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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/20/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Michael Sucher’s Our Champion finished a closing third behind Paddy O’Prado in the Grade III Palm Beach Handicap over the Gulfstream grass two starts back March 6 despite being kept wide most of the way. That rival, owned by Donegal Racing, went on to run second in the Grade I Blue Grass April 10 and finish third in the Kentucky Derby May 1.

Earlier this year, on New Year’s Day, Our Champion finished fourth in the Grade III Tropical Park Derby – also run over the South Florida turf, and that was after being forced to steady on the far turn.

“We’ve been running in some pretty good company all year,” said Arlington-based trainer Larry Rivelli during training hours Thursday morning. “Maybe we will be able to get the job done this time.”

Rivelli’s reference to “this time” meant in this Saturday’s 75th renewal of the historic Arlington Classic, a tradition-rich race for 3-year-olds whose past winners include Native Dancer, Nashua, Buckpasser and Dr. Fager.

“This guy is our champion,” said Rivelli of his sophomore colt by Value Plus, who breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 flat over Arlington’s Polytrack May 12 and came back to accomplish that same time in a morning move on Tuesday.

“He worked fabulous,” said Rivelli. “On Tuesday, he did it all on his own. He’s a one-run horse, so in a race he’s got to be forced back early and then you have to let him see what he has to do to make his run. We’re taking the blinkers off him this time. Hopefully that will help him do his thing. I wish there was a little more speed in the race, but I can’t control that.”

The $100,000 Arlington Classic serves as the first leg of Arlington’s all-turf Mid-America Triple, which continues with the $300,000 American Derby (GII) July 17 and concludes with the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (GI) on Arlington Million Day Aug. 21.


Robert Smithen’s Bay to Bay, beaten three-quarters of length in Keeneland’s Grade III Appalachian Stakes over the Lexington lawn in her lone start this season, will attempt to benefit from that tightener when she goes to the post in Saturday’s $200,000 American 1000 Guineas, restricted to 3-year-old fillies and scheduled to be run at one mile over Arlington’s world famous turf course.

“We were very happy with her race in the Appalachian,” said her Canadian-based trainer Brian Lynch Thursday morning, speaking over the phone from his Woodbine headquarters, where Bay to Bay breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 over the Polytrack there last Saturday. “Hopefully, that last work hopefully will set her up perfectly.

“She (Bay to Bay) had a very good 2-year-old campaign last year,” said Lynch of the daughter of Sligo Bay who won Woodbine’s Grade III Natalma Stakes over the Canadian grass last Sept. 19 and then finished second in Woodbine’s Grade III Mazarine Stakes over their Polytrack Oct. 10 in the final start of her juvenile season.

“I’ll be coming down there (to Arlington) Saturday to saddle her,” concluded Lynch, a former assistant to the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. “She should be right on schedule for this race.”

Although the owner of Bay to Bay is the chief financial officer of a large Canadian company, the filly is a Florida-bred, so Lynch was asked if she was named for the south Tampa main artery that joins Hillsborough Bay with old Tampa Bay.

“No,” answered Lynch without hesitation. “Actually, Mr. Smithen owns a lot of horses and he sometimes has trouble remembering all their names. He gave this horse that name because she is a bay filly who is also a daughter of Sligo Bay.”


There will be daily double wagering offered on Saturday’s $200,000 American 1000 Guineas and Saturday’s $100,000 Arlington Classic, to be run as Race 9 and Race 10 on the 11-race program – regardless of weather conditions – but that All-Stakes Double will be sandwiched between to other races scheduled for the grass course to hopefully make up an All-Turf Pick 4.

As of Thursday morning at Arlington, some rain was forecast for Friday in the Chicago area, but gradually clearing skies were predicted for Saturday.

- END -

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