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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/9/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Irish-bred Phoenix Reach – one of the premier European candidates for Saturday’s Arlington Million XXIV – is owned by English-based Andrew Christou, who races in the nom-de-course of Winterbeck Manor Stud.

Christou made his first visit to Arlington Park Wednesday morning to watch Phoenix Reach accomplish his latest gallop over the main track with Steve Woolley in the irons. His bay 6-year-old charge – winner of the 2003 Grade I Canadian International, the 2004 Group I Hong Kong Vase and the 2005 Grade I Dubai Sheema Classic – will be making his first start in just over a year in Saturdays’ Grade I Million.

“I’m quite young in the business,” said Christou, “but, fortunately, we’ve been very successful. We can’t have a big setup where we are (Vale of Belvoir in Lincolnshire) but we have about 12 mares and have invested millions in youngsters trying to get good mares that way.

“I believe in fate and I believe in dreams, and I dreamed we were going to get the three post in the draw today,” said Christou later in the day immediately after the post position draw. “It got down to the last two post positions and we drew the six and Ace drew the three, but that’s all right, because we have a half-sister to Ace at home, so maybe that’s why I dreamed about the three post. It’s a good situation for me even if Ace were to win instead of us.

“Andrew (Balding, Phoenix Reach’s trainer) believes in dreams, too,” Christou said. “Before one of Phoenix Reach’s winning races in the Orient, Andrew had a dream that his bridle would break, so we put his blinkers on inside the bridle. His bridle did break in that race, but the blinkers stayed on, because we had put them on inside. If his blinkers had come off, we would have been disqualified. So we all believe in dreams.

“Also, I once had an Indian astrologer tell me that Phoenix Reach would become a great horse, as long as we never ran him at home,” Christou said. “Well, he was bred in Ireland, so that’s why we never have run him in Ireland.”


Lael Stables’ Showing Up, 7-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes following his impressive three and a quarter-length tally in the $1,000,000 Colonial Cup in Virginia June 24, will leave from the rail in the $400,000 leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple.

Lael Stables’ ownership duo of Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who also own this year’s injured Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, will be making their first visit to Arlington Park to watch Showing Up run in the Secretariat, restricted to 3-year-olds of international grass caliber.

”We’ve never been to Arlington Park before,” said Gretchen Jackson, speaking over the phone from their West Grove, Pennsylvania, home early Wednesday afternoon, “but we’ve always heard how really great it is, and we’re really looking forward to seeing it for the first time. We just got back from Saratoga last night. I guess the rail will be all right in a field of six, but you never know in racing. Hopefully, Showing Up will run as well as he did in Virginia.

“Barbaro continues to be a good patient,” Mrs. Jackson said. “I feel so sorry for him. He wants to live and he’s really trying hard. He can do everything but talk. You can see when he gets tired he likes to lean on his sling a little bit, like he’s saying: ‘Ah, this feels a little better this way. I think I’ll try this for awhile.’ He is very special and we’re all hoping he can come through this. He wants to, and we love him, so knock on wood.”


Joining Winterbeck Manor Stud’s Phoenix Reach on the main track Wednesday morning during training hours – and also merely for light exercise – was Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million XXIV candidate Touch of Land, owned by Gary Tanaka, with Bernard Mion up.

French-bred Touch of Land, trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, won France’s Group III Grand Prix de Vichy at the Vichy course in his last start, and is a veteran of last summer’s Arlington Million, where he finished fifth, beaten less than six lengths, despite being caught behind horses turning into the stretch. He also finished 11th in the 2003 Million as a sophomore.

Saturday’s European-based Grade I Beverly D. candidate Rising Cross, also owned by Tanaka but a British-bred who finished third in the Group I Irish Oaks at The Curragh in her last start July 16, stretched her legs under regular exercise rider Christie Skippen, who later expressed happiness with Rising Cross’s Beverly D. draw in post position four.

Irish-based Aidan O’Brien International Festival of Racing candidates Ace, an Arlington Million starter owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Mrs. Harry McCalmont, galloped on the main track under John Frain, and Grade I Secretariat starter Ivan Denisovich, owned by Mrs. Magnier, Tabor, and Irving and Marjorie Cowan, had Antoine Bouts astride.

O’Brien head traveling lad Pat Keating said following the draw for International Festival of Racing post positions that he was very happy with both Ace’s Million draw at post position three and Ivan Denisovich’s Secretariat draw at post position five.

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