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SHAMDINAN WINS GRADE I SECRETARIAT IN DING-DONG FINISH
European Invader Gives That Continent Second Secretariat Victory
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Aug. 11, 2007) – French-bred, European-based sophomore Shamdinan, owned by Triple B Farms and making his North American debut, rallied from next to last to collar Virginia Derby winner Red Giant in deep stretch to win the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park by a half-length on Saturday. French-born rider Julien Leparoux was aboard the son of Dr. Fong who covered the mile and a quarter over a course officially rated as “good” in 2:04.02.
“The jockey who rode him in France told me don’t let him drop the bit,” said Leparoux, who picked up his first Secretariat victory after winning the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes at last year’s International Festival of Racing. “He was very relaxed for me today and took the bit and I thought he won pretty easy.”
After breaking a bit slowly, Shamdinan was content to save ground and sit well off a leisurely pace of :24.97, :48.94, 1:14.64 and 1:39.61 set by Pleasant Strike, winner of the Grade III Arlington Classic earlier this summer. He angled out at the top of the stretch and closed five-wide in the lane to engage Red Giant inside the final furlong and prevail in the final strides.
With the victory, his first in Group or Grade I company, the 3-year-old colt earns an automatic starting position in the $3 million John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge and its “Win and You’re In” provision. The winner’s share of $225,600 nearly doubled his bankroll to $486,653 while improving the lightly raced colt’s record to two wins from six starts.
The win was the first in the Secretariat for trainer-of-record Doug O’Neill, to whose California barn Shamdinan will return.
Red Giant, who posted a huge upset at 37-1 when capturing the Grade II Virginia Derby last month, had a three-race win streak snapped with the runner-up finish. His jockey, Garrett Gomez, offered no excuses for the Todd Pletcher-trained colt.
“I had a good trip,” said Gomez, who captured the 1997 Secretariat aboard Honor Glide to complete a Mid-America Triple sweep. “I was able to get in a great spot. When I said ‘let’s go’ - he did. He ran a great race. He was just second best today.”
Going Ballistic, runner-up in the Mid-America Triple’s second leg, the Grade II American Derby three weeks ago, saved ground and rallied to finish third.
“The winner ran a great race,” said Going Ballistic’s jockey, Cliff Berry. “I tried to move when he did but he was able to get the jump on me - I don’t think I would have been able to beat him today, anyway. He ran a great race. No excuses. He saved ground all the way, and when the winner came by me I tried to go with him; had to wait a little longer, but I don't think it made any difference.”
European-based Admiralofthefleet, favored at odds of 9-5, finished fourth, followed by Love Dubai, Mostacolli Mort, American Derby hero Lattice, Pleasant Strike and Fleeting Shadow.
Sent off at odds of better than 9-2, Shamdinan paid $11.60, $6 and $4.80. Red Giant returned $4 and $3.20. Going Ballistic paid $4.60.
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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