The New York Racing Association reported that 94,476 were on hand under sunny skies on a sweltering day at Belmont Park June 7 to witness yet another Triple Crown upset, with longshot Da' Tara going wire to wire in the 140th Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The victory ended heavily favored Big Brown's attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Eastern invader Rebellion got a hot pace to run at and emerged with a late-closing victory in the $111,700 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track June 7.
After Misty Ocean scored a 5 1/2-length win in a minor stakes at Golden Gate Fields last month, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer had a much more ambitious spot in mind for his newly converted turf runner. His hunch proved correct when the 3-year-old daughter of Stormy Atlantic went gate to wire to win the $173,250 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park June 7.
Dancing Forever glided to the rail midstretch in the June 7 Woodford Reserve Manhattan (gr. IT) and looked like a winner, but Out of Control was ready to give him a tussle in the final yards. In a thriller to the finish, it was Dancing Forever who became a grade I winner in the $400,000 Manhattan with his nose decision over Out of Control in the 1 1/4-mile turf race at Belmont Park.
The world awaited a delivery from Big Brown, but in a shocker it was 38-1 longshot Da' Tara who won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), taking the "Test of the Champion" in wire-to-wire fashion June 7 as the horse seeking to win the Triple Crown was eased past the wire.
Artiste Royal, who had only one win in 13 lifetime starts on U.S. soil, broke through with a gutsy effort in the $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) June 7 at Hollywood Park, holding off a trio of horses in the final yards to score by a neck under David Flores.
J Be K got hooked early but drew off to an easy victory under Garrett Gomez in the $250,000 Woody Stephens (gr. II) on the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day undercard.
Zaftig roared past last year's 2-year-old champion Indian Blessing to pull away to a 4 1/2-length win in the $250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) June 7 at Belmont Park, nabbing her second consecutive score this season.
True Metropolitan and Sterwins were the class of the field in the $150,000 Eclipse Stakes (gr. III), and those two proved it by finishing one-two in the 1 1/16-mile event at Woodbine June 7.
New Approach, who was only declared an official runner earlier this week, justified his trainer's faith and his own class with a game victory in the Vodafone Derby (Eng-I) June 7.
Juddmonte Farms' Ventura sat patiently off the pace, slipped through along the hedge at the head of the lane and pulled clear to win the $400,000 Just a Game Stakes (gr. IT) June 7 at Belmont Park. The victory came by three-quarters of a length over a fast-closing Lady of Venice. Time for the one-mile race over a "firm" Widener Turf Course was 1:32.75.
If Benny the Bull's victory in the True North Handicap (gr. II) is any indication of how trainer Rick Dutrow and owner IEAH Stables will fare with Big Brown later in the day in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), things are looking good for the Triple Crown-chasing team.
Kent Desormeaux will not wear the Hooters patch on his pants when he rides Big Brown postward in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The New York Racing Association refused to approve the endorsement deal June 6, citing a "conflict of interest" between Belmont Park sponsors, which include UPS and NetJets.
Stonestreet Stable and Midnight Cry Stable's reigning Horse of the Year Curlin was assigned 128 pounds for the June 14 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Terry Finley, the president of West Point Thoroughbreds, was nearly as busy as a cadet in training at the U.S. Military Academy June 6.
Legendary sportscaster Jim McKay, who played an integral part in helping Thoroughbred racing prosper in Maryland, died from natural causes June 7. McKay was 86.
Casino Drive, the second choice in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), was scratched Saturday morning after re-aggravating his left hind heel because of a stone bruise.
Trainer Warren A. "Jimmy" Croll died the evening of June 6 at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J., after a lengthy illness. The Hall of Famer who resided in Monmouth Beach, N.J., was 88.
The much anticipated $1 million Stradbroke Handicap, one of Australia's oldest and most prestigious group I races, was won by a 33 to 1 chance June 7 at Eagle Farm.
A filly, one of only three in the field of 20, came swishing down the center of the Eagle Farm track to capture the group I Queensland Derby over 12 furlongs in Brisbane June 7.
History making performance. Defining moment. Greatness personified in the Thoroughbred. Will it happen today?
- By Ron Mitchell
About an hour after giving the all-clear for Casino Drive to run in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), trainer Kazuo Fujisawa said the colt was favoring his left rear hoof and was scratched from the classic.
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