By Richard Rosenblatt
Cheers to Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who seems to be back in the riding groove following victories at Del Mar in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) aboard Say the Word ($13) on Friday and the $400,000 Hollywood Derby (G1) aboard Beyond Brilliant ($23.80) on Saturday.
And well done to Maxfield in the final race of his short but stellar career. The 4-year-old won the $750,000 Clark Stakes (G1) at Churchill on Friday to close with an 11-8-2-1 record and earnings of $2 million for grateful trainer Brendan Walsh.
Kudos to trainer Ken McPeek, who had to scratch favorite Tiz the Bomb from the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on Saturday, but still came up a winner with Smile Happy ($11.60) to give himself at least two 2022 Derby prospects.
And finally, congratulations to Pink Lloyd, the 9-year-old Canada-bred who closed out his stellar career with a gritty half-length victory in the $175,000 Kennedy Road Stakes (G3) at Woodbine on Saturday. The gelding boasts a record of 38-29-3-2 with earnings of $1,884,584.
Here’s a look at some of the holiday weekend results:
Kent Desormeaux, a three-time Kentucky Derby (G1) winner once again rebounding from personal issues, guided Say the Word to a one-length win over Acclimate. Say the Word was swung wide in the stretch and overtook stablemate Acclimate – both trained by Phil D’Amato.
Winning time for the 1 ½ miles was 2:27.62.
“I’ve got to give Phil the credit for this one. He told me it was hard to get this horse to settle, so I told him I’d do the European thing: I’d put him up some horse’s rear (force him to stay in position) and wait until the end,’’ Desormeaux said. “My peers always ask me who’s my star and what that means is I’ll put a star by the horse that I think will carry me 70 yards from the wire. And Umby (rider Umberto Rispoli) had the star today (Friar’s Road, the horse Desormeaux drafted in behind).”
Rockemperor, the 4-5 favorite for trainer Chad Brown, was fifth of seven.
Field Pass ($9) held off 9-10 favorite Sacred Life by a head to give trainer Mike Maker his first stakes win at Del Mar.
The 4-year-old was ridden by Umberto Rispoli, who guided Field Pass to the lead along the backstretch and hung on to win.
Winning time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:41.85.
“I didn’t want to stop the stride of my horse. He was running happy. and I was happy, too. He fought hard late, and we got there first,’’ Rispoli said.
$100,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes (G3), 1 mile, turf, 2-year-old fillies
Peter Miller-trained Tezzaray ($8.20), with Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard, put her schnoz in front at the wire to edge Awake at Midnyte. Winning time for the mile was 1:37.56.
“I had confidence in her. She’s one of those fillies that are very classy and does everything right,’’ Miller said. “I thought we won, then I thought we didn’t, but luckily we got the head bob. Irad had a really clean trip and once he got her in the clear she really kicked home.”
$400,000 Hollywood Derby (G1), 1 1/8 miles, turf, 3-year-olds
A huge day for Kent Desormeaux as he pulled off a front-running upset with Beyond Brilliant ($23.80).
The 3-year-old trained by John Shirreffs left from the rail, took the lead and never wavered as he held off Santin by a neck in a full field of 14. Public Sector, the 9-5 favorite, was fourth. Winning time was 1:48;48 for the 1 1/8 miles.
“It’s beyond brilliant what they’ve done since last time,” Desormeaux said, adding that Beyond Brilliant was far more manageable than in the Twilight Derby (third). “He was content. And he was a tough customer the last eighth of a mile.”
Added Shirreffs: “(We’ve) had our ups and downs, (but) Kent’s riding so great.”
$100,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3), 1 mile, turf, 2-year-olds
Even-money favorite Verbal ($4) rallied to overtake the leaders in the stretch for a half-length victory over 49-1 longshot Barsabas, with Cabo Spirit third.
Winning time was 1:36.16 for the 2-year-old filly now 2-for-2 for trainer Chad Brown.
Regal Glory ($5.20) took the lead from the start under Jose Ortiz and defeated Zofelle by 2 ½ lengths, with 3-2 favorite Princess Grace third.
Trained by Chad Brown, the 5-year-old daughter of Animal Kingdom improved her record to 16-9-4-0 and boosted her earning to $1,244,884.
$200,000 Comely Stakes (G3) 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-old fillies
Bees and Honey ($28.20) gave trainer J. Reeve McGaughey – son of Hall of Famer Shug – his first graded stakes victory with a 2 ¾-length win over favorite Played Hard and Crazy Beautiful.
The 3-year-old filly is 5-2-2-1 and likely headed to Kentucky first, then Florida for a rest before preparing for a spring and summer campaign.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Reeve McGaughey said. “I certainly appreciate the owners giving me the opportunity. This is my first horse for Gainesway, but I’ve had one or two for Mr. Rosen, He’s always been very fair and a good owner for me.”
$400,000 Long Island Stakes (G3), 1½ miles, turf, 3 and up fillies and mares
Mutamakina ($6.60), the 2-1 favorite, made it two in a row in the Long Island, reeling in longshot Candy Flower in the final strides to win by a half-length. Christophe Clement trains the 5-year-old mare.
“She ran a phenomenal race,” winning rider Dylan Davis said. “A touch quick for her, but she was able to settle in and I was happy with where I was at saving all the ground … It was a little tight there at the corner, but I was able to get her a clear spot and comfortable. Once I got into her, I knew it might have been a touch close, but I knew she was going to get there. She was really determined.”
Winning time was 2:28.08.
$200,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3), 6 furlongs, 3 and up
Hopeful Treasure ($38) delivered a huge upset by taking the lead in the final sixteenth-of-a-mile and held on by a head over Green Light Go.
Trained by Michael Catalano, Jr. the 4-year-old ridgling won for the third time in six starts in 2021. He was ridden by Mychel Sanchez and covered the 6 furlongs in 1:11.19. Sir Alfred James, the favorite, was sixth the in field of eight.
Maxfield ($4.40) went 5-for-5 in races at Churchill and arrived on Saturday at Darley at Jonabell Farms to begin his stud career with a stud fee set at $40,000.
Winning time was 1:49.06.
“I feel just delighted he got the job done like that today,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “It’s a very prestigious race and it’s very nice he could win it and go into his stud career like that.”
Next up for Maxfield is stud duty at Darley at Jonabell Farm where he will stand for $40,000.
$400,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-old fillies
Dream Lith ($20.20) staged wide rally and outran Yuugiri by a length in the 78th edition of the Golden Rod. Sandstone, the 4-5 favorite, ran third.
Winning time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.72 as the filly trained by Robertino Diodoro earned 10 Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points. The next three finishers earned 4-2-1 and Oaks points.
“I got her into a comfortable rhythm early in the race and just let her do her thing,” winning rider Ramon Vazquez said. “I knew I had a lot of horse, and I was confident she’d be able to fight with (Yuugiri) in the stretch. She’s a very nice filly and has a good future in front of her.”
Dream Lith ran fifth in the Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga in August and in the Alcibiades (G) at Keeneland on Oct. 8.
$400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds
With expected favorite Tiz the Bomb scratched due to a minor ailment (left front, infection) trainer Ken McPeek’s other entry, Smile Happy ($11.60), won by 3 1/4 lengths over 7-5 favorite Classic Causeway.
Winning time was 1:43.94, and the colt earned 10 Derby qualifying points.
“I’m mad we didn’t win the Golden Rod (with Sandstone),” McPeek quipped. “This is really a team effort and I want to give a lot of credit to our team behind these horses. I’m really proud of the horse and thankful the Mackin family gave us this horse to train. He’s been very impressive to start his career.”
$200,550 Kennedy Road Stakes (G2), 6 furlongs, 3 and up
Pink Lloyd ($9.40) refused to lose in his career finale and hung on for a half-length with over Richiesinthehouse.
Trained by Robert Tiller, Pink Lloyd, a seven-time Sovereign Award winner, closed his career with a three-race winning streak.
“He’s the kind of horse he can do anything,” winning rider Rafael Hernandez said. “He is the kind of horse you can take him back and relax. We had a hole, and he was coming, running, always going to give you 100 percent, like the many times he’s already done it.”
Added Tiller: “I think it’s amazing. You know, he’s a legend. He proved today he was a legend. I didn’t think he’d win today. It looked awful tough to me and the only thing I liked was all the speed in the race because I’ve been saying all along, and not too many people listened, but he loves to run at horses. I was just hoping Rafi would get room. I said at the head of the lane, ‘You know what? Here he comes.’ We’re blessed to win this race and it’s a tremendous way to go out. You know, he’s been Woodbine’s horse, he’s been Canada’s horse, and the next time some horse wins 26 stakes in 29 races at Woodbine, let me know about it.”
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.