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|Arlington Park stakes recap (7/30/05)
Contact: David Zenner
PERFECT DRIFT BREAKS THROUGH WITH WASHINGTON PARK 'CAP WIN
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 30, 2005) -- Trapped behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch, Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift barreled through an opening in the stretch en route to a 4 ½-length victory in the Grade II $300,000 Washington Park Handicap Saturday at Arlington Park.
Partnered for the first time with two-time Arlington riding champion Mark Guidry, the Murray Johnson-trained son of Dynaformer covered the mile and three-sixteenths in stakes and track record time of 1:54.27, 4/5 of a second faster than the previous standard of 1:55.07 set by Tenpins three years ago.
Longshot Mambo Train set the pace in the race through three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.82 while French import Billy Allen and Cryptograph chased. Meanwhile, Perfect Drift, the 1-2 post time favorite, was caught behind horses along the rail on the second turn.
"Shaun (jockey Bridgmohan) was on Billy Allen to the outside of us and he was riding a smart race," said Guidry, who also won this race in 1996 aboard Polar Expedition. "He knew where I was all the time and he did a good job of keeping me down in there. They kind of came back to me a little quicker than I anticipated in the middle of the turn and I had to check pretty sharply. Once we turned into the lane, I went inside of him. His acceleration today was brilliant."
Saturday's win was the second in the Washington Park Handicap for Perfect Drift, who captured this race under Pat Day in 2003. It was also his first graded stakes victory since taking top honors in the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup in September 2004. Overall, his record improved to 11 wins from 31 starts and the $180,000 earned here boosted his bankroll to $3,473,040. Next up for the 6-year-old gelding is a possible engagement in the Grade I $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 21.
"Today was a big step forward," Johnson acknowledged. "If all goes well between now and three weeks, we hope to be in Del Mar for the Pacific Classic."
Mambo Train rallied back to regain the place after being passed in the stretch. It was another half length back to Home of Stars, who was third in the seven-horse lineup. Billy Allen, Freefourinternet, Fantasticat and Cryptograph completed the order of finish.
"He ran a good race," said E. T. Baird, who rode the runner-up. "He was on the lead all the way. I started getting into him on the middle of the turn and they all started to go by me but I came again."
Perfect Drift paid $3, $2.20 and $2.10. Mambo Train returned $7.40 and $5.80. Home of Stars paid $4.40.
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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