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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/10/06)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
According to Arlington Park racing officials, Garrett Gomez has been named to ride Ace (Ire) in Saturday’s Arlington Million, and John Velazquez will ride Ivan Denisovich (Ire) in the Secretariat Stakes.
When trainer Bobby Frankel took over the training of European import Cacique at the beginning of the year, he said that the goal was to get the son of Danehill a Grade I win, an honor that had eluded the 5-year-old in his first 11 races. Frankel accomplished that goal when Cacique captured the Grade I Manhattan Handicap, going 1 ¼ miles on grass on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard. The win virtually assures Cacique of a career as an important stallion, given that his dam is Hasili, who in addition to Cacique, has produced 2005 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare turf winner Intercontinental, 2003 Beverly D. Stakes winner Heat Haze and Group I stakes winner Dansili. But with the Grade I win out of the way with Cacique, Frankel is hardly willing to relax with his turf star.
“You always want more,” Frankel said. “We’d like to get another Grade I with him Saturday.”
Drawing post 10 was not what Frankel would have preferred for Cacique, a horse who has done his best running lately while on or near the early lead. But Frankel thinks his horse is adaptable enough that jockey Edgar Prado will have sufficient options in where to place Cacique.
“He’s the kind of horse who gets away from the gate well,” said Frankel. “We’ll see how he breaks, and if the early pace is slow, he’ll be near the front, and if the pace is fast, he’ll be farther back. Edgar will make that decision.”
In the Secretariat Stakes, Frankel will saddle Proudinsky for the first time. “I haven’t had much time with him, but he’s working well here at Saratoga and seems to be fine. I just hope he’s not a tired horse from all the racing and traveling around.”
Proudinsky made his career debut on April 30 of this year in Germany, where he also made his second start on May 25. Then Proudinsky was shipped to Arlington for a second-place finish in the July 1 Arlington Classic. He was then wheeled back in two weeks to run fifth behind Go Between in the July 15 Virginia Derby for former trainer Mario Hofer. Frankel indicated that owner Gary Tanaka was keen to try Proudinsky in the Secretariat.
Morning line favorite drew the rail for Saturday’s Beverly D. Stakes, a development that trainer Patrick Biancone didn’t find very relevant. “I don’t mind having the one post,” he said. “In a mile and three-sixteenths race, I don’t think the draw is a very important factor.”
The question many handicappers will have about Gorella is how she will fare at that mile and three-sixteenth distance—a half-furlong more than the daughter of Grape Tree Road has ever negotiated in her prior races. But do not count Biancone among the distance doubters.
“If I weren’t confident, I would not be coming,” he said. “I have a very talented rider [Julien Leparoux], and it will be his decision when to move. We work as a team. I train the horses and he rides them. These kinds of races never go the way you expect anyway.”
Biancone and Leparoux will also team up with Cosmonaut, a 20-1 morning line outsider, in the Arlington Million.
“He ran a good race over the track and at the distance, and we’re taking a shot,” Biancone said. “I know we’re not going to be the favorite, but he’s a nice horse on the way up and we will hope for the best.”
Earlier this week, trainer Graham Motion said there was a slight possibility that he could reverse course with his 2004 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now and run him in Saturday’s Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga rather than in the Arlington Million. But despite trainer Todd Pletcher’s decision to run English Channel in the Million, Motion did not elect to enter Better Talk Now in the Sword Dancer.
“All systems are go for the Million,” Motion said. “It’s all about the pace. All these longer turf races are ruled by the pace scenario. If this horse gets to run his race, I think he can run with anyone. We could run in the Sword Dancer against easier horses, not get a pace, and it would be a nightmare. I realize that we’d probably be the second choice in the Sword Dancer, and that we might be the fifth or sixth choice in the Arlington Million, but I’d rather not run where there figures to be a softer pace scenario. The Arlington Million, in my opinion, is also one of the most prestigious races in the world, and how many times do you get a chance to run in a race like that? I still think he’s just as good as he was in the past.”
Motion will also have action earlier in the day on Saturday when he saddles Film Maker for the Beverly D. Stakes. Film Maker, the 4-1 third choice in the morning line, drew the extreme outside post position in the 11-horse field. “It’s not ideal—I would prefer the middle—but I’m not concerned about it,” said Motion.
It is somewhat interesting to note that three of the finest performances in Film Maker’s career—her 3 ½-length win in last December’s La Prevoyante Handicap, her third-place finish behind Intercontinental in last year’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and her second place finish behind Ouija Board in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf—were all accomplished in double-digit sized fields.
“Her efforts in races with big fields may be a coincidence,” said Motion, “but it may also show again how bigger fields tend to yield races with more honest pace set-ups.”
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