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Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/2/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


A funny thing happened to E. J. Sukley’s Purim after his competitive Mid-America Triple campaign on the grass at Arlington Park last summer. The Dynaformer colt was switched to the main track for his next six starts despite his successful turf career.

However, that will change Sunday when Purim returns to Chicago and the Arlington’s world famous grass course for the inaugural running of the $100,000 Avers Wexler Illinois Owners Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth.

“We almost missed it,” said Sukley Tuesday morning from his Chicagoland home, speaking of the Wexler nominations deadline last Wednesday. “At first glance of the race conditions we thought the race was restricted to Illinois-breds, but then we realized our horse qualified because I live in Illinois.”

After winning the grassy Grade III Arlington Classic in only his third career start, Purim lost by a nose with a courageous performance when runner-up in the Grade II American Derby, and then tailed off to finish seventh in the Grade I Secretariat on Arlington Million Day.

Given some time off following the Triple, Purim resumed competition Oct. 1 with a fourth-place effort in Hoosier’s Grade II Indiana Derby, returned to the winner’s circle Nov. 6 at Churchill in a race taken off the grass, and was then seventh in Churchill’s Grade II Clark Handicap Nov. 25.

In the three starts this season, Purim was second in Tampa’s Super Stakes Feb. 11, won Oaklawn’s Grade III Razorback Breeders’ Cup Handicap March 12, but then disappointed when seventh in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap April 8.

“When Purim worked so well this morning at Churchill (five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.20 over a sloppy track), that convinced Tom (trainer Proctor) that the horse was ready for this race,” said Sukley. “There is no place in the world I would rather race than at Arlington Park, but I let Tom make all the decisions.

“The horse will probably ship up to Arlington from Churchill Thursday,” Sukley said. “If he runs well Sunday, the tentative plan is to keep him in Chicago and look for other grass races at Arlington for him.”

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