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Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/29/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Honor in War, 3rd Turn Stables LLC’s 7-year-old veteran of major turf wars over several recent seasons, breezed five furlongs over the Arlington Park turf course in 1:05 Saturday morning with the “dogs” well out from the rail in preparation for a possible appearance in the Grade I Arlington Million now two weeks away.

Jockey Francisco Torres was aboard the son of Lord At War Saturday morning, who accomplished his move in splits of :25 2/5, :40 2/5 and :53, and then galloped out the six furlongs in 1:17 4/5.

“We’re looking at the Million and are going to see how it comes up,” said trainer Paul McGee immediately after supervising Honor in War’s move from Arlington’s apron. “I’m pleased with what he did just now. We’ll wait a couple of days and make a decision along about the middle of next week concerning the Million.”

“Honor in War looked real good out there,” said Illinois State clocker Bobby Belpedio after the work. “It was a good move over firm footing with the ‘dogs’ all the way out from the rail the way they were.”

McGee, based in Kentucky, arrived in Chicago Thursday for Saturday’s Grade II Washington Park Handicap, where he will saddle another star trainee – Jay Em Ess Stable’s Suave – in that $300,000 event over Arlington Park’s main track.

Honor in War, McGee’s veteran of the 2003 Arlington Million, has been stabled locally with McGee assistant Randy Martin.

In advance of the 2003 Million, Honor in War won the Grade III Arlington Handicap as the final major local prep for Chicago’s showcase event while racing over firm ground, but was compromised by ground rated “good” when finishing ninth in the Million.

Earlier that spring, Honor in War captured the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the day of the Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby.

In his most recent trip to the post in this year’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day, Honor in War finished four lengths behind the winning English Channel but was bumped at the start.

Honor in War began this year with a winning effort in Gulfstream’s $75,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes Jan. 8, was third beaten a length and a half in the Grade III Mac Diarmida Handicap there three weeks later, and was ninth in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap Feb. 25 when compromised by “yielding” ground.


While Arlington’s upcoming International Festival of Racing Aug. 12 has come increasingly into focus in recent days, the contest for this season’s Arlington Park leading jockey honors has quietly intensified.

The International Racing Bureau, located in Newmarket, has assembled perhaps the strongest European contingent of representatives across the board for the Arlington Million, $750,000 Beverly D. and $400,000 Secretariat Stakes on the second Saturday in August, but right here in Chicago, leading rider Chris Emigh is now being challenged by Francisco Torres, easily second in the current standings.

Torres won both halves of Friday’s Daily Double, to briefly move within four wins of the lead, but Emigh came back to win a pair later in the afternoon to remain six winners in front.

The all-Torres Daily Double began when Marc Goldish and Savoy Stable’s Point Won, saddled by Dale Bennett, took the opening race and was completed when Moises Yanez’ Kiawah Light, trained by the owner, captured the second race. The favored double returned $9.

Emigh’s two-win afternoon began when Scaminaci Racing Stables’ Shakesperean Story won the sixth race for Christine Janks – Arlington’s leading stakes trainer this season – and was completed by Hondo Ranch Inc.’s Whittlin in the seventh for trainer Frank Kirby.

Incidentally, Arlington’s race for leading trainer honors also remains highly competitive. Defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano, who entered Friday’s program only one win in front of current second-leading conditioner Tommy Tomillo, increased that margin to two by sending out Frank Calabrese’s stable star Lewis Michael, runner-up by a neck in Belmont’s Grade II Peter Pan Stakes May 20, to win Friday’s third race by eight and a quarter lengths.

Janks, clearly in third position in the trainers’ race, has six winners less than Catalano and four fewer than Tomillo.

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