With less than two weeks remaining in the Thoroughbred racing season, nearly all of the 2008 leaders have been decided. The lone category without a clear-cut winner is earnings by owner, and it might take until the final few days of the year to determine a victor.
With one week left until the end of Hollywood Park's 2008 fall racing season, jockey Rafael Bejarano is poised to complete a rare riding feat: a sweep of each victory title at every major meet in Southern California in 2008.
J. Paul Reddam's Square Eddie moved into striking position rounding the far turn and drew off in the stretch for an easy win under Rafael Bejarano in the $500,000 Lane's End Futurity (gr. I) Oct. 4 on the Keeneland Polytrack. The victory earned the 2-year-old Smart Strike colt an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile later this month at Santa Anita.
Godolphin Stable's Cocoa Beach has raced in her native Chile and in the Middle East, but apparently, she has found a home in New York.
There were many who questioned whether champion mare Ginger Punch would be able to stretch out to 10 furlongs, something she had never done before. In the $400,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 22 at Saratoga, the 5-year-old daughter of Awesome Again was grateful for the added distance, as she needed every last stride to pass Lemon Drop Mom.
Jockey Omar Berrio was suspended for six months by Del Mar stewards Aug. 13 after he tested positive for cocaine.
Azul Leon remained unbeaten with an assist from the Del Mar stewards, who disqualified the first-place finisher Kelly Leak from victory in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 10.
Bottled up on the inside and running at a slow pace, Ginger Punch showed her grit as a true champion by splitting horses just outside the eighth-pole and finally taking over at the top of the stretch to earn a hard-fought 1 1/4-length victory in the $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I) July 26 at Saratoga.
Monzante took the overland route in coming from last to catch favored Whatsthescript in the final strides, winning the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) in eye-catching style by a half-length on the Del Mar turf course July 20.
Hollywood Park realized a 1.8% drop in all-sources handle during the 70th running of its spring/summer meet, which ended July 13.
Azul Leon became the first graded winner and the second added-money winner overall for North America's leading first crop sire, Lion Heart, with a four-length triumph in the $106,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (gr. III) July 5.
Stronach Stables' Ginger Punch, keen on defending her champion older female title of 2007, made it look easy in the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap with a commanding victory in the Belmont Park fixture June 14.
Lethal Heat gained the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile and scored a head victory over Smooth Performer in a three-horse blanket finish to the $157,600 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track June 8.
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.
Heatseeker established himself as the favorite for this year's Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) with a scintillating victory as the even-money choice in the $245,000 Californian (gr. II) over the Cushion Track surface May 31. The 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway defeated his rival Tiago by 5 1/4 lengths while setting a record for the 1 1/8-mile distance on the Inglewood track.
Heavy favorite Precious Kitten got her first win in the Lael Stables silks when she collared pacesetting Diamond Diva at the top of the lane and cruised to a 2 1/4-length victory in the $283,000 Gamely (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park May 26.
West Point Thoroughbreds' El Gato Malo, making his first start on traditional dirt, made a dramatic move in late stretch to take the 400,000 Lone Star Derby (gr. III) by a half-length May 10 at Lone Star Park.
Steady rain and sloppy track conditions did nothing to dampen the fortunes of Stronach Stables and trainer Bobby Frankel when the 4-year-old homebred Giant Gizmo scored a come-from-behind victory in the $166,050 Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, giving them their second graded stakes win on the May 2 card.
In a race named for Muhammed Ali's hometown, Ginger Punch delivers a knockout blow in easily taking the Louisville Stakes (gr. II) under the Twin Spires.
Trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey Rafael Bejarano punctuated their 2007-08 Santa Anita meet titles when they teamed to win the marathon $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) with Big Booster on closing day of the stand April 20.
Santa Anita leading jockey Garrett Gomez announced he is leaving for Keeneland next week while Rafael Bejarano, who has been sidelined since cracking two vertebrae in a spill on March 13 is nearing a return.
Leading Santa Anita jockey Rafael Bejarano was thrown heavily to the ground in the stretch of the final race March 13 when his mount, Parisian Art, had an apparent heart attack and died. The jockey was put into an ambulance on a stretcher and taken to nearby Arcadia Methodist Hospital.
Making his first start in more than five months, grade I winner Georgie Boy kicked off his 3-year-old campaign in fine style with a big closing rush to win the $147,000 San Vicente Stakes (gr. II).
Favored Golden Doc A proved her big effort against 2007 Juvenile Filly champion Indian Blessing last time out was no fluke, coming from off the pace to become a grade I winner in the $250,000 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita.
Double Trouble attained grade I glory in her first try for trainer Bobby Frankel with a come-from-behind victory in the $245,000 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) on Santa Anita's Cushion Track Feb. 9.
Fresh off her Breeders' Cup Distaff and Eclipse Award victories, the 5-year-old mare is the one to beat Jan. 26 at Gulfstream in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.
Waterford Stable's In Summation again showed his affinity for synthetic surfaces with a game and blazing victory in the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) for 4-year-olds and up at Santa Anita Park Jan. 21.
Team Valor International's Alexandra Rose, under a patient ride by Rafael Bejarano, swept past foes in the stretch to win the Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf at Santa Anita Park Jan. 1.
Country Star, one of the leading 2-year-old fillies in the nation, is now two-for-two in grade I opportunities after a scintillating 2 3/4-length triumph in the $425,500 Hollywood Starlet Dec. 15.
Undefeated By the Light ran her winning streak to four races with a convincing 5 1/4-length win in the $300,000 Boyd Gaming's Delta Princess for 2-year-old fillies at Delta Downs the night of Dec. 7.
Precious Kitten provided the best performance of her career when she turned back champion filly Wait a While in the stretch en route to a convincing 1 1/4-length victory in the $500,000 Matriarch (gr. IT) on the Hollywood Park turf Nov. 25.
Rafael Bejarano, one of the top five leading riders in the nation, is expected to join the Southern California jockey colony on a permanent basis when he begins riding Nov. 21 at Hollywood Park.
Trainer Bobby Frankel said he isn't thinking about the Breeders' Cup Championships as much as the Sept. 30 Beldame (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The Frankel-trained Ginger Punch, a 4-year-old, will be the favorite in the Beldame, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for fillies and mares.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano was hospitalized Sept. 3 with possible rib and back injuries following an incident in the fourth race at Saratoga, when his mount - the Mark Hennig-trained Marital Asset - broke through the gate at the New York track.
Burmilla spotted class and experience to her four rivals, but the lightly-raced 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat was anything but intimidated as she pulled away down the stretch for a nearly three-length upset victory in the $150,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 3.
Stronach Stables' favored Ginger Punch reeled in the pacesetter Teammate coming off the final turn and finished with authority to easily win the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares at Saratoga Saturday.
Silverton Hill Stables' Dominican, who defeated eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands winner Street Sense when capturing the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland this April, will make his first start since finishing a troubled 11th in the Kentucky Derby when he heads to post as the 8-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's $100,000 Round Table Stakes at Arlington Park.
Stronach Stable's odds-on choice Ginger Punch rebounded from a neck loss in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) last month to easily win Sunday's $147,000 First Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
Darley's Marietta surged past odds-on choice High Again leaving the three-sixteenth pole en route to her first graded stakes win in a mild upset of the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows in Altoona Friday night.
The suspense was so thick, you could cut it with a...Well, maybe it wasn't quite that thick, but at least there was a some anticipation to see what Todd Pletcher was going to do regarding Rags to Riches' status in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). After putting off his decision as long as possible, he finally made the announcement at 9:30 Tuesday morning.
Precious Kitten rallied from just off the pace to win the grade III Gallorette Handicap on the turf at Pimlico Race Course Saturday.
R. Larry Johnson's favored Street Magician hit the rail while squeezing through a hole in the stretch, but persevered to win the $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs (gr. III) for 3-year-olds by one length at Pimlico Saturday.
Precious Kitten, coming off a second-place finish in the April 14 Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland, will face down A True Pussycat when a field of 11 fillies and mares goes postward for Saturday's 1/16-mile Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard.
Hystericalady earned the first grade one victory of her career and began a two-race winning streak when she took the 21st running of the $340,800 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) by a definitive four lengths on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Eurowest Bloodstock's Take The Ribbon got up in the final lunge for jockey Rafael Bejarano to nose Quite a Bride in the $166,350 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT) Saturday.
Saint Anddan pounced from his stalking position and took the lead with three-sixteenths of a mile remaining en route to a two-length victory in the $277,750 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) Saturday over a Churchill surface rated as good.
Gulfstream Park closes its 2007 racing season Sunday with Eclipse-winning trainer Todd Pletcher capturing his fourth consecutive title at the South Florida track. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez has sealed his first riding title.
Silverton Hill's Dominican moved into the Triple Crown picture when he came from well behind to nose Street Sense, last year's 2-year-old champion, on the wire of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) Saturday on the all-weather track at Keeneland.
Jumping from a maiden victory into the $139,500 Aventura Stakes for 3-year-olds, R. Larry Johnson's homebred Street Magician surged to the lead mid-stretch and held on gamely for for a half-length victory over Yesbyjimminy Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Making his first start since a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) four months ago, Dominican ran down Trust Your Luck in the stretch to win the $100,000 Rushaway for 3-year-olds Saturday at Turway Park going away by five lengths.
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