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Contact: David Zenner
CALIFORNIA INVADER IS 'TOAST' OF ARLINGTON CLASSIC
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 3, 2004) -- Toasted, California-based but owned by Chicago businessman Sidney L. Port, lived up to his advance billing as the horse to beat in Saturday's $200,000 Arlington Classic (Grade II) at Arlington Park. The 3-year-old son of Hennessy rallied from sixth at the top of the stretch to post a 3¼-length victory in the mile and a sixteenth turf race, which was timed in 1:50.91 over a turf course softened by heavy afternoon showers.
The Laura de Seroux-trained colt was ridden by Arlington's leading jockey, Rene Douglas, who captured his third straight Arlington Classic. Douglas' Classic streak began in 2002 with Mr. Mellon and continued last year with Lismore Knight.
Toasted raced a couple of lengths off the early pace of 24.72 seconds, 51.02 seconds, and 1:17.82 set by Cool Conductor before launching a rally turning for home.
"I was concerned about the slow pace," said Douglas. "I was right behind them and I waited patiently. I knew they would back up. I found room. I moved sooner than I wanted to but I knew they were going slow and I didn't want to take any chances because (Cool Conductor) is a nice horse, too. I stayed on the inside as long as I could."
De Seroux shipped Toasted to Chicago to avoid the harder turf courses in Southern California but was not expecting the storm that led to the extremely soft going Saturday, and she briefly debated scratching from the Classic.
"I went down to the jock's room while I tried to make a frantic last-minute decision (whether to stay in the race)," she admitted, "but Rene assured me that the turf here is good when it is soft and it doesn't become a bog. He's won on soft turf, so I knew he had experience so we stayed in."
The Arlington Classic was Toasted's second win of the year and fourth in eight starts overall. The $120,000 winner's share nearly doubled his bankroll to $248,671. Sent off as the 7-5 favorite, Toasted paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.40.
Street Theatre, another California invader, rallied from far back to finish second but proved no threat to the winner. He paid $5.20 and $3.20.
"This colt is still pretty green," noted his rider, C. H. Marquez Jr. "It's only his fourth start. I got beat to a hole because he's a little slow footed and I had to sit back a little farther than I would have liked. I had to come around a couple of tired horses and he finished strong. The other horse was just a little better today."
Cool Conductor faded to third after making the pace for more than a mile, paying $2.80. Up Anchor, Old Deuteronomy, Count On the Tuna, Caiman and Exploited Storm completed the order of finish.
"We had a plan but the horse had a different plan," said Kenny McCarthy, assistant to Cool Conductor's trainer Bill Mott. "We thought Old Deuteronomy would set a faster pace and we'd settle in behind him, but as you can see the horse had a mind of his own. Cornelio had no choice but to let him go on when he did that, but he's a better horse when he has someone to run at."
Earlier in the day, Richard L. Duchossois' Without a Doubt led from gate to wire in a driving rainstorm to win the $40,050 Better Bee Stakes by a nose over Truman's Raider. Under jockey Eusebio Razo Jr., the son of Pentelicus covered the mile over a sloppy main track in 1:10.09 and paid $3.60 and $2.40. There was no show wagering on the race.
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 www.arlingtonpark.com.
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