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Las Vegas, NV - Another weekend has come and gone. That can mean only one thing - the dust is beginning to settle on another busy weekend of graded stakes action. Woodbine was the place to be this past weekend - six graded stakes races were run. Let's recap five of those plus a pair of interesting stakes that were contested at Belmont Park and another at Kentucky Downs.
Woodbine was the scene of a slew of graded stakes races this past weekend. In the Grade 2 Summer Stakes - a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, I'm Boundtoscore, the 10-1 sixth choice came out on top by a half length and has now placed in all five of his career starts with three wins. Are You Kidding Me was second and 4-1 Indiano Jones was third. Best Play, the 5-2 favorite finished a disappointing fourth.
The Grade 2 Natalma Stakes for two year old fillies was also contested on Woodbine's Saturday card and it was also a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita November 3. Mark Casse trained 2-1 favorite Spring Venture emerged victorious in the 14 horse field to give her trainer his fourth Natalma win in seven years. The other Mark Casse filly Spring in the Air was second while Nancy O, the first foal out of 2006 Canadian Horse of the Year Arravale, was third.
Woodbine also hosted four graded stakes races on Sunday. The biggest of the lot was the $1 million Grade 1 Woodbine Mile for three year olds. 1-2 favorite Wise Dan proved to be in a class of his own and made a case as the early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Mile November 3. He ran away from the back by 3 1/4 lengths while Hunter's Bay finished second in his first ever start on turf and European shipper and 3-1 second choice Cityscape finished third. Make no mistake about it however; this race absolutely belonged to Wise Dan.
The Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes was also on Woodbine's Sunday card. 7-2 second choice Wigmore Hall recorded his first win since last year's version of this race. He beat out 3-1 Al Khali who bettered his third place finish in last year's Northern Dancer and the late running Forte Dei Marmi who finished third.
Also at Woodbine on Sunday, the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes was contested. Irish bred Barefoot Lady made it a North American debut to remember with a 1 1/2 length win as the 7-1 sixth choice with a last minute substitute jockey! It was her first win since April 2011. All Star Heart from Northern California was second holding off Stars to Shine by 3/4 of a length.
Belmont Park re-opened this weekend and hosted a pair of graded stakes races on Saturday. The $300,000 Grade 1 Garden Stakes featured a strong field of three year olds. The Garden Stakes was topped by Irish classic winner 4-5 favorite Samitar who avenged a third place finish in his North American debut to win in her second start here. Somali Lemonade staged a late run but fell short and Tannery finished 1 3/4 length farther back in third.
The Grade 3 Noble Damsel Stakes was also on the Belmont Park Saturday card. It was 13-1 shot Naples Bay that pulled off the upset with her first career stakes win by 1 1/2 lengths. The 7-5 favorite Dealbata was held off by the eventual winner and finished second while 6-1 Silver Screamer was third.
The $200,000 1 1/2 mile Kentucky Turf Cup took place at Kentucky Downs on Saturday. The field was reduced to five at post time after three entries were scratched. Ioya Bigtime at 2-1 odds continued a great stretch of racing and beat out defending champion and 7-5 favorite in the race Rahystrada. Kindergarden Kid was a very game third.