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Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/17/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Team Block's Mystery Giver, hero of this winter's Grade II Mervyn Muniz Jr. Handicap in New Orleans and winner of the $125,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap before that, breezed five furlongs in 1:03 Saturday morning over the Arlington lawn in preparation for his upcoming start in the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 24.

Jockey Carlos H. Marquez Jr. was aboard for Mystery Giver's move, which was accomplished with the "dogs" well out from the rail on the grass course.

"We got just what we wanted," said trainer Chris Block shortly after Saturday training hours were completed. "We usually like to work him a week out from the race and we were glad to get it done on the grass. Everything went great. We're right on schedule."

The $250,000 Arlington Handicap, at a mile and a quarter over the Arlington turf course, is designed as the final major local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 14. The Arlington Handicap is packaged along with the Grade III Modesty Handicap and the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's, as part of Arlington's Million Preview Day.

The American Derby is the middle leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, while the Grade I Secretariat, also part of Arlington's International Festival of Racing Aug. 14, is the final leg of the Triple. The Modesty is the final major local prep for the Grade I Beverly D., also included in Arlington's one-day International Festival this season.


Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey's Kitten's Joy, with one lone hiccup in an otherwise unblemished record this season, is being pointed for the Grade I Secretariat at Arlington Park as his next engagement, according to trainer Dale Romans.

"That's where we're pointing," said Romans, speaking over the phone from Churchill Downs earlier this week. "He came out of his race (a winning effort in the Grade III Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs July 10) looking just great and he just got back to Louisville."

Kitten's Joy, a 3-year-old colt by El Prado out of a Lear Fan mare, began his season with a four and a quarter-length tally in Calder's Grade III Tropical Park Derby on New Year's Day, and then captured Gulfstream Park's Grade III Palm Beach Stakes Feb. 21 by a length and three-quarters.

In Louisville on Kentucky Oaks Day, April 30, Kitten's Joy made it three straight on the grass this year when he took down winning honors in Churchill's Grade III Crown Royal American Turf Stakes by two and a half.

Kitten's Joy's lone loss occurred in the Grade III Jefferson Cup at the Twin Spires oval June 12, when he was beaten a head by Raymond H. Cottrell Sr.'s Prince Arch, trained by Ken McPeek.

"He (Kitten's Joy) had a rough trip in there," explained Romans of the Jefferson Cup. "I blame that trip he had (in the race) more than anything else."

However, Prince Arch, who finished third behind Kitten's Joy in the Virginia Derby, now appears uncertain for the Secretariat.

"We're not sure," said McPeek. "We want to take a little time and regroup with him. Brice (jockey Blanc) didn't think he felt that strong during the race (Virginia Derby)."


Defending jockey champion Rene Douglas enjoyed a 16-win lead over runner-up Eddie Razo Jr. at the conclusion of Friday's racing day at Arlington Park, officially the halfway mark of the current 96-day meeting. Douglas is attempting to become the first jockey in Arlington history to win four straight riding titles at the Northwest Chicago oval.

Trainer Frank Kirby had saddled two more winners than his closest pursuer, conditioner Pat Cuccurullo, through Friday's race day, while defending owner champion Frank C. Calabrese has more than twice the number of winners as James B. Tafel, currently second in the owner standings.


Sunday's "Junior Jockey Club" session at Arlington Park will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the paddock area and features a jockey and valet "show and tell" session involving all the equipment a jockey uses during a race.

Also on Sunday will be Arlington's third annual "Fiesta in the Park" celebrating Hispanic heritage with live entertainment and great Hispanic cuisine.

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