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Weekend stakes recaps
Old dog Dickinson learns new tricks
LAUREL, Md. - The mad genius struck again.
Trainer Michael Dickinson, who won the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile with Da Hoss, who had made one start in two years, did that feat one better Saturday, winning the Grade 1, $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park with A Huevo, who had just two starts in four years prior to Saturday.
"This just may be Michael Dickinson's greatest achievement,'' said Mark Hopkins, the owner of A Huevo, and a close friend of Dickinson. "If there's any doubt that this guy's the best trainer on the planet then I don't know what you guys are watching.''
A Huevo ($20.60), who was pinched back at the break, rallied from last, shooting past 4-5 favorite Shake You Down inside the eighth pole and drawing off for a 1 3/4-length score. Shake You Down held second by a nose over Gators N Bears. A Huevo covered six furlongs in 1:08.90.
Earlier on the card, Dickinson also won the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity with Tapit. Dickinson, a former steeplechase rider, is best known as a trainer who wins with turf marathoners.
"The world is changing,'' Dickinson, 50, said. "The best rapper is white, the best golfer is black, the Germans don't want to start a war, the French are calling the Americans arrogant, and Michael Dickinson is a 2-year-old, dirt-sprinting trainer.''
Four years ago, Dickinson and Hopkins bought A Huevo after he won his second start, at Delaware. A Huevo won an allowance race at Delaware and then finished first in the West Virginia Breeders Classic, setting a track record. A Huevo was disqualified from that West Virginia win when a post-race urine sample showed the presence of clenbuterol in his system. Worse yet, A Huevo came out of the race with chips in both knees and in both hocks.
That started a chain of events that forced A Huevo to miss four years. It got to the point where Hopkins was about to give up on the gelding, but Dickinson offered to train A Huevo for free and kept him in training.
"We kept going because he's a gelding and he's a good horse,'' Dickinson said.
Saturday, A Huevo beat a good horse in Shake You Down, a three-time graded stakes winner coming off a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. After bobbling at the break, Shake You Down stalked the pacesetting Crossing Point, took a short lead in upper stretch, but could not hold off A Huevo, who was never touched by jockey Ramon Dominguez's stick.
A crowd of 12,068 was at Laurel. Total handle was $6,539,268, a record for De Francis Day.
Futurity: Tapit shows potential
Cuvee may have distance limitations, but owner Ron Winchell may have found another Kentucky Derby prospect.
Tapit, a son of Pulpit, overcame a bit of rankness and rolled to a 4 3/4-length victory in the Laurel Futurity.
The victory was the second in two starts for Tapit, who won his maiden at Delaware in a two-turn, one-mile race.
In the Futurity, Dickinson instructed Dominguez to get Tapit off the early pace, but after being bumped entering the first turn Tapit became too hard to handle. He was fighting the restraint of Dominguez down the backside while Ghost Mountain and Acclimate dueled through fractions of 24.19 seconds, 48.31, and 1:12.83.
Dominguez let Tapit move toward the leaders around the turn, found an opening entering the stretch, and Tapit simply overpowered Ghost Mountain approaching the eighth pole. Tapit ($4) covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.81.
Dickinson dedicated the victory to Verne Winchell, who bought Tapit for $625,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September 2002. Winchell died two months later. His son, Ron, now runs the operation along with racing manager David Fiske.
Ron Winchell said Tapit will not run again this year, and will winter in Florida at Palm Meadows, a training center in Boynton Beach.
In the other stakes on the program:
* Locally based Smooth Maneuvers ($19.90) turned back a pace challenge from City Fire, then ran away from three New York shippers to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Anne Arundel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths.
* Last Intention ($9), part of three-ply entry from owner Mike Gill and trainer Mark Shuman, won a stirring stretch drive with 4-5 favorite Toccet to win the $50,000 Hail Emperor Stakes by a nose.
* Richetta ($6.60) successfully stretched out around two turns, putting away a pace challenge from Quiet Down before drawing off to a 6 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
* Gazillion ($7), under Edgar Prado, tipped off the rail turning for home, split horses in midstretch, and held off Bronze Abe to win the $75,000 Stefanita Stakes by a head.
- David Grening
Sir Oscar wins, remains undefeated
MIAMI - Saturday's $150,000 Jack Price Juvenile at Calder delivered as advertised, with undefeated 2-year-olds Sir Oscar and Wynn Dot Comma hooking up at the head of the stretch, and Sir Oscar gradually edging clear late to win by a length.
The Jack Price Juvenile was one of six stakes for Florida-breds on the $1 million Florida Million Day program at Calder.
Wynn Dot Comma entered the Jack Price unbeaten in four races and, with Jerry Bailey aboard, was sent off the 6-5 favorite. Wynn Dot Comma battled longshot Misguided Left for the early lead and easily passed him leaving the turn, at which point he was immediately joined by Sir Oscar. Wynn Dot Comma and Sir Oscar raced on even terms through midstretch, and Sir Oscar ultimately prevailed. Stolen Time finished another length back in third.
Sir Oscar swept all three legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes and is now perfect in six career starts, with earnings of $528,800. He paid $7.20 as the second choice in a field of eight 2-year-old colts and geldings and covered the distance in 1:23.83 over a fast track.
Trainer Manny Azpurua said he will now stop on Sir Oscar for the rest of the year.
Classic: Best of the Rest defends
One couldn't blame trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. for getting just a little emotional after leading Best of the Rest into the winner's circle following his 1 1/4-length victory over Tour of the Cat in defense of his title in Saturday's $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic.
The Rose marked Best of the Rest's first start since his owner-breeder and Plesa's close friend, Bernie Oxenberg, died two weeks earlier.
Oxenberg owned and bred Best of the Rest along with his wife, Bea. An 8-year-old son of Skip Trial, Best of the Rest has been plagued by infirmities throughout his career. The Rose marked Best of the Rest's 16th victory in 31 career starts and pushed his earnings to just less than $1.4 million.
Best of the Rest returned $3.80 after racing 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.29 over a fast track. He completed a $1 all-stakes pick four worth $264.40.
Best of the Rest will stand stud next season at Farnsworth Farm.
Distaff: Scapade beats elders
Scapade, one of three 3-year-old fillies in the field, outfinished the older Redoubled Miss to register a 1 3/4-length decision in the $200,000 Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap. Smok'n Frolic finished a tiring fifth as the 3-5 favorite.
Scapade ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.42 and paid $18.20. She gave jockey Julio Garcia his second consecutive stakes victory. He also won the Jack Price Juvenile aboard Sir Oscar.
Juvenile Fillies: Chatter Chatter wins
After having won her previous two starts by a combined 43 lengths, Chatter Chatter had to work a little harder on Saturday to take a two-length victory over Usual Manner in the $150,000 Joe O'Farrell Juvenile Fillies.
Chatter Chatter gave jockey Jerry Bailey his 67th stakes win of the year, leaving him one shy of the single season mark of 68, set by Mike Smith in 1994.
Chatter Chatter was a 1-10 favorite in the seven-furlong O'Farrell and paid $2.20. She was responsible for a minus show pool of $120,329. Her final time was 1:25.34.
Sprint: Love That Moon by a neck
Love That Moon won for the seventh time in 10 starts over his home track, outfinishing Pick'em by a neck to capture the $150,000 Jack Dudley Sprint. Sing Me Back Home tired down the stretch and finished third as the 6-5 favorite in a field of eight.
Love That Moon ran six furlongs in 1:10.47 and paid $9.20.
Turf: Stormy Roman upsets
Stormy Roman hadn't won a race in nearly a year but picked the right time to get back on the winning track when he rallied to a two-length victory over Music's Storm in the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup. Proud Man, the 3-5 favorite, finished third. Stormy Roman paid $23.80 after covering the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:49.81.
- Mike Welsch
Spice Island beats Volga for first graded win
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Spice Island ran her winning streak to three and notched her first graded stakes victory in Saturday's Grade 2 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct.
Ridden by Victor Carrero, Spice Island tracked the front-runners for most of the three-turn, 1 1/2-mile race and then ran down favored Volga in the last 100 yards to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Spice Island was the fourth choice in the 11-horse field and paid $16 to win. After setting most of the pace, Banyu Dewi was third, four lengths behind Spice Island.
Spice Island ran the final quarter-mile in under 24 seconds for a final time of 2:32.58 on yielding turf. The exacta paid $62, the trifecta $243.
Spice Island, who is trained by John Pregman Jr., came into the Long Island off a 6 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 19. The Dowager also was at 1 1/2 miles.
Spice Island has now earned $392,656. She was claimed by Kurt and Kim Buttenhoff for $40,000 out of a maiden race at Monmouth Park on Aug. 26, 2002, initially as a broodmare prospect for the Buttenhoff's Empire Stud in New York. With her recent success on the grass, Spice Island will remain in training at least through next year, Buttenhoff said.
"She just kind of matured this year," said Kurt Buttenhoff after the race. "John's really brought her along, and we really think she's just getting good right now. We knew that as long as she was sitting close to the pace, she'd be there at the end."
Carrero said he studied tapes of Spice Island's races the morning of the Long Island, and said he deliberately tracked the favored Volga down the stretch in the hopes of swinging Spice Island into the clear after Volga made her run. Spice Island made up at least three lengths deep in the stretch to run down Volga, who came into the Long Island off a win in the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes.
"The trainer told me to get her in position from the start," Carrero said. "I had my eye on Volga, because she's a nice horse and I had to follow her."
Pregman said that Spice Island would head to Florida for the winter and point for turf stakes at Gulfstream Park. "It's a shame that the turf season is coming to an end here," he said.
- Matt Hegarty
Churchill Downs: Hoh Buzzard makes trip count
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Ben Cecil thought it was worth sending Hoh Buzzard all the way from California for the Mrs. Revere Stakes, although, he said, "We were going to look like idiots if she didn't run any good."
Instead, Cecil and owner Gary Tanaka looked absolutely brilliant as Hoh Buzzard, ridden by Ryan Fogelsonger, led wire-to-wire in defeating 11 other 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 2, $175,650 Mrs. Revere.
Hoh Buzzard, an Irish-bred filly who was based in England before being purchased in August by Tanaka, was 20-1 on the morning line and bet down to the 7-1 fifth choice. Now based in California with Cecil, she ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.01 over yielding turf and returned $16.80.
Aud, ridden by Brian Peck, made a sustained run in the final furlong but fell a neck short of catching the winner. Gamble to Victory, a 65-1 shot, finished third, while Casual Look, the 3-2 favorite under Pat Day, was fifth.
Hoh Buzzard turned back several challenges before Aud angled to the hedge for the drive. "She heard that other filly coming and said, 'No,' " said Fogelsonger. "You've got to love it."
Cecil said that Hoh Buzzard, a winner in 5 of 12 career starts, "is probably finished for the year." - Marty McGee
Hollywood Park: Lion Heart fastest in California
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - One furlong at a time, Lion Heart has emerged as the fastest 2-year-old in California. Three weeks after dominating maidens at six furlongs, Lion Heart ($3) stretched out to seven furlongs Saturday and blazed to a six-length win in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue.
Lion Heart sprinted to the lead under jockey Mike Smith, drifted wide entering the stretch, then ran his rivals silly in 1:20.63 over a lightning-fast track. Lion Heart's time set a Prevue stakes record, lowering the mark of 1:20.80, set by Afternoon Deelites. Afternoon Deelites followed his 1994 Prevue win with a 6 1/2-length win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity. Trainer Patrick Biancone said Lion Heart will run in the 1 1/16-mile Futurity on Dec. 20.
"What I like about him as much as anything is his disposition . . . his attitude," said Smith, who rode Lion Heart for the first time. "Man, he acts like a 5-year-old."
No one else in the Prevue mattered. Cooperation finished second, a nose in front of Voladero. Consecrate, dropping out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, finished fourth, beaten nearly 10 lengths. Longgonetrevorsean trailed.
- Brad Free
Hawthorne: Crazy Beautiful connects at 36-1
STICKNEY, Ill. - Owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano love a sure thing. All summer at Arlington, they send out horses to win claiming races at desperately short odds.
Saturday at Hawthorne, they played a much different game, taking a stab in the $100,000 Hawthorne Oaks with the 36-1 shot Beautiful Crazy, who got up by a head and lit up the board, paying $75.40 to win.
"I could've been a goat, but I guess I'm the hero," Catalano said.
The track was deep, slow, and tiring. When the surface gets this way, local horses have an advantage, exactly what Catalano had hoped. Beautiful Crazy was coming off five starts on turf, and had only an entry-level allowance victory to her credit, but she seemed to like the main track.
"She's been training so good here," said Catalano. "She's here, it's straight 3-year-olds - I've got to take a shot."
As the horses came to the the far turn, Justin Vitek, riding Beautiful Crazy, kept his spot closer to the rail, and just as he was shuffled back to last near the quarter-pole, he asked his mount for run. She split horses as Cloakof Vagueness surged to the lead, and at the furlong pole, as Cloakof Vagueness ducked out a bit from the whip, Beautiful Crazy switched leads and edged forward on the outside for a narrow win.
"We got to the lead and she kind of started looking around," said Eddie Razo, who rode Cloakof Vagueness.
- Marcus Hersh
Woodbine: Judiths Wild Rush earns votes
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Judiths Wild Rush ($11.50) stamped himself as a strong contender for the Sovereign Award as Canada's champion 2-year-old with a powerful victory in the $135,625 Display Stakes.
Begborrowanddeal set quick fractions of 22.93 and 46.63 seconds in the 1 1/16-mile race, as Judiths Wild Rush stalked in second under jockey Dino Luciani. Judiths Wild Rush blew by the front-runner heading into the far turn, through three-quarters in 1:11.82, and cruised home on top by 10 lengths over favored Smoocher.
"He was dragging me on the bridle the whole trip," said Luciani.
Judiths Wild Rush, now unbeaten in three starts, earned $81,375 for Tenenbaum Racing Stable and trainer Scott Fairlie.
Begborrowanddeal finished 21 lengths behind Judiths Wild Rush in third. Third Sacker and A Bit O'Gold completed the order of finish. Stone Rain was scratched.
- Ron Gierkink
Hoosier Park: Crafty Shaw repeats in Schaefer
ANDERSON, Ind. - Crafty Shaw successfully defended his title in the $103,350 Michael G. Schaefer Mile, with a 2 1/4-length win against six others under Craig Perret.
Perret moved Crafty Shaw to contention on the far turn. Crafty Shaw seized command from pacesetting Patton's Victory turning for home, and held Cool N Collective at bay for his fourth win of the year. He covered the mile in 1:37.18 over a "good" track and paid $4.80.
Trainer Peter Vestal said Crafty Shaw's next objective is the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, a race he lost by a nose last year.
* Edgerrin (2-5) remained undefeated in his second career start with an impressive 6 1/4-length victory in the $72,650 Indiana Futurity for Indiana-bred 2-year-olds.
- Bill Hodtwalker
Mountaineer: First three noses apart
Three horses reached the wire almost simultaneously, raising the possibility of a three-way dead heat in the Mountaineer Mile. The Mountaineer Race Track photo finish camera, however, showed two noses separated the first three finishers.
Heavy favorite Sonic West nipped 21-1 shot Prison Boy, whose nose was just ahead of Tour the Hive, in the one-mile race worth $103,175.
Sonic West ($4.40), ridden by Rafael Bejarano, came from fourth place in the last furlong to overtake Prison Boy in the final stride.
It was the third stakes win in the last four starts for Sonic West, a 4-year-old gelding based in Kentucky with trainer Tom Van Berg.
Prison Boy had a clear lead at the sixteenth pole, but could not hold off Sonic West despite vigorous left-handed urging by jockey Maureen Andrews.
- Joe DeVivo
Charles Town: Favorites prevail
Odds-on favorites Take the Plunge ($2.20) and Petes Hick Chick ($2.20) won the split divisions of the West Virginia Futurity at Charles Town. Each division was worth $39,350.
Take the Plunge romped by 15 3/4 lengths, covering seven furlongs in 1:30.12. Petes Hick Chick was all out to hold off 11-1 shot Speed Whiz by a head in 1:32.48.
- Joe DeVivo
Remington Park: Captain's Daughter big winner
OKLAHOMA CITY - Captain's Daughter was a 6 1/4-length winner of the $39,500 Remington Oaks. Chitchat Chitchat finished second, a nose in front of Are You Home.
Captain's Daughter ($17.80) settled well back early in the one-mile turf race, and mounted a strong bid through the stretch to run down Chitchat Chitchat.
The victory was the second straight blowout win for Captain's Daughter, who romped by nine lengths in an entry-level allowance on the main track Oct. 24.
- Mary Rampellini
A tireless America America tops males
The filly America America defeated male rivals in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile on Saturday night in one of several upsets on the Texas Champions Day card at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.
The program featured eight stakes worth $550,000, with all of the races except the Juvenile restricted to horses bred in Texas.
America America ($25.80) put in a powerful effort. She was boxed in at the top of the stretch, but found room between rivals inside the final furlong and finished full of run to defeat odds-on favorite Korbyn Gold by 1 1/4 lengths. It was another neck back in third to Oncearoundtwice.
America America covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.15 under Roman Chapa.
The win was the third in 16 starts for America America, who has traveled the world this year. She started her career at Gulfstream Park, and after making starts in Britain, Germany, and New York, among other jurisdictions, found her way to Sam Houston.
"She has been running since April and she has run a lot," said Frank Mourier, who owns and trains America America. "We were planning to rest her in July, but she kept asking for more. That is why we kept her running. We did not plan to do so, but she really loved it.
"We are not really sure what we will do [next]. If she needs a break, we will give her a break."
America America, a daughter of Mister Baileys, earned $90,000 for the win, to boost her earnings to $298,640.
Burnin' Memories catches Eagle Lake
In the biggest upset of the night, Burnin' Memories caught 1-5 favorite Eagle Lake at the wire to win the $50,000 San Jacinto for fillies and mares by a neck. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third to Prom Date.
Burnin' Memories ($31.80) covered 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:46. Chapa rode the winner for trainer Danny Pish.
* The other turf race on the card also paid double digits. Classoffiftyseven ($17.40) was a neck winner over Star of Caveat in the $50,000 Richard King Handicap. Terry Stanton rode the winner for trainer Val Ray Foster.
Four stakes for Asmussen, Beasley
Other surprises on the program included Confiding Winner ($18.40) in the $50,000 Yellow Rose. She edged pacesetter Lauren Lynn by a head to capture the six-furlong race for fillies and mares. Jeremy Beasley was aboard the winner, one of four stakes he won on the card on horses trained by Steve Asmussen.
* The two teamed to capture the richest stakes of the night for Texas-breds when Desert Darby ($7) won the $100,000 Star of Texas in a dead heat with the Charles Hukill-trained Record Assembly ($11.40).
It was a half-length back in third to Agrivating General, while favorite Most Feared finished fifth after getting hung wide on the first turn.
Record Assembly, under John Jacinto, set all of the pace in the 1 1/16-mile race, while Desert Derby advanced on the final turn. Record Assembly covered the distance in 1:46.
* In the $50,000 Bara Lass for 2-year-old fillies, the Asmussen-trained Sago ($4) remained undefeated in four starts when she won the race by a head over Wild Rezonution. Beasley was aboard Sago, who gave Asmussen his sixth straight win in the Bara Lass.
* In the other Texas-bred race for 2-year-olds, Roundabout Jones ($4.80) held off There Goes Rocket by a neck to win the $50,000 Groovy. Beasley rode Roundabout Jones for Asmussen. Overall, Beasley and Asmussen won 5 of the 10 races on the card, with their other winner coming in a starter allowance with She's No Bo.
* Fitzroyal was an 8 3/4-length winner over favorite Front Nine in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas. Gerard Melancon rode Fitzroyal for trainer Cole Norman.
Handle on the card was $2,119,919, while attendance was 10,247.
- Mary Rampellini
Hard Buck shows grit in River City
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - This could have been a rebuilding year for trainer Ken McPeek. Stable star Repent was retired in February, and Harlan's Holiday and Sarava - two horses he trained to Grade 1 victories - were transferred to other trainers last year.
Even following their departures, McPeek continues to produce. On Sunday he won the Grade 3, $172,800 River City Handicap with Hard Buck, a horse he began training after the horse was shipped to America from Brazil.
In taking the River City, Hard Buck displayed the determination that led to a victory in the Kentucky Cup Mile at Kentucky Downs. He tracked the pace in third on Sunday, and when asked to shoot through a narrow opening on the inside, he spurted through along the rail to outgame pacesetter Warleigh by a half-length. Rowans Park finished a length farther back in third.
Even with Hard Buck receiving a ground-saving trip, he still appeared to be running for second as the field entered the stretch. Warleigh, a winner of five straight races, had raced uncontested on the lead through slow fractions of 49.58 seconds and 1:14.56. He seemed in position to put away the field at the top of the stretch.
But when called upon by jockey Corey Lanerie, he could not draw away from Hard Buck. He opened up a length lead in midstretch but was run down in the final furlong.
"I had everything my way," said Lanerie. "When we turned for home, he surged and I never, ever, thought anything would be coming up fast enough to pass me."
Hard Buck, owned by a partnership led by Jose Carlos Carnevale, improved his record to 3 for 3 since coming to the United States. He raced 1 1/8 miles on a yielding turf course in 1:51.60 and paid $25.20.
Dr. Kashnikow and Better Talk Now, two of the main contenders for the River City, were scratched with minor ailments. Dr. Kashnikow was running a fever and Better Talk Now was lame in his left front foot, their trainers said.
Sharbayan, the 9-5 favorite, was far behind the slow early pace and finished a nonthreatening fifth.
- Byron King
Hollywood Park: Victory U. S. A. romps
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Foiled in three consecutive Grade 1 races, Victory U. S. A. ($2.40) responded to a drop in class and won the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes by seven lengths. The 2-year-old filly did it the way trainer Bob Baffert hoped, rallying from behind and looking like a genuine contender for the Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 21.
"We want her to learn to run that way," Baffert said, adding that Victory U. S. A. would be able to run farther if she can rate off the pace.
Julie Krone rode Victory U. S. A. for the first time, and the filly rated comfortably in fifth position. She rallied three wide around the far turn, hit the front in deep stretch, and pulled clear in 1:22.50 over a track that played considerably slower than a day earlier.
Quanah County set the pace and held second, two lengths in front of Hot Weekend. There was $656,065 in the Moccasin show pool, and the $625,078 on Victory U. S. A. created a minus pool of $115,657.
- Brad Free
Aqueduct: Excellent Band beats Smokume
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Maryland shipper Excellent Band withstood pressure from China Coast and Smokume before drawing off to a one-length victory in Sunday's $79,950 Huntington Stakes for juvenile colts at Aqueduct.
It was the third win in four starts and first in a stakes for Excellent Band, owned by R N R Stable and trained by Valora Testerman. It was also the first loss for Smokume, who had won his previous three starts, including the Cowdin Stakes.
Under Harry Vega, Excellent Band dueled with China Coast through an opening quarter-mile run in 22.14 seconds, with Smokume stalking in third. After China Coast tired, Smokume, the 4-5 favorite and 122-pound highweight, pounced on Excellent Band approaching the quarter pole and looked poised to take command. But Excellent Band persevered along the rail while Smokume failed to change leads under Shannon Uske and tired badly late.
Excellent Band, a son of Dixieland Band, covered six furlongs in 1:10.97 and returned $10.20.
"If he relaxed early I knew he'd kick on, and that's exactly what happened," Testerman said. "He doesn't like to be passed in the stretch."
Earlier on the card, Willard Straight ($4.80) rallied powerfully in the stretch under John Velazquez to win the $60,750 King Cugat Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over pacesetting Erin's Storm. Willard Straight, a 3-year-old son of Lion Cavern trained by Todd Pletcher, covered one mile in 1:39.28 over a turf course labeled good.
- David Grening
Remington Park: Comic Truth by daylight
OKLAHOMA CITY - Comic Truth gave his connections a lot of firsts when he stormed to a 10-length win over the odds-on favorite, Excessivepleasure, in the Grade 3, $160,700 Oklahoma Derby. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third to Morning Merry.
Comic Truth's win was the first stakes victory for his trainer, Patrick Daly; the first graded win for his sire, Proudest Romeo; and the first Oklahoma Derby win for eight-time Remington riding champ Cliff Berry.
Berry picked up the mount on Comic Truth when a connecting flight carrying the horse's regular rider, Rafael Bejarano, was grounded in Memphis because of fog. Also on the plane was Jon Court, who was to ride Excessivepleasure. The mount went to Don Pettinger.
Comic Truth ($7), showing more speed than he had in his recent starts, assumed a stalking position early in the Oklahoma Derby, about two lengths behind Excessivepleasure, who led the field through fractions of 23.47 seconds for the opening quarter and 47.45 for the half-mile mark. Comic Truth inched up along the rail on the backstretch, then unleashed a sweeping move on the final turn and went on to cover the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.59.
Comic Truth earned $95,400 for the win, which was his fifth from 15 career starts. His earnings now stand at $364,348. He races for his breeders, K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.
- Mary Rampellini
Woodbine: Winter Garden does it again
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Three-year-old Winter Garden defeated older fillies and mares for the third straight time in the Grade 3 Bessarabian Handicap, a seven-furlong dash worth $164,400 at Woodbine.
Winter Garden ($4.20) vied up front with several runners on the backstretch, and secured a slim lead on the turn after fractions of 22.78 and 45.91 seconds. She began to edge away from Mille Feville inside the eighth pole and coasted home on top by a length under a confident ride from David Clark. El Prado Essence closed to grab second over Mille Feville in the seven-horse field. The final time was 1:24.14.
In the supporting feature, the $106,000 Sunny's Halo, Night Sky ($4.90) led all the way to take his stakes debut. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.98, scoring by 4 1/2 lengths over Cat Striker. Favored Winter Whiskey finished third in the five-horse field.
- Ron Gierkink