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Contact: David Zenner
‘ALWAYS’ FIRST AGAIN IN GRADE III STARS AND STRIPES TURF
Wins Marathon Turf Test in Head Bob
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 4, 2007) – Merriefield Farm’s Always First, second in his last two starts, engaged pacesetter Cloudy’s Knight in a stretch-long duel and prevailed by a nose in the Grade III $200,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap, the traditional Fourth of July headliner at Arlington Park, before a crowd of 16,689. Robby Albarado rode the Tom Voss-trained son of Barathea who covered the mile and a half over soft turf in 2:31.87.
Always First sat off the pace set by Cloudy’s Knight through fractions of :25.88, :52.05, 1:17.50, 1:42.93 and 2:07.78, though by design the 6-year-old gelding was closer than usual.
“I wanted to keep him closer and not leave him as much work to do (late),” said Albarado, who recorded his third Stars and Stripes victory after previously winning the 1995 renewal with Snake Eyes and the 2000 edition with Williams News. “I left him too much work to do at Churchill. Today, I kept him forward and he prevailed as the best one.”
The Stars and Stripes was the first win in three starts this year for Always First, whose overall record improved to five wins from 17 starts. He added $118,500 to his bankroll which now stands at $431,552. Voss indicated that Always First may run next in the Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 11.
“I had a great trip,” said Ramsey Zimmerman, who rode runner-up Cloudy’s Knight who also finished second in the 2005 edition. “I had everything my own way but I just got nailed.”
It was another three-quarters of a length back to third-place finisher Stream Cat. Come On Jazz, Ramazutti, Swagger Stick and Major Rhythm completed the order of finish.
Sent off as the 17-10 favorite, Always First paid $5.40, $3 and $2.40. Cloudy’s Knight returned $4 and $3.40. Stream Cat paid $3.60.
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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