Week of October 22, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

English-bred Frankel firmly established himself as one of racing’s greats in winning Saturday’s Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot. Breaking tardy from the gate, the 4-year-old Galileo colt lingered mid-pack before making the lead over highly-ranked Group 1 winners Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel. He finished his career a perfect 14 for 14, including 10 Group 1 victories. Whether or not he is one of the greatest racehorses of all time will likely be hotly-debated for years to come, but, for now, a lucrative career at stud awaits him.

Also at Ascot on Saturday, Excelebration captured the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over Group 1 Dubai Duty Free victor Cityscape and 3-year-old Group 1 Prix Rothschild victress Elusive Kate. A distant 11-length runner-up to Frankel in June’s Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Excelebration is now likely for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

With the big event now less than two weeks away, some major Breeders’ Cup contenders put in impressive workouts this week, including likely Classic favorite Game On Dude who worked 6-furlongs in 1:12.20 (2/21) on Sunday morning. Also at Santa Anita, Dullahan chewed up 4-furlongs on turf in 47:80 (2/10) on Saturday – which race he will be entered in remains a mystery, however. He will be pre-entered on Monday in both the Classic and the Turf. Meanwhile, there’s little doubt Mucho Macho Man is Classic-bound after posting a bullet 59:42 (1/4) 5-furlong work at Belmont on Saturday. Kiaran McLaughlin continues to work both Classic-bound Alpha and Ladies’ Classic contender Questing over the Tapeta surface at Greentree Training Center; both posted identical 1:01.20 5-furlongs works on Friday.

2010 Juvenile Filly champion Awesome Feather covered 6-furlongs in 1:12.34 (1/1) at Belmont on Sunday in preparation for her start in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. One filly who will not be joining her in that event is It’s Tricky who was retired on Saturday due to a non-life threatening injury. At Delaware, Grace Hall traveled 4-furlongs in 48:20 (3/16) on Sunday, while in-form filly Love and Pride posted a handy 5-furlong work at Santa Anita, going 1:00.40 (10/31) while easily besting her stablemate Turbo Compressor.

Several Filly & Mare Sprint contenders also posted nice works, with Turbulent Descent traveling 5-furlongs in 1:00.85 (8/28) at Belmont, while at Churchill Groupie Doll fired a bullet 59:60 (1/35) in her 5-furlong work on Sunday. Earlier in the week, Calder-based Musical Romance covered 6-furlongs in 1:14.20 (1/1).

First, it was I’ll Have Another. Now, Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense will stand the 2013 breeding season at Darley’s farm in Japan.

It is spring Down Under, which means two of the most important races on the Australian calendar are quickly approaching. This coming Saturday (October 27) the prestigious weight-for-age championship, the Group 1 Cox Plate, will be contested at Moonee Valley. Two standout mares, More Joyous and Southern Speed, are expected to be among the entrants, but it’s the 3-year-olds colts Pierro (last year’s juvenile Triple Crown winner), All Too Hard and Proisir who receive the greatest advantage in weight. The barrier draw is set for Tuesday morning.

The other major event is the Group 1 Melbourne Cup which, at 16 furlongs (or 2 miles) is one of the world’s great staying races. Always contested on the first Tuesday in November, this year’s event on November 6 promises to be a thriller, as the defending champion Dunaden posted a devastating victory in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup this past Saturday. That race also featured 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain, who got up for fourth, behind runner-up Alcopop and the good mare Lights of Heaven. If you watch the race replay below, you might hear – and recognize – the name Winchester. Indeed, it is the former American-raced multiple Grade 1 winner. After a third-place finish in last November’s Grade 2 McKnight Handicap at Calder, Winchester was sold to Australian interests and, after 10 months off, he made his Southern Hemisphere debut on September 22, finishing ninth of 14 horses in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes. He followed that with another ninth (of 16) place effort in the Group 1 Turnbull, and now another (you guessed it) ninth-place finish in the Caulfield Cup. Don’t be surprised if you see him in the Melbourne Cup and, if the turf is rock hard, he could be a huge upset chance.

What little graded stakes action there was this week in North America occurred primarily at Keeneland. On Thursday, Kindergarden Kid found just enough space late to split the two frontrunners, Ioya Bigtime and Miami Deco, and capture the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes (chart) on turf. Last out he finished third in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic behind Point of Entry and Treasure Beach; that race followed a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup behind two Sycamore competitors, Ioya Bigtime and Rahystrada. For those counting, that’s $140,000 in earnings for Kindergarden Kid since being claimed at Saratoga this summer for $50,000 by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

On Friday, due to an abundant number of entries, the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes was run in two divisions. In the first (race 7) (chart), nearly 28-1 longshot Angel Terrace shocked the field, getting up in the final strides to defeat Miss Cato by a nose. The Pennsylvania-bred Ghostzapper filly Angel Terrace hadn’t finished worse than second this year when running on Presque Isle’s Tapeta surface, but her competition here on turf included Grade 3 winners like Volcat and Colonial Flag, not to mention former Italian Group 1 winner Nayarra. First-up off the break, Jonathan Sheppard had her ready to fire, though. At 38-1, the other Ghostzapper filly in the field, Zapper Belle ran third, setting up a whopping $7,710.20 trifecta payout. And, if you were lucky enough to have nearly 8-1 Cosmic Energy in the four-hole, the $2 superfecta paid $128,772.40! Two races later, the second division (chart) was captured by Miz Ida, last out victress of the Kentucky Ladies Turf. Canadian-raced English Class finished second, with Grade 3 Pucker Up winner Leading Astray in third.

It was all Gypsy Robin in Saturday’s Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes (chart), as the Grade 1 Test runner-up wired the field. Back in April, she had won the Grade 2 Beaumont over this surface and, somewhat surprisingly, it was the runner-up of that race, Sacristy, who repeated her performance by finishing second on Saturday, a half length in front of Drama Drama. Keeneland’s autumn meet concludes on Saturday, October 27 with the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack. Grade 1 Florida Derby victor Take Charge Indy is expected to make his first start since the Kentucky Derby – on Thursday, his 2-year-old half brother Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) broke his maiden at Keeneland going 7 furlongs.

At Santa Anita on Saturday, the Indian Charlie filly Kindle took off like a shot, and looked very much a winner in the Grade 3 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (chart) – but it was not to be, as she was caught late by last year’s winner Broken Dreams. Favorite Byrama ran third.

Around the country, various state-bred championship races occurred this week, including Oklahoma-breds at Remington Park on Friday. The highlights: Grade 3 Sixty Sails victress She’s On In captured her third consecutive Oklahoma Classics Distaff with ease, winning by 7 lengths, while 8-year-old Fifth Date upset the 3-year-old favorite Imahit in the Oklahoma Classics Cup. With purses totaling just over $1.3 million, West Virginia Breeders’ Classic races at Charles Town on Saturday evening featured 7-year-old mare Silver Heart attempting to repeat in the $250,000 Cavada Stakes, but she had to settle for second, as favorite Down Town Allen ran away from the field in the stretch, winning by over 7 lengths. In the $500,000 Classic, two-time winner (2009, 2011) Russell Road could only manage a distant second-place finish behind the runaway 3-year-old winner Lucy’s Bob Boy who distanced himself from the field in the stretch, winning by 8 lengths.

Saturday’s New York Showcase Day at Belmont feature Bill Mott-trained Lunar Victory capturing the Empire Classic over Bill Parcells-owned 3-year-old Saratoga Snacks. In the Ticonderoga Stakes, 4-year-old filly Hessonite successfully repeated, while 3-year-old Unbridled Command – surprising winner last-out of the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes – easily won the turf feature, the Mohawk Stakes. Jockey Ramon Dominguez rode three stakes winners on the card, while Jose Lezcano was aboard both juvenile stakes winners.

Finally, in other jockey news, Frankie Dettori – who recently rode Joshua Tree to victory in the Canadian International – has made his break with Godolphin official and will now embark on a freelance riding career. On the other end of the spectrum, pioneering Canadian jockey Chantal Sutherland rather suddenly retired from riding on Sunday. At age 36, she’s enjoyed a tremendous career, first at Woodbine and then in Southern California, with plenty of media exposure and drama to insure that whatever she does next, Chantal is bound to be successful. Good luck in the next chapter of your life, Chantal.

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

Last Week’s Races

2012 Sycamore Stakes Replay
Kindergarten Kid sneaks up the rail.

Video courtesy of Trackus

2012 Valley View First Division Replay
Angel Terrace out games Cato.

Video courtesy of Trackus

2012 Valley View Second Division Replay
Miz Ida, if you’re nasty!

Video courtesy of Trackus

2012 Raven Run Replay
Gypsy Robin takes them all the way.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Champion Stakes Replay
Frankel goes out in style.

Video courtesy of Racing UK

2012 QEII Stakes Replay
Excelebration is the star of the show.

Video courtesy of Racing UK

2012 Caulfield Cup Replay
2011 Melbourne Cup victor Dunaden posts big win in advance of title defense

Video must be watched at YouTube

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