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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/9/10)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

PROCEED BEE, ‘HANDFUL’ TO RENEW RIVALRY IN ILLINOIS OWNERS STAKES

If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. That’s what the 4-year-old colt Quite a Handful will be asked to do Saturday in Arlington’s $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes when he’s set to match strides for a fourth time against last year’s Grade III Hawthorne Derby hero Proceed Bee, a 4-year-old gelding.

Quite a Handful, owned by Jean and Ted Barlas and Mike Porcaro, has never finished in front of Proceed Bee, who races in the silks of William Stiritz, but in their three previous encounters the total distance separating them has added up to three and a half lengths.

The two faced off for the first time in last year’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 8, contested at 10 furlongs over Arlington’s turf course during Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing. Proceed Bee, trained by Scott Becker, finished fifth in that final leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple. Finishing sixth in the Secretariat, a length farther back, was Quite a Handful, conditioned by Andy Hansen.

A month later, Proceed Bee and Quite a Handful faced off in Arlington’s $50,000 Honor Glide Stakes, contested at a mile and an eighth on Labor Day. Almost by default, Quite a Handful inherited the lead early in the Honor Glide and then held on willingly until caught in the final jump, losing by a nose to the late charge of Proceed Bee.

Their third meeting came on the Southside of town in the Hawthorne Derby, also on the grass and also at nine furlongs. Proceed Bee rallied wide to be clearly best, but on that day Quite a Handful was steadied in mid-stretch when Frank Calabrese’s filly Romacaca ducked out, forcing Hansen’s trainee to change direction and head toward the inside. At the wire, Quite a Handful finished third, beaten two and a half lengths by the winner.

The fifth running of Illinois Owners Stakes, contested at 1 1/16-miles over the local lawn, is restricted to horses where at least 51 per cent of the horses’ recorded ownership is registered to an owner whose Illinois Racing Board license reflects an address in the State of Illinois.

“Maybe we can get the better of (Proceed Bee) this time,” said Ted Barlas. “Our horse (Quite a Handful) has provided us with a lot of exciting times, especially when we ran in the Secretariat last year. It’s always fun to have a horse that can compete at that level. I remember sitting at auction when this horse came up. We had set a limit of how high we would go to try and get him, and we ended up getting him by going $1,000 over our limit. I’ve always looked at that as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

About a decade ago, Barlas owned a horse named Gotha, who competed in two straight Hawthorne Gold Cups, but the insurance executive admits that Quite a Handful is the best horse he’s had since that time.

“(Quite a Handful) is doing great right now,” said trainer Hansen. “That race he ran at Churchill the other day (April 29) was his first start since last fall, and I think it should serve as an excellent tightener for him.

“Proceed Bee is a very good horse,” Hansen said, “but I think we have a very good horse, too. I think these two horses match up very well, and I think the rivalry also spurs a lot of interest from the public.”

NEVER RETREAT LIKELY FOR FEMALE DIVISION OF ILLINOIS OWNERS

The female division of the Illinois Owners Stakes will be contested at Arlington for the fourth time Saturday as the afternoon’s co-feature, and Team Block’s Never Retreat, third in last year’s renewal, will be looking to improve off of that finish after a recent run of bad racing luck during the winter in New Orleans.

The 5-year-old Smart Strike mare was second in Fair Grounds’ Blushing K D Handicap last November, first under the wire in the Furl Sail Handicap at the New Orleans oval in early January before being disqualified and placed second, second by a nose in the Marie Krantz Memorial later that month, and finally third in the Bayou Handicap at the end of the Crescent City racing season.

Most recently, Never Retreat was sixth in Hawthorne’s Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap after being hopelessly stuck behind rivals most of the way.

- END -

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