|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Dr. Livingston, I presume?
No, it was Luke Livingston who trainer Thomas Skiffington called, when one of his owners asked about South African Thoroughbreds for sale.
"You don't know of any, do you?" Skiffington asked his South African friend, assuming the answer would be negative. "There's nothing worth buying, is there?"
"As a matter of fact, there is, and the guy wants to sell her," Livingston said. Because of that, the Grade I Beverly D. will have it's first South African-bred starter - Robert & Janet Aron's Spook Express - when a grouping of the best fillies and mares in the world goes to the post in less than a fortnight at Arlington Park.
The Beverly D., with an increased purse of $700,000 for its 12th renewal, will be run August 18 as one of three Grade I races making up the one-day International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park. As the sister race to the Arlington Million on that day, it is also worthy of note that no South African-bred has ever been a contestant in that centerpiece event of the local season.
In fact, only Charles Englehard's Hawaii, a grass champion in the late Sixties, and Mr. & Mrs. Harry Oppenheimer's briefly brilliant Horse Chestnut are South African-breds remembered for making a significant mark in American Thoroughbred history.
Now, there are three. Spook Express easily joins this company. Although now a 7-year-old mare likely to be sent to the breeding shed following her current campaign, she won Gulfstream's Grade III Honey Fox Handicap this winter and came right back to the winner's circle in the Grade III Suwannee River Handicap at that South Florida oval.
"Let me put it this way," Skiffington said over the phone from Belmont Park when asked how Spook Express was coming up to her Beverly D. engagement. "I've run horses in six stakes races this year, and won three of them. I wouldn't be bringing her if she didn't belong. She breezed an easy half this morning (Sunday) in :48 and she's doing very well right now.
"She's very one-dimensional, however," Skiffington added. "She does need a legitimate pace in front of her to make her late run. In her last race (the Grade II New York Handicap at Belmont Park July 14 where she finished third), she didn't get it. That's what happened there."
Sam-Son Farm's Only to You, fifth in last year's Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park, is set for a return engagement in the co-featured event on Arlington Million Day August 18.
Only to You, Kentucky-bred but Woodbine-based, is one of three Sam-Son Farm color bearers headed to Arlington for the International Festival of Racing on that day, along with Grade I Million candidate Quiet Resolve and Grade I Secretariat prospect Strut The Stage.
"We'll probably leave Tuesday night (of Arlington Million week) from Woodbine and arrive at Arlington early Wednesday morning," trainer Mark Frostad said while speaking over the phone from Ontario of the Sam-Son troika.
The familiar red and gold silks of Sam-Son, one of the premier Canadian stables on the international Thoroughbred scene, will be one of only two owners with representatives in all three of the only Grade I races offered in Illinois.
"In the Beverly D. last year, the ground was a little off (yielding turf course) and Only to You got bogged down on the inside," Frostad said. "In spite of that, she finished fifth, and was only beaten three and three quarter lengths for all of it."
In her most recent trip to the post in the Grade III Dance Smartly Handicap at Woodbine July 7, Dance Smartly finished third, beaten a length and a half, but was coming on at the end of that mile and an eighth outing.
"She seems to be a little better this year than she was a year ago," Frostad said. "We'll see how she's doing at the end of the year before we decide whether we'll breed her or bring her back to the races next year."
Sam-Son Farm's Strut The Stage, a 3-year-old being pointed for the Grade I Secretariat, a race that is restricted to sophomores and offers a $400,000 purse, may have the most potential of any of those flying the familiar Canadian silks in the upcoming International Festival of Racing.
"He's won four out of five, and he's been pretty impressive here," trainer Mark Frostad said. "Of course, he'll be facing some pretty tough company in the Secretariat, but he's a very nice horse, and if he runs back to his last race, I expect he'll give a very good account of himself."
In last year's Secretariat, Frostad felt the same way about Sam-Son Farm's Think Red, who was undefeated coming into the 3-year-old grass fixture, but was a disappointing sixth.
"We had to retire Think Red with a fractured sesamoid soon after the Secretariat," Frostad said, "and I think it may have already been bothering him.
"Strut The Stage and Think Red are much the same, talent wise," Frostad said. "Physically, there is no resemblance, but they both showed similar potential at this point in their careers."
In his last trip to the post July 14 at Woodbine, Strut The Stage won the Grade III Toronto Cup Handicap by three and a quarter lengths without urging. Previously, the Theatrical colt out of a Red Ransom mare won the Charlie Barley Handicap at that Ontario oval by seven and three-quarter lengths.
Chicago horsemen swept the first three positions in the $125,000 Daily Racing Form Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes Saturday at Canterbury Park.
John Castro's Al's Dearly Bred, trained by Hugh Robertson, won the mile and a sixteenth turf test, defeating Wexler Racing Stables Inc.'s Metatonia, conditioned by Eddie Kenneally, in an exciting stretch duel.
Kenneth E. Hoffman's Concielo, trained by the owner, finished third in that middle distance affair.
Earlier in the afternoon, Christopher West & John Mentz's Secret Squall, trained by Pat Cuccurullo, won the $50,000 Vetrap Claiming Crown Iron Horse Stakes.
The lagniappe ending of the Arlington Park Daily Notes is renamed today in honor of Arlington Park racing secretary David Bailey and his girlfriend Linda Cox, who have announced their engagement. Bailey popped the question Friday night to his intended, who is an employee of Arlington's caterer, The Levy Restaurants.
Jockey Tim Doocy, who won the 4,000th race of his career here at Arlington last summer, has packed his tack in favor of the upcoming Remington Park meeting August 11 near his home and family. Doocy rode the 1990 Haskell Invitational Handicap winner Restless Con. That Grade I event is being contested Sunday at Monmouth Park in its 34th renewal.
Jockeys Robby Albarado and Rene Douglas both scored riding triples here Saturday.
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