10/17/2011 1:40PM

Trip Notes: Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian International, and more

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Saturday, October 15

Belmont
Knickerbocker (race 8)

Boisterous got away from the Grade 1 boys and also caught non-firm footing he relishes, and the combination got him back on track and earned him his first graded stakes win. The son of Distorted Humor, 3rd to beasts Cape Blanco and Gio Ponti in the Grade 1 Man o' War a few months ago, bided his time, angled out into the lane and came with a resolute run that got him up in time. Sleepless Knight chased pacesetter Mata Keranjang, took over from that rival into the lane, opened up some as if poised to post the upset, but couldn't fend off the winner. Mr. Ryder, a winner of 3 straight and 5 of his last 6, was last early and finished well. Yummy With Butter, coming off 2 big wins at Monmouth, stalked the pace but gave way badly in a disappointing run.

Belmont
Athenia (race 9)

Denomination, freshened since a game Grade 3 Violet win at Monmouth May 30, came back firing and showed that while she may not be up to taking on the likes of Stacelita and Dubawi Heights she can certainly do damage in the right spot. The daughter of Smart Strike was freshened after coming out of the Grade 3 Violet win sore. She lagged back, came with a strong run on the far turn and into the lane, sustained it and rolled past her foes to win comfortably. She's scheduled to go through the sales ring Nov. 6 and her trainer said they would keep her race-fit in case someone bought her and wanted to race her. Unbridled Humor, the heavy favorite off 5 wins in 6 starts, actually got outrun for the lead by Stormy Dixie. She was content to press that rival, took over into the lane, continued on well, but had no answer as the winner stormed past. Countess Lemonade was last early and finished with good energy, though she was never really a threat to win.

Calder
Spend a Buck (race 9)

Last year's 1-2 finishes Mad Flatter and Mambo Meister repeated that finish here - though this year's version was much closer. Mad Flatter dominated last year's edition by 6 1/4 lengths. This year he showed more speed to dog pacesetter Rock Alex from the start, took over from that rival into the lane, opened up a clear lead by midstretch, and gamely kept hard-charging favorite Mambo Meister at bay. The latter sat 4th early, not far behind the eventual winner, tried to move in tandem with that rival turning for home, didn't accelerate quite as quickly but found his best stride late. Trouble is, it was just a bit too late, though he was much the best of the rest as this was strictly a 2-horse race in the lane. Stimulus Plan was last to the top of the lane and put in a decent finish, though he was no real factor.

Keeneland
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (race 9)

Together, a top-class Euro who just a week ago ran 2nd to very tough elder Never Retreat in the Grade 1 First Lady here, showed the quick return and strong competition no problem as she powered to victory. She bided her time, stormed into contention into the lane, got the better of Marketing Mix and edged away. Marketing Mix who has blossomed since moving to turf with 2 smashing wins, validated that form as she chased pacesetter Summer Soiree, came with a strong run in tandem with the winner, couldn't quite stay with that foe through the final furlong but was well clear of the rest. Nereid, off a strong 3rd in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, lagged back and finished well. Heavy favorite Winter Memories was last early, commenced a strong wide run on the far turn, continued on decently but was never really a factor. Summer Soiree, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, bounced right out of the gate to take command from the start, was still clear into the lane but gave way readily once headed.

Hawthorne
Hawthorne Derby (race 8)

Willcox Inn, easy winner of the Grade 2 American Derby before finishing a decent 4th in the extremely tough Grade 1 Secretariat Aug. 13, proved the freshening since and class drop were just what the doctor ordered. The son of Harlan's Holiday, the heavy favorite, lagged well back early, steadily advanced while saving ground, came through between horses into the lane and blew the race wide open with a powerful run that took him well clear. Suntracer, who ran 2nd to the winner in the Arlington Classic and American Derby, found that foe too tough again. After sitting last early, he finished with good energy. Friendly Banter, 4th in his only prior grass, chased the pace, was no match for the winner when that rival surged past, but kept to his task gamely. Breathless Storm, winner of 2 straight including the Jersey Derby, sat midpack while wide, was asked for run on the far turn but bolted approaching the quarter pole to finish last.

Santa Anita
Oak Tree Derby (race 9)

Ultimate Eagle backed up his trainer's confidence after 2 wins on the Del Mar turf with a stunning $70 upset here. The son of Mizzen Mast used his speed to go right out to the lead, took constant pressure from favorite Midnight Interlude while setting solid splits, spurted clear into the lane and gamely held off a phalanx of closers. He's now 3 for 3 on grass.. Venomous, a French raider, lagged back, was still well back when straightening away but blasted home with a splendid finish to get 2nd, though he did bump Midnight Interlude late. He will stay in the U.S. under the care of trainer Leonard Powell. Cozy Kitten likewise was far back early and finished strongly. Midnight Interlude, the favorite, dogged the winner from the start, just couldn't get to him in the lane and got bumped hard. His rider claimed foul against Venomous for bumping in deep stretch but the stewards ruled it was too late to affect the order of finish. Most of the top finishers here figure to eye the Hollywood Derby along with the winner. Dreamy Kid sat back and never made a move.

Sunday, October 16

Woodbine
Nearctic (race 5)

Regally Ready, so sharp earlier this year before a dull Grade 3 try at Parx last time, bounced back to his best form to post a mild upset and maybe punch his ticket for the Grade 1 BC Turf Sprint. He went back to using his speed, bouncing right out of the gate to a clear lead. He set fast splits, was still clear by midstretch and gamely got to the wire before a couple tough closers. Bated Breath, the favorite off a nose loss in a British Group 1 last month, lagged back and finished full of run but just ran out of ground. Gypsy Ring stalked the pace, was just behind the winner going to the far turn, kept doggedly after him to the line but just couldn't close the gap. Grand Adventure, 2nd in this last year, was midpack and stayed on decently without threatening. Right One, a near-miss 3rd (by a neck) in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last time, found this shorter trip too sharp as he was well back early and unable to get involved.

Woodbine
E. P. Taylor (race 8)

Miss Keller found this soft footing more to her liking as she posted the upset. She was far back early, bided her time, moved up in earnest going to the far turn, and then put in a sustained rally that just got her up in the final strides. I'm a Dreamer, an English raider, stalked the pace, made a smart run to the lead in midstretch as if she were going to win, but couldn't fend off Miss Keller. Dream Peace, a French invader who was favored, sat back and finished full of run but was just too late. Mahbooba, a Group 1 winner in South Africa, bounced right out to a clear lead but weakened once headed.

Woodbine
Canadian International (race 10)

Sarah Lynx, the lone female in the field, found the distance and course condition to her liking and took advantage of a dream trip to upend the boys. She sat well back early while saving ground, moved closer on the far turn while still hugging the rail, found a seam along the fence as the field straightened away, shot through to the lead, and bounded clear for an easy win. Joshua Tree, last year's winner, was just behind the winner early, didn't accelerate nearly as early as that rival but put in a strong wide run to be a clear 2nd despite some traffic issues in the lane. Treasure Beach, a Group 1 and Grade 1 winner, bounced back nicely from his fade job in the Arc as he sat midpack, came with smart run into the lane that briefly looked like a winning move, but couldn't sustain it on the heavy ground and had to settle for get 3rd. Arctic Cosmos, last year's Group 1 St. Leger winner making just his 2nd start after nearly 13 months on the bench, was nearly last in the big field, swung wide, and finished smartly in a good effort.

Santa Anita
Harold C. Ramser (race 8)

A class drop and distance cutback were just what the doctor ordered for Up in Time. A Grade 2 winner going a mile she found the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks waters too deep and the trip too far. She got a nice stalking position early, steadily advanced while staying wide, came with a serious run into the lane, and was able to overhaul the leader and edge clear. Celestial Kitten sat close to the pace, moved up to challenge into the lane, had the lead at the eighth pole, but couldn't finish with the winner. Bauble Queen bided her time midpack and came with a smart wide run. Sarah's Secret, the favorite, sat midpack but never mustered a run.