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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/29/11)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


“If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again.” That’s the attitude trainer Mike Stidham is taking toward his second straight attempt for a sweep of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple.

Last summer, Stidham saddled Estrorace’s Workin for Hops to win the 75th renewal of the Arlington Classic in May and brought that colt back to Chicago to capture the 96th running of the American Derby in July. Unfortunately, Stidham’s colt ran into a gray monster known as Paddy O’Prado in the Grade I Secretariat in August and that Donegal Racing color bearer denied Workin for Hops’ bid to become the fourth horse in history to sweep the Mid-America Triple.

However, on May 28, Stidham saddled All In Stable’s Willcox Inn to win the 2011 Arlington Classic by a convincing 2 1/2-length margin, and another march toward a Triple sweep – accomplished by Powhatan’s Tom Rolfe in 1965, Ogden Phipps’ Buckpasser in 1966 and Robert Schaedle III’s Honor Glide in 1997 – has officially begun.

“Absolutely,” said Stidham immediately after the Classic, when asked if Willcox Inn would be pointed to the American Derby as Arlington’s oldest stakes race to be run July 9. “There’s no reason not to shoot for that race. This is our home track and we always enjoy staying at home when we can.”

Reminded of the unconsummated ceremonies that were planned for Workin for Hops last season had he been able to complete the Triple sweep, Stidham said, “The only thing we can do about that now is to try again, and that’s going to be our plan.”


Michael Deegan’s Pachattack, who dwelt at the start to lose all chance in last summer’s Grade I Beverly D. but still rallied to finish sixth, is a horse whose connections have a game plan to seek redemption this summer.

The first step on Pachattack’s road to the 2011 Beverly D. on Aug. 13 came May 28 in Chicago when the 5-year-old daughter of Pulpit captured the 75th anniversary edition of the Grade III Arlington Matron with a dominant six-length tally.

However, the 2011 Arlington Matron for fillies and mares was contested on Polytrack, while the Beverly D. for members of the distaff set is scheduled to be run over Arlington’s world famous turf course.

Nevertheless, Pachattack’s Irish-born British-based trainer Gerard Butler, who plans to be back and forth between Arlington and Newmarket all summer – with assorted side trips to Canada’s Woodbine – remains focused on a second attempt at the sister race to the Arlington Million.

“Actually, I think (Pachattack) might be five pounds better on Polytrack than she is on turf,” said Butler after Pachattack’s Matron win, “but she’s also very good on grass and the Beverly D. offers a very attractive $750,000 purse. We have to keep that in mind.

“The key to her race in the Matron was getting her into a rhythm,” Butler said. “I told the jockey (Florent Geroux, who replaced Junior Alvarado after that rider broke his collarbone Friday) to ride her the same way Junior did when he worked her the other day (seven furlongs over the Polytrack in 1:26.80 May 18). “I told Florent: ‘Don’t go any slower the first part of it than Junior did that day, but don’t go any faster, either.’ I thought Florent followed his instructions perfectly. I feel badly about what happened to Junior. I saw him this morning and he told me the first thing he thought about after he hit the ground was losing the mount on Pachattack in this race.”

The Grade III Modesty Handicap July 9 as a designed prep for the Beverly D. is a strong intermediate possibility for Pachattack prior to the main event, as is a race over the Polytrack at Woodbine in Canada.


Jockey Junior Alvarado, convincingly in front in the Arlington jockey standings when he broke his collarbone in a Friday spill, came to the races Saturday with his arm in a sling but a ready smile on his face.

“It’s okay,” said Alvarado when offered condolences in the tunnel by trainer Gerard Butler after Pachattack won the Matron. “These things happen. I’ll be back as soon as I can. I feel fine. I’m not in a lot of pain.”

Alvarado, who celebrated his 25th birthday one week before Friday’s spill, is a native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, who was Arlington’s jockey champion in 2009 and runner-up in the standings last summer.

- END -

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