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Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/20/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Ten months ago, Richard Duchossois’ Royal Copenhagen came to Chicago for Arlington’s grassy Grade III Pucker Up Stakes and was dismissed at 6-1 in the wagering. Nevertheless, the French-bred filly closed boldly in the late stages of that nine-furlong event to upset the odds-on choice by a half-length.

“It looked like she had to beat the Del Mar Oaks winner,” said Royal Copenhagen’s trainer Laura de Seroux when speaking of the Pucker Up favorite Singhalese, owned by Jeffrey and Joanne Richards, “and most people didn’t think she could do that. We won that race with good tactics. We anticipated (Singhalese’s) game plan and were able to surprise her in the late stages.”

On Saturday, Royal Copenhagen will go to the post in the Grade III Modesty Handicap, the last major local prep for Arlington’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Aug. 12. Should she be successful this weekend, Royal Copenhagen would be the first member of the distaff set to ever to come back from a winning effort in the Pucker Up, restricted to 3-year-old fillies, to capture the Modesty as an older horse. A victory in Saturday’s mile and three-sixteenths turf test would also be her first win since last year’s Pucker Up, although she ran very well in her first three starts this season at Santa Anita.

Royal Copenhagen finished third in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Gorgonio Handicap at first asking Jan. 8, beaten less than two lengths for all of it and a length and a quarter behind the 2004 Pucker Up winner Ticker Tape. She was beaten two and a quarter in the Grade II Buena Vista ‘Cap at a mile Feb. 20 despite a wide trip, and then a length and a quarter behind the winner in the Grade I Santa Ana Handicap March 26.

“It’s a very tough division out there,” said de Seroux of those efforts. “She ran well in all three of those races. I blame myself for her last start (a fourth in allowance company at a mile April 22.) She’s not a miler, and she runs very well fresh, so she should run well Saturday.”


Irish-bred Round Heels, owned by Richard Duchossois and trained by Laura de Seroux, will join Royal Copenhagen in a Modesty Handicap coupling at Arlington Park on Saturday.

If that doesn’t sound a little edgy, consider the name Round Heels. For the benefit of the uninitiated, the expression “round heels” is usually used in reference to a female who known to be somewhat, ahem, immodest – hardly the ideal verbal credentials for a candidate in a race named the “Modesty.”

And yet, Round Heels’ conditioner, who deliciously served up this situational oxymoron over the phone from her California headquarters Thursday, is quick to defend Round Heels’ racing prowess.

“She’s a lot better than her American record shows,” said de Seroux, who will arrive in Chicago Friday evening in advance of Saturday’s Million Preview Day. “Round Heels resents restraint; she likes to run freely. She doesn’t have to have the lead. She can be laying close and still run well.”

Concluding her French campaign in 2004, Round Heels won the listed Prix Coronation Stakes at Maisons-Laffitte in September of 2004, after previously finishing less than two lengths behind the winner in the Group I Prix d’Astarte at Deauville that August.

However, during her French campaign, Round Heels raced under a different name. What was that, de Seroux was asked.

“Martha Stewart,” the trainer said.

“Royal Copenhagen and Round Heels are very dissimilar,” said de Seroux in a more serious vein. “They are different colors as well as different ages. Round Heels prefers the front, and could stay close to a frontrunner like Potra Clasica, and Royal Copenhagen likes to close, and should be in the back with Louve Royale. That should help us depending on the pace of the race. Both horses are very fresh right now.”


Sidney Port, one of Chicago’s leading citizens, was born in the Windy City 95 years ago, and still maintains his useful and productive lifestyle.

Last summer, he was at Arlington to watch his Irish-bred Artiste Royal make his first North American start in the 2005 Arlington Handicap, where he finished sixth, but the man and his horse will try again Saturday in that same Grade III test that serves as the last major local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 12.

“That was his first start in this country,” said trainer Laura de Seroux of last year’s Arlington Handicap. “This year, after we gave him some time off, he ran very well in Hollywood’s Grade III Inglewood Handicap (second by a length and a quarter April 29), and in the (Grade I Charles) Whittingham (Memorial Handicap) in his last start (June 10 at Hollywood), nobody went with Lava Man, and we found ourselves running second most of the way.”

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