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|Arlington Park stakes recap (7/24/04)
Contact: David Zenner
SENOR SWINGER WINS ROUGH ARLINGTON HANDICAP
Survives Claim of Foul to Capture Local Million Prep
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 24, 2004) -- Robert and Beverly Lewis' Senor Swinger, who broke his maiden in Chicago as a 2-year-old before being purchased by the Lewises, returned to the Windy City to take a roughly run edition of the Grade II Arlington Handicap by a head Saturday at Arlington Park. Brice Blanc rode the winner who covered the mile and a quarter over firm turf in 2:03.38.
Steadied at the start, Senor Swinger was never too far off a very slow pace set by On The Course, who crawled through three-quarters of a mile in 1:15.16. He was able to find room along the rail in the stretch and get up for a narrow decision over Mystery Giver.
"He broke OK, but on the second jump, he tried to look into the infield," Blanc said. "I tried to grab him as soon as I could. That other horse (#2 On The Course) was getting out all the way and intimidated everything. It made the whole thing a little scary. Bob (trainer Baffert) told me yesterday to put my horse in the race and let him run his race. He didn't think he had a whole ton of foot. He told me not to give him too much to do. There didn't look like there was too much pace on paper."
The $250,000 Arlington Handicap, the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million to be run on Aug. 14, was the third win in seven starts this year for the son of El Prado, who captured the $100,000 Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill Downs last month before being placed third in the Grade II Firecracker Breeders' Cup in his last start. He earned $150,000 here to push his bankroll to $670,688.
"There's a possibility he'll come back in (three) weeks for the Arlington Million," said Mick Jenner, an assistant to winning trainer Bob Baffert. "We'll see how he comes out of the race and go from there."
Chris Block, the trainer of Mystery Giver, claimed foul against the winner alleging interference at the start. Meanwhile Rene Douglas, who rode third-place finisher Ballingarry, claimed foul against Mystery Giver alleging interference in the stretch. Both claims were disallowed by the Arlington Park stewards.
Mystery Giver, the 2002 Illinois Horse of the Year, was involved in the bumping at the start, was far back early before rallying five-wide into the stretch but came up a head short at the finish.
"I am very proud of my horse," Block said even before the stewards had registered their decision. "He didn't run his race last time because he never got a chance to settle. C.H. (jockey Marquez Jr.) did a nice job today of getting him to relax and he had a lot left for the finish."
Ballingarry, the 17-10 post time favorite, was involved in both the rough start and the claim of foul in the stretch but ran a creditable third in the seven-horse field.
"My horse ran a big race," said Douglas. "He ran really hard. (Mystery Giver) came out on me a little bit in the stretch and it cost me, but my horse ran a very game race."
Senor Swinger, second choice in the wagering at odds of 9-5, paid $5.60, $3.20 and $2.20. Mystery Giver returned $4.60 and $2.60. Ballingarry paid $2.10. On the Course, Rowans Park, Sharbayan and Grey Beard completed the order of finish.
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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