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Las Vegas, NV - The Labor Day weekend signals the end to most people's summer but it doesn't mean the end of graded stakes action around North America. There were important races all over the continent this weekend and as per usual there were expected results, some shocking finishes and some horses that emerged as the class of their respective divisions. Let's take a look at nine of the races that took place over the weekend, starting with Saratoga.
On Saturday the Grade 1 Forego Stakes was run at Saratoga. Favored at 7-5 in the seven-horse field, Emcee ran away from the competition. Hamazing Destiny came charging late to grab second in the final strides at 17-1 odds, a neck better than the 9-1 Jersey Town who was third. Caixa Eltronica, Pacific Ocean, Isn't He Perfect and 5-2 second choice Jackson Bend completed the order of finish. Shackleford the morning line favorite was scratched prior to the Forego.
Also on Saturday at Saratoga, the other Grade 1 race on the card - the Woodward Stakes was contested. To Honor and Serve completed nine furlongs on the fast main track in 1:48 and did what he was supposed to do and won. Mucho Macho Man finished second 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Cease, who led Trickmeister, Stay Thisty, Rule and Gourmet Dinner under the wire.
Sunday at Saratoga brought us the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes. So Many Ways at 7-2 stamped her authority by 2 1/2 lengths over the late-running longest shot in the field Sweet Shirley Mae. 3-5 favorite Teen Pauline was another two lengths back in third, and trainer Steve Asmussen cited the track as a factor. Seasoned Warrior, the 5-2 second choice, was run off her feet in fourth, and Corail brought up the rear. Baby J was scratched along with Dreaming of Julia.
The Grade 2 Hopeful Stakes was part of Saratoga's holiday Monday card. It featured two year olds in a seven furlong dash. Todd Pletcher's Shanghai Bobby impressively dismantled his rivals by 3 3/4 lengths under Rosie Napravnik. Part of an entry that started as the 2-1 second choice, Shanghai Bobby is now undefeated in three career starts. Fortify, the 8-5 favorite finished second, and Grade 2 Sanford winner Bern Identity was third.
Del Mar hosted its share of graded stakes action this weekend as well. On Saturday it was the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes for two year old fillies. It was a Bob Baffert pupil Executivepriviledge the 4-5 favorite who raced to victory and held off front-running Beholder at the wire. Although her outward drift down the stretch nearly cost the 4-5 favorite, jockey Rafael Bejarano managed to coax her onto a straight path, and thus earned his record-tying 12th stakes win of the Del Mar meet. 8-1 Beholder was second and Mechaya was another 4 1/4 lengths back.
On Sunday it was the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby for three year olds. My Best Brother proved he was the best 3-year-old on turf at the Del Mar meet with a smart front-running victory as the 6-1 fourth choice. That makes four wins in five starts since moving to turf for My Best Brother. 5-2 favorite Howe Great, coming off win in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park July 21, was second and Brother Francis paid finished third.
Monmouth Park was the scene of the Grade 3 Cliffhanger Stakes on Saturday. The five-year-old gray gelding Tune Me In backed up his 25-1 upset of the Grade 3 Oceanport on July 29 with another triumph over the Monmouth Park turf course at 6-1 long shot in a six horse field. Salto, the former French mainstay making just his second start for trainer Todd Pletcher, rallied from last to edge Get Serious, the 6-5 favorite who finished third.
The Grade 3 Seaway Stakes went down on Saturday at Woodbine for fillies and mares three years old and upward. It was Tu Endie Wei who outran 1-2 favorite Roxy Gap in the stretch to capture the Grade 3, $168,500 seven furlong race. Jenny's So Great finished another 2 1/2 lengths back in third in the five-horse field
Parx was the scene of the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes for three year olds on holiday Monday. Easter Gift ran away with from the competition by 4 1/2 lengths as the 9-2 fourth choice for his first ever stakes win. Traffic Light finished second by 2 1/4 lengths while the 8-5 favorite Teeth of the Dog was third.
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