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ARLINGTON PARK

Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/11/06)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

‘ACE’ IN THE PLACE: IMPRESSIVE FRIDAY MOVE ON ARLINGTON GRASS

Irish-bred Ace – runner-up in the Grade I John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf last fall but a leader among the European-based entrants for Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million – had a strong blow-out in his introduction to Arlington Park’s turf course Friday morning under regular exercise rider John Frain.

Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Mrs. Harry McCalmont, Ace stepped onto the local lawn at 9:50 a.m., negotiated his move while well within himself, and was timed for the half in :56 while getting the last eighth in :13.

“Ace was very impressive,” said Illinois State clocker Bobby Belpedio shortly after the move. “He did it real easy.”

In his most recent trip to the post July 15 in Ireland’s Group III Ladbrokes International Stakes at The Curragh, Ace finished second by a head. The son of Danehill is trained by Irish conditioner Aidan O’Brien, who trained Mrs. Magnier’s Powerscourt to win last summer’s Arlington Million. Interestingly, Powerscourt won the 2005 Million coming off a runner-up finish in the Group II Scottish Derby at Ayr in mid-July last year.

Prior to last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf run at Belmont Park, Ace was always well placed when finishing third beaten less than a length in Belmont’s Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Oct. 1. That day he finished three-quarters of a length behind this year’s morning-line Million favorite English Channel, owned by James Scatuorchio.

ARLINGTON BREAKFAST GUESTS WATCH ‘IVAN’ WORK FRIDAY

Arlington Park guests at Friday’s morning’s “International Breakfast At Arlington” got to watch one lone American turf work in the life of Ivan Denisovich – one of the European sophomores slated for Saturday’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes.

Irish-bred Ivan Denisovich, owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Irving and Marjorie Cowan and trained by Aidan O’Brien, is named for the main character in the Alexander Solzhenitsyn novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” – a semi-fictional account of the author’s life in a Stalinist labor camp.

The Thoroughbred Ivan Denisovich, a 3-year-old son of Danehill, is making his first Amercan start in the Secretariat, and was timed in :54.80 for his half-mile breeze over the grass course with the “dogs” well out from the rail.

“The horse (Ivan Denisovich) was the most impressive I saw today (among the European workers),” said Illinois State Clocker Bobby Belpedio immediately after the drill. “He went over our grass course real well. I caught the last eighth in :11 4/5, and then I had him galloping out in l:07 4/5.”

Ivan Denisovich had regular exercise rider Antoine Bouts in the irons for Friday’s work. The colt most recently ran eighth in France’s Group I Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly July 9, but was a close third in Great Britain’s Group I St. James Palace Stakes June 20 during this summer’s Royal Ascot meeting.

The Secretariat, final leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple, has often proved a precursor of Arlington Millions of future seasons.

TAGG CONFIDENT AHEAD OF SECRETARIAT STAKES

Although there is always pressure associated with saddling the favorite in a Grade I race, Barclay Tagg, trainer of Secretariat Stakes 7-5 morning line choice Showing Up, owned by Lael Stables, was in a relaxed mood Friday morning as he partook of the “Breakfast at Arlington” scene on the track apron.

“I think he will run a big race,” said Tagg, of Showing Up, who won the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup in his first grass effort last time out. “He galloped this morning and was happy before and afterward. He was on his toes the whole time, and I tried to hold him while the groom was washing him. It wasn’t easy.”

There are only six entrants in the Secretariat Stakes and, on paper, there isn’t much early speed in the race, with the possible exception of Showing Up and second choice Go Between. Tagg will leave all tactical decisions, however, to his rider.

“Cornelio Velasquez is probably as good a jockey as I’ve ever seen and we are tickled to death to use him,” said Tagg. “I’ll leave things up to him. He’s smart enough not to automatically go to the lead just because he’s starting from the one hole. I wouldn’t mind seeing him fourth early, but that’s all up to Cornelio. I’ve seen so many races with no pace, and you still end up with a horse coming from last. I don’t want to rush my horse to the front.”

WILL MILLION FAVORITES HAVE ‘POWERS’ TO OVERCOME POST POSITION?

With the scratch of Go Deputy, who is slated to start in tomorrow’s Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga, the two morning-line favorites in the Arlington Million – English Channel (3-1) and Cacique (4-1) – will break from post positions ten and nine, respectively. Over the first 23 runnings of the Million, fate has not been kind to horses breaking from those two slots.

Nineteen horses have started in the Million from post nine and, collectively, they have amassed a record of one win, zero seconds and one third. The lone post nine winner was last year’s hero, Powerscourt.

Seventeen Thoroughbreds have departed from post ten in the Million. None won, one finished second and one came in third. The only catch to the post ten data is that the 2004 first-place finisher came from post ten, only to be disqualified to fourth. His name? Powerscourt.

By the numbers, the best Arlington Million post is number seven, which has accounted for four winners. The seven post this year is possessed by Cosmonaut. Posts one, two and four have also been solid with three wins apiece coming from those berths.

BEVERLY D.’S RISING CROSS, SECRETARIAT’S PRIMARY TOUR LOCAL LAWN

Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Ltd.’s Primary, a European-based sophomore starter in Saturday’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes, breezed a half-mile in :54.80 over the Arlington turf Friday about 9:30 a.m. – with his jockey Robby Albarado aboard – in preparation for their pending assignment.

Primary comes to the Secretariat off a winning effort in Italy’s listed Gran Premio d’Italia on June 17 at San Siro.

Gary Tanaka’s Rising Cross, the lone European-based runner in Saturday’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares, toured the local lawn at 9:45 a.m., with her regular exercise rider Christie Skippen in the stirrups.

Rising Cross was most recently third in the Group I Irish Oaks at The Curragh July 16, and was a troubled eighth in the Group I Italian Oaks June 18 before that.

The lissome-limbed Ms. Skippen and the tiny Rising Cross both looked good going over the grass course in tandem, although because of their respective statures, they became something of a “Mutt and Jeff” duo when walking off the course.

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