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|Arlington Park Stakes Advance: Washington Park 'Cap (G-II)
Contact: David Zenner
PERFECT DRIFT HEAVILY FAVORED IN WASHINGTON PARK HANDICAP
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 28, 2005) -- Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, a grade I stakes winner with earnings in excess of $3 million, looms as the overwhelming favorite in the $300,000 Washington Park Handicap Saturday at Arlington Park.
The Grade II Washington Park is for 3-year-olds and upward at a mile and three-sixteenths on the main track. The race will be televised live as part of ESPN's "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" during a one-hour broadcast beginning at 3 p.m. Central time. Post time for the Washington Park Handicap, race six on a 10-race card, is 3:45 p.m. CDT.
Perfect Drift won the 2003 edition of the Washington Park Handicap by five lengths during a 4-year-old campaign that included victories in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup and the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. After running sixth in that year's Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita, the Murray Johnson charge was given the winter off. When he returned as a 5-year-old, he was winless in nine starts on the season but he earned nearly $1 million with five runner-up finishes including placing in the Grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga and the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Now a 6-year-old, the gelded son of Dynaformer has raced three times this year opening the season with a victory on the turf in Keeneland allowance race which served as a prep for the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He endured a tough trip in that mile and an eighth grass test and finished ninth as the 5-2 post time favorite. Last time out, he was third in the Stephen Foster despite a rough trip. Mark Guidry, a two-time Arlington riding champion, picks up the mount aboard Perfect Drift, who will shoulder 120 pounds while spotting his rivals from four to seven pounds.
Gary A. Tanaka's Billy Allen provides an interesting storyline for this year's Washington Park. An Irish-bred son of Night Shift, Billy Allen was a multiple Group I winner as a 3-year-old and won four of the five legs of the most recent European All-Weather Championship Series.
The series is conducted at tracks in Germany, Italy, Sweden, France, and Great Britain, with Billy Allen winning the legs in the first four nations, but failing in England's Bet Direct Winter Derby at Lingfield March 19. Since suffering that defeat, the 4-year-old colt captured stakes races in Italy and Sweden before failing in France's Grand Prix de Compiegne on June 29. Trained by Fabrice Chappet, Billy Allen will carry 116 pounds on Saturday including Arlington Park's leading jockey, Shaun Bridgmohan.
Also in with 116 pounds Saturday is Pin Oak Stable LLC's Cryptograph. The son of Cryptoclearance has not won a race since capturing the $100,000 Round Table Stakes over this oval last July but he has been competitive in two graded stakes this year. The Donnie Von Hemel-trained 4-year-old rallied from last to run second beaten a nose by Supah Blitz in the Grade III $300,000 Lone Star Handicap in Grand Prairie, Texas, in May and most recently finished fifth, beaten a length by Lord of the Game, in the Grade II $300,000 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Prairie Meadows on July 2. His regular rider, Don Pettinger, gets the call Saturday.
R Bar S Thoroughbred LLC's Fantasticat is making just his second start of 2005 after finishing second in his seasonal debut in an allowance race at Churchill Downs earlier this month. Last year, the Bobby Barnett-trained son of Storm Cat posted an upset victory in the Grade II $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Eddie Martin Jr. comes in from his Ellis Park homebase to ride the 4-year-old colt.
Completing the field for the Washington Park Handicap (with jockey and weight listed) are: Everest Stables, Inc.'s Mambo Train (E. T. Baird, 115 pounds), third in the Cornhusker last time out; multiple Illinois-bred stakes winner, Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s Home of Stars (James Graham, 114); and Equirace.com's Freefourinternet (Brian Hernandez Jr., 113), hero of the 2004 Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup.
Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- is running a 94-day meet in 2005 from Friday, May 13 through Sunday, Sept. 18. 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 Lucky's featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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