Week of June 25, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

When it comes to horse racing of late, it’s a woman’s world, baby — and why would we want it any other way? Whether against their own sex or in open company, fillies and mares provided plenty of excitement with gutsy performances this week in Europe and in North America.

At Royal Ascot, as expected, Frankel devastated a mediocre field on Tuesday, winning the ENG-G1 Queen Anne Stakes by 11 lengths. Wednesday’s highlight was 6-year-old Aussie export So You Think capturing his 10th Grade/Group 1 event, the Prince of Wales Stakes, over The Queen’s Carlton House. However, Her Majesty didn’t leave Ascot empty-handed; on Friday, her 3-year-old filly Estimate won the open company ENG-G3 Queen’s Vase, giving the Queen her first 21st Royal Ascot victory, but the first since 2008.

Seemingly the entire world stopped on Saturday to watch the undefeated equine queen Black Caviar in the ENG-G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes — and it wasn’t the race most expected. Fans on track and around the world held their collective breath when her jockey stopped riding her too early and she didn’t power away from the field in her usual fashion. “I let her idle through the last 200 [meters] and I underestimated just how stiff a track this straight six furlongs is, and also the opposition,” said her jockey Luke Nolen, adding ever-so-colloquially, “And I shit myself duly.”

Still, the Aussie superstar held on, winning by a mere nose from the late-charging fillies Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent. It was her 22nd straight victory. Afterwards, it was discovered Black Caviar had suffered muscle tears and bruising in her rear legs; after four weeks in quarantine, she’ll head back to Australia for either a 3-month break before taking on a spring campaign Down Under, or retirement and motherhood.

In France, the late scratch of Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic victor Cirrus des Aigles left only four horses to contest Sunday’s Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud — and it was the only remaining male, Meandre, who turned back a talented trio of fillies to win. Last year’s Group 1 Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe runner-up Shareta finished second, just ahead of Goldikova‘s little half sister Galikova; Arc winner Danedream brought up the rear.

It took a new track record by front-running Strait of Dover (English Channel) to defeat the fillies Irish Mission (Giant’s Causeway) and Dixie Strike (Dixie Union) in the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate (chart). Woodbine’s other graded stakes on Sunday were dominated by old-timers and/or big-price winners: 7-year-old Smokey Fire (whose last on-track appearance was on Halloween 2010) shocked in capturing the Grade 2 Highlander at nearly 18-1; 5-year-old Riding the River paid $29.20 to win the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes (chart), while 10-year-old Musketier beat 7-year-old stablemate Simmard by a head in the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes (chart). For German-bred entire Musketier, it was his 11th win in 47 lifetime starts across two continents — and his third Singspiel victory.

Three-year-old filly action dominated graded stakes action in the U.S. over the weekend, topped by Zo Impressive ever-so-impressively holding off Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan runner-up Disposablepleasure in the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes (chart), becoming the first Grade 1 winner for her sire Hard Spun. Of course, we shouldn’t have expected anything less: her dam Zoftig was a Grade 1 winner (Selene Stakes), as was her half sister Zaftig (Acorn Stakes). Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can was a distant third after stumbling at the start, while Acorn winner (and post-time favorite) Contested finished last, more than two lengths back of 36-1 longshot Wildcat’s Smile. For Zo Impressive, the July 21 Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks or the August 18 Grade 1 Alabama Stakes, both at Saratoga, look to be her next start.

Things didn’t get much better for Bob Baffert after Contested’s disappointing Mother Goose finish. Last-out maiden winner Potesta nosed out his favorite Eden’s Moon in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks (chart), with Grade 3 Railbird winner Via Villaggio successfully stretching out for the first time to finish third. A nose was also the margin of victory for Capital Plan over Cambina in the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap (chart). Grade 1-placed Capital Plan is turning out to be a nice turf mare, not surprising given her grand-dam is the Hall of Fame turf mare Dahlia.

The Giant’s Causeway filly Dancing Solo gave Joe Bravo his fourth win of the day, taking out the Grade 3 Boiling Springs Stakes (chart) on Saturday at Monmouth, while $10,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase Blueeyesintherein (Magna Graduate) kept her young record unblemished, winning the Grade 3 Debutante (chart) at Churchill Downs over Quiet Success (Successful Appeal) and Shesakitty (Tapit).

Last but not least, on Saturday it was confirmed that Rachel Alexandra is in foal to Bernardini — and it’s a filly.

Keep up with all the commentary at Raceday 360 Wire.

Last Week’s Races

2012 Mother Goose Stakes Replay
Zo Impressive pulls off the upset.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Hollywood Oaks Replay
Potesta gets the nod over Eden’s Moon after a thrilling battle to the wire.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

2012 Beverly Hills Handicap Replay
Capitol Plan narrowly holds off a fast-closing Cambina.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

2012 Highlander Stakes Replay
Smokey Fire blazes past Essence Hit Man.

Video courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment Group

2012 King Edward Stakes Replay
Riding the River prevails in a blanket finish.

Video courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment Group

2012 Singpiel Stakes Replay
Musketier takes the head-bob over favored Simmard.

Video courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment Group

2012 Queens Plate Replay
Strait of Dover takes them all the way and sets a track record as the Woodbine Oaks winner Irish Mission closed for second.

Video courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment Group

2012 Queen Anne Stakes Replay
Frankel kicks off Royal Ascot in style.

Video courtesy of At the Races UK

2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes Replay
Black Caviar remains undefeated despite disliking the going and being prematurely eased by her rider.

Video courtesy of At the Races UK

2012 Prince of Wales Stakes Replay
So You Think denies the Queen’s Carlton House.

Video courtesy of At the Races UK

2012 Windsor Castle Stakes Replay
Hototo emerges victorious.

Video courtesy of At the Races UK

2012 Ascot Stakes Replay
Simenon saves the best for last in the 2 1/2-mile race.

Video courtesy of At the Races UK

2012 Takarazuka Kinens Replay
Orfevre overthrows Rulership.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

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