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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/11/05) (A.M. Edition)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Better Talk Now -- who conquered all rivals in last fall's Grade I John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf, will be ridden by last year's Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez -- should his owners at Bushwood Racing Partners decide to run in Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million.
Two days ago, Better Talk Now was estimated to be 90 percent likely to run in Saturday's Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga, but with the announced jockey change, that estimate now seems unrealistic.
With jockey Ramon Dominguez, aboard Better Talk Now in the Breeders' Cup Turf and named once again at Wednesday's post-position draw, now taken off Thursday morning in favor of Velazquez, the announced change could indicate that the Arlington Million is now more prominent on the radar screen for Better Talk Now.
Should trainer Graham Motion and Better Talk Now's owners decide to run in the Million -- showcase event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season -- Saturday's headline attraction will feature a rematch between the first three finishers in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Saturday's Million morning line favorite is Ken & Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy, last year's Eclipse Award-winning Male Turf Horse of the Year, who was upset by Better Talk Now when he was the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Mrs. John Magnier's Powerscourt, first under the wire in last year's Arlington Million before being disqualified and placed fourth, was third behind Better Talk Now and Kitten's Joy in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Two of the three European candidates for Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million were on Thursday morning's training tab at Arlington Park.
French-bred Touch of Land, owned by international sportsman Gary Tanaka, was given a time of :37.60 for his morning breeze on the main track, and Dominque Bayet's Alost was recorded at :40.80 in his breeze at that distance.
Touch of Land comes into Saturday's Million off a length and a half-tally in France when he won the Group III Grand Prix de Vichy-Auvergne July 20 at the Vichy course, and was fourth in the Group I Prince of Wales's Stakes June 15 during the prestigious Royal Ascot-at-York meeting.
Alost has made his second Atlantic crossing this year for Saturday's Million, after finishing fourth -- beaten only a length for all of it -- in the Grade I Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, June 11.
"I've been very happy with this horse since his arrival at Arlington," said Bayet, on hand for Thursday's move by Alost.
"We just galloped that three-eighths this morning," Bayet said, "and I think (Alost) will improve off his run in the Manhattan."
David Garner's Cool Conductor, winner of the Grade III Arlington Handicap as the last major local prep for the Arlington Million, backtracked up to the gate during Thursday training hours, stood in the gate briefly, backed out, and then galloped about a mile and a half.
Red Oak Stable's Sweet Return, length and a half hero of Del Mar's Grade I Eddie Read Handicap July 24 in his prep for Saturday's Million and winner of Hollywood's Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap before that June 11, backed up to Arlington's quarter pole during training hours Thursday and galloped about a mile and a half.
Sweet Return, who finished eighth in last year's Arlington Million, is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Ron McAnally, who has saddled the winner of the Arlington Million three times in his career: in 1981's inaugural edition with John Henry; again three years later with that same horse; and again in 1991 with Tight Spot.
The Village of Arlington Heights hosts "The Mane Event" -- billed as "the Million Dollar Block Party" -- Friday from 6-10 p.m. in the downtown area to celebrate Saturday's Arlington Million and International Festival of Racing.
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