Monday Morning Trainer: White blanket

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The end of the year and the holidays are really coming fast. Seriously. Fast.

We know this for obvious reasons, not the least is the shortness of the days, fresh snow, ice, freezing rain, you name it around the East Coast and some other annual rites of winter. Officially it’s not even winter, that won’t come until Dec. 21, but try telling that to the people in and around the Mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast.

The graded stakes list for 2014 came out just before the weekend, another sure sign that one year’s about to end and another about to begin. Quickly on the heels of that are scores of racing’s leaders heading out of the cold and to Tucson, Arizona, to solve all of the industry’s problems (hey, we can dream can’t we?) for the annual Symposium on Racing and Gaming. Finally, the last serious auction of the year goes down today with the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale in Timonium.

In between all of that, and occasionally overlapping, was some pretty good racing for this time of year. It went down from coast to coast and even as far away as Hong Kong. In case you missed it, we’ll give our best shot at a recap right here.

Streaming ran her record to 2-for-2 with an upset victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, representing a major coup for breeders John G. Sikura and Edward McGhee. Entered and withdrawn from the 2012 Keeneland September sale, Streaming is from the family of Belmont Stakes winners Rags to Riches and Jazil. Those two are out of Better Than Honour, a mare that is obviously special and even more so to Sikura.

He owned her several times, first shortly after she retired from racing for Robert Waxman in the late 1990s. Shortly after Teeming, Better Than Honour’s Storm Cat filly foaled in 2001, made it the races Sikura sold her privately to Skara Glen Stables. Skara Glen bred both Belmont winners out of the mare and before those victories they sold the mare (carrying a Mineshaft colt that would become Grade 2 winner Casino Drive) for $2 million at the 2004 Keeneland November sale. Sikura and former partner Mike Moreno of Southern Equine Stables teamed up to buy her privately, with the latter owning a 70 percent interest. Sikura and Moreno dissolved that partnership when Better Than Honour was sold for a world record $14 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale.

Sikura and McGhee, his father-in-law, kept Teeming though and after breeding her to Smart Strike they got Streaming. She won her debut going 6 furlongs Nov. 15 at Hollywood Park and now less than a month later is a Grade 1 winner. …


Locals crush in Hong Kong

The Starlet was the lone Grade 1 in North America over the weekend. Sha Tin staged four Group 1s Sunday as part of the Hong Kong International Races program.

The Hong Kong card attracted runners from all over the globe, including two from the U.S. in Little Mike and King Kreesa.

The $2,579,673 Hong Kong Mile went to the locally based Glorious Days, runner-up in the same race a year ago. New York-bred King Kreesa pressed the pace early but faded to 12th when the serious running commenced.

The results for the other U.S. entrant were about the same in the headlining $2,837,640 Hong Kong Cup, won by Hong Kong’s Akeed Mofeed. Little Mike didn’t make the lead but tracked in third early before fading to ninth.

Dominant got things started for the Hong Kong contingent with a victory over highly fancied Europeans The Fugue and Dunaden in the $1,934,754 Hong Kong Vase. The 5-year-old by Cacique was winless since taking a Group 3 handicap back in May at Sha Tin. The Fugue got in trouble yet again and was shuffled back approaching the stretch before finishing three-quarters of a length behind the winner.

The lone non-Hong Kong-based winner on the day came in the $1,934,754 Sprint, which went to Japan’s Lord Kanaloa. The winner of the same race a year ago, the 5-year-old by Kingmambo’s son King Kamehameha was even more dominant in 2013, winning by 5 lengths from Ireland’s Sole Power and Hong Kong’s Frederick Engels as the 4-5 favorite.

Read more about the Hong Kong International Races. …

Back on these shores

Calder rolled out a trio of Grade 3 events that make up part of its Tropical meeting with the Fred W. Hooper for older horses, Tropical Turf for older horses on grass and My Charmer for fillies and mares on the turf.

Csaba, in tough against stakes company last summer at Monmouth and Saratoga, won his second straight Hooper for owners Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff and trainer Phil Gleaves. The 4-year-old by Kitten’s Joy, who Gleaves tried to make a grass horse earlier in his career due to his sire’s monumental success with runners on that surface, won four the fourth time this season in the Hooper.

Moyglare Stud’s Irish-bred Speaking of Which handled Tetradrachm in the Tropical Turf for his first stakes win in the U.S. and Antoinette Oppenheimer’s English-bred Valiant Girl posted a monstrous upset at nearly 43-1 to win the My Charmer. The Lemon Drop Kid filly was coming off an eighth in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont and a seventh in the Rood & Riddle Dowager at Keeneland for trainer Graham Motion.

Across town at Gulfstream Park the Claiming Crown took center stage the same day. As strange as that seems, it’s definitely the new normal in South Florida.

Before the Claiming Crown got started, Miss Besilu turned in a much-anticipated professional performance winning a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden for owner Ben Leon’s Besilu Stables and trainer Bill Mott.

The 2-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly, a $2.6 million yearling we wrote about Friday, took to the turf like children sledding down a hill after a snowstorm and won by 2 1/4 lengths racing on the front end. Miss Besilu paid $15. Hope you were reading.

Plenty of others were touted along the way, including Claiming Crown Express winner Ribo Bobo and Claiming Crown Emerald runner-up North Star Boy.

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey added to their Claiming Crown haul with a pair of victories by Major Marvel in the Emerald and Deanaallen’skittne in the Claiming Crown Tiara. They now have a dozen Claiming Crown victories.

Tough to put the impressive wins on the card in order, but Ribo Bobo’s score in the Express ranks right up there. He came off just 10 days rest, with a trip south from the Northeast, to win the Express. The 5-year-old Louis Quatorze gelding was second last time to Ben’s Cat in the Fabulous Strike at Penn National.

Luis Saez got trainer Nick Zito to compare him to Eddie Belmonte (kids, fire up Google) when he rode Nevada Kid to victory in the headlining $192,000 Claiming Crown Jewel in gate-to-wire fashion. The 4-year-old Silver Train colt won relatively easily as the Ramsey’s favored Bernie the Maestro faded in the 1 1/8-mile finale.

Other Claiming Crown winners were Carolina Lizard in the Iron Lady, Goodtimehadbyall in the Rapid Transit and Point Finish in the Iron Horse. …

Continuing a theme from our Saturday Special piece, Eighttofasttocatch again made everyone look good with his win in the $100,000 Broad Brush at Laurel. The Broad Brush was the 10th career stakes score for the Not For Love gelding who is trained by recent Ironman Cozumel (as in 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run) finisher Tim Keefe. …

A weekend recap wouldn’t be right without mention of Ullapool, who won for the second time since returning from more than a year on the sidelines in Saturday’s $100,000 Garland of Roses at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old Langfuhr filly is certainly one to follow and we hope to catch up with her connections real soon.