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Las Vegas, NV - Another weekend of graded stakes action has come and gone. Let's focus on the nine races that took place at Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Del Mar, Saratoga and Woodbine over the weekend. As per usual there were some upsets, some overwhelming favorites that did what they were expected to do and there were some top performers that proved their worth during another packed weekend of graded stakes action.
Colonial Downs hosted a pair of graded stakes races on Saturday - the Grade 2 Virginia Derby and the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks were contested. In the Virginia Derby race favorite Silver Max made it six straight wins for trainer Dale Romans and proved that the 1 1/4 mile length was not an issue. Sliver Max's steady pace beat out 6-1 fourth choice Lucky Chappy who finished second and 7-3 second choice Finnegan's Wake.
In the Virginia Oaks, Kelly McPeek trained filly Volcat was second choice in the race and held off an impressive charge from Filare L'Oro who made it quite a race in the end. Ski Holiday finished third while favorite Zultanite was caught in traffic and finished a disappointing fifth.
Del Mar was the scene of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on Saturday and the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on Sunday. In the Eddie Read Stakes, Acclamation, the reigning Eclipse Award winner for older males repeated in the Eddie Read on his way to his seventh straight win. Acclamation, the 1-2 favorite made a strong case as the best turf racer in the country with his impressive 2 ¾ length win. Former Argentinean Horse of the Year Interactive finished second while Casino Host was third.
On Sunday, the San Clemente Handicap was run at Del Mar. Eden's Moon, the 4-5 favorite led all the way in her turf debut to record her first win since the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita on March 3rd. 27-1 Open Water rallied from fifth to finish an impressive second while Indigo River was third. Second choice Byrama finished fourth and Grade 1 winner Killer Graces was fifth among the impressive field.
Saratoga's opening weekend was the scene of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on Saturday and the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes on Sunday. In the CCAO it was third choice Questing who recorded her first Grade 1 win with a 4 1/4 length win over Zo Impressive. English-bred Questing has now won two straight races and has looked very good in the process. 3-2 favorite In Lingerie was third.
The Sanford Stakes took place at Saratoga on Sunday. Bern Identity, the 9-5 favorite took the six furlong dash and in the process earned a $100,000 bonus by being a maiden winner in New York and winning a graded stakes race on a NYRA track. He beat out Handsome Jack who held the lead for the majority of the race and Onetwentyeight who finished third. Todd Pletcher trained Rose Junction, the second favorite in the race was a disappointing last in the Sanford.
Delaware Park hosted the $750,000 Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on Saturday. In that race it was 1-2 favorite Royal Delta who held off a late charge from 28-1 Tiz Miz Sue and in the process earned an automatic bid into the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. Todd Pletcher trained second choice Awesome Maria recorded her second straight third place finish in the Delaware Handicap.
On Sunday Woodbine was the scene of the Grade 3 Ontario Matron Stakes and the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes. In the Ontario Matron 6-5 favorite Stars to Shine followed up a win in the Trillium Stakes to record his second win in his second start of 2012 after an eight month layoff. Stars to Shine won his first graded stakes race and made if four-for-four on Woodbine Polytrack by edging out Hooh Why who led most of the way but gave way in the end. Ariana D closed very well to record a decent third.
The Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes featured horses three years old and upward in a race that covered 1 1/8 miles on Woodbine's turf track. Riding the River posted an upset win at 9-1 odds to follow up another win as 13-1 favorite in the King Edward Stakes also at Woodbine. Hotep finished very well on the outside for second in the rain and hail while Pender Harbour was third. 11-10 favorite Imagining was a disappointing fifth in the Nijinsky.
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