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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/26/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


The first two graded stakes of Arlington’s 2010 season are showcased this Saturday at Chicago’s northwest Thoroughbred oval, and together they will help kick off Arlington’s expanded Memorial Day weekend that includes a special racing program Monday to unofficially initiate summer Thoroughbred racing in the City of Broad Shouders.

Prominent in the 74th running of Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Matron for older fillies and mares is Darley Stable’s Tizaqueena, a 5-year-old mare who made the pace in last year’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes here after winning the Grade II Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day of 2009.

Sure to be well regarded in Saturday’s 57th renewal of the Grade III Hanshin Cup at one mile is Darley’s Tybalt, a 6-year-old son of Storm Cat who won his last start Feb. 27 at Fair Grounds by 3 3/4 lengths.

Tizaqueena and Tybalt are both considered to be primarily turf runners but adaptable to Polytrack, both are trained by Mike Stidham, and both exemplify the purchase power of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Darley Stable, who bought the Stonerside Stable of Robert and Janice McNair two years ago. Tizaqueena breezed a half here in 48.80 Tuesday and Tybalt went five furlongs in 1:02.60 on Monday.

In this spring’s Distaff Turf Mile, Tizaqueena’s most recent start four weeks prior to Saturday’s Matron, the daughter of Tiznow finished fifth – a rare hiccup on her exemplary record – but that effort was over yielding ground. Did the soft turf compromise her chances?

“I think so,” Stidham said. “At least, I’m hoping that’s what it was. It’s the only thing I can think of to explain why she didn’t run the way she usually does.”

Prior to that outing over the Louisville lawn, Tizaqueena had captured the $100,000 Bayou Handicap over Fair Grounds’ firm Stall-Wilson turf course March 26 on Fair Grounds Oaks Day, and won the $60,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial in New Orleans Feb. 27 – a race scheduled for grass but taken off and run over the “good” main track that afternoon.

Tybalt’s Feb. 27 winning outing in New Orleans was also in a race scheduled for turf but taken off that same afternoon of the LeCombe Memorial and run over the “good” main track.

All of Tybalt’s six other North American starts, as well as his previous four in England, were run over turf.

“However, he is training really well right now,” said Stidham, noting Tybalt’s two recent bullet moves over Arlington’s Polytrack, “and before I got him he trained very well over synthetic surfaces in Europe. He had some foot issues when he came to me, but those are not affecting him now.”

According to Stidham, John Adger, racing and bloodstock manager for Darley, will be on hand at Arlington Saturday to represent the stable.


If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. Actually, keep trying beyond that and every 17 times your patience will be rewarded with a trip to the winner’s circle.

That’s the credo of Thoroughbred owner Tracy Weikum, Arlington-based trainer Cynthia Gastel and their 5-year-old gelding Cigar Break, who won for the second time in his life in the 34th start of his career last Sunday at Arlington.

Coincidentally, the first win of Cigar Break’s life came Oct. 22, 2008, in his 17th trip to the post - or exactly the halfway point of his career.

That’s the bad news concerning Cigar Break. The good news is that Cigar Break has finished first, second or third 16 times – an unusually productive in-the-money percentage just shy of 50 percent.

“He tries all the time,” said trainer Gastel Wednesday morning during training hours at Arlington. “He’s a hard-knocking horse and Sunday was just his day. He had a good trip and a good rider (Jesus Castanon) aboard and all the pieces just fell into place.

“His owner loves him, and I’m pretty fond of him, too,” said Gastel. “He broke a little sharper than usual on Sunday, and he was feeling very good.”

Did that mean that Cigar Break (by Sunday Break out of Runaway Smoke) might make it two in a row when he goes to the post for his next start?

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that,” said Gastel, “but I do think he will give us all he’s got. He always does that.”

- END -

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