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ARLINGTON PARK

Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/8/06)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

BEVERLY D.’S BRITISH-BRED RISING CROSS: BIG HEART, SMALL STATURE

She’s young, pretty, and visiting the United States for the first time in her life, but she’s no pushover. Her name is Rising Cross, she is a 3-year-old filly owned by Gary Tanaka, and she has come to run in Saturday’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes: a little lady up against older mares for the first time in her 18-race career.

“She’s very small, but she’s very tough,” said Christie Skippen, Rising Cross’s exercise rider and groom, speaking outside Arlington Park’s International Barn Tuesday morning during training hours. “In fact, you can always tell which one Rising Cross is when she’s out on the track, because she is so small.

“In fact,” the willowy blonde Ms. Skippen added with a smile, “this (Beverly D.) saddle towel they just gave me might just about cover her.

“I broke her as a yearling and I’ve been with her ever since,” said Skippen, who like her charge is young, pretty and making her first trip to the United States. “She has a big heart, but she’s a gentle girl – very easy to ride, but as soon as she sees the track, she gets very excited. She never runs a bad race, and she tries her hardest every race. She can run on the lead if you ask her to, but she settles very easy and prefers to press the pace.”

Rising Cross last raced in the Group I Irish Oaks at The Curragh July 1 and finished third, beaten five lengths at the wire. Before that, she was an uncharacteristic eighth in the Group I Italian Oaks at San Siro June 18, but was clearly second best in the Group I English Oaks at Epsom Downs June 2. Her last trip to the winner’s circle came May 6 (Kentucky Derby Day) when she was best by three lengths in the listed Lupe Stakes at Great Britain’s Goodwood.

The daughter of Cape Cross is trained by John Best, 44, a former point-to-point jockey as an amateur who now has his yard near Maidstone in Kent in the Southeast of England. Best, who will arrive at Arlington later this week, currently has about 10 jumpers and 30 flat horses in training, with Rising Cross easily the best of the lot.

“She’s the only horse we’ve had to go abroad,” concluded Skippen, “but she’s a very quiet traveler. If we do anything (in the way of a morning work) with her here, it won’t be anything serious. She’s fit enough.”

ROYAL COPENHAGEN ARRIVES BACK AT ARLINGTON FOR BEVERLY D.

Saturday’s 17th running of the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes annually attracts the best world’s best grass running fillies and mares in its capacity as the sister race to the Grade I Arlington Million that same afternoon, and this week’s renewal will be no exception.

However, one of the more interesting but unexpected members of the distaff now set for this year’s renewal is the French-bred filly Royal Copenhagen, owned by Richard Duchossois and trained by Laura de Seroux.

She is interesting because her owner is the chairman of Arlington Park as well as the man who created this race in honor of his late wife. She is unexpected, because in her last start, Royal Copenhagen finished a disappointing sixth in Arlington’s Grade III Modesty Handicap on July 22 as the final local prep for Saturday’s Beverly D. At that time, her trainer indicated that an excellent Modesty run was a prerequisite for an appearance in the Beverly D.

“I had to think about that race (Modesty) and analyze what happened before I decided to bring her back for the Beverly D.,” said de Seroux, speaking over the phone from her Southern California headquarters shortly before noon on Tuesday. Coincidentally, at about that same time, the equine charter bringing Royal Copenhagen and the other California-based International Festival of Racing horses touched down at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

“If Royal Copenhagen had enjoyed a trouble-free trip to finish sixth, I would not have thought about bringing her back,” de Seroux said. “But she didn’t. She got blocked, she got bumped, she was kept out from the rail and the course favored horses on the front end that day.

“I had some collaboration with Rene (jockey Douglas, Royal Copenhagen’s rider in the Modesty) right after the race and he was absolutely furious,” said de Seroux. “He kept telling me how much horse he had left, and he was confident that she belongs with these horses. Then I looked at the chart and saw she was only beat four and a half lengths despite all her trouble.

“I shipped her back to our training center in Southern California because she loves it out there and I wanted to miss all that hot, humid weather they said was coming to Chicago,” de Seroux said. “We have these turn-out paddocks out there, and she loves living outside there in that happy environment. The plane ride from Chicago out to Southern California is only three hours and 20 minutes, and it can take us longer than that to get from our place to Santa Anita in traffic, so the length of the trip was no problem. We’ve missed all your hot weather and she has been doing very well the last three weeks.

“Also, Mr. ‘D.’ has indicated to me many times that – for obvious reasons – he would rather win this race than the Arlington Million or the Kentucky Derby,” said de Seroux, “and I really think she has a legitimate chance. And in racing, you never know.”

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