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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/1/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Gran Estreno means “grand debut” in Spanish, and that’s what the Argentine-bred horse owned by Feel The Thunder Stable did by winning last year’s Grade III Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park in his first attempt.

On Saturday, the Mike Stidham trainee will try to become the fourth horse in history to win back-to-back renewals of this Labor Day weekend’s 77th running of the Washington Park ‘Cap, now run at a mile and three-sixteenths over Arlington’s Polytrack course.

Although Stonecrest Farm’s Perfect Drift won the Washington Park twice, in 2003 and again in 2005, it’s been 31 years since Fritz Sitzberger’s That’s A Nice won successive renewals, and before that only Calumet Farm’s Armed in 1946-47 and Le Mar Stock Farm Stable’s Misstep in 1929-30 accomplished that feat.

As a result of his win in last year’s Washington Park ‘Cap, Gran Estreno earned a starting berth in the 2009 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, and should the horse repeat in Saturday’s running, the same “Win and You’re In” provision would apply for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic to be run at Churchill Downs Nov. 6.

Gran Estreno won the Group I Jockey Club Stakes at San Isidro in his native country in 2006 and was also a contestant in that season’s Group I Carlos Pelligrini, generally considered to be South America’s premier Thoroughbred race.

However, last year, before winning the 2009 Washington Park, Gran Estreno was twice claimed for $20,000. The 7-year-old son of Lucky Roberto has one win and two third-place efforts in three starts at Arlington this summer. He breezed a half-mile in 49 flat Monday.

“The work went well,” said Stidham Wednesday morning during training hours. “We weren’t looking for much. He’s about where he was last year at this time. He’s got speed, he won the race last year on the lead, but he can also be in a stalking position if that that’s the way the race sets up for him. Michael Baze will be the rider so we’ll leave that up to him.”


Team Valor International’s Elusive Beat will ship from trainer John Sadler’s Southern California headquarters later this week to contest Saturday’s Grade III Washington Park Handicap at 1 3/16-miles over Arlington’s Polytrack despite the fact that he has only won one race in his career of seven lifetime starts.

“One reason we’re coming is because this horse seems to like Polytrack,” said Barry Irwin of Team Valor, speaking over the phone on Wednesday of the colt who broke his maiden at Keeneland over that surface April 7 and then finished second by a nose over Woodbine’s Polytrack June 20.

“Also, we get in with a light weight (113 pounds) in the Washington Park,” said Irwin. “The horse had a bullet work going three-quarters in 1:11.60 Monday at Hollywood and that helped us in our decision to come. Another thing is that he may be one of those horses who could be better going long.

“Finally, the jockey who will ride (Elusive Beat) is Florent Geroux,” concluded Irwin, “and I like the way he rides because he’s very patient. He’s gotten two wins and two seconds for us from four starts on one of our horses that have run at the meeting for trainer Wayne Catalano (Team Valor International, Mark Polivka and Greg England’s Corredor Dela Isla.) Geroux reminds me a lot of Julien Leparoux because he knows how to wait until exactly the right time to make his move.”


Swedish-born but Chicago-based jockey Inez Karlsson, California-born but Chicago-based trainer Michele Boyce, and the ubiquitous Thoroughbred stable of Gary and Mary West have been named respectively as Arlington Park’s jockey, trainer and owner of the month for the month of August this summer.

Karlsson rode 13 winners from 81 mounts during August, Boyce saddled six winners from 11 starters during the same period of time, and the familiar pink and black silks of Gary and Mary West were posed in the winner’s circle four times from 10 starters during the month.

Karlsson and Boyce also combined their talents with Margaret Burlingham’s Saint Leon to win Arlington’s “Young Guns vs. Cagey Veterans” contest, featuring active riders against retired jockeys, run on Aug. 20.

- END -

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