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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/18/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Trainer Byron “Scooter” Hughes, who saddled Robert Courtney’s Rahystrada to win Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap, was hauling that 6-year-old gelding back down the road to The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky, on Sunday morning when reached on his cell phone en route.

After accepting congratulations on Rahystrada’s winning effort, the 57-year-old central Kentucky native answered the most obvious question: Would he be hauling Rahystrada back to Chicago for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 21?

“We’re going to see how he comes out of his race yesterday for the next few days and then take a look at the Million,” Hughes said. “We’re certainly going to keep it on the front burner. I’m pretty excited about that possibility after the way he ran yesterday.”

Hughes has been around horses all his life, growing up in a family that owned and operated Forest Retreat Farm in Paris, Kentucky, but has been training horses on his own for about 20 years, including Dominique Tijou’s Seniga, who ran third behind Frank Calabrese’s Romacaca in the $50,000 Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day last summer.

“But Rahystrada is the best horse I’ve had by far,” Hughes said, “although I also train a 10-year old gelding named Solo Cat (owned by James Brunker), who has won over $250,000 for me over the years.”

Hughes was also quick to compliment winning rider Inez Karlsson, who became the first female jockey to win the Arlington Handicap and would also be the first female rider to win the Arlington Million should they accomplish that feat together.

“She rode him the way she usually does and put him in a position to win it,” said Hughes of Karlsson. “All I had to do was hope there was enough horse under her.”


Last summer, Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well won the Grade III Arlington Handicap and finished second in the Grade I Arlington Million.

On Saturday, Just as Well finished second in the Arlington Handicap, so would he be likely to complete that role reversal in Arlington Million XXVIII five weeks later on Aug. 21?

“I’m very happy with the way (Just as Well) ran yesterday,” said Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard, speaking over the phone Sunday morning of the horse who arrived safely back at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania, at about 7 am. “We know how to get there, now. We’ll be back.

“I was slightly disappointed with the way Rainbow View ran (Saturday),” said Sheppard of the Augustin Stable color bearer who ran fourth in the Grade III Modesty Handicap as the final local prep for the Grade I Beverly D. Aug. 21. “We were a little too far back early and she also showed a little mucous after the race. But we’re still shooting for the Beverly D. with her.”


During a barn check a couple of hours after Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap, Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters – sixth in the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million – was showing some discomfort in his left front, alternating from heel to toe as he stood otherwise placidly in his stall.

Although by Sunday morning the handsome gray colt was standing flatfooted once more some 10 minutes before being loaded on a van back to Louisville, owner-trainer McCarthy confirmed that there was a problem when reached by phone during his own drive home to Louisville, Kentucky.

“He came up with a bum ankle,” said McCarthy. “The jock (Rafael Bejarano) said he thought the ground was too hard for him, but the ankle was probably already bothering him during the race. I thought we’d be a long time cooling him out after the race because it was such a hot, muggy day, so I drove my wife back to the hotel (adjacent to Arlington) right after the race and came right back to the track while (trainer) Cory (Patton) hot walked him. By the time I got back 10 minutes later, Cory already had him cooled out. So that means the horse didn’t even try.

“We’ll take some X-rays when we get him home to see what they show,” McCarthy said, “but I would say the Arlington Million is out. To try and come back in five weeks is too quick for us even if nothing shows up on the X-rays.”


Following his 2 1/4-length win in Saturday’s Grade II American Derby and an earlier win in the 75th renewal of the Arlington Classic May 22, Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops becomes the first horse in a position to sweep Arlington’s Mid-America Triple since 1997 should he be able to win the Grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 21.

“That’s what we’ll be looking at next,” said trainer Mike Stidham Sunday morning. “Our horse came out of yesterday’s race very well and he looks great this morning.”

Chief among North American-based grass-favoring sophomores standing in the way of Workin for Hops’ potential Triple Sweep is Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, a dominant winner of Saturday’s Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs despite traffic problems. Paddy O’Prado defeated Workin for Hops in the Grade II Colonial Cup June 19 by three lengths.

Did Stidham watch Saturday’s simulcast of the Virginia Derby?

“Yes I did, and I didn’t like what I saw,” said Stidham, obviously impressed with the dominant performance by Workin for Hops’ rival. “I have the ultimate respect for Paddy O’Prado and the way he closed late yesterday over the Colonial Downs course, but he’ll still have to catch us over this turf course here.”


Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, runner-up in Saturday’s Grade II American Derby at almost 20-1 in the wagering, had trainer Chris Block singing his colt’s praises Sunday.

“I was tickled with the way he ran,” Block said of Mister Marti Gras. “He seemed to come out of that win in Indiana (Indiana Downs’ $200,000 Oliver Stakes June 30) with a lot more confidence in himself. I really thought he would run well yesterday and I wasn’t disappointed. He’s got a lot of talent and we’re thinking of going in the Secretariat.”

Block also indicated that Virginia Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak, fifth in the Arlington Handicap, would be pointed for the Grade III Washington Park Handicap Sept. 4; and that Thomas Fedro Sr. and Team Block’s Free Fighter, eighth in the Arlington ‘Cap, would be likely for the Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap Aug. 21.


On the morning after Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap as the final local prep for the Grade I Beverly D. Aug. 21, all indications were that the Irish-bred mare Tuscan Evening, owned by William Deburgh, and the German-bred Éclair de Lune, owned by Richard Duchossois, who finished first and second respectively in the Modesty, would be pointed for a rematch in the 20th renewal of the Beverly. D.

- END -

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