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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/6/09)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Internationally renowned conditioner Dermot Weld, most recently famous locally for winning last summer’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes with Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone’s Winchester, has returned to Chicago once again to try for victory in the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Saturday with the Irish-bred filly Mad About You.
The $750,000 Beverly D., restricted to fillies and mares, is the sister race to Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million, and along with the $400,000 Secretariat, completes Arlington’s annually highlighted one-day International Festival of Racing.
Following his transatlantic journey Wednesday from the Emerald Isle, Weld appeared on the Arlington apron Thursday morning, graciously answering all questions put to him by a small group of assembled media.
“This is very nice filly,” said Weld when speaking about Mad About You, owned and bred by Ireland’s Moyglare Stud Farm, Ltd. “She’s very consistent. She finished a good third in her last start at The Curragh (Group III Keeneland Minstrel Stakes July 11), and also ran a good race before in May (Group III Amethyst Stakes).
“Arlington has one of the best turf courses in the world,” Weld said as Mad About You completed her Thursday exercise with head traveling lad Jeff Byrne aboard. “I love to run my horses here. We’ve been fortunate in the past. We’ve won three (Grade II) American Derbys, and finished second in a couple of others, and were able to win the Secretariat last year.
“But we’ve never won a Beverly D.,” Weld was quick to point out. “Hopefully, we can get that done Saturday. That’s why we’re here. My horses tend to lay close to the pace, so I’m not really concerned about her having to make up a whole bunch of ground late. Our horses tend to adapt to the American style very well. What we need is some rain before the race. My filly likes to run over ground with some give to it. She doesn’t run her best when the ground is too hard for her.”
Weld, Ireland’s all-time leading trainer, saddled his 3,000th career winner early in 2006, and estimates his total to be about 3,500 at the present time.
Other European invaders for Arlington’s International Festival of Racing were also active during training hours Thursday.
Arlington Million runner Gloria de Campeao, a Brazilian-bred star who won the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup May 17 and was second in the Grade I Dubai World Cup last March 28, breezed three furlongs over the Polytrack in 40.60. The 6-year-old bay is owned by Stefan Friborg and trained by Pascal Bary.
Million runner Stotsfold, owned by Peter Harris and trained by Walter Swinburn, was clocked over a half-mile on the Polytrack in 54.80 Thursday. The British-bred 6-year-old gelding captured France’s Group III La Coupe Stakes at Longchamp in his last start June 18.
Trainer Swinburn, a former jockey, rode Hatoof to victory in the 1994 Beverly D. for trainer Criquette Head.
Saturday’s Beverly D. runner Denomination, third in France’s Group III Chloe Stakes at Chantilly July 5 in her last start, breezed three furlongs in 38.40 over Arlington’s Polytrack Thursday morning. That 4-year-old filly is trained by Ms. Head, who now uses the hyphenated surname Head-Maarek. The owner of Denomination – Mrs. Alec Head – is the trainer’s mother.
Louie Roussel III and Ronnie Lamarque’s Recapturetheglory, who may go to the post as the longest shot on the board in Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million, won the Grade II Illinois Derby in 2008 and then finished fifth in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
Roussel and Lamarque also owned Risen Star, who finished third in the 1998 Kentucky Derby but then went on to win that year’s Preakness and Belmont Stakes, so Recapturetheglory was named partially for the two owners’ Triple Crown dream season of the 1998.
However, Roussel and Lamarque were both born and raised in New Orleans as one generation of longtime Louisiana families whose Crescent City home base was decimated by the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
Recapturetheglory was also partially named in the spirit of the renewal and rebuilding of their unique hometown, where Roussel was also once owner and operator of that city’s Fair Grounds Race Course - third oldest Thoroughbred racing facility in the nation.
Roussel, who does double duty as the trainer of Recapturetheglory, stood in the paddock Thursday morning watching his colt stretch his legs on Arlington’s world-famous turf course with assistant trainer Lara Van Deren aboard.
“We’re just going to gallop out about five-eighths or three-quarters today,” said Roussel. “We hope it doesn’t rain, because the harder the turf is Saturday, the better it is for us.”
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