, trained by Jeff Mullins, got 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.41, scoring her third straight win.

Emery rallied from last of five to win Sunday's $175,000 Leslie's Lady Stakes at Churchill Downs by 3 1/2 lengths over Tambo. The More Than Ready filly, trained by Brad Cox, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.46 for jockey Tyler Gaffalione. She's won three of four starts and finished fourth in the Grade 1 Frizette in the other.

Distaff

Saturday at the Spa, the $500,000 Grade I Ogden Phipps devolved to a head-bobbing battle between pacesetting Randomized and the favorite, Idiomatic, with the former getting her nose on the wire first. With Joel Rosario up, the 4-year-old Nyquist filly, winner of last year's Grade 1 Alabama over the same track, snapped a two-race streak of second-place finishes that included the Breeders Cup Distaff. She earned a "Win and You're In" entry back to that race with the Ogden Phipps victory.

Candied, the odds-on favorite in a scratch-reduced field of four, came from last to win Saturday's $100,000 Lady's Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park by 4 1/2 lengths over Honor D Lady. The 3-year-old Candy Ride filly, running against older rivals for trainer Todd Pletcher, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.46 with Jersey Joe Bravo in the kip.

Dirt Mile

National Treasure, making his first appearance since finishing fourth in the $20 million Group 1 Saudi Cup in February, battled for the lead in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Metropolitan Mile, then shot away from the field at the top of the stretch and won by 6 1/4 lengths. Post Time edged early pace presser Hoist the Gold for third. Reigning Breeders' Cup Classic champ White Abarrio never got involved in the running of the race and finished fifth, beaten 10 1/4 lengths.

National Treasure, a 4-year-old Quality Road colt, ran 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.12 with Flavien Prat up for trainer Bob Baffert, He won the Grade I Pegasus World Cup before heading to Saudi Arabia and, before that, he nearly upset a fairytale storyline by pushing Cody's Wish to the limit before falling a nose short in the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. The Met Mile was a "Win and You're In" for a return to that event in November at Del Mar.

Sprint

Book'em Danno's connections took their time booking his next race after the Bucchero colt just missed upsetting Japanese superstar Forever Young in the Group 3 Saudi Derby in February. The wait paid off in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds at Saratoga -- but only after jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. waited some more, tracking a suicidal early pace. He moved up quickly around the turn and shot to the front early in the stretch run, then had to hold off Prince of Monaco, who ran from even farther back, to win by a neck. Book'em Danno finished the 7 furlongs in 1:21.30 over a fast track.

Trainer Derek Ryan indicated that Book’em Danno could return to the Spa for the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 24. "Seven furlongs is perfect for him. The Allen Jerkens would be the main goal for the rest of the summer,” Ryan said.

The older sprinters tackled 6 1/2 furlongs in Saturday's $350,000 Grade III True North Stakes at the Spa with Baby Yoda turning in a very grown-up performance. The 6-year-old Prospective gelding, a 9-1 long shot, stalked the pace, then left rivals behind in the lane, winning by 6 lengths. With Eric Cancel up for trainer Bill Mott, Baby Yoda finished in 1:14.62.

Turf

If was Godolphin 1-2 at the finish in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes at Saratoga. Measured Time, with William Buick up, raced just off the early lead in the 1 3/16-miles event on firm turf, easily jumped in front in the stretch and held off stablemate Nations Pride and jockey Frankie Dettori by 2 lengths. Ohana Honor and Far Bridge dead-heated for third and fourth. Measured Time, a 4-year-old Frankel colt, was last seen finishing fourth against some of the world's best grass horses in the Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night. That aside, he's won six and finished second in seven other starts.

"He's not the finished article quite yet," Buick said. "He struggled on the final turn (drifting out) but he came home strong."

Saturday's $95,000 Not Surprising Stakes for 3-year-olds came off the Gulfstream Park turf onto the all-weather track -- no problem for In a Jam, who won by 1 1/4 lengths as the favorite. The Preservationist colt ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.33 with Emisael Jaramillo up for trainer Mark Casse.

Filly & Mare Turf

Didia tracked the pace in Friday's $750,000 Grade I New York Stakes at Saratoga, launched a bid inside the quarter pole and edged away through the final furlong en route to a 1 1/2-lengths victory. Neecie Marie and War Like Goddess filled out the generous trifecta ($889 back for 50 cents). The favorite, Godolphin's English Rose, faded through the stretch and beat only one rival. Dida has been ultra consistent for trainer Ignacio Correas IV since arriving from South America, posting seven wins, a second and a third from 10 starts.

De Regresso pressed the pace in Saturday's $95,000 off-the-turf Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park, took over when called upon and won by 2 3/4 length. The Audible filly ran 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta course in 1:42.70. Leonel Reyes rode for trainer Antonio Sano.

Turf Sprint

Cogburn dominated a solid field in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Jaipur Stakes on the Saratora outer turf course, winning by 3 1/2 lengths in course-record time of 59.80. Arzak and Irish invader Star of Mystery rallied to finish second and third in the 5 1/2-furlongs race over firm going. Cogburn, a 5-year-old Not This Time entire trained by Steve Asmussen, now has won five of his last six starts. He bagged a "Win and You're In" spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint with the Jaipur victory.

"I've had some of the fastest horses in the world," Asmussen said. "But I've never had one go 5 1/2 (furlongs) under a minute before."

Future Is Now dueled for the lead in Friday's $200,000 Grade II Intercontinental Stakes for fillies and mares at Saratoga, led at the furlong pole and held off the odds-on favorite, Roses for Debra, by a head. Kaufymaker led early and finished third. Future Is Now, a 4-year-old Great Notion filly, got her fifth win from 11 starts, first in a graded stakes.

Nothing Better pressed the pace in Saturday's $225,000 Mighty Beau Stakes at Churchill Downs, opened up a clear lead by the sixteenth pole and held off a late bid by Mischievous Rogue by 1/2 length. The favorite, Mo Stash, reported third. Nothing Better, a 7-year-old Munnings gelding, got 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.64 seconds for jockey Gerardo Corrales.

Turf Mile

Chad Brown saddled five of the seven starters in Friday's $500,000 Grade I Just a Game Stakes for fillies and mares at Saratoga and saw them finish first, second and fifth through last. Chili Flag rallied from last to defeat stablemate Whitebeam by 1/2 length but the favorite, Coppice never got involve and finished sixth. Chili Flag, a 5-year-old French-bred mare, won her third straight race following the Grade II Honey Fox at Gulfstream and the Grade II Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs.

Ice Chocolat, sent off at 24-1, showed the way in Saturday's $350,000 Grade III Poker Stakes at Saratoga and held on to score by 1 length from Mysterious Night. Ice Chocolat, a Brazilian-bred gelding, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:33.97 with Jose Ortiz at the controls for trainer Mark Casse.

Around the World, Around the Clock:
 
England

Coolmore Sunday announced assignments for the immediate future for a few of its stars, postponing a threatened invasion of the U.S. 3-year-old wars.

The international juggernaut said Los Angeles will represent Coolmore and trainer Aidan O'Brien in the Group 1 Irish Derby June 30 at the Curragh. Epsom Derby winner City of Troy will cut back to 1 1/4 miles for the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes July 6 at Sandown. And last year's Derby and Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Auguste Rodin, will head to the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at the upcoming Royal Ascot meeting.

That leaves Kentucky Derby runner-up and Belmont Stakes third Sierra Leone to carry the banner in the Grade I Travers at Saratoga.

Around the ovals:
 
Woodbine

It's not too early to be thinking Woodbine Oaks and King's Plate, foreshadowed by My Boy Prince's domination of Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds. The Cairo Prince colt, under Sahin Civaci, led much of the 7 furlongs and won by 4 1/2 lengths. Trained by Mark Casse, My Boy Prince finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and entered Sunday's fray off a win in the local King Corrie Stakes May 19.

Civaci said he is confident My Boy Prince can get the King's Plate's 1 1/4 miles.

"We've won with him going long, so I don't think that will be a problem," he said.

Also check out the 4 3/4-length score by Olivia Rose in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Fury Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine. The daughter of Silent Name was in command early and won easily despite drifting out a bit in the final sixteenth. Also from the Mark Casse barn, she showed promise as a 2-year-old but finished sixth in her 2024 debut May 4.

Saratoga

The rain stayed away for Friday and Saturday's big graded stakes but finally hit on Sunday, leaving a sloppy track, later upgraded to muddy, and forcing the turf races onto the main track on New York Showcase Day. All races were for state-breds.

Doc Sullivan drew off in the lane to win the $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes for 3-year-olds by 4 lengths. The Solomini colt, trained by Mike Miceli, ran 7 furlongs in 1:22.61 with Javier Castellano up. In the companion $125,000 Bouwerie Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, John Velazquez rode Landed to a 1 1/4 lengths victory, clocked in 1:23.71.

Drake's Passage led virtually gate to wire in the $200,000 Commentator Stakes and won by 4 lengths. The 4-year-old Tonalist colt ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.32. Manny Franco rode for trainer Christophe Clement. In the filly and mare equivalent, the Critical Eye Stakes, Venti Valentine took charge in the stretch and won by 6 3/4 lengths. With Irad Otiz Jr. at the controls for trainer Jorge Abreu, the 5-year-old Firing Line mare finished in 1:52.51.

Silver Skillet also led almost gate to wire in the off-the-turf $125,000 Mount Vernon Stakes for fillies and mares and won by 4 lengths, completing 1 mile in 1:37.55 with Joel Rosario in the irons. Spirit of St Louis was the 5 3/4-lengths winner in the open $125,000 Kingston Stakes, getting 1 mile on the muddy surface in 1:37.44 for Franco.

Monmouth Park

Amatteroftime rallied from well back to post a 25-1 upset victory in Sunday's $88,400 Friendly Lover Stakes for New Jersey-breds. The 9-year-old Eskendereya gelding, outrunning his name, got 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.74 for jockey Isaac Castillo.

Belterra Park

Friday's "Best of Ohio" races, each for $100,000, drew fast and firm conditions.

Here's the Spider was along late to win the Norm Barron Queen City Oaks by 1 1/4 lengths.

Henry Mac stalked and pounced to win the Sydney Gendeman Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf by 2 3/4 lengths. Spellcast, part of a three-horse entry by trainer Timothy Hamm, rallied to a 3/4-length win in the Green Carpet Stakes for 3-year-olds on the lawn.

Hip Hip Hooray posted a 20-1 upset win in the 6-furlongs Babst/Palacios Memorial. The favorite, Buckeye Princess, won the companion Diana Stakes for fillies and mares by 3 1/4 lengths.

Prairie Meadows

Count de Monet powered to the early lead in Friday's $50,000 Ed Skinner Stakes and never looked back, winning by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:09.07 with Chipofftheoldblock second. Olga Isabel dominated the companion Prairie Rose Stakes for distaffers, winning by 5 3/4 lengths and stopping the timer at 1:08.89.

Paris Style rallied from last of six to win Friday's $50,000 Jack Bishop Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths, touring 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.32.

You'reinthearmynow was in the winner's circle after scoring a hard-won, photo finish victory over Zatara in Saturday's $50,000 Prairie Mile for 3-year-olds. The Army Mule gelding finished in 1:40.00 under Ken Tohill. The fillies-only companion Panthers Stakes went to Shimmering Allure, a Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Enticed who went off as the odds-on favorite and came home first by 1 3/4 lengths under Emmanuel Esquivel.

Velocitor stalked the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Jim and Sandra Rasmussen Stakes, put away the early rival and dug in for a 1 1/4-lengths victory over Ain't Life Grand. The 4-year-old Mor Spirit gelding, last seen winning at Fonner Park, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.89 with David Cohen in the irons.

Canterbury Park

Sir Sterling grabbed the lead in the lane in Saturday's $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for Minnesota-breds and held off the odds-on favorite, Doctor Oscar, by 1/2 length. The 4-year-old Sam Lord's Castle gelding ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.46 with Eduardo Gallardo up. The odds-on favorite did better in the companion Lady Slipper for state-bred distaffers as Thunders Rocknroll, also with Gallardo aboard, dueled for the lead and drew off to a 2-length victory in 1:11.45.

Parx Racing

Canisy shook loose from six rivals in the stretch run of Saturday's $75,000 PTHA President's Cup and won by 2 lengths from Tequilera. Sun Bee was third and the favorite, Sweet Dani Girl, weakened late to finish fifth. Canisy, a Point of Entry mare out of the Rahy mare Soother, resident in the Arnaud Delacour barn, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.61 for jockey Jorge Vargas Jr.

Society Man wins Sunday's Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, giving Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Danny Gargan another bullet for the summertime 3-year-old races, photo by Renee Torbit, courtesy of Churchill Downs

 

 

                                                                             
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