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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/8/10)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

ARLINGTON MILLION-BOUND QUITE A HANDFUL WORKS HANDILY SUNDAY

Jean and Ted Barlas and Michael Porcaro’s Quite a Handful, sixth in last year’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes, second by a nose in Arlington’s Honor Glide last Labor Day and third in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby later in the fall, worked six furlongs over the grass in 1:17 Sunday morning in preparation for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 21.

“He looked very good all the way around there this morning,” said Arlington head clocker Bobby Belpedio shortly after the move. “The ‘dogs’ were well out from the rail, I called the turf course ‘good’ and I gave him a ‘handily’ on the work.”

Jockey Tanner Riggs, in the irons for Quite a Handful’s last three starts including a two-length win at Indiana Downs in his most recent outing July 12, was aboard once again for Sunday’s morning move.

“Tanner said he worked even better this time than last time,” said trainer Andy Hansen later in the morning. “He said the horse was feeling really good out there today.”

Although Quite a Handful is sure to be quite a price at the windows in the upcoming Million, he wouldn’t be the first horse to win the centerpiece race of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season at long odds.

Two years ago, Kamel Chehboub’s French-bred Spirit One led wire-to-wire to return a $29.40 straight price, and the largest win payoff in the Arlington Million was recorded in 1988 when Evergreen Farm’s Mill Native lit up the board for an $83.20 return on a $2 wager.

“Is he good enough to win this race?” Hansen asked rhetorically of Quite a Handful. “I don’t know. Obviously, we’re putting him in a very aggressive spot. But I do know that this horse is always going to try. Every time we lead him over there, no matter who he’s running against, we know he’s going to give us everything he’s got.”

MISTER MARTI GRAS GETS SUNDAY BREEZE FOR SECRETARIAT STAKES

Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, who finished second to Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops in Arlington’s Grade II American Derby at last asking July 17, breezed five furlongs in 1:06.80 in company over Arlington’s world famous turf course Sunday morning in advance of the upcoming Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day Aug. 21.

Regular jockey Eddie Perez was aboard for the move, accomplished over ground rated “good” with the “dogs” well out from the rail.

Workmate Free Fighter, owned by Thomas Fedro Sr. and Team Block, who is prepping for the Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap on that same day, was handled by an exercise rider.

“We breezed them together because I thought it would help both of them,” said Block. “I was very pleased with the way Mister Marti Gras came out of the American Derby, and I really believe he’s gotten better since then. I think now I have him better than he’s ever been and I just hope he holds the form he’s got now on Aug. 21.”

Before winning the American Derby Workin for Hops had captured the 75th renewal of the $100,000 Arlington Classic May 22 and is in a position to become the first horse since 1997 to sweep the Mid-America Triple should he win the Secretariat Stakes at a mile and a quarter over the grass. Mister Marti Gras finished fourth in the Arlington Classic.

FREE FIGHTER PREPS FOR STARS AND STRIPES HANDICAP AUG. 21

Arlington Park’s Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap was a Chicago Thoroughbred racing staple along with hot dogs and apple pie on the Fourth of July for most of its history, but this year the 79th running of the mile and five-eighths grass marathon has been moved to Arlington Million Day Aug. 21.

Thomas Fedro Sr. and Team Block’s Free Fighter breezed five furlongs in 1:06.80 Sunday morning in company with Secretariat Stakes prospect Mister Marti Gras, owned by Lothenbach Stable, over a turf course rated “good.”

Free Fighter, defending champion from last year’s Stars and Stripes, won Churchill’s Grade III Louisville Handicap going a mile and a half over yielding ground on May 22.

With the change in placement on this summer’s Arlington stakes schedule, the upcoming Stars and Stripes joins the Arlington Million, $750,000 Beverly D. and $400,000 Secretariat Stakes as a fourth graded stakes to be run on the third Saturday in August. The latter three, all Grade I affairs, are the only Grade I races offered in Illinois on an annual basis.

- END -

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