Chicago Barn to Wire


Arlington Park Stakes Results

Contact: David Zenner (847) 385-7535


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Sept. 1, 2001) -- Vicki Vallencourt and Don't Ruffle Me, each a winner for a $50,000 claiming price in their respective career debuts, finished a head apart in Saturday's $75,000 Top Flight Stakes at Arlington Park. The victorious Vicki Vallencourt, a daughter of Regal Classic, was ridden by Rene Douglas and covered the six furlongs in 1:11.77.

A $15,000 purchase out of the Keeneland January 2000 sale, Vicki Vallencourt was an 11-length winner for $50,000 in her career debut Aug. 22 and was only entered in this race by trainer Hugh Robertson in case the field came up light in numbers. She earned $45,000 to boost her bankroll to $61,800 while remaining perfect in two starts.

Desert Sage, third choice in the race at odds of 7-2, set the pace through an opening quarter mile of 22.31 seconds and a half-mile split of 45.82 seconds before fading to last in the eight-horse field.

Don't Ruffle Me made a move at the frontrunner on the second turn and took a 2-length lead in the stretch but could not hold off the eventual winner, who closed from fifth at the top of the stretch to claim the victory in the final stride.

"Today, we knew there'd be a lot of pace and our intention was to take her back," said Douglas. "She broke good but I did take her back to save some ground, and she relaxed very well for me. She did everything right. Turning for home, I knew (Don't Ruffle Me) would be tough because she was running easy, but my filly responded when I asked her and went after the leader."

"When she made the lead by herself, she started looking around," said Marlon St. Julien, who rode the runner-up. "If she had kept her momentum going, she'd have won."

Strong Credentials was another five lengths back in third, followed by Emeraldforajudge, Glenbriar Girl, 24-10 favorite Honest Deceiver, Just Scarlet and Desert Sage.

Third longest price in the field, Vicki Vallencourt paid $23.20, $8.80 and $4.60. Don't Ruffle Me paid $10.80 and $5.60. Strong Credentials paid $4.40.

The Top Flight serves as the final local prep for the Grade III $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie, which will be run in three weeks, on Sept. 22. Robertson indicated he'd point Vicki Vallencourt for that race.

"I'm sure that's what we'll point for if she comes out of this race all right," he said. "She came out of her first race well, but I hesitated running her back so quickly (in 10 days). This was a much harder race but she's got three weeks (to bounce back). I'm sure she'll run long, but whether she can come back that quickly, who knows?"

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