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Contact: David Zenner
Gun Salute Upsets English Channel In Grade I Secretariat Stakes
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 13, 2005) -- Brant Laue's Gun Salute sat a perfect stalking trip in third behind co-pacesetters English Channel and Purim, then took command in the stretch to capture the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths on Saturday at Arlington Park before an International Festival of Racing crowd of 28,312.
Cornelio Velasquez was in the saddle aboard the son of Military who ran the mile and a quarter over yielding turf in 2:03.79. The fourth choice in the field of eight, the homebred Gun Salute returned $14.80, $4.60 and $3.60.
English Channel, bidding to win a third consecutive leg of the Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass, sat a close second with Purim just to his outside for almost a mile through fractions of 24.70 for the opening quarter, 48.38 for the half mile, and a three-quarters split of 1:13.46. The Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby winner grabbed a brief lead turning for home, but then Gun Salute, racing three-wide, ranged up to take over and win going away.
"My horse felt good under me and he put me in good position," said Velasquez. "At the three-eighths pole I knew I had a lot of horse and I let him go at the top of the stretch."
The victory was the first Grade I win for Gun Salute in his first such attempt. Gun Salute has won three of five starts this year, and today's $240,000 winner's check boosts his career bankroll to $538,344.
"It looked like he could reel the two winners in anytime and he had enough to hold off everyone coming behind him," said winning trainer Bill Mott, whose only previous Secretariat Stakes came in 1985 with Derby Wish when the race was run at Hawthorne Race Course in the wake of the Arlington Park fire. "Maybe next year we'll be back for the Arlington Million. He's probably due for a little bit of a break and then we'll research what comes up in the fall."
English Channel, whose hopes for a $3 million Grand Slam of Grass Bonus in October were dashed today, finished second, paying $2.40 and $2.10 as the 4-5 favorite. English Channel would have had to win today's Secretariat and the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf in October for his owners to collect the extra money.
"Being on the inside, he was pretty aggressive and he never really got off the bridle," said English Channel's jockey John Velazquez. "It's hard to get them to relax when they have to go the whole time. Everybody wanted to go at the same time and he got to throwing his head around and I never could get him to relax."
Chattahooche War closed late for third and paid $2.80.
Grand Central (IRE) was the top European-based finisher by checking home fourth. He was followed by Embossed, Legal Precedent, Purim and Merger.
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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