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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/20/08)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

SUSPENSE BUILDS FOR SECRETARIAT STAKES FOLLOWING VIRGINIA DERBY

At least two – and possibly three – grass-favoring North American-based sophomores emerged from Saturday’s Grade II Virginia Derby in a position to challenge Arlington’s Grade II American Derby hero Tizdejavu in Arlington’s upcoming Grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 9.

Keep in mind that the Colonial Downs trio does not include at least two strong European-based 3-year-olds expected to cross the Atlantic to participate in the Secretariat, one of three Grade I races that will make up Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday of August.

Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti, who had been absent since his tally by the narrowest of margins in Belmont Park’s Grade III Hill Prince Stakes June 7, reaffirmed that courageous performance with another nose victory in the Virginia Derby. Trained by French-born Christophe Clement, often a successful participant in Arlington’s International Festival, Gio Ponti is an original nomination to Arlington’s 2008 Mid-American Triple, which concludes with the Secretariat Stakes.

Finishing as narrowly defeated runner-up in Saturday’s Virginia test was Court Vision, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm. Although not an original Mid-America Triple nominee, Court Vision’s connections could make that colt available with a late nomination fee payment of $800 by July 30.

The third Virginia Derby veteran that would seem possible for the Secretariat is Team Valor International’s Sailor’s Cap, who finished third Saturday beaten two and a quarter lengths for all of it as the choice of the fans after racing wide most of the way.

Sailor’s Cap won the Grade III Colonial Turf Cup June 21 over soft ground, and was beaten only a neck by Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu in Churchill’s Grade III Crown Royal American Turf over a yielding Louisville lawn May 2, and might not have relished the firm course Saturday in Virginia. Like Court Vision, Sailor’s Cap’s connections could make a late nomination payment of $800, or even a supplementary nomination fee of $2,500 by Aug. 1 if continued wet weather appeared imminent in the Midwest in early August.

MAJORITY OF CURLIN’S FANS FAVOR ANOTHER GRASS RACE

Jess Jackson, whose Stonestreet Stable is majority owner of Horse of the Year Curlin, has posted a poll on the Stonestreet website that allows racing fans to vote their preference for what they’d like to see in Curlin’s immediate future campaign.

As of Sunday morning, the vote posted suggested that 52 percent of Curlin’s fans would like to see him continue a turf campaign, while 31 percent wanted Curlin to return to a traditional dirt surface for his future. Eleven percent wanted Curlin to prove himself on a synthetic surface, while seven percent voted for the Horse of the Year’s immediate retirement.

Should those who voted for a grass campaign prevail, the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 9 would remain a possible next race for Curlin, but the colt’s connections would have to pay either a late nomination or supplementary nomination fee.

Curlin’s trainer Steve Asmussen, winningest trainer in North America last season, insists that “all options” remain open for Curlin’s next trip to the post.

ARLINGTON PARK’S $150,000 SEA O’ ERIN STAKES JULY 26 SHAPING UP

Frank Calabrese’s Lewis Michael, hero of last summer’s Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park, remains on track to make his 2008 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Sea o’ Erin Stakes at one mile over the grass course at Chicago’s Northwest oval.

Others expected to participate include Jim Tafel’s Coragil Cat, three-length winner of Arlington’s Grade III Hanshin Cup at one mile on Polytrack May 24; Oxbow Racing and Art and Stephanie Preston’s Steve’s Double, third in Churchill’s Grade II Firecracker Handicap July 4; Gary Tanaka’s Embossed, fourth over Churchill’s grass course at last asking June 28; and Richard Masson’s Karelian, absent since a win on Saratoga’s turf last summer.

ARLINGTON’S APPRENTICE JOCKEYS PROVING PROFITABLE

Arlington Park’s leading apprentice jockey Brandon Meier had 30 wins from 164 mounts at the end of Saturday’s race day for an average win price of $11. A $2 win wager on all his mounts through Saturday would leave the wagerer with a $2 profit entering Sunday’s racing program.

Second leading apprentice Inez Karlsson proved even more profitable through Saturday’s program. She had registered 20 wins from 204 mounts, but her average win price was $24.60. Therefore, if one had bet $2 to win on all her mounts, the bettor would be ahead $82 entering Sunday’s program.

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