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|Arlington Park Stakes Advance: Arlington Handicap (GIII)
Contact: David Zenner
BALLINGARRY RETURNS FOR $250,000 ARLINGTON HANDICAP
Irish-Bred Looks For Second Straight Over Arlington Lawn
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 22, 2004) -- Ballingarry, two-time winner of the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park, returns to Chicago's premier oval as the starting highweight and possible favorite in the $250,000 Arlington Handicap Saturday.
The Grade III race, the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be run here August 14, is contested at the Million distance of a mile and a quarter over Arlington's world renowned turf course. The Arlington Handicap is one of three six-figure stakes races on the turf that comprise the track's Million Preview Day program that also includes the Grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap for fillies and mares and the Grade II $250,000 American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's, for 3-year-olds.
Ballingarry, owned in partnership by Chicago businessman Sidney L. Port, Marsha Naify and San Gabriel Investments, is six for 20 in his career but two for three over the Arlington Park turf course, his lone loss over the surface coming when finishing seventh in Grade I John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf in 2002. Trained by Laura de Seroux, the 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells will carry high weight of 121 pounds including Arlington Park's leading jockey Rene Douglas, and spot his rivals from one to nine pounds.
Team Block's Mystery Giver, the 2002 Illinois Horse of the Year, looks to rebound after finishing sixth in the $84,650 Cardinal Handicap over this course June 26. The 6-year-old Dynaformer gelding is enjoying a career year in 2004, having won the Grade II $500,000 Mervyn Muniz Jr. Handicap at the Fair Grounds this winter. The Chris Block trainee, who finished third in the 2003 Arlington Handicap, will carry 120 pounds Saturday and will be ridden by C. H. Marquez Jr.
Robert & Beverly Lewis' Senor Swinger, who began his career in Chicago, returns to Illinois for the first time since being purchased by the Lewises in 2003. The El Prado colt comes in after running second through the line but disqualified to third for coming out in the stretch in the Grade II Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 3. Prior to that, the Bob Baffert-trained 4-year-old won the $100,000 Opening Verse at the Twin Spires oval. Brice Blanc has been named to ride.
Iron County Farm Inc's Sharbayan makes his return to the races in the Arlington Handicap. Transferred from the California barn of trainer Wally Dollase to local conditioner Frank Kirby, the son of Doyoun makes his second start of 2004 but his first since running fifth in the Grade II San Marcos Handicap at Santa Anita back in January. During a productive 5-year-old campaign last year, the Irish-bred gelding won four of five races topped by a score in the Grade III Sycamore Breeders' Cup at Keeneland in October. Rafael Bejarano, America's leading jockey in races won, has the mount.
Completing the field for the Arlington Handicap (with jockey and weight assignment) are: George Brunacini's Grey Beard (Frank Lovato Jr., 115 pounds), placed second in the Stars and Stripes last time out; Laura Melnyk's Rowans Park (Eusebio Razo Jr., 114), winless this year but graded stakes placed in 2003; and Barry Golden's On the Course (Mark Guidry, 112), recent allowance winner over this course.
Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 96-day meet in 2004 from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, Sept. 19. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Longshots featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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