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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/8/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Conditioner Robin Graham, based in Maryland thus far during her decade-long training career, shares her house with three cats, two dogs, four parrots and a ferret, but will be bringing a Mr O'Brien to Arlington this week for Saturday's 22nd running of the Grade I Arlington Million.
Mr O'Brien is a horse, a 5-year-old gelding owned by a partnership called Skeedattle II, and he will be here Wednesday morning for his upcoming engagement in the centerpiece event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season. Ms. Graham will precede him to Chicago on a flight arriving Tuesday.
"He's awfully consistent," Graham said when asked about Mr O'Brien, beaten only a half-length in his last start July 3 when second in Monmouth's Grade I United Nations at 11 furlongs on the Jersey Shore. In his previous effort June 5 in New York, the chestnut finished third, beaten a length and a quarter in a game performance at 10 furlongs, closing well on the outside in the late stages of the Grade I Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day.
Before that, on May 15 at Pimlico, Mr O'Brien captured the Grade II Argent Dixie Stakes by two lengths on the Preakness Day undercard when going nine furlongs.
"He got blocked in both of his last two races," said Graham. "In both of them Ramon (jockey Dominguez) had to take up and then come around other horses at the eighth pole. The different distances of all the races was not a problem, it was the traffic."
Graham took over the training of Mr O'Brien last Oct. 30. Earlier last year the Irish-bred had been trained by Tony Dutrow, and was conditioned by Michael Dickinson two years ago.
"Since I've had him all his grass races have been on firm turf," concluded Graham, "but they tell me that earlier in his career he ran on soft ground and, evidently, he loved it."
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who has won Eclipse Awards as the nation's top conditioner for four straight years, has horses likely to start in the three showcase races during Arlington's International Festival of Racing on Saturday.
The respective Frankel trainees for the Arlington Million, the $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat will arrive Wednesday although the Brooklyn-born Frankel will remain at Saratoga next Saturday.
The Arlington Million, the $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes -- the three races that headline the International Festival -- are the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois on an annual basis, and Frankel will be seeking his third win in the Arlington Million, his third in the Beverly D. and his second in the Secretariat.
Bloodstock Management Services Inc. & Cheveley Park Stud Ltd.'s Vangelis, Alain Falourd, Hubert Guy & Robert Trussell's Commercante, and Peter G. Angelos's Greek Sun are the likely Frankel-trained Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat starters at this time. Juddmonte Farms Inc.'s Light Jig, who had been considered a likely Beverly D. starter, was considered doubtful as of Sunday morning.
Frankel saddled Juddmonte Farms Inc.'s Chester House to win the 2000 Arlington Million, and returned to the winner's circle with Juddmonte's Beat Hollow in 2002. He won last year's Beverly D. with Juddmonte's Heat Haze, after saddling Blue Vista Inc.'s Possibly Perfect to win that sister race to the Arlington Million in 1995. Frankel captured the 2002 Secretariat with Juddmonte's Chiselling.
Monty Roberts, internationally known as "the man who listens to horses" after achieving world-wide fame as the author of a book by the same name, will be a guest on Friday's "Breakfast at Arlington" program one day before Arlington's International Festival of Racing.
Roberts' Sabiango, trained by Bob Baffert, is expected to be one of the leading candidates for Saturday's 22nd running of the Grade I Arlington Million.
Friday's special "International Breakfast at Arlington" will be held from 7:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Arlington television's Christine Gabriel and Arlington announcer John G. Dooley.
Arlington Million European invaders Epalo and Vespone, as well as European Beverly D. candidate Crimson Palace, who arrived Aug. 6 on two separate European equine flights for Saturday's International Festival of Racing at Arlington, all have been released from quarantine and all jogged once around the oval clockwise Sunday morning shortly after 9 o'clock.
Vespone and Crimson Palace both race in the royal blue colors of Godolphin Racing Inc., while Epalo sports the emerald green, gold and white silks of Gary A. Tanaka.
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