Chicago Barn to Wire


Arlington Park Stakes Results

Contact: David Zenner (847) 385-7535


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 18, 2001) -- Making his first start since running tenth in this year's Kentucky Derby, Startac closed from last to win the Grade I, $400,000 Secretariat Stakes under jockey Alex Solis by a nose over Canadian invader Strut the Stage.

Owned by the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust and trained by Simon Bray, the son of Theatrical covered the mile-and-a-quarter distance in 2:04.91 over the yielding Arlington Park turf course. The victory earned Startac $240,000, which boosted his lifetime earnings to $525,193. The Secretariat tally was sweet redemption for both the owner and trainer, whose mare Astra finished last as the 3-5 favorite in today's Beverly D. Stakes.

Royal Spy and Fan's Club Mister set sensible early fractions of 24.55 and 49.39 in the Secretariat with Startac and Strut the Stage well back early in the field of 11. As the field hit the top of the stretch, Royal Spy and Fan's Club Mister dropped back with eventual third-place finisher Sharp Performance inheriting the lead. But Sharp Performance faced a fresh challenge from Strut the Stage, who took over the lead at the sixteenth-pole. Just when it seemed that Strut the Stage was home free, however, Startac split horses in deep stretch and sustained a furious late rally, catching Strut the Stage in the race's very last jump. It was only a half-length back to a game Sharp Performance in third.

"I needed every inch of the stretch to get up," said winning rider Alex Solis. "I just wanted to be patient early and I thought I'd have to go around the field. But I saw an opportunity to save a little ground around the far turn and I decided to go for it. It might have made the difference."

"I thought my horse ran a great race," said jockey Todd Kabel, the rider of Strut the Stage who came in to the Secretariat riding a three-race winning streak including stakes victories in his last two efforts. " I didn't find that he liked the soft ground as well as firmer ground, but he still ran well. I knew another horse was coming at me, but I wasn't sure whether he got me or not. It was a tough loss, but he ran his heart out for me. We'll live to fight another day."

Startac paid $24.40, $8.80 and $6.20. Strut the Stage returned $6.40 and $4.40 and Sharp Performance paid $3.60 to show. With 37-1 shot Saint Damien running fourth, the superfecta returned a whopping $7,306.60. Navesink, Fan Club's Mister, Aldwych, Snowstorm, Package Store, Mizzen Mast (the 5-2 post-time favorite) and Royal Spy completed the order of finish.

The Secretariat Stakes was also the anchor leg of a special Festival 3 pick three wager combining the winners of races 6, 8 and 10-the Beverly D. Stakes, the Arlington Million and the Secretariat Stakes. The winning combination of 8-2-7 (England's Legend, Silvano and Startac) returned $1,263.20 for a $2.00 wager.

Additional quotes:

Chris McCarron (rode Sharp Performance, 3rd):
"The journey was good. The colt ran well. He gave me 3 or 4 different accelerations during the race. He's kind of like a bicycle. You've got to keep riding him or you're not going to go forward. And then when you chirp to him, he wants to get going too fast, so you have to settle him down again. Considering that's the way he ran today, he still finished very well."

Rene Douglas (rode Saint Damien, 4th):
"He ran a hell of a race. Coming out of the chute, I couldn't get a good position early. I got him to relax, which was important. I took my time I had a perfect trip from there. When he switched leads, my horse hit another gear. I was pleased with him. I know this horse can run and distance is no problem. He has a beautiful stride."

Randall Meier (Fan Club's Mister, 6th):
"The post position killed us. If I have the rail, I'm going to be on the lead and choking them. Pace wasn't that much quicker (than in the American Derby). He overcame the 12-hole. I'd like to try them again. He didn't run a bad race for an Illinois-bred that everybody bad-mouthed. I thought he ran a big race."

Jerry Bailey (rode favored Mizzen Mast, 10th):
"Perfect trip. Perfect position. Completely empty by the 5/16-pole. I don't know how much that six furlongs on Thursday in 1:13 4/5 helped him."

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