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Arlington Park

Arlington Million & International Festival of Racing Barn Notes - AM (8/18/10)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

DEFENDING MILLION CHAMPION GIO PONTI GETS HERO’S WELCOME

Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti, defending Arlington Million champion and 7-5 morning line favorite for this year’s renewal of the mile and a quarter turf race, received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Arlington Park late Wednesday morning.

After an uneventful flight from New York to O’Hare International Airport, the son of Tale of the Cat was loaded onto a Drexler van – destination Arlington Park. Exiting I-90 at Arlington Heights Road, the van was met by Arlington Heights police and escorted with sirens blaring and lights flashing through the village before entering the track’s stable gate.

Greeted in the Arlington Park stable area by a fanfare played by track bugler Jean Laurenz, the hero of Million XXVII last summer was led off the van through a series of red ropes and silver stanchions and into Barn 8 – his home for the next several days.

“We had a very good trip,” said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. “We left Albany about 8 o’clock this morning and there were no problems at all. We’ll see how he eats today. He’ll have an easy day tomorrow and gallop Friday.”

Gio Ponti completed his major preparation for Saturday’s 28th running of the Grade I turf race on Aug. 12 when he worked five furlongs on the training track at Saratoga in 59.38 seconds in company with Overbrook Farm’s Armstrong Mill, who has been entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap on the Million undercard.

Lorieul is no stranger to Arlington Park: in addition to accompanying Gio Ponti for last year’s successful run in the Million, the French-born horseman was here with Clement trainees Monceaux Stable’s Royal Highness and Robert Scarborough’s Mauralakana, who captured the Grade I Beverly D. in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

“I’ve come to Arlington three times and won the Beverly D. twice and the Million last year,” he said. “This race track and these races fit the type of horses we have.”

Accompanying the two Clement-trained horses on the flight from New York were Beverly D. candidates Team Valor International and Green Lantern Stables’ Gypsy’s Warning and Juddmonte Farms’ Treat Gently who were bedded down in Barn 1 and Barn 11, respectively.

MISTER MARTI GRAS READY FOR SECRETARIAT STAKES

Chris Block, trainer of Mister Marti Gras, is pleased with how the son of Belong to Me is training coming into Saturday’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes.

“He came out of the American Derby really good and is more well rested for this race,” said Block.

Mister Marti Gras drew post position 2 for the Secretariat and Block is not concerned about the assignment.

“(The two-post) is okay for us,” he said. “With a mile and a quarter race it won’t make a big difference where we are.”

ÉCLAIR DE LUNE ARRIVED TUESDAY FOR SATURDAY’S BEVERLY D.

Richard L. Duchossois’ Éclair De Lune, who is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Ron McAnally, arrived Tuesday and will be staying in trainer Chris Block’s barn leading into Saturday’s Grade I Beverly D.

“She looks really good for herself,” said Block of the daughter of Marchand de Sable who galloped Wednesday morning. “I think she is doing just fine and everything is going well for her.”

ROMACACA CARRIES LOCAL HOPES FOR BEVERLY D.

Frank C. Calabrese’s Romacaca is the only distaffer stabled season-long at Arlington Park preparing to race in this Saturday’s Grade I Beverly D. Trainer Nick Canani is pleased with the daughter of Running Stag as she prepares for her toughest test to date in the mile and three-sixteenths turf test.

“She is doing great,” said Canani, who is second in the Arlington Park trainer standings. “She’s run over the turf course here at Arlington five times with four wins and a second. She’s happy and doing good so we will see what happens on Saturday. She’s been galloping this week and she’ll gallop tomorrow and on up until the race.”

ACOMA ANOTHER TUESDAY ARRIVAL FOR BEVERLY D.

Helen C. Alexander’s Acoma, trained by David Carroll, arrived from Churchill Downs on Tuesday to take part in Saturday’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes.

The daughter of Empire Maker has been bedded down with trainer Leigh Bentley’s stock in Barn 28 in the Arlington Park stable area and has settled in nicely in advance of Saturday’s race.

“She is going to go for a gallop Thursday morning and will probably go to the gate. David will probably ride her. He rides her and she is lovely to ride,” said Bentley. “The weather was perfect for her (arrival). She has been very professional and great here. On the day I’ve had her she is doing fine. She is a pro.”

- END -

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