Arlington International Barn Notes (7/21/13)
Contact: Michael Adolphson
In today's notes:
ARLINGTON OAKS ONE-TWO COULD RETURN IN HATOOF
The top three finishers from the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Oaks exited their respective performances in Illinois’ premier sophomore filly event in good order, according to their connections. Two of those could wind up back at Arlington International Racecourse in the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes, while the third is doubtful.
Following a very good third in yesterday’s race, Jay Em Ess Stable’s Sky Girl – the slight 2-1 favorite – came out of her 2 1/2-length loss in decent order. “She checked out good,” trainer Paul McGee reported. “I thought she ran very well, and today she is doing well.”
After prompting an easy six furlongs in 1:15.01, the daughter of Sky Mesa charged past pacesetter Gold Edge to take a brief lead before being passed by pouncing eventual winner My Option. “I thought she had the look of a winner at the half-mile pole and again at the quarter-pole. Then, she didn’t quicken like the other filly. I think she might not like the Polytrack as much as the dirt,” the conditioner explained.
The Oaks was Sky Girl’s fourth start and second on a synthetic surface. Now, after four starts, her two losses have both been on Polytrack – the other being in her maiden debut at Keeneland in April. “I’m not sure where we’ll run next,” McGee continued. “I’m inclined to run her back in a stakes. She’s a good filly. (Owner) Samantha (Siegel) was very pleased.”
G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.’s Frivolous, who ran exceptionally to run a huge race to finish second by a neck, was making her first start after a maiden special weight victory for trainer Victoria Oliver. “She came out well and is still there at Arlington. She will ship back to Kentucky shortly,” reported Oliver.
“I thought she was much the best, to be quite honest. She had a rough trip and stumbled at the break. It wasn’t anyone’s fault,” the conditioner continued. “She just couldn’t get out until it was too late. Then she switched (leads) a little too late. I had a problem with her when she was younger and green doing that. She’s a lot better.”
As far as what’s in store for the daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, the trainer is unsure. “We’ll wait it out,” Oliver said. “I think she can run on both dirt and grass, too. The Hatoof (Stakes) is an option. It’s a nice two-race series, that and the (Grade III) Pucker Up (Stakes) together. I was third last year (with Drama Drama) in the Hatoof.”
Also a possible for the Hatoof is the winner of the Oaks, My Option. A homebred of Tim Keeley, My Option won her third Illinois stakes, but her first in open and/or graded company. As a juvenile, the daughter of Belong to Me won the $125,000 Illinois Debutante en route to being named Illinois Champion 2-Year-Old Filly. To kick off her sophomore year, she won the restricted $100,000 Pretty Jenny Stakes at Hawthorne Race Course.
After losing by a half-length to Bold Kitten (who ran fourth in the Oaks) in the restricted $100,000 Purple Violet Stakes at a one-turn mile at Arlington last out, the filly rebounded in a victory that proved she could win at the Arlington Heights facility. “She’s definitely a better two-turn filly, as opposed to one,” said trainer Chris Block. “I was really happy to have her at two turns yesterday and it set up nicely for her. She broke away cleanly and settled nicely after the first turn. I was pleased with how it set up, even if she was wide.
“Her advantage is that she has a nice stride on her. It was nice to see her stretch it out and carry (jockey) Eddie (Perez) to the front (on the final turn) without him asking her. (Frivolous) ran a great race and made us really knuckle down in that last part. She may have been waiting a little after passing (Sky Girl), or she may have been getting a little winded – but she’s a strong filly and a tough competitor and would have fought it out to the wire,” Block explained with satisfaction.
“Right now we will take a look at how she comes out and if it’s the right thing, we’ll look at the Hatoof. I’d like to get her on the grass, and it’s nice that she’s already won on it,” Block said. Last October, in her second start, she broke her maiden on the grass at Hawthorne at one mile. Her victory yesterday brought her record to 5-3-2-0 and prevented her from an 0-for-3 record at Arlington.
ALETTE POSSIBLE FOR HATOOF
Following her win on Friday in a first-level allowance on the grass against older fillies, Richard Otto’s homebred Alette may be pointed toward the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes against other sophomores on Million Day at Arlington International Racecourse. On Friday, under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, Alette easily circled the field to take clear command in the 1 1/16-mile event before almost being nipped by onrushing Cracking Good Pins.
“I think she was definitely waiting on that other horse. She’s a young horse and has a bright future ahead of her. But, she is still a work in progress. Jeffrey seemed to think she was waiting, as well,” trainer Chris Block explained of the close call. “She ran really well and we had been waiting for a two-turn turf race for her.”
In what was the trainer’s third attempt to get Alette on grass going two turns, the race finally went. In April, the filly’s maiden event came off the turf, but she still won on a sloppy and sealed course by 14 1/2 lengths. Following a good but greenly run third in the restricted $100,000 Purple Violet at one mile on Polytrack, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid was entered in a two-turn turf race – this time an allowance – which was taken off the turf, as well. She went on to lose that one-turn mile by a nose.
Finally on what the trainer deems her best surface and trip, the filly flourished on Friday. “We’ll also look at the Hatoof with her, too. It’s definitely possible,” said the trainer who is also pointing stable star My Option to the Aug. 17 fixture.
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