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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/7/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Gary A. Tanaka's Epalo, the first of four European invaders to arrive at Arlington Park for the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million now one week away on Aug. 14, was on his toes -- alert and interested -- while being walked behind his barn by Elke Schutz Saturday morning.

"He likes the weather here much better than in Germany," said Mrs. Schutz, wife of trainer Andreas Schutz, who will not arrive in Chicago until Monday evening. "It has been raining at home. A little while ago Epalo was looking up at the sun as if to say: 'What is that? There is no rain here.'

"He feels good, he traveled well, and the flight was a good one," said Mrs. Schutz. "Long, but good."

The German-bred 5-year-old arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Friday afternoon on a KLM equine charter from Amsterdam.

Epalo, who was second by a nose in Germany's listed Globetrotter Trophy Stakes at Cologne last Sunday, had been away from the races for 11 weeks. In his previous effort May 16 in Singapore, the multi-continental competitor had captured the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup, second leg of the 2004 World Series Racing Championship. The Arlington Million will be the fourth leg of this year's World Series.

"That race Sunday was a good one for him," said Mrs. Schutz. "He should be ready for a very good race in the Arlington Million."


Arlington Million candidate Mystery Giver, Beverly D. prospect Bedanken and the Irish-bred Simple Exchange, an expected starter in the Secretariat Stakes, all breezed Saturday morning over the Arlington lawn in preparation for their upcoming engagements in Arlington's International Festival of Racing one week away on Aug. 14.

Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd.'s Simple Exchange, hero of Arlington's Grade II American Derby presented by Jack Daniel's July 24, breezed one mile from a standing start on the grass course in 1:51.80 (with the "dogs" up) shortly after 9:30 a.m. Prepping for the Grade I Secretariat, the Celtic colt was the first of the Festival trio on the track. The three were the only horses to record turf works Saturday morning.

"He felt good, very strong under me," said Liam Carthey, the Irish exercise rider aboard for the move and the man who has been taking care of Simple Exchange since the local Derby.

Jeff Byrne, trainer Dermot Weld's chief traveling lad who accompanied Simple Exchange on his Atlantic crossing last month, returned to The Emerald Isle shortly after the American Derby but was back at Arlington to supervise Saturday's move.

"I just got back last night," said Byrne as he returned to the International Barn with Simple Exchange and Carthey by his side. "I'm very happy with the way he looks, and the way he went this morning. He looks fresh. We got just what we were looking for today."

Team Block's Mystery Giver, second by a head in the Grade III Arlington Handicap on July 24 as the final major local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, breezed five-eighths in 1:06.80 (with the "dogs" up), getting the last eighth in :12.80.

"It was pretty much just what I wanted," said trainer Chris Block shortly after the move, recorded with jockey Eddie Razo Jr. in the irons. "Obviously, I'm not worried about his fitness. I just wanted to give him the opportunity to stretch his legs a little bit. This schedule (of working a week before the race) seems to work pretty well for us. I'm pleased."

Defending jockey champion Rene Douglas, leading rider at Arlington the last three seasons, will ride Mystery Giver in the Arlington Million, Block confirmed.

Pin Oak Stable LLC's Bedanken, heroine of the Grade III Modesty Handicap July 24 as the final major local prep for the Grade I Beverly D., breezed five-eighths on the grass (with the "dogs" up) in 1:06.80, getting the last furlong in :12.40 with jockey Jesse Campbell up. (Regular rider Don Pettinger will ride Bedanken in the Beverly D.)

"She picked it up good the last part of it, and came back puffing a little," said veteran conditioner Don Von Hemel, father of trainer of record Donnie K. Von Hemel, who was still at his Southwest headquarters Saturday. "We wanted to put something in the tank for next week. She's training wonderfully.

"You know, someone asked Donnie last week what other horses were coming in for the Beverly D.," said the senior Von Hemel, obviously pleased with his son's career. "He told them it didn't matter who was coming: he was going to run his horse anyway.

"I honestly believe Donnie learned everything I ever taught him, and then has taken the game to the next level," Von Hemel concluded.

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