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Arlington Park Stakes Advance: The Grade I Secretariat Stakes

Contact: David Zenner


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 10, 2005) -- James T. Scatuorchio's English Channel, winner of the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup and the Grade III $750,000 Virginia Derby in his last two starts, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday's Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park.

The mile and a quarter turf test for 3-year-olds of international caliber is one of three Grade I stakes races on the card that comprise Arlington's International Festival of Racing that includes the $1 million Arlington Million for older turf stars and its sister race, the $750,000 Beverly D., for grass distaffers.

The Secretariat Stakes is the third leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple which began with the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve on July 2 and won by E. J. Sukley's Purim, and continued with the Grade II $250,000 American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's on July 23 and captured by Brad Laue's Gun Salute.

This year, the Secretariat Stakes is also the third of four races that make up the Jacob Investments Grand Slam of Grass, a series that began with the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby. The final race in that series is the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on October 29. Should English Channel sweep the series, his connections would receive a $3 million bonus.

A son of Smart Strike, English Channel has won five of his six starts, all of which were on turf. In addition to the two races at Colonial Downs, the Todd Pletcher-trained sophomore captured the $100,000 Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico on the Preakness Day undercard May 21. The chestnut colt will be partnered with his regular rider John Velazquez in the Secretariat.

American Derby hero Gun Salute returns to Arlington Park for the Secretariat Stakes after rallying from off the pace to gain a nose decision over Arlington Classic winner Purim three weeks ago. The Bill Mott-trained son of Military has been a consistent performer on the turf. In addition to his American Derby score, Gun Salute won the $110,000 Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland in April and in between those two victories, he finished third, beaten only a half-length, in the Grade III Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs. Cornelio Velasquez has a return call on Saturday.

The Tom Proctor-trained Purim had his perfect record snapped with that photo-finish loss in the American Derby July 23. Prior to that, the lightly raced son of Dynaformer had won three straight races topped by the Arlington Classic on July 2. Mark Guidry, aboard for his last three starts, gets the nod in the Secretariat.

Michael W. J. Smurfit & L. W. Heiligbrodt's Merger, who invaded from Ireland to contest the American Derby last month, remained Stateside following a sixth-place in that mile and three-sixteenths race and looks to rebound in the Secretariat. Trained by Ireland's all-time leading conditioner Dermot Weld, the son of Mr. Greeley will be ridden by Darryl Holland.

Mrs. John Magnier's Grand Central, an Irish-bred son Sadler's Wells and a multiple group stakes-placed colt in Ireland, is a more recent arrival from The Emerald Isle. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Grand Central captured a minor race at Leopardstown on July 15. Kieren Fallon rides.

Amerman Racing Stable's Chattahoochee War finished second to English Channel in the Virginia Derby four weeks ago. Earlier this year, the son of War Chant captured the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland in April. Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has named Patrick Valenzuela to ride.

Completing the field for the Secretariat are John G. Moore's Legal Precedent and Gene Voss, Double Down Stables Inc. & Epona Racing LLC's Embossed. The former, a son of Theatrical was second in a division of the restricted Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on that track's opening day card July 20. Alex Solis picks up the mount aboard the Ben Cecil trainee.

The latter, a Niall O'Callaghan-trained son of Mark of Esteem, was third against allowance company over this course three weeks ago. Edgar Prado has been named to ride.

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

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