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Final horse racing weekend at Aqueduct tees up Saratoga meeting –



Final horse racing weekend at Aqueduct tees up Saratoga meeting –

1 of 2 | Sweet Azteca wins Saturday’s Grade II Great Lady M. Stakes at Los Alamitos. Benoit Photography, courtesy of Los Alamitos

July 8 (UPI) — After a bang-up finale weekend at Aqueduct, New York racing treks back north to Saratoga for a summer meeting sure to provide plenty of fireworks.

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby loaded up for the summer with a victory and a decent third in the two big weekend features on the Big A turf.

At Delaware Park, a big turf weekend was interrupted by the weather as Saturday’s program, including the Kent Stakes on the turf and the Delaware Oaks on the dirt, was moved to Monday because of excessive heat.

Prairie Meadows hosted the Iowa Oaks and Derby. Horseshoe Indianapolis had the Indiana Oaks and Derby. There was even a little stir in the 2-year-old ranks, thanks to Wesley Ward.

On the global scene, we enjoyed the Durban July in South Africa, the Coral-Eclipse in England, the Prix Jean Prat in France and the Deutsches Derby in Germany.


Trikari, the lesser-regarded of two Ammerman Racing starters, won a stretch battle with White Palomino in Saturday’s $750,000 Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational at Aqueduct with the favorite, Legend of Time, settling for third.

Trikari, an Oscar Performance colt, got the verdict by a head while finishing 1 3/16 miles on the firm outer turf course in 1:54.71 with John Velazquez up.

Asked about the Grade 1, $600,000 Grade I Saratoga Derby Invitational on Aug. 3 at Saratoga Race Course, Trikari’s trainer, Graham Motion, said, “You’d have to look at it. I mean I want to be careful. I don’t want to over-run him but we’ve got to look at it.”

Filly & Mare Turf

After Legend of Time’s defeat in the Derby, Cinderella’s Dream saved the day for Godolphin with a last-to-first victory in the $500,000 Grade I Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational at Aqueduct Saturday.

The Shamardal homebred filly came seven-wide into the stretch in the 1 3/16th-mile event, and then was forced even wider by traffic — but still caught pacesetting Segesta and She Feels Pretty in time to win by 3/4 length. And she did it in course-record time of 1:53.42.

Cinderella’s Dream won twice in Dubai, including the UAE 1,000 Guineas, but came a cropper in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, finishing seventh.

Trainer Charlie Appleby said Saturday’s race shaped up much better for his filly than the Guineas and encouraged him for the summer campaign.

“She’ll go back to Saratoga and head to the Saratoga Oaks,” he said. “Both horses [Legend of Time and Cinderella’s Dream] will go to the [Saratoga] Derby and Oaks.”

Also: Seven-year-old War Like Goddess won Sunday’s $250,000 Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park.

The 3-year-olds

We warned you about Dragoon Guard in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade III Indiana Derby at Horseshoe Indiana.

The Juddmonte Farms homebred Arrogate colt, making just his fourth career start and first in a stakes race, got a quick lead and wasn’t seriously challenged, finishing the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.26.

The favorite, Santa Anita Derby winner Stronghold, was second, 2 1/2 lengths back. Informed Patriot was fourth. Florent Geroux rode the winner for trainer Brad Cox.

Based on his pedigree and connections, Dragoon Guards now is fit to challenge the best of this year’s 3-year-olds.

At Prairie Meadows in Iowa, Henro outfinished the odds-on favorite, Just a Touch, to win the $250,000 Iowa Derby by a head.

Just a Touch was runner-up in both the Grade III Gotham Stakes and the Grade I Blue Grass.


Red Route One, a stalwart on the 2023 Triple Crown trail, got back in the win column with a 1/2-length victory over 66-1 long shot Unload in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade III Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap.

The Gun Runner colt got his second win of the year after the Grade II New Orleans Classic in March.

Also: Next, the odds-on favorite, won Friday’s $200,000 Grade II Brooklyn Stakes at Aqueduct by 9 1/4-lengths while running 1 3/8 miles on a fast track in 2:13.68.

The Oaks Crowd

Chatalas took the early lead in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade III Indiana Oaks at Horseshoe Indiana and held on at the finish, winning by a head from Little Jamie.

The odds-on favorite, Impel, was another 1/2 length back in third with a mild late effort.

Just Basking rallied from last of five to win Saturday’s $225,000 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows.


Honor D Lady left six rivals in the Delaware Park dust in the stretch run of Sunday’s $500,000 Grade II Delaware Handicap. The 4-year-old Honor Code filly rated behind the speed into the turn, launched a three-wide bid and drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths.


Domestic Product dominated three rivals in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade III Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct, shaking loose through the stretch to win by 7 1/2 lengths — his first win since the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 and his first start around one turn since his career debut last August.

Along the way, he finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

Also: Mulliken scored a pace-pressing victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II John S. Nerud Stakes at Aqueduct.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Sweet Azteca, the odds-on favorite, hit the gas in the stretch run of Saturday’s $200,000 Grade II Great Lady M. Stakes at Los Alamitos, winning by 5 lengths over Daddysruby in track-record time of 1:14.33.


Despite smug predictions in our preview, Saturday’s $100,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows might have produced one to watch.

White Sands, an Into Mischief colt trained by Wesley Ward, wasted no time getting to the front and showed his heels to the other five, winning by 13 3/4 lengths with Jersey Joe Bravo up. He ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:04.18.

There’s a partial ownership involving the Irish Coolmore families, too. He’s 2-for-2, with the first victory coming at Beltera Park by 9 1/2 lengths.

Also: Vivacious Tribute won Sunday’s $55,000 King County Express Stakes at Emerald Downs and Drop Um won Sunday’s $75,000 Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton.

Juvenile Fillies

Shezafunkydrummer won Friday night’s $100,000 Prairie Gold Lassie at Prairie Meadows. Precise Timing took Saturday’s $50,000 Angie C. Stakes at Emerald Downs.

Around the world, around the clock


Derby winner City of Troy had to work for his victory in Saturday’s Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, but jockey Ryan Moore said that was more his fault than the colt’s.

City of Troy took the lead from pacesetting stablemate Hans Anderson just outside the furlong marker and held it against a stern challenge from Al Riffa. The latter got within 1 length, but no closer at the finish. Ghostwriter was third.

Moore, according to Racing Post, said he “got it wrong” by taking City of Troy wide turning into the straight when he wanted to be along the inner rail.

“Really, I wasn’t happy,” Moore said of the experience for the Justify colt whose year-end goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “But he found enough to get it done.”

Elsewhere around the globe

Oriental Charm won a rather rough renewal of the Group 1 Hollywood Bets Durban July Saturday in South Africa,

Puchkine led a parade of long shots across the line in Sunday’s Group 1 Haras d’Etreham Prix Jean Prat for 3-year-olds at Deauville in France.

Palladium took a dramatic left-handed turn out of the final bend in Saturday’s Group 1 Deutsches Derby Hamburg, and then got the best of a three-way battle to the finish.

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