ELMONT, N.Y. — The Grade I Acorn Stakes was a golden opportunity in more ways than one.
Gabby's Golden Gal, who was beaten 291/4 lengths by Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks, took advantage of the superfilly's absence Saturday to capture the 1-mile Acorn in front-running fashion by 13/4-lengths for her first graded stakes victory.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Gabby's Golden Gal raised eyebrows when she won the Sunland Park Oaks by 13 lengths in her fourth career start on March 29.
Though she proved no match for Rachel Alexandra after setting the pace in the Oaks, Gabby's Golden Gal was resolute on the front end Saturday, hitting the wire in 1:34.79 after setting fractions of :22.61 and :45.39 over a fast track.
"She's not real big but she puts everything into it," said Arnold Zetcher, owner and breeder of Gabby's Golden Gal. "This is a good distance for her. We wanted to get past that last race."
Justwhistledixie, who scratched the morning of the Oaks with a hoof ailment, had her five-race winning streak snapped by finishing second. Casanova Move was third.
Gabby's Golden Gal's appeared to suffer from heat exhaustion coming back to the winner's circle. After being hosed with cold water, the filly responded and was able to walk back toward the barn area.
Gio Ponti takes Manhattan
Gio Ponti rallied from last place in an 12-horse field to capture the Grade I Manhattan by 11/2-lengths over Marsh Side.
The 4-year-old Gio Ponti won the Frank E. Kilroe Handicap on March 7 for his first Grade I victory. He showcased his powerful kick again Saturday after trailing the field down the backside through a half in :49.08.
Marsh Side held for second with Better Talk Now, the 10-year-old sentimental favorite, putting in a rally of his own to get up for third in the 50th start of his career.
Munnings split foes in the lane and drew off under John Velazquez to capture the Grade II Woody Stephens Stakes by 51/4 lengths for his first graded stakes win.
The 3-year-old had been winless in four starts since breaking his maiden at Saratoga last July. He ran second in an allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 1 in his first start of the year.
The previously unbeaten Everyday Heroes held for second with Kensei third.
Fabulous Strike blazes
Fabulous Strike did his part to dry out the Belmont surface Saturday. The 6-year-old gelding dueled with Sixthirteen through torrid fractions but still had enough to hold off Benny the Bull to win the Grade II True North Handicap in a sizzling 1:07.85 for 6 furlongs.
Fabulous Strike and Sixthirteen clicked off fractions of :21.85 and :43.62.
Benny the Bull, returning from retirement, made his customary charge in the lane, but Fabulous Strike held on, just missing the track record of 1:07.66 set by Artax in 1999.
Diamondrella pulls upset
Improving Diamondrella put in a furious six-wide rally in the stretch to upset champion Forever Together in the Grade I Just A Game Handicap by 13/4 lengths over 1 mile on the turf.
Forever Together — the champion turf female of 2008 — appeared poised for her fourth career Grade I win, but Diamondrella came home under a steady drive under jockey Rajiv Maragh to cover the distance in 1:36.49 over a yielding turf.
Sea the Stars sweeps2K Guineas, English Derby
EPSOM, England — Sea The Stars won the English Derby on Saturday, becoming the first horse in 20 years to win the Epsom classic after capturing the 2,000 Guineas.
Mick Kinane rode the 11-4 shot to a 1¾-length victory over Fame And Glory to emulate the double last achieved by Nashwan in 1989. Masterofthehorse was a neck behind in third.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.