Arlington Million & International Festival of Racing Barn Notes (8/20/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
JUST AS WELL SLIPS IN UNDER RADAR IN ARLINGTON MILLION
Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well, runner-up in last summer’s Grade I Arlington Million after winning the Grade III Arlington Handicap four weeks earlier, slipped quietly through Arlington’s stable gate sans bells and whistles shortly after 9:30 Thursday evening and will attempt victory in his upcoming effort in Saturday’s Arlington Million XXVIII.
Trained as well as owned by Sheppard, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs in 1990, Just as Well has been under the radar in recent weeks, probably due to his half-length loss in this year’s Arlington Handicap July 17.
“I was pleased with the way he ran,” said the understated Sheppard in the moments after his second-place finish in designed local prep for the Million run five weeks ago. “The winner got through along the rail, and we didn’t. I think that made the difference in the outcome.”
Although pegged as the 5-1 second choice in the morning line, Sheppard’s trainee might get away as a generous overlay.
“(Just as Well) been doing just fine lately,” said Sara Nigro, who serves as Sheppard’s assistant. “He’s been eating and sleeping since he got here, but when he’s awake he just loves getting attention. Mr. Sheppard gets into Chicago tonight (Friday). We’ll give him an ‘easy go’ tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and then we’ll just hang out waiting for the race.”
ALL QUIET ON THE EUROPEAN FRONT FRIDAY MORNING
Darley Stud Management’ Debussy and Shadwell Stable’s Tazeez, two of the three European-based invaders for Saturday’s Arlington XXVIII, stepped onto Arlington’s main track at 6:45 am Friday and cantered once around the oval in advance of Saturday’s showcase event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season.
Tazeez, who finished third by a length and a quarter in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes June 16 during Great Britain’s Royal Ascot meeting, had ex-jockey Barry Savage aboard.
Debussy, who finished fourth in his last start in the Group II Sky Bet York Stakes July 24 when the rider lost his whip, was handled by Scottish-born exercise rider Sally Mitchelhill, who won several races at Arlington in September of 2007 as an apprentice jockey.
British trainer John Gosden, who conditions both Tazeez and Debussy, will arrive in Chicago Friday night, and both of his charges will go to the gate Saturday morning.
Michael Deegan’s Pachattack, the European-based invader for Saturday’s $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes as the Arlington Million’s sister race, cantered a mile and an eighth around the main track Friday morning.
“She’s in great shape,” said trainer Gerard Butler, who served as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas for a number of years before returning to Europe.
William Bellew’s Summit Surge, hero of the Sky Bet York Stakes and the third European-based Arlington Million candidate, also cantered Friday morning, as did Marquesa de Moratalla’s projected Beverly D. starter Biased.
GENERAL QUARTERS DUE IN EARLY FRIDAY AFTERNOON
Arlington Million candidate General Quarters, owned and trained by Tom McCarthy, should be arriving at Arlington early Friday afternoon, according to McCarthy.
“We just got on I-90,” said McCarthy, reached by cell phone in his car shortly before Noon on Friday. “Traffic is almost at a standstill right now. When we get there, I’d like to walk him for awhile and then go check into the hotel. The horse is doing fine.”
ACOMA’S ‘A’ GAME MAKES HER DANGEROUS IN BEVERLY D.
Irish-born trainer David Carroll once worked for legendary Irish conditioner John Oxx, who saddled H.H. The Aga Khan’s Timarida to win the 1994 Beverly D.
On Saturday, Carroll will attempt to equal that feat by saddling Helen Alexander’s Acoma to win the 2010 Beverly D., and after horse and trainer arrived mid-week in Chicago, Carroll exuded confidence and enthusiasm Thursday.
“She’s been training very well lately,” said Carroll of his 5-year-old mare who won Churchill’s Grade III Cardinal Handicap last November. “I feel fortunate that we were able to get Julien Leparoux to ride her at the last minute because he knows her so well. I think she’s going to give us a big effort Saturday. I’m looking forward to the race.”
REMINDER: POST TIME 12:15 P.M. ARLINGTON MILLION DAY
Racing fans are reminder that a special first post time of 12:15 pm will be in affect for Saturday’s 12-race Arlington Million Day program.
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