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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/5/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Team Block’s Fort Prado, reigning Illinois Horse of the Year, may have run the best race of his life last winter when he finished second by a head in Fair Grounds’ $100,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan. 13.
He was facing a tough rival that day. The winner of that New Orleans race was E. J. Sukley’s 2005 Arlington Classic winner Purim, a Kentucky-bred who lost by a nose to Brant Laue’s Gun Salute when they met in the American Derby two seasons ago. Then, Gun Salute went on to win Arlington’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes against the world’s best turf sophomores in the final leg of the 2005 Mid-America Triple.
However, as an Illinois-bred, Fort Prado has been able to take advantage of his local heritage by winning all three of his Prairie State Festival races – all restricted to state-breds – in the past three years, and is expected to add to those laurels during the 2007 Prairie State Festival Day this Saturday.
As a 3-year-old, Fort Prado won the Festival’s Springfield Stakes in 2004, and then returned for back-to-back wins in the Black Tie Affair Handicaps of 2005 and 2006. Once again, he heads the Black Tie Affair field Saturday – not surprisingly as the odds-on morning line choice when coupled in the wagering with Team Block’s Creative Force.
Although no horse has ever won three straight renewals of any Prairie State Festival race, and no horse has ever been made four trips to the winners circle during the history of the Prairie State Festival, Fort Prado appears primed to break both those barriers Saturday. If he does, this year’s Prairie State Festival will have its top results story, and the Illinois Thoroughbred program will have boosted its chance for a repeat Illinois Horse of the Year.
During the last two Prairie State Festivals at Arlington Park, trainer Christine Janks has a saddled a pair of winners both years, and must be given an excellent chance to add to those totals during Saturday’s seventh Festival renewal.
Although she is without a contender in the Black Tie Affair Handicap as the first Festival race Saturday, she will saddle S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s High Expectations in Saturday’s White Oak Handicap as 7-5 morning-line favorite in the Festival’s second race.
High Expectations is defending champion in the White Oak, but must shoulder the top impost of 125 pounds this year after winning last year’s renewal with 119.
In the Lincoln Heritage Handicap as the third race in Saturday’s Festival, Janks will send Arbaway Farm and Carson Springs Farms’ Ms. Lydonia as a slight second choice in the morning line at 3-1.
Ms. Lydonia is the defending champion in the Lincoln Heritage, but she will be handicapped as the starting highweight at 117 pounds.
In Saturday’s Isaac Murphy Handicap, Janks has entered the Arbaway Farm and Carson Springs Farms-owned coupling of Pretty Jenny and Modjadji, the slight second choice morning line duo at 5-2 behind the favored 2-1 defending champion Bluesbdancing, owned by Bob and Nancy Bartels and trained by Terrel Gore.
Janks has no horses entered in the Purple Violet or Springfield Stakes, the last two races on Saturday’s Festival Day program.
Jockey Randy Meier is in the news lately for being 14 wins away from the coveted 4,000 career-win milestone, but he’s also a perfect three-for-three at Arlington Park this season when riding for trainer Lara Van Deren.
Van Deren boasts her own high win percentage this season, saddling three winners from four starters, with her lone loss finishing second.
The jockey-trainer duo last combined their talents Sunday, when Louie Roussel III’s Lucyswordsoflove captured the eighth race of the afternoon.
“Lara does a good job with all her horses,” Meier said during a horseback interview with Arlington’s Zoe Cadman while galloping back to the winner’s circle. “Maybe she’s going to get all of ‘em (remaining 14 winners needed for 4,000) for me.”
Irish-born jockey James Graham celebrated America’s birthday Wednesday by scoring a riding triple – his second “hat trick” in the last three racing days.
Graham took the Fourth of July opener with Gabriel Dixon’s Lady Arundel for trainer John Good, came back in the third aboard Arbaway Farm and Scaminaci Racing Stables’s Great Uncle Scott for trainer Christine Janks, and then won the fifth astride Michael Milkes’ Mad Majesty for conditioner Andy Hansen.
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