Declan Cannon gets Oxy Lady to the wire five lengths in front in the Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct.
PHOTO: CHELSEA DURANT
The Irish breeding industry got to take three bows, but this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs produced nothing but excuses from Aidan O’Brien who was shut out for the first time since 2014.
A couple of 2-year-olds – Godolphin’s Line of Duty and Klaravich Stable’s Newspaperofrecord – won the mile Turf races for their respective genders on the Friday card. The latter, a filly by Lope de Vega, bred by Times of Wigan, a British engineering firm, is a perfect 3-for-3 now, each win by six lengths. She and Irad Ortiz, Jr. led throughout and were never threatened. East, trained and ridden by Tipperary natives Kevin Ryan and Jamie Spencer, respectively, was along for second after trailing early. The winner paid $3.20 and keyed a $32.40 exacta with the 12-1 runner-up, which went off as fourth choice among 14 runners.
Line of Duty’s margin of victory was less than a length, but he was a convincing victor nonetheless. Jockey William Buick had the son of Galileo in midpack early on and they spent much of the race exploring various avenues by which they might shoot for the lead. That came in midcourse outside of runners, with the product of the Triermore Stud of Navan, Co. Meath up by a half-length at the wire. He returned $9.00 to win.
Peter Brant’s Sistercharlie was the third Irish-bred to reach the wire first when she won the Filly & Mare Turf on Saturday. John Velazquez kept the 4-year-old daughter of Myboycharlie widest of all down the backstretch and needed every ounce that he could squeeze out of her to deny Buick and trainer Charlie Appleby a second Breeders’ Cup victory, as their Wild Illusion ran second here as the favorite. Thus, trainer Chad Brown’s Cup winners both hailed from Ireland. This one paid $8.60 in winning her fourth Grade 1 race of the year. Her two defeats were by a mere head and a neck.
O’Brien struck out with the 14 horses he saddled. Most of the attention settled on Mendelssohn in the Classic, but once he and Ryan Moore led the field through fractions of 22.3 and 46.2, their goose was pretty well cooked. He backed up into fifth place.
Although the O’Brien-trained Magical had to settle for second in the Turf, it took a dead game Enable, the 4-year-old Arc winner, to stave off the 3-year-old Coolmore filly by less than a length. Otherwise, So Perfect’s third-place finish in the Juvenile Turf Sprint was O’Brien’s only other money finish of the two days.
CANNON GOES OFF AT AQUEDUCT
Declan Cannon didn’t have a Breeders’ Cup mount, but no problem. There was good money to be made riding Calumet Farms’ Oxy Lady in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct on Friday’s opening day card. Not that the public was aware, however. He kept the 2-year-old filly a bit off the pace in this one-turn mile on the main track, poked her head into contention rounding for home and made an issue of matters once straightened out. They drew off in the final furlong to tally by five lengths. The win mutuel came back $75.00 on the longest of seven shots on the board.
John Haran nearly pulled off a shocker in the fourth race at Hawthorne on Thursday. His Artic Vortex, the 60-1 outsider in this claiming sprint at the $7,500 level, battled throughout only to get nailed in the final strides, having to settle for second.
The Sligo man then got a winner in Hawthorne’s sixth race on Friday, when Gray Mask, a 5-year-old gelding he owns with Mike Ryan, towroped the field in a first-level allowance/optional claiming sprint on the main track in that one’s return to the dirt after several failed tries on the lawn. U.A. Lopez got Grey Mask to the wire in front by three-quarters of a length, with the win mutuel coming back $9.40.
Then, on Saturday, while everyone was focused on the Breeders’ Cup, Haran slipped a 20-1 shot in the form of Unbridled Atlantic past them in Hawthorne’s fifth race, a maiden claiming sprint on the main track. This 3-year-old filly hadn’t so much as hit the board in 11 prior tries and had bolted last time out. She was on her best behavior here under Eddie Perez and led all the way to score by just over a length. The fact that there were multiple infractions taking place behind her worked to her advantage and to those who cashed those $42.20 win tickets.
Meanwhile, at Parx, Alan Meares recorded his first training victory of 2018. Habibi, a 5-year-old mare he owns in partnership with Longford Racing, finally got the job done in her 16th try, taking the measure of six rivals in the second race on Monday. Habibi, a factor in the pace mix, reached the wire in front by just over a length, with Santiago Gonzalez along for the ride. She paid $15.20 to win.