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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/11/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Veteran Arlington conditioner Chris Block, who finished third in the Arlington trainer standings last year and currently enjoys that same spot this summer, has a busy weekend coming up when he saddles horses in all three of the graded stakes on Saturday’s Million Preview Day.

Already included among the top 20 of Arlington’s all-time training leaders despite his relative youth, the 43-year-old native of Champaign, Illinois, will be represented by Thomas Fedro Sr.’s Free Fighter in the Grade III Arlington Handicap, Rich Ege and Team Block’s Askbut I Won’ttell in the Grade III Modesty Handicap and Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras in the Grade II American Derby.

The Arlington Handicap, at 10 furlongs over Arlington’s world famous turf course, is at the same distance and same surface as the Grade I Arlington Million five weeks later, while the Modesty, at 1 3/16-miles over the local lawn, serves as a preview of the Million’s sister race – the Grade I Beverly D. Aug. 21. The American Derby, middle leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple, precedes the Grade I Secretariat Stakes as the third leg of the Triple – also scheduled as part of Arlington’s International Festival of Racing on the third Saturday in August.

Free Fighter, who upset Churchill’s Grade III Louisville Handicap at 12 furlongs May 22, came back in Arlington’s grassy $100,000 Black Tie Affair Stakes at 1 1/16-miles June 19 and finished sixth but was gaining at the end.

“(Free Fighter) breezed good this morning,” said Block of the five-eighths grass move recorded Sunday in 1:05.80 with the “dogs” well out from the rail. “It was just a maintenance move. A mile and a half is probably his best distance, but we’ll see how he does at a mile and a quarter this weekend.

“Askbut I Won’ttell did pretty much the same thing,” said Block of his filly’s five furlong Sunday grass breeze recorded in 1:04.80. “Mostly it was a maintenance move. In her last start (fifth in the Grade III Arlington Matron May 20) she had a bad trip from the ‘get go’ and then she was the victim of a slow pace.

“I’ll give (American Derby contestant) Mister Marti Gras a little breeze tomorrow (Monday),” said Block of the Arlington Classic’s fourth-place runner May 22. “He came out of that last race (a win in Indiana Downs’ $200,000 Oliver Stakes June 30) in good order. Hopefully, that win will build his confidence a little bit for the American Derby.”


Only one horse is currently in a position to become the fourth Thoroughbred to sweep Arlington’s Mid-America Triple, and that is Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops, who won the 75th renewal of the Arlington Classic May 22, and will try to take down the win in Saturday’s Grade II American Derby as the Triple’s second leg.

Trained by Mike Stidham, Workin for Hops breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 over the Polytrack Sunday morning.

“We tried to get him focused on finishing fast this morning,” said Stidham later in the day. “We started him off slow but had him finish fast. He got the last quarter in 23.60 and galloped out another pole in 12 and change.”

Darley Stable’s Tizaqueena, winner of the Grade III Arlington Matron May 29 and also trained by Stidham, went a half in 50.60 Sunday morning but will pass on Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap.

“That was her first work back from that hard race she had (third in Colonial’s Grade III All Along June 19) in Virginia,” Stidham said of Sunday’s move. “She has the potential to be a starter in the Beverly D., but we want to give her a little more time right now after that trip to Virginia for that last race.”


Arlington Park’s inaugural “Breakfast at Arlington” program of the 2010 racing season is set for this Saturday on Arlington Million Preview Day.

Prominent racing personalities are interviewed during the 7:30–9:30 morning show against a backdrop of horses going through their workouts, with breakfast available for purchase.

Announced guests this Saturday include new Arlington jockey Michael Baze, a veteran of many years on the Southern California circuit; trainer Mike Stidham, who will saddle Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops in Saturday’s Grade II American Derby; Arlington’s new director of racing and racing secretary Chris Polzin; as well as Arlington’s perennial leading owner Frank Calabrese.

There will be a special “VIP” backstretch tour available through online purchase only.

- END -

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