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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/15/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
The supporting multiple-stakes program of Arlington Park’s 80th racing season – topped only by the silver anniversary edition of the Arlington Million and its Grade I troika – is to be highlighted Saturday when Chicago’s premier oval presents its Million Preview Week program.
In Saturday’s Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel’s, Edward Evans’ Pleasant Strike continues his quest to become the first horse in a decade to sweep Arlington Park’s Mid-America Triple. The son of Smart Strike, conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, won the Grade III Arlington Classic on June 23.
The Mid-America Triple has been swept only three times in its history, initially by Powhatan’s Tom Rolfe in 1965, again by Odgen Phipps’ Buckpasser in 1966, and most recently by Robert Schaedle III’s Honor Glide in 1997.
The grass series for sophomores will be completed by the Grade I Secretariat Stakes this summer as part of the International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day Aug. 11.
Saturday’s $250,000 American Derby, run at a mile and three-sixteenths over the local lawn, also has the distinction of being Chicago’s oldest stakes race, observing its 93rd running this weekend.
Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap, at a mile and a quarter over Arlington’s world-famous turf course, is the final major local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 11. Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut, defending Arlington Handicap champion from last summer, is expected to accept the top impost of 121 pounds assigned by Arlington Park racing secretary and handicapper Kevin Greely for this weekend. After capturing the $200,000 Arlington Handicap last year, the Patrick Biancone trainee went on to finish fifth in the 2006 Arlington Million after being forced to check sharply just after the break.
Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap, at a mile and three-sixteenths on the grass, is the final major local prep for the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes, to be run on the second Saturday in August as the Arlington Million’s sister race.
Like the Arlington Handicap, the Modesty has a defending champion in S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s Chic Dancer, who won last year’s Modesty with an off-the-pace rally to win by a half-length. Unfortunately, Chic Dancer was forced to scratch out of last year’s Beverly D. when she came up with a cough the night before the race.
Chic Dancer has run three times at Arlington this season – finishing second each time – most recently in the $48,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes June 23. The bay 6-year-old mare has subsequently been asked to tote 115 pounds Saturday, one less than she carried last year.
Assigned highest weight of 120 pounds for Saturday’s $150,000 Modesty are two mares from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. The Irish-bred Argentina, owned by Stonerside Stable LLC, and the Brazilian-bred Naughty Rafaela, owned by T N T Stud, make up Frankel’s formidable duo. One, but probably not both, are expected to ship to Chicago for the Modesty.
Argentina, who would be coming from the East Coast, has not run since finishing fifth in Belmont Park’s Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational last Oct. 7, but breezed a half in :51 at Belmont July 8.
Naughty Rafaela, who would be coming from the West Coast, most recently finished third in Hollywood Park’s Grade II Beverly Hills Handicap on July 1, but won Santa Anita’s Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap before that on April 21.
Jockey Rene Douglas, the only rider in Arlington Park history to win four straight local titles (2001-2004), is well on the way to his fifth at Saturday’s half-way mark of the 2007 Arlington Park season.
Douglas had 72 winners through July 14, 25 more than his nearest pursuer – defending champion Chris Emigh – who had 47 through the same date. E. T. Baird was in third position with 41 winners, followed by James Graham in fourth with 36, Jesse Campbell in fifth with 30, and Larry Sterling Jr. in sixth with 28.
Wayne Catalano is easily in front in the Arlington trainer standings at midpoint after saddling 34 winners. Catalano is in pursuit of his third straight Arlington training title, and fifth in the last six years.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, present with a division of his stable at Arlington for the first time this summer, was second in the local standings at the half-way mark with 22 winners. Illinois-based Chris Block is in the third position with 17 winners, while Moises Yanez was in fourth with 16.
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