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ARLINGTON PARK

Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/5/04)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

NEXT WEEKEND'S ESTRAPADE 'CAP -- 'KEY' RACE FOR JULIE'S PRIZE

Richard Otto Stables Inc.'s Julie's Prize, winner of Arlington's $40,000 Native Pet, runner-up in the $86,450 Purple Violet, and third in the Grade III Pucker Up during her summer campaign here last year, is likely to make her 2004 local bow in Arlington's $75,000 Estrapade Handicap next weekend.

The Estrapade, for fillies and mares, will be run at a mile and a sixteenth over Arlington's world famous turf course June 12.

"Last Saturday, she worked five-eighths in :58 1/5 handily," said trainer Tony Mitchell of Julie's Prize's bullet move at Arlington with regular rider Larry Sterling Jr. in the irons. "I kind of needed to get a good work into her. She didn't get much out her last race, but she came out of the work fantastic."

The daughter of El Prado had won her first two starts at Hawthorne this spring, including a four-length tally in the $100,000 Peach Of It Handicap, but had turned in a disappointing fourth-place effort in the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap in her last start April 24.

"She never really got into that last race," said Mitchell, "and I really needed to see her get back on her game before I could make any future plans. But Larry was delighted with the work, and right now she looks like a million bucks. She has matured so much this year (as a 4-year-old). I'm really pleased.

"The Estrapade will be a key race for her," said Mitchell. "She has to run really well in there, but if she does, we'll consider the Modesty (GIII, July 24) for her. And if she runs excellent, we might possibly consider the Beverly D. (GI, Aug. 14)."

The Modesty Handicap is the final local prep for the Beverly D., run three weeks later as part of Arlington's International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day.

"But even if those two races don't work out, there are a lot of stakes races here for her this summer," concluded Mitchell. "It's always nice to have a home field advantage."

IT'S SPOOKY -- MCMULLEN'S GHOST OF A CHANCE AS ESTRAPADE STARTER

Trainer Jim McMullen, born in Hinsdale 41 years ago, made the most of his Prairie State homecoming by saddling three winners from his first four starters at Arlington in 2004.

As the nephew of Hall of Fame trainer P. G. Johnson, McMullen learned his trade as a youngster under his uncle on the New York circuit during summer vacations, and went out on his own 11 years ago. He saddled his first winner at Hawthorne in 1993, but when Arlington went on a two-year-hiatus after the 1997 season, McMullen took his horses to South Florida.

After five years of year-round racing in Miami, McMullen journeyed to Delaware Park the last two summers before returning to Chicago this year.

"After five years, I needed a change from Florida," McMullen said. "Calder can get a little stagnant, and I needed to recharge the operation. My owners are Chicago people, and it seemed that during those years down there I never had an owner in the paddock with me. Now that I'm here, they can be here to enjoy it when the horses run.

"I've got a small core of owners, headed by Warren Brubaker, Dave Neiman and Mike Sullivan, but they are really great people and I'm glad I have the chance to let them enjoy their horses at the races."

McMullen rates It's Spooky, who won here on opening day, as the best of the eight currently in his barn. Although the daughter of Silver Ghost is nominated to next Saturday's $75,000 Estrapade Handicap, McMullen has not won three races from five starters by placing them over their heads, and he considers her doubtful in the Estrapade.

"She had kind of a mediocre winter," McMullen said, "but I think she has a future. One option is to try her on the turf, and another is to stretch her out, but the Estrapade might be a little ambitious right now."

ADVANTAGE, CONTRERAS -- RIDES 7 MOUNTS WHILE DOUGLAS AWAY

Arlington's current leading rider, apprentice jockey Cruz Contreras, enjoyed a three-win advantage over defending jockey champion Rene Douglas going into Saturday's races, but with Douglas going North of the border to ride at Woodbine for the afternoon, Contreras can widen his lead with seven mounts scheduled during the afternoon.

Contreras rides Kenneth Fishbein & C. B. Racing Inc.'s Forafewdollarsmore in the opener; is a late rider change astride Versatile Thoroughbreds LLC's Kin Roar in the second; comes right back on Andreas G. Haimalas' Princessofkalithea in the third; makes it three straight with Andrew Logan & Joseph P. McKellar's Rugula in the fourth; returns in the seventh with the mount on Moises R. Yanez & Hernandez Racing Club's Big Red Robyn; comes back in the ninth aboard DiVito, Battaglia, Dowd & Leclair's Primm in the ninth; and is listed astride Charles J. Sigrist's Desirabledancer in the finale.

- END -

 

 

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