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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (4/30/08)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Kenneth Ayers’ Vancy Pants, who finished fourth behind Saturday’s Kentucky Derby runner Eight Belles in Oaklawn’s Grade III Honeybee March 16, and also ran against Friday’s Kentucky Oaks starter Absolutely Cindy last fall at Churchill, finds an easier spot as the lukewarm 3-1 morning-line favorite in Friday’s $50,000 Double Delta Stakes, the opening day feature of the 2008 racing season at Arlington Park.

The Double Delta, restricted to 3-year-old fillies, will be contested at about one mile over Arlington’s world-famous turf course and attracted an overflow field of 13 including an entry.

In her last trip to the post April 16 at Keeneland, Vancy Pants finished fourth beaten a length and a half for all of it in the Grade III Appalachian going one mile over the Lexington lawn. The Kentucky-bred chestnut, who breezed a half in :48.40 over Keeneland’s Polytrack Tuesday, is trained by Eric Reed and will be ridden by Arlington’s defending jockey champion Rene Douglas on Friday.

Capable of providing strong competition for Vancy Pants is Gate to Wire LLC’s Summer Courtship, a front-running length and a half victress in her last start April 9 at Keeneland going a mile and a sixteenth over their grass course. The daughter of Doneraile Court is trained by Rebecca Maker, will have Eddie Razo in the irons, and is pegged at 9-2 in the morning-line.

Also worthy of consideration in the Double Delta is Frank Calabrese’s Dreaming of Liz, 5-1 in the morning-line and heroine of the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie last fall. The gray daughter of El Prado has been off form in recent starts, but must be respected based on her local performances last summer. She is out of Calabrese’s mare Silver Maiden, who won the Lassie in 1997.

Others named to the Double Delta are the Richie Scherer-trained entry of Carolyn Friedberg and Majestic Farms’ Three Graces and Majestic Farms LLC’s Elle Tish Slew, Gary and Kathy Priest’s Talkin Indian, Mast Thoroughbreds LLC’s Nijinsky Ballet, Wayne and Norma Lee Stockseth’s Pure Baby, Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds’ Jolie Visage, Old School Stable’s Thirteen Moons, Gale Springer’s Sweet Aptitude, Bedouin Bloodstock’s Downtown Drifter, and Charles Patton’s Tight Precision. Elle Tish Slew, Downtown Drifter and Tight Precision are the also-eligibles.


Two battle-scarred veterans aptly named Fort Prado and Major Rhythm – both with extensive Arlington campaigns – may be the first and second choices in the wagering respectively when Saturday’s $100,000 James B. Tafel Illinois Owners Stakes goes to the post at Arlington Park.

The third running of the Illinois Owners, restricted to horses where at least 51 percent of each horse's recorded ownership is registered to an owner whose Illinois Racing Board license registration reflects an address in the State of Illinois, is a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward and serves as Saturday’s local headline event on the second day of Arlington’s 2008 meeting, which also falls once again on Kentucky Derby Day.

This year’s Illinois Owners Stakes honors Tafel, a longtime Barrington, Illinois, resident who won last year’s Kentucky Derby with Street Sense. Last year’s Illinois Owners Stakes honored the late Chicago-based businessman Russell Reineman, original owner of 2002 Kentucky Derby hero War Emblem.

Fort Prado, owned by the Illinois-based family of David and Patricia Block and trained by their son Chris Block, won last year’s Illinois Owners and most recently finished third beaten four in Keeneland’s Grade III Shakertown Stakes on April 13. Before that he was third in Tampa’s Turf Dash, but both those recent races were in grass sprints over less than firm footing.

James Messineo’s Major Rhythm finished second in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan. 12, beaten a length and three-quarters by French Beret, who went on to finish second in Louisiana’s Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap on March 8. Major Rhythm boasts an upset victory in 2006’s Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap among his 12 career victories. Another of those wins came at Canada’s Woodbine Race Course last Dec. 8. Chicago-based trainer Doug Matthews has been trainer of record in the 9-year-old gelding’s two most recent starts.

Matthews also entered his own Ravensworth in Saturday’s Illinois Owners Stakes. That 4-year-old gelding was second under the wire in his last start at Chicago’s Hawthorne March 14 before being disqualified, and won his two starts before that.

Shipping in from the West Coast of Florida for Saturday’s feature is Captain Jack Racing Stable LLC’s Chief Thief, second in each of his last three starts over the grass course at Tampa Bay Downs. The Illinois-bred also finished fourth in last spring’s $45,000 Awad Stakes at Arlington Park.

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