1 of 2 | Bob Baffert-trained 2-year-old Nysos is all alone at the finish of Sunday’s Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar. Benoit Photography, courtesy of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Nov. 20 (UPI) — It’s the time of year some late-developing horses step up to promise bright futures, and a couple of Bob Baffert-trained 2-year-olds did just that in weekend racing in California.
On the world scene, a 4-year-old filly whipped some talented males in the Mile Championship in Japan while Hong Kong previewed next month’s international races at Sha Tin Racecourse.
And we’re off.
Nysos went to the post at odds of better than 6-1 when he made his first start Oct. 21 at Del Mar and blew the doors off the race, winning by 10 1/2 lengths.
The Nyquist colt, trained by Bob Baffert, was 1-5 when he lined up for Sunday’s $100,000 Grade III Bob Hope at Del Mar and “only” won by 8 3/4 lengths, going 7 furlongs in 1:21.71 and looking like he’d love more distance.
“He handled it like a pro and did everything right,” Baffert said of the son of the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner.
On the turf: Spirit Prince, the favorite, stalked the pace in Sunday’s $120,000 Central Park Stakes at Aqueduct, willingly moved to the front and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths from Walley World.
Another of Baffert’s promising young ‘uns, Nothing Like You, was just up at the finish to win Saturday’s $100,000 Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar by a nose over Tambo.
The odds-on favorite, Royal Slipper, shipped in from Kentucky by trainer Wesley Ward, led through the early furlongsm but faded to finish third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.
Nothing Like You, a Malibu Moon filly, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:23.03 for jockey Juan Hernandez. She took four tries to get her first win, but now has two straight.
On the grass, Memorialize was up in the final jumps to win Friday’s $120,000 Tepin Stakes at Aqueduct by a neck over long shot Awesome Czech.
Integration was well-segregated from his eight rivals at the end of Saturday’s $250,000 Grade II Hill Prince Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Aqueduct turf.
The Quality Road colt, the odds-on favorite, stalked the pace, took over when asked and drew off to score by 5 lengths. Integration finished 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.06, just 0.06 second off the 38-year-old course record.
Trainer Shug McGaughey said the Grade III Virginia Derby winner now may target the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park in January.
Filly & Mare Turf
Chili Flag waited behind the leaders in Sunday’s $135,000 Forever Together Stakes at Aqueduct, rallied outside rivals for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and outfinished Tass to win by 1 length.
Chili Flag, a French-bred filly by Cityscape, got 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.27. She has two wins, three seconds and a third in six starts since arriving from France and looks like becoming another in the pipeline of turf import successes in the Chad Brown barn.
Nothing Better went right to the lead in Saturday’s $150,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship and none of his 10 rivals could catch him. The 5-year-old Munnings gelding blazed across the line in 1:07.27, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Boat’s a Rockin.
Hot and Sultry was on fire in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade III Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs, kicking away readily to win by 8 lengths over seven outclassed rivals. The 4-year-old Speightster filly won her first graded stakes while returning from a six-months layoff.
Flag of Honour found room on the inside late and got through to win Saturday’s $175,000 (Canadian) Grade II Kennedy Road Stakes at Woodbine.
The 4-year-old, an Australian-bred by American Pharoah, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:08.86 with Kazushi Kimura in the irons. It was his second start and first win since arriving from Australia.
Around the world, around the clock
Namur, a 4-year-old filly by Harbinger filly, had a lot to overcome in Sunday’s Group 1 Mile Championship at Kyoto Racecourse — seven previous failed attempts at the top level, a talented lineup of rivals, the outside gate and a late rider change when Ryan Moore was forced to relinquish the mount after a fall earlier on the program.
She got the job done with a late rush, leaving behind such quality also-rans as the favorite, Soul Rush (second); Schnell Meister (seventh); last year’s winner and 2022 Japanese sprinter/miler champion Serifos (eighth); and multiple international winner Bathrat Leon, who beat only one rival.
Although Moore took off the remainder of his mounts for medical evaluation, early reports were he will be able to ride in next Sunday’s Grade 1 Japan Cup.
Sunday’s Group 2 Jockey Club races at Sha Tin were final preps for some of the hopefuls headed for the Dec. 10 Longines Hong Kong International Races, including Sprint winner Lucky Sweynesse, Cup winner Straight Arron and Mile 1-2 Beauty Eternal and Beauty Joy.
Lucky Sweynesse, whose record would look significantly better but for some unlucky traffic and massive weight assignments, got back on track after two second-place finishes.
Jockey Zac Purton said the 5-year-old “got the job done” but added, “He’s sort of back to his best. He’s not quite there yet.”
Purton also had the winner in the Jockey Club Mile as Beauty Eternal got the lead in the lane and held off Beauty Joy by a short head.
“It’s probably the first time he’s had to dig deep when something has come at him like that and find and he’ll take some confidence out of it,” Purton said.
He’ll need that in the Longines Mile, where he is set to face three-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Golden Sixty, who bypassed Sunday’s heat.
In the Jockey Club Cup at 2,000 meters, Straight Arron got to the front inside the final 100 meters and prevailed by 3/4 length over the favorite, Sword Point. Vincent Ho rode the winner with Purton just missing the stakes triple aboard Sword Point.