Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/16/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
SATURDAY’S MODESTY HANDICAP MAY PREVIEW BETTER BEVERLY D.
Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap, designed as a tune-up for Arlington’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Aug. 21, may answer a lot of questions concerning who’s who among the fillies and mares slated for Arlington Million’s sister race five weeks later.
On paper, the strong favorite in the Modesty should be William Deburgh’s Tuscan Evening, heroine of all five of her graded stakes starts this year including Hollywood Park’s Grade I Gamely at last asking May 29. However, as trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is aware, the one caveat to her stellar record is that the last four of those wins have come over the turf at Santa Anita or Hollywood, where the grass tends to get a little harder than it does here at Arlington.
“I wanted to see if she likes the course,” Hollendorfer told Daily Racing Form last week of the move to ship Tuscan Evening to the Midwest for the Modesty. “We’ll try her and see if she can do well, then come back home (to California) and, hopefully, prepare for the Beverly D.”
Bred in Ireland, Tuscan Evening was winless in her juvenile and sophomore campaigns in Europe when campaigning over ground with a little more cut to it, but broke her maiden at first asking over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita in January of 2009.
Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, meanwhile, updated the status of his Modesty contestant Rainbow View, owned by Augustin Stable, while speaking over the phone Friday prior to his arrival in Chicago. Rainbow View arrived safely at Arlington Thursday.
“She seems well,” said Sheppard of Rainbow View, who won Pimlico’s Grade III Gallorette Stakes over Baltimore lawn on Preakness Day and was more recently third in Woodbine’s Grade II Nassau Stakes on the Canadian grass June 5. “She breezed at Presque Isle this week (five-eighths in one minute flat June 13) and looked good doing it.”
Could the homebred Rainbow View, a daughter of Dynaformer, defeat Tuscan Evening if the Midwestern lawn at Arlington was not made for California girls?
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” said Sheppard.
JUST AS WELL TRYING FOR REPEAT IN ARLINGTON HANDICAP
Although Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap is the local designed tune-up for the Grade I Arlington Million, no Arlington Handicap winner has ever come back to win the Arlington Million – yet.
Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well came the closest, capturing last summer’s Arlington Handicap and then returning to finish second in the 2009 Arlington Million, and Just as Well is the 2-1 morning line choice in this weekend’s Arlington Handicap.
The Arlington Million, centerpiece race of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season, will be run five weeks from now on Aug. 21 as one of three Grade I races – along with the $750,000 Beverly D. and $400,000 Secretariat Stakes – to make up Arlington’s International Festival of Racing on the third Saturday in August. Together, they are the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois on an annual basis.
Just as Well, originally scheduled to tune-up for Arlington Million XXVIII in Belmont’s Grade I Man o’War Handicap or Monmouth’s Grade I United Nations, was diverted to last summer’s campaign schedule by an unusually dry summer in the Northeast which has left those grass courses too hard to be the 7-year-old’s favored kind of ground.
Nevertheless, with unusually hot and humid weather scheduled this week in the Midwest, would those conditions compromise Just as Well’s best effort?
“Not really,” said Just as Well’s Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard, speaking over the phone from his Pennsylvania headquarters Friday morning prior to his own arrival in Chicago later that evening. “It’s just a little uncomfortable for the horse and the rider but I don’t expect it will affect his performance.”
GENERAL QUARTERS GETS GRASS GREETING AT ARLINGTON FRIDAY
Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, winner of Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day May 1 and second choice at 7-2 in the morning line for Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap, got his first introduction to the local grass course during training hours Friday morning.
“Perfect,” said owner-trainer McCarthy after exercise rider Jose Rodriguez allowed General Quarter to pick up the pace down the lane. “We gave him just enough to take the edge off him for tomorrow.”
Rodriguez, who was aboard the 4-year-old Sky Mesa colt for the second straight day since General Quarters’ arrival from Louisville Wednesday afternoon, was asked his assessment.
“He went really good for me,” said Rodriguez. “I think he’s ready to run.”
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