No Nay Never (Mike Smith) striding away for impressive return victoryPICTURE: EquiSport Photos
Impressive comeback win for No Nay Never
Report: USA, Saturday
Keeneland: Woodford Stakes (Grade 3) 5½f, turf, 3yo+
TRAINER Wesley Ward is eyeing the Breeders' Cup Sprint for No Nay Never (Mike Smith) after the three-year-old made an impressive comeback to beat his elders after a seven-month layoff.
Brilliant in Europe last year when he won the Norfolk Stakes and Prix Morny, the Coolmore colt was returning to the lawn for his first outing since an odds-on defeat on dirt in the Swale Stakes on March 1.
Sent off 2-1 favourite, the powerful son of Scat Daddy simply glided to the lead between horses from post nine, then sat on the rail as Spring To The Sky took him on up front before taking charge as they enterted the stretch.
No Nay Never was always holding the late flourish of Mongol Bull and Sharp Sensation as he stopped the clock in a time of 1m03.59s on ground rated 'good'.
Although Ward said he would discuss plans with the colt's owners, the trainer suggested he was leaning towards a return to dirt for the Breeders' Cup Sprint in four weeks' time instead of the Turf Sprint, which is held on an idiosyncratic downhill chute at Santa Anita.
"He's equally as good on the dirt and it's more likely than not the Breeders' Cup Sprint," said Ward. "I think he can do both but this turf course here is just so kind and forgiving. He's a big, blocky, extremely fast horse - I thought this was just a really great spot to bring him back and springboard him back into what we're going to do."
Also on Saturday
Belmont Park: Champagne Stakes (Grade 1) 1m, dirt, 2yo
While it is always hard to evaluate anything that happens on a sloppy track, it would be hard to quibble with the performance of Daredevil (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano), who took his unbeaten record to two with his jockey barely moving a muscle.
The 17-10 favourite sat in second just off Holy Boss before taking control as they exited the turn and making light of sloppy conditions to cruise to an authoritative triumph over Upstart looking value for more than the official margin of two and a half lengths. It was nearly 13 lengths more back to the third.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won New York's premier two-year-old race six times, was completing a hat-trick in the $500,000 contest. "I thought it was very impressive," said the trainer.
"He rated kindly and did everything you would hope one would do. He finished really well and I couldn't be more pleased. His training for us has been really impressive in the mornings. He trains like a good horse on fast dirt too."
The victory earned Daredevil an expenses-paid trip to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile as part of the 'Win-and-You're In' Challenge.
Belmont Park: Frizette Stakes (Grade 1) 1m, dirt, 2yo fillies
A shock result in the slop as 24-1 longshot By The Moon (Michelle Nevin/Jose Ortiz) turned the tables on odds-on favourite Condo Commando, who had slammed her on their previous meeting in the Spinaway.
Racing a couple of lanes off the rail, By The Moom overwhelmed front-runner Cavorting on the turn before taking a couple of lengths out of her rivals and keeping on well enough to hold Wonder Gal and Feathered. Condo Commando, never able to lead after missing a beat at the break, was only fourth.
Belmont Park: Hill Prince Stakes (Grade 3) 1m1f, turf, 3yo
No joy in this richly endowed Grade 3 for the Jeremy Noseda-trained Sloane Avenue, who didn't seem to like the soft ground and was never a factor as he finished eighth of nine behind favoured Ring Weekend (Graham Motion/Irad Ortiz).
Keeneland: Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Grade 2) 6f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
Leigh Court (Josie Carroll/Gary Boulanger) will head for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint after an explosive three-length victory. Hot favourite Stonetastic had nothing left in the stretch after being softened up in a pace duel with R Free Roll and could finish only third.