|Arlington Park - Road To The Million
Contact: Graham Ross
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TAKARIAN TAKES GII AMERICAN HANDICAP AT HOLLYWOOD JULY 4; HEADS TO CHICAGO THIS WEEK FOR GII ARLINTON HANDICAP JULY 28
Nicholls, Greely & Columbine Stable's Takarian, an Arlington Million nominee, pressed a slow pace, took command in upper stretch and gradually drew clear to capture the Grade II American Handicap during Hollywood Park's Fourth of July program.
Having conquered Southern California, Takarian is now headed to Chicago, and is due in mid-week to prepare for the Grade II Arlington Handicap to be run July 28 here as part of Arlington Park's new Million Preview Day program.
The Arlington Handicap, final local prep for the Arlington Million three weeks later, offers an increased purse of $250,000 this year.
"Takarian will leave Tuesday and arrive at Arlington sometime Wednesday," said trainer Beau Greely over the phone from Hollywood Park. "If everything goes as planned, we'll run him in the Arlington Handicap, and if things go well there, hopefully we'll come back with him in the Arlington Million August 18."
Greely, the latest generation of a family with a long history in thoroughbred racing, is familiar to Chicago fans after having saddled Columbine Stable, J. Merrick Jones & Tom Nicholls' Manndar in last year's Arlington Million. Manndar, checked repeatedly during a most unfortunate trip in last year's seasonal centerpiece, rallied late to gain the second spot behind the victorious Chester House, owned by Juddmonte Farms, Inc.
Interestingly, Takarian won the American Handicap two years ago at 31-1, was sixth in the race last year, but was sent off once again at a generous 14-1 during this year's renewal.
"I guess they liked him a little better this year," said Greely, when remarking on the surprisingly liberal odds. "Really, he was only beaten about four lengths for all of it when he was sixth in last year's renewal.
"This was his first race back after throat surgery in February," said Greely. "He had an entrapped epiglottis. Judging his performance, the surgery helped. Hopefully, he'll keep going that way."
A total of seven horses will arrive with the Greely shipment Wednesday. Among them will be John Stewart's Jig, an Irish-bred mare who won Hollywood's $75,000 La Zanzara Stakes in May.
"I'm pointing her for the Modesty Handicap," said Greely of the Grade III final local prep for Arlington's Grade I Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million that is also part of the one-day International Festival of Racing August 18.
Like the Arlington Handicap, the Modesty will be run July 28 as part of the Million Preview Day program.
Columbine Stable's Sligo Bay, a potential candidate for the Grade I Secretariat as part of the International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day, is another Greely-trained charge due in Wednesday.
"Sligo Bay won the Cinema Handicap (GIII) May 20," said Greely. "If all goes well, we'll run him in the American Derby (GII) July 22."
The American Derby, at a mile and three-sixteenths, is the middle leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple for 3-year-olds on the grass, which will conclude with the mile and a quarter Secretariat August 18.
Raypour, owned by the same partnership that owned Manndar, will also arrive with the Greely contingent, after finishing sixth in the American Handicap behind his winning stablemate.
"He was beaten about four lengths," said Greely of Raypour. "He needed to run closer to the pace but I think Laffit (Pincay Jr., Raypour's jockey) saw his entrymate up there and didn't want to compromise that one's chances. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with Raypour, but he is another Arlington Million nominee."
Completing the Greely shipment will be a 3-year-old maiden filly, a 2-year-old maiden colt, and Five Star Day, who is being pointed for Saratoga's Grade II A. G. Vanderbilt Handicap August 5.
Fourth in Hollywood's American Handicap was Richard L. Duchossois' National Anthem, trained by Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally. The 5-year-old British-bred son of Royal Academy is also an Arlington Million nominee.
On July 7, Centennial Farms' King Cugat reaffirmed his credentials as an Arlington Million probable starter by closing with a bold late run to capture the Grade II Bowling Green Handicap by a half-length. The Kingmambo colt finished the mile and three-eighths distance in 2:10 3/5, two fifths of a second off the stakes and course record.
King Cugat, who won last year's Grade II Arlington Classic, was then second in the Secretariat, and had not visited the winner's circle since tallying in the Grade II Jamaica Handicap at Belmont last October.
Racing without blinkers in the Bowling Green, King Cugat responded in dramatic fashion when asked after trailing the field during the early going.
"That was the way we decided to let King Cugat run today, relaxed and from off the pace," said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott following the Bowling Green. "I was pleased enough with the race, but I'm not sure this is his best distance. My first impression is that I would be willing to try a mile and a half toward the end of the year, but the Arlington Million is next for him."
Rich Meadow Stable's Slew Valley, an Arlington Million nominee who made the pace in the Bowling Green, easily held the second position finishing six lengths to the good of the third horse under the wire. The one-furlong shorter distance of the Arlington Million would seem to work to that Valley Crossing colt's advantage.
Arthur I. Appleton's Forbidden Apple, fifth in Belmont's Bowling Green after winning the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at that New York oval June 9, is also an Arlington Million nominee.
Earlier in the month, on July 1, Arlington Million nominee Falcon Flight, owned by Gary A. Tanaka, won the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf at a mile and a half. However, trainer Donald J. Burke II, saddling his first career winner, remained somewhat ambivalent concerning the French-bred colt's Million status.
"I've got him on the list," Burke said, "but I don't know. I would think the mile and a half distance would suit him better. I might bring him back in the Arlington Handicap to see how he does."
Mark Stanley's Three Wonders, fourth in the Stars and Stripes, is also nominated to the Arlington Million.
Another Arlington Million nominee who won recently but is unlikely for the Chicago showcase event is Juddmonte Farms' Aptitude, who was placed first in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup on the main track July 1. Although Juddmonte Farms won last year's Arlington Million with Chester House, also trained by Bobby Frankel, the Hall of Fame conditioner is not likely to repeat with this 4-year-old son of A. P. Indy, winless in two career grass starts.
Meanwhile, in July races considered significant stepping stones to the Beverly D. for fillies and mares, Richard L. Duchossois' Innit won the Grade II Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Invitational Handicap at the beginning of the month. The 3-year-old Irish-bred filly trailed the field early and closed boldly in the late stages under Chris McCarron for a neck tally in the race restricted to sophomore distaffers.
Helen Smith & Pam Blatz-Murff's Beefeater Baby, a daughter of Thunder Gulch who is also a Beverly D. nominee, was third in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup.
On July 7 at Woodbine Race Course, Beverly D. nominee Badouizm, owned by Epona Farm, finished second beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Grade III Dance Smartly Handicap at the Toronto-area oval.
Three-quarters of a length behind Badouizm, in third position, was Sam-Son Farm's Only to You, another Beverly D. nominee. That mare finished a head in front of W. S. Farish & E. J. Hudson Jr.'s Good Game, still another Beverly D. nominee, fourth in the Dance Smartly.
Also on July 7, at Hollywood Park, Australian-bred Kalatiara, a Beverly D. nominee owned by Stonerside Stable, LLC, won the Grade III Royal Heroine under Chris McCarron in her first American start and first start of the year.
On July 8 at Arlington Beverly D. nominee Great Fever, owned by last year's leading Arlington owner Frank C. Calabrese, came from well back to win a mile and an eighth allowance race on the grass by a neck. The French-bred tallied in allowance company on the grass at Keeneland in April.
Two separate distaff stakes contested June 30 serve as preps for the co-feature of Arlington's International Festival of Racing. Beverly D. nominee Iftiraas, owned by Gary A. Tanaka, won the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park. Sadly, however on the same afternoon at Monmouth Park, WinStar Farm LLC.'s License Fee, broke down in the Grade II Molly Pitcher Handicap and had to be euthanized.
Late nominations to both the Arlington Million and Beverly D. close Wednesday, July 11. Late nomination fees at this juncture are $2,000 for the Arlington Million, and $1,500 for the Beverly D.
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