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Contact: David Zenner
COSMONAUT WIRES ARLINGTON HANDICAP FIELD
French Connections Take Local Million Prep
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 22, 2006) -- Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut, back on the turf course after finishing ninth in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on the main track last time out, utilized a ground-saving trip to win the $200,000 Arlington Handicap by 2 ¼ lengths. The Patrick Biancone-trained son of Lemon Drop Kid was ridden by Julien Leparoux and covered the mile and a quarter over a turf course rated “soft” in 2:03.10.
The Grade III race serves as the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be run here in three weeks on Aug. 12.
“He got to the front easily,” said Leparoux, the nation’s leading jockey in races won who was making his Arlington Park debut. “He was very relaxed and when I asked him at the three-eighths, he gave a good answer. He was very relaxed and going back to the turf and that helped, too. The turf today isn’t really soft, but it’s not firm either, but he liked it.”
The 4-year-old colt battled with favored Red Fort and second wagering choice Rush Bay through fractions of 24.92 seconds, 48.95 seconds, 1:13.76 and 1:38.75 before drawing away in the stretch for the victory, his second in seven starts this year and his fourth in 15 starts overall. He earned $120,000 to boost his bankroll to $366,200.
Load a Chronic, the longest price in the race at odds of 29-1, rallied to finish second in the six-horse field. It was another 1 ¾ lengths back to third-place finisher Artiste Royal.
“Shannon (trainer Ritter) has done a tremendous job with this horse,” said jockey Francisco Torres, who rode the runner-up. “He showed up today and that’s half the battle. Whether he’s 2-5 or 15-1, if the horse shows up, he’s going to give you his best and he gave me his best today. Unfortunately, we were second best but I’m pleased and tickled the way he ran.”
“I was surprised they went four on the lead but it was perfect for me, I just went in right behind that group,” said jockey Rene Douglas of his trip aboard Artiste Royal. “He did his thing, I thought we had the (runner-up) beat, but I was happy with it.”
Cosmonaut paid $10.40, $5.80 and $5. Load a Chronic returned $15.40 and $6. Artiste Royal paid $4.
Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 95-day meet in 2006 from Friday, May 5 through Tuesday, Sept. 12. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Lucky's featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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