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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/20/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Trainer Mike Stidham, based at Arlington Park throughout the summer season, was able to celebrate one of his more satisfying local victories when Secret Kin proved clearly best in Saturday’s $87,900 Isaac Murphy Handicap – a six-furlong sprint contested on the Polytrack as part of Arlington’s Prairie State Festival Day.

“That was a big effort,” said Stidham on Sunday morning. He had claimed Secret Kin from owner-breeder Team Block for $62,500 out of his last start May 30, and had nominated the 6-year-old mare to Prairie State Festival Day’s $96,035 Lincoln Heritage Handicap at 1 1/16-miles over Arlington’s world famous turf course in addition to the Isaac Murphy.

“She had been training really well, and we were hoping we had picked the right spot for her,” Stidham said. “I guess it worked out all right.”

Sent off as the fourth choice in the wagering, Secret Kin was unhurried early, challenged outside the leaders in the final furlong and proved clearly best at the wire following her length and a quarter-score.

The only problem was that Stidham wasn’t at Arlington to see it.

“Hilary (assistant Pridham) and I left real early in the morning to get on a plane to the east coast,” said Stidham, who had Philip Maas’ A She’s Adorable in the $75,050 John W. Rooney Memorial Stakes at Delaware; Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops entered in Grade II Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia; Darley Stable’s Tizaqueena in the Grade III All Along Stakes, also at the Virginia oval; and Peter Redekop B. C. Ltd.’s Comedero running in the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town in West Virginia.

“After we got off the plane, it took us three-and-a-half hours to get to Colonial because traffic was so backed up on I-95,” said Stidham. “Then we went to Charles Town and then we drove more than three-and-a-half hours to get back to the airport to come back to Chicago.”

What was accomplished throughout the afternoon and evening in addition to Secret Kin’s win in the Isaac Murphy?

A win by A She’s Adorable in Delaware, a runner-up finish by Workin for Hops and a dead-heat for third by Tizaqueena in their respective races in Virginia, as well as a win by Comedero in his race in West Virginia.

“I thought Workin for Hops gave a fabulous effort,” said Stidham. “The only horse that beat him (Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado) just finished third in the Kentucky Derby this spring.”

Since Workin for Hops won the 75th renewal of the Arlington Classic May 22, would he be considered to continue a possible sweep of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple by running in the Grade II American Derby on July 17.

“Without a doubt,” said Stidham. “Of course, we’ll also be looking at the (Grade II) Virginia Derby on that day, but it might be nice to stay right at home here.

“Tizaqueena ran hard every step of the way,” said Stidham. “Those were a whole bunch of noses on the wire in that race. I was proud of her.

“Comedero did everything we wanted him to do, as well,” said Stidham. “He came back with a cut on his hind leg, but it’s a superficial thing and shouldn’t take too long to heal.

“All in all, it was certainly a long day yesterday, but well worth it,” concluded Stidham.


Trainer Christine Janks saddled the winner of a Prairie State Festival Stakes for the sixth straight year Saturday when S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s Big Looie captured the $89,900 Springfield Stakes, but she also had a training triple for the afternoon, winning both halves of the Daily Double with Phillip Cooper’s Blue Dress On in the opener and Carson Springs Farm’s Buzz My Bell in the second race. She remains easily the runner-up in Prairie State Festival standings with nine winners in the series since its inception.

Prairie State Festival Day’s all-time leading trainer Chris Block celebrated his 16th series win when Team Block’s Shrewd Operator won Saturday’s $93,000 White Oak Handicap.

However, Block also underlined his reputation as a class act with his comments Sunday morning about Secret Kin, who won Saturday for Michael Stidham in the $87,900 Isaac Murphy Handicap after being claimed away from Team Block for $62,500 May 30.

“I was happy, too, for Secret Kin and for Mike,” said Block. “I couldn’t help but root for her. I mean it’s great that she’s still running as well as she is at six (years-old). We take a lot of pride out of her win yesterday.”

- END -

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