Week of October 15, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

The final five Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge races were contested this past week, beginning with the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes (chart) at Keeneland on Thursday. At odds of 36-1, no one took Moonwalk (Malibu Moon) seriously, even off her third-place effort in the Kentucky Juvenile Fillies going seven furlongs on turf. Stretching out to 1-1/16 miles obviously suited her as she prevailed by a nose over second-choice Kitten’s Point (Kitten’s Joy). Summer of Fun (Include) was just a head back in third, closely followed by Oscar Party (Dixie Union). Moonwalk’s trainer Dale Romans has indicated that “we’ll give her a shot” at the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

By winning the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes (chart) at Woodbine on Sunday, first-time stakes starter Next Question earned his spot in the Turf Sprint – and what a shock result it was, given that the lightly-raced New York-bred gelding was stepping up sharply in class. Jockey Ramon Dominguez sent him to the lead right from the gate, which was obviously the right move as he out dueled the filly Night Carnation and hometown hero Bear Tough Tiger. Favorite Big Band Sound rounded out the superfecta.

Unfortunately, a number of European winners will not be Santa Anita-bound, regardless of winning Challenge races. Reckless Abandon’s victory in the ENG-G1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday earned the unbeaten Exchange Rate colt a start in the Juvenile Sprint, but his connections have said he’s done for the year. As winner of Sunday’s Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes (chart) at Woodbine, Irish-bred Siyouma would have her entry assured in the Filly & Mare Turf, but after two Group/Grade 1 victories in a two-week period on two continents, her connections have declined, instead looking at the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth I Commemorative Cup in Japan on November 11, and beyond to Hong Kong. Even Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes victor Joshua Tree will pass on the Turf, aiming instead for the Grade 1 Japan Cup on November 25.

The Canadian International (chart) turned out to be quite an eventful race, with Joshua Tree becoming the fifth horse to win the race twice (having also won it in 2010), and his jockey Frankie Dettori celebrating his record-tying third victory. After his runner-up effort to Sarah Lynx last year, it was sweet redemption for the Montjeu horse, and rightly so given his terrific performances this year especially in his last two outings – his Group 2 Prix Kergorlay victory over recent AUS-Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes victor Shahwardi (prepping in Australia for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup), and his third-place finish in the Group 2 Prix Foy against subsequent Arc runner-up Orfevre. However, the fast-closing runner-up effort of Dandino was a surprise to most, as bettors sent him post-ward at just over 25-1. Forte Dei Marmi also put on a sharp effort to gain third with John Velazquez aboard; Wigmore Hall fleshed out the superfecta.

The other graded event at Woodbine on Sunday, the Grade 3 Durham Cup Stakes, was won by the impressive 3-year-old Speightstown gelding Delegation. He’s the first stakes winner for his Grade 1 winning dam Cindy’s Hero, a half sister to Grade 1 turf-winning Fourty Niners Son. Last year’s Durham Cup winner City Wolf ran second, with last year’s runner-up James Street a distant third.

Although not a “Win and You’re In” race, the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (chart) at Keeneland proved to be an outstanding test for 3-year-old filly turfsters. It was last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten who went post-ward as the favorite, but she failed to hit the board as it was Chad Brown-trained Dayatthespa who ran away with the race. Grade 2 Lake George victress Centre Court stayed on for second-place, a half length in front of Better Lucky who finished just a nose in front of Samitar – both fillies that Centre Court had defeated in the Lake George. Regrettably, the Breeders’ Cup is not in Dayatthespa’s plans, as her connections have indicated the November 25 Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood is next.

Other graded stakes turf action on Saturday included the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes (chart) at Belmont, with recently-retired Winter Memories’ half sister La Cloche returning to the winner’s circle, as did last year’s Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes (chart) winner Boisterous. Due to rainy conditions, a number of turf events at other tracks were taken off the grass, like Calder’s Tropical Park Derby. To no one’s surprise (especially considering his narrow off-the-turf runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes in August), Csaba relished the dirt, winning by 14 lengths over another Kitten’s Joy colt, Empire Builder. Csaba’s effort has his connections pondering a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. At Hawthorne, the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby stayed on the soft turf despite the rainy conditions, and it was a surprising victory for nearly 21-1 Two Months Rent who caught Film Shot, son of the great turf mare Film Maker.

On opposite sides of the world, there were two other achievements of note this weekend. With her victory in the Japanese Grade 1 Shuka Sho, Gentildonna becomes the fourth filly in history to capture the Japanese Triple Tiara. It must have been a bittersweet victory for her owners whose Triple Crown winning colt Orfevre was just beaten in last week’s French Group 1 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. At Newmarket on Saturday, the 8-year-old gelding Aaim to Prosper (carrying a massive 136 pounds) did something no horse has ever done in the previous 173 runnings the Cesarewitch Handicap: he recorded his second victory in the race, having captured the 2-1/4 miles race back in 2010. Yes, you read that correctly – a race that is still run at the arcane distance of 18 furlongs! Although not technically part of the record, it should be noted that one other horse won the race twice, and did so in the same year: in 1857 the American mare Prioress finished in a triple dead heat for the win and then, later on the same day, won the run-off race at exactly the same distance – for a total of 4-1/2 miles of running in one day! Ah, those were the days when stamina was treasured.

Keep up with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!

Last Week’s Races

2012 Jessamine Stakes Replay
Moonwalk by a nose.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Athenia Stakes Replay
La Cloche kicks home late.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Knickerbocker Stakes Replay
Boisterous, with ease.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 QEII Challenge Cup Replay
Dayathespa takes them all the way.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Nearctic Stakes Replay
Next Question emerges victorious.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 E. P. Taylor Stakes Replay
Siyouma scores.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Canadian International Replay
Joshua Tree takes them all the way.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Cesarewitch Handicap Replay
66-1 Aaim to Prosper captures his second Cesarewitch Handicap

Video must be viewed at YouTube

2012 Shuka Sho Replay
Gentildonna captures Japanese Triple Tiara

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