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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/7/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
At the somewhat advanced age of six, Einstein is having a career year for trainer Helen Pitts. He has already accounted for two Grade I grass victories in 2008 and has banked $817,649 of the $1,336,731 he has made during his career.
“He's progressively gotten older and better as he’s gone along, and this year everything's just kind of fallen into place,” said Pitts. “From being able to start the year with that money allowance race [a January 11 win at Gulfstream Park] and move forward from there, it's just kind of played out as the year's gone on, and he's just moved forward off of every race.”
Last year did not go as smoothly for Einstein. He was in the midst of a productive campaign that likely would have included a trip to the Arlington Million, when he suffered a bruised splint bone leaping over a fallen horse in the Dixie Handicap at Pimlico.
“We took our time bringing him back and swam him for a couple months and got him back ready for his '08 campaign,” said Pitts.
Pitts has confidence in Einstein heading into this year’s Million, but she has great respect for foreign invader Archipenko.
“Archipenko is a lovely, lovely old horse,” said Pitts. “He's obviously very well traveled and just a tough horse to beat, but we'll give it a whirl.”
Pitts will also give it a whirl in the Beverly D. Stakes with Meribel, who was transferred to her barn from the Christophe Clement stable after a fourth-place finish on April 18 in Keeneland’s Doubledogdare Stakes, run over Polytrack. Meribel has multiple graded stakes placings in middle-distance turf events. In her lone start for Pitts, however, Meribel finished eighth, going one mile on grass in the Grade III Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 6.
“We have one tough spot,” Pitts said, “but I think distance is what's kind of the key factor with her and I think she'll really like the mile and three sixteenths.”
Trainer Bobby Frankel has already won two Beverly D. Stakes—with Possibly Perfect in 1995 and Heat Haze in 2003 — and morning line maker Joe Kristufek says that Frankel is the 9-5 favorite to win a third with Precious Kitten. Due to a quarter crack, Frankel’s Beverly D. charge has not raced since her powerful victory in the Grade I Gamely Stakes going nine furlongs at Hollywood on May 26. But Frankel says the daughter of Catienus, who races for Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables, is fit and ready to go.
“The quarter crack is fine now, and she has been working super,” Frankel said. “I just hope she didn’t work a little too fast the other day [six-furlong turf breeze in 1:14 4/5 around the dogs at Saratoga on July 28]. That’s how good she’s doing.”
Precious Kitten’s lone attempt beyond nine furlongs resulted in an eighth-place finish in last year’s 11-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. But Precious Kitten was virtually eliminated from contention in that affair after being carried out by a wayward horse, so Precious Kitten’s distance aptitude remains something of an open question. And Frankel is very interested in seeing that question answered.
“Well see on Saturday,” said Frankel. “If she can handle the mile and three-sixteenths, then she’ll only have a sixteenth of a mile more to go in the Breeders’ Cup.”
This year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on October 24 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita will be run at a mile and one quarter, the race’s traditional and intended distance. It is only run at a mile and three eighths when course configuration does not permit the running of 10-furlong grass races.
Frankel is also hopeful about his chances for landing a third Arlington Million win. He won in 2000 with Chester House and in 2002 with Beat Hollow, and this year he will saddle Sudan. Last time out, Sudan was part of a closely watched Man o’War Stakes that featured the turf debut of Curlin. Unfortunately for Sudan, he found himself embroiled in a zealous pace duel that saw him under pressure through splits of :47 3/5 for the half mile and 1:11 4/5 for three quarters. The brutal pace caused Sudan to tire, but not as badly as most expected. He hung on for fourth, beaten just 3 ¼ lengths by Red Rocks, with Curlin just a length and a quarter ahead of him in second.
“I thought he ran great in the Man o’War” Frankel said of Sudan. “Even though the pace was fast, he kicked on turning for home. I definitely think he has a chance on Saturday. What’s the morning line on him?”
When informed that Sudan’s morning line price was 8-1, Frankel chuckled and said, “Yeah, he’s got a chance.”
Frankel will arrive to Arlington Park Saturday to saddle his two horses.
Rosinka didn’t fire her best shot last time out in the Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial Handicap at Delaware Park on July 12, but the third-place finish did not shake trainer Graham Motion’s confidence in his filly.
“I was definitely disappointed in the result,” said Motion, “but the grass was oddly soft that day, and the race just didn’t set up for her well, with another horse sitting on her all the way around. Last year, she beat Mauralakana, who is one of the favorites in the Beverly D., so I think she fits nicely.”
Rosinka also lost a narrow decision last year in the Flower Bowl at Belmont, finishing second to Lahudood, who used that race as a springboard to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Rosinka is a mare who likes to be on or near the lead early in her races. Does Motion think Rosinka will be okay sitting behind habitual frontrunner Dreaming of Anna in the Beverly D.?
“I hope so,” he said. “My filly doesn’t have to have the lead.”
Motion will fly in to Chicago from New York on Saturday to saddle Rosinka.
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