This weekend most of the stakes racing action was at Woodbine, Keeneland and Belmont. Fall is in full swing and not only did we see some exciting racing this weekend, but the beautiful fall colors were the perfect backdrop. It also turned out to be quite the weekend for international horses making their first starts on this side of the Atlantic.
$500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup
As they broke from the gate, it didn't take long for RUSHING FALL in the hot pink number eight saddle towel to make her way to the lead from the outside. The opening quarter was :23.91 and RUSHING FALL did nothing but maintain an easy steady pace in the lead two lengths ahead. At the top of the stretch, she was challenged by the number 5 horse MISSION IMPASSIBLE and responded with even more speed. The pair raced to the wire, but RUSHING FALL kept her 1 1/4 length lead for the win.This makes stakes win number 5 for the MORE THAN READY filly who has won six of her seven starts.
MISSION IMPASSIBLE held onto second at 11-1 and NYALETI completed the trifecta.
Spectators at Keeneland this weekend also got a special treat. Air Force One landed at the Blue Grass Field Airport after RUSHING FALL ran to victor and during the 10th race was refueled. You don't get to see that everyday!
$200K Pebbles Stakes
At Belmont, we saw a slow start in the Pebbles, a turf race for 3 year olds. STELLA DI CAMELOT broke last but advanced to midpack as the field of nine, led by CLOSER STILL, clocked a quarter mile at 23.72. CLOSER STILL ran just ahead of ANDINA DEL SUR, while STELLA DI CAMELOT continued her move the pack. At the top of the stretch the filly took control at the eight pole to take the win. ANDINA DEL SUR secured second ahead of VICTORINE in third. The Pebbles is third career win for STELLA DI CAMELOT, who's last win was a one mile allowance last May in France.
"She broke a little slow from the gate which isn't uncommon first time in the country with some of these horses. I thought Eric did a really good job to put her right back into the race," stated trainer Chad Brown.
$800,000 Pattison Canadian International
Now up to Woodbine for the two Canadian stakes that ran this weekend. The Pattison turned out to be quite the exciting race. FUNTASTIC set the pace, but BANDUA went out a length in front and held his position all the way to the stretch. BANDUA was trying to go all the way, but as they headed for home, SPRING QUALITY and THUNDERING BLUE came out of the pack. As it looked like THUNDERING BLUE would get the win, DESSERT ENCOUNTER surged from the outside to upset THUNDERING BLUE with FOCUS GROUP behind for third.
"He got a great ride, saved ground all the way around, pulled out when he needed to. I thought the horse was going to run second, but he pulled it out," said racing manager Philip Robinson. The Abdulla Al Mansoori's DESSERT ENCOUNTER earned his first grade 1 score.
$500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes
While she was squeezed a bit at the break and the footing soft, that didn't stop the European filly, SHEIKHA REIKA from running to victory. After the break she settled for fourth while STARSHIP JUBILEE set the pace. SANTA MONICA set fractions of :26.77 and :52.68. With 70 yards to go, SHEIKHA REIKA made her move and hit the wire in first at 2:05.10. GOLDEN LEGEND made it by a neci over SANTA MONICA for second.