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Arlington Park stakes recap (6/12/04)

Contact: David Zenner


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 12, 2004) -- Bernacki, Burek and Scherer's Chance Dance pressed the pace of longshot It's Spooky, overtook that rival in the lane, and held off a late challenge from favored Julie's Prize to win the $75,000 Estrapade Handicap by a head Saturday at Arlington Park.

Carlos Marquez Jr. rode the daughter of American Chance who covered the mile and an eighth over a fast track in 1:50.54. The Estrapade was originally carded to be run at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf but was moved to the main track after a heavy overnight rainstorm.

Neither Marquez nor Richie Scherer, who saddled Chance Dance in place of his father, co-owner Merrill Scherer, were concerned about the switch in surface.

"We wanted to run on the grass," Scherer said. "She has a grass pedigree. She's very consistent on both turf and dirt, but we still think she's a little better on the turf."

"I saw she won on the dirt before, so I wasn't worried that the race came off the turf," Marquez added. "Richie and I talked before the race and the two horse (It's Spooky) was coming off a three-quarters race and we figured she would be the pace. I was just stalking her and I waited until we turned for home to ask my filly."

It's Spooky set a measured pace of 24.57 seconds for the opening quarter mile, 49.13 seconds for the half and a three-quarter mile split of 1:13.84 before giving way in the lane. As Chance Dance made the lead at mid-stretch, Julie's Prize mounted a strong rally in the middle of the track and came up a head short at the wire.

"You have to give (Julie's Prize) a lot of credit," Marquez said of his challenger. "She's a very nice mare. I knew she was coming but I think we got the jump on her. I knew she was coming but my filly didn't give up. She gave me 100 per cent today."

"I was pleased with the way she ran," said Tony Mitchell, trainer of Julie's Prize. "That was a big race off a little layoff. We just got beat by a better horse today."

It was five lengths back to It's Spooky, who finished third in the six-horse field. Princess Pelona, Sunset Kisses and defending champion Delicatessa completed the order of finish.

Chance Dance, second choice in the wagering, paid $8.40, $2.80 and $2.40. Julie's Prize paid $2.40 and $2.40. It's Spooky returned $3.

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

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