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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/25/09)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

POLAR EXPEDITION STAKES DESIGNED AS BREEDERS’ CUP MARATHON PREP

Serving as the Arlington Park’s feature attraction this weekend is the inaugural running of the $50,000 Polar Expedition Stakes, to be run at the marathon distance of 1 3/4–miles over the Polytrack course this Saturday.

“We’ve run local stakes named the Polar Expedition before,” said Arlington vice-president/racing and racing secretary Kevin Greely of Saturday’s event in honor of the multiple Illinois Horse of the Year, “but none of those other Polar Expedition Stakes were run at a mile and three-quarters.

“What we are trying to do by carding this race at that unusual distance,” added Greely, “is give our horsemen a chance to test any of their horses at that distance to see if they might become candidates for the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita in November – which will also be run at a mile and three-quarters.”

The Breeders’ Cup Marathon was added to the Breeders’ Cup’s expanding stakes schedule last season.

TRAINER KEITH DESORMEAUX JUMPS ONBOARD FOR POLAR EXPEDITION

Cajun-born conditioner Keith Desormeaux may still toil in the shadow of his more famous brother – a Hall of Fame jockey who won this year’s Belmont Stakes – but Desormeaux the trainer has been a highly respected horseman in Louisiana and most Midwestern tracks for more than two decades.

This Saturday he will saddle Allshouse Racing Stable’s Gangbuster as the probable choice in Arlington’s $50,000 Polar Expedition Stakes at 14 furlongs to see just how good of a distance runner he has in his barn. In his first start at a long distance April 10 in Keeneland’s Ft. Harrod Stakes when asked to go 1 5/8-miles, Gangbuster surprised everyone with a 10 3/4-length victory and a $34.20 win price.

“We’d always intended to stretch him out,” said Desormeaux, speaking over the phone from his Louisiana home Thursday morning of his 4-year-old son of Langfuhr, “but those kinds of races are few and far between. I wish I could tell you that (Ft. Harrod) win was all planned, but I’m not that smart.”

However, in Gangbuster’s next start, in Churchill’s Grade III Louisville Handicap at 12 furlongs on the grass May 23, Gangbuster came home an indifferent sixth. Was that because it was on grass?

“I don’t think so,” said Desormeaux. “That was an exceptionally strong field that day, but it was also a very hot day and it might have been the heat that got him. He was stressed out before the race, so I’m going to chalk it up to the heat. Something didn’t give that day.

“Allshouse Racing Stable is the stable name of Brad Allshouse, who I’ve known for 10 or 12 years,” said Desormeaux when asked about Gangbuster’s ownership. “He’s from Dallas, Texas, and since I’ve been training for him he’s become a good friend, more than just my owner. I’m very happy for him because this is by far the best horse he’s ever had.”

Finally, Desormeaux was asked if he had traveled to New York to cheer his brother to victory in this year’s Belmont Stakes aboard Summer Bird, owned by Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman.

“No, we all went last year and stopped him cold,” said Desormeaux, speaking of Kent Desormeaux’ aborted bid for a 2008 Triple Crown aboard IEAH Stable’s Big Brown, who ran last in the field as the odds-on choice. “This year the whole family stayed home – had us a nice crawfish boil – and watched the race on TV.

“I don’t know if it wasn’t more fun watching it on TV than being there,” admitted Desormeaux. “This way, we all got to watch him talk and go on and on the way he usually does in post-race interviews. We all enjoyed watching him go on like that.”

ARLINGTON JOCKEY MICHAEL STRAIGHT NAMED AS ONE-(HALF) TO WATCH

Apprentice jockey Michael Straight, hanging his tack at Arlington Park for the first time this summer, has been recognized by Thoroughbred Times as one (half?) of that publication’s “Industry Leaders: Ten to Watch” annual feature.

Straight’s twin brother Matthew, who rides in Maryland, was joined with him as a single entry on the “Ten to Watch” list.

The twin brother-jockey duo both graduated from the North American Racing Academy in Lexington, Kentucky, founded by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.

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