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$700,000 BEVERLY D. ATTRACTS ASTRA, OTHER RISING FILLY & MARE STARS; NINE SET FOR RICHEST GRADE I DISTAFFER TEST EVER AT ARLINGTON
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 15, 2001) -- Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Astra, currently the brightest star in a galaxy of brilliant fillies and mares from all over the globe, looms the choice in a field of nine distaffers named to the 12th running of the Grade I Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million.
The co-featured Beverly D. will be contested as the opening act of three Grade I events during Arlington Park's one-day International Festival of Racing August 18.
The Beverly D., at a mile and three-sixteenths over Arlington's world-famous grass course, offers a purse of $700,000 this year, its richest renewal ever during more than a decade of history. The female turf test will be contested as the sixth race Saturday, two races prior to the Million in its position as the initial phase of the Festival.
Underlining the importance of the Beverly D. on the international scene, it is worthy of note that three of its last six winners have gone on to win Eclipse Awards as Female Turf Horse in those respective seasons.
Astra has only started twice this year, but won both of those outings and comes into the Beverly D. off a dominant performance in the Grade I Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 24. In that Southern California event, the 5-year-old mare was settled just behind the early leaders, took command after the furlong marker and drew off for an impressive four-length tally.
Before that, on April 14 at Santa Anita, the daughter of Theatrical used similar tactics to score by three lengths in the Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap. Trained by Simon Bray, Astra will be ridden by regular rider Kent Desormeaux in the Beverly D.
Sure to provide strong competition for Astra in the Beverly D. is Edouard de Rothschild's England's Legend, interestingly a French-bred filly in spite of her name. The 4-year-old daughter of Lure comes into Chicago's premier distaffer test off a length and a half tally in her last trip to the post in Belmont Park's Grade II New York Handicap July 14. In that mile and a quarter outing at the New York oval, England's Legend bobbled at the start but recovered to press the early pace, gained the advantage at the furlong marker and drew clear late while kept to pressure.
Jockey Corey Nakatani, a previous winner of the Beverly D. on Possibly Perfect in 1995, has been named in the irons astride England's Legend, who is trained by native Frenchman Christophe Clement.
Also worthy of consideration against Astra in the top female Thoroughbred test of the season at Chicago's premier oval is the Australian-bred Kalatiara, owned by Stonerside Stable. The 4-year-old filly, who came to North America four months ago, has only made one start in this country, winning the Grade III Royal Heroine at Hollywood Park by a head on July 7.
Her triumphs "Down Under" include a two and three-quarter-length tally in the Group II Western Australia Guineas and a one-length win in the listed Burgess Queen Handicap. The bay finished third, beaten two lengths for all of it, in the Group II Western Australia Oaks and seventh against male rivals in the Group I Western Australia Derby.
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally is the American conditioner of Kalatiara, and Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, with two previous Beverly D. wins already recorded, has been named to handle the reins.
Charles Kenis's The Seven Seas, trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, is a strong Beverly D. threat, and will be ridden by Alex Solis. The Seven Seas won the $106,000 Estrapade by two and a-half-lengths in her most recent start July 16 at Hollywood Park. The 5-year-old mare by El Gran Senor quickly gained command in that mile and a half outing and was less than fully extended at the wire.
A year earlier, The Seven Seas had also captured the 2000 renewal of the Estrapade by a length and three-quarters in what turned out to be her final start of the year. The chestnut was subsequently sidelined by a hip injury that kept her away from the races until May of this year.
Others named to Saturday's Beverly D. include Grundy Bloodstock's Di Moi Oui, second in the Group III La Coupe Stakes at Longchamp June 21, with French jockey Thierry Thulliez flying in for the mount.
Janice & Robert Aron's Spook Express, a South African-bred who won two Grade III races at Gulfstream Park this winter, was most recently third behind England's Legend in the New York Handicap July 14. Regular Mike Smith is slated for the tack once again.
Also in the Beverly D. field is James C. Routsong's Megans Bluff, who won both the Grade III Arlington Oaks and the Grade III Arlington Matron last year and was second by a nose in the Grade III Modesty Handicap here in her last start July 28. Jockey Craig Perret is named.
Completing the field are Bentley Smith Revocable Trust's Solvig, third in the Modesty last time with Robby Albarado aboard; and Sam-Son Farm's Only to You, fifth in the Beverly D. last year and most recently third in the Grade III Dance Smartly Handicap at Woodbine July 7 with Todd Kabel astride once again.
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