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|Arlington Park Stakes Advance: Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap
Contact: David Zenner
ALWAYS FIRST, RAMAZUTTI HEAD COMPETITVE GRADE III STARS AND STRIPES TURF HANDICAP ON JULY 4
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 30, 2007) – Merriefield Farm’s Always First and Anstu Stables Inc.’s Ramazutti, the 2-3 finishers in the recent Grade III Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, top a competitive field of nine grass course specialists entered in Wednesday’s Grade III $200,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap. The traditional holiday headliner, which includes $75,000 in money from the Breeders’ Cup Fund, will be run at the marathon distance of a mile and a half over Arlington’s world-famous turf course.
Always First, a fast-closing second despite being steadied on the turn in his most recent start, should relish the 12-furlong distance of Wednesday’s headliner. In seven starts at the distance, the son of Barathea has two victories including a score in the Grade II Sunset Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2005. Trained by Thomas Voss, the 117-pound highweight will be ridden by 1996 Arlington Park riding champion Robby Albarado.
Ramazutti also endured a troubled trip in his last race under the Twin Spires, steadying in the stretch to finish just a neck behind Always First for the place spot. The son of Honor Grades picked up his lone win of 2007 in the Grade II Mac Diarmida Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old gelding is trained by three-time Eclipse Award winning conditioner Todd Pletcher and will have the services of four-time Arlington Park jockey champion Rene Douglas.
Not to be overlooked in the Stars and Stripes is Fab Oak Stable, Robert Hurley & John Goldthorp’s Stream Cat, fourth in the Grade III Ben Ali at Keeneland in his most recent trip to the post. The 4-year-old Black Minnaloushe colt is a two-time graded stakes winner having captured the Grade III American Turf at Churchill Downs in May 2006 and the Grade III Kentucky Cup Juvenile over Polytrack at Turfway Park the previous autumn. The Patrick Biancone trainee will be making his first start at a mile and a half and will be partnered with his regular rider, Julien Leparoux.
Others in the Stars and Stripes include: S J Stables LLC’s Cloudy’s Knight, a six-time victor over the Arlington lawn and fourth in the Louisville last time out; James Messineo’s Major Rhythm, an upset winner in this race last year; and David Bienstock & Charles Winner’s Fantastic Spain, who rallied to take the Grade III Golden Gate Fields Breeders’ Cup in Northern California in May. Ramsey Zimmerman has the call aboard Cloudy’s Knight, Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires retains the mount on Major Rhythm while Brice Blanc gets the nod aboard Fantastic Spain.
Completing the field for the Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap (with jockeys listed) are: Nancy Vanier & Charles Nuckols Jr.’s Come On Jazz (Chris Emigh); Mrs. S. K. Johnston Jr.’s Swagger Stick (Jesse Campbell); and Jason Desilets & Dare To Dream Stables’ Mining for Silver (James Graham).
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 94-day meet in 2007 from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, Sept. 16. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates nine off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Chicago, Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Rockford, Trackside Waukegan, Fat Sam’s Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in Lockport, Lucky’s featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin, Nicolino’s featuring Trackside OTB in McHenry and The Inferno featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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