Arlington International Festival of Racing Notes – First Edition (8/14/14)
Contact: David Zenner
In today's notes:
MAKER TRIO SHIPPING IN THURSDAY, STRETCHING OUT SATURDAY
Trainer Mike Maker will saddle three starters on Saturday in Arlington International Racecourse’s International Festival of Racing, and all three are stretching out in distance—a move driven by the purses of the races as much as their affinity for classic distances.
General Jack has won two consecutive one-mile turf events, including the Centaur Stakes 6 1/2 weeks ago last out at Indiana Grand, but is winless at 1 1/16 miles coming into the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat at 1 1/4 miles.
“The Grade I had a lot to do with our decision,” Maker said of the Giant’s Causeway colt he co-owns with F. Thomas Conway. “We know he likes turf, and he’s developing.”
Maker’s other two festival starters are both in the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger: last year’s Secretariat winner Admiral Kitten and the graded stakes placed Moro Tap.
Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Admiral Kitten just missed last out in the Arlington Handicap, finishing a head behind Arlington Million entrant Finnegans Wake. Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable’s Moro Tap has run 1 1/2 miles in his last two starts, including a third-place finish in the Louisville Handicap.
“Admiral Kitten is by Kitten’s Joy, so we know he likes long on the turf, but he didn’t like Gulfstream, and we know he likes Arlington, Maker said of the four-year-old who has never been worse than second in four Arlington stakes races. “[Moro Tap] has run some nice races at longer distances.”
Maker said his Arlington trio will train at the Churchill Downs Training Center Friday morning before shipping north to Arlington for Saturday’s races.
BIG KICK KEEPS MOVING ON THE TURF
When trainer Michael Machowsky entered Big Kick in an allowance race on June 13 at Santa Anita Park, it was more for the 1 1/4-mile distance than the turf.
Indeed, Machowsky credits the added distance, not the change in surface, for improving the Tiznow gelding, who went on to win the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano seven weeks ago.
“The distance more than anything turned things around,” Machowsky said. “We had a heck of a time finding him distance races. That allowance was originally carded for 1 1/2 miles, but it didn’t fill. We know he can run all day.”
Big Kick will not have to run all day, but if all goes according to plan, it will take him about 2:50 to navigate the 1 11/16-mile $400,000 American St. Leger on Saturday in front-running fashion.
“I’ve looked through previous charts, and it looks like you can do well there getting in the race early,” Machowsky said. “There’s a 1 3/8-mile race next week at Del Mar, but we thought we’d take a shot here.”
Machowski has never started a horse at Arlington, but he’s looking forward to his first visit.
“I used to be an assistant to [Racing Hall of Fame trainer] Richard Mandella, and he’d always talk about how great Arlington is,” Machowsky said on the eve of his first visit.
Big Kick arrived Wednesday afternoon and galloped Thursday morning and schooled in the paddock that afternoon. Big Kick has won five of 19 starts and has earned $254,631.
HARDEST CORE ARRIVES AT ARLINGTON
Andrew Bentley Stables’ Hardest Core arrived at Arlington International Race Course at 5 am on Thursday and immediately took to the track for a gallop following the journey from trainer Eddie Graham’s Fair Hill Training Center base in Maryland.
“He shipped well, and all has gone according to plan so far touch wood,” said Graham’s wife, Wendy Graham.
The Grahams cross entered Hardest Core in both the Grade I Arlington Million at 1 1/4 miles and the $400,000 American St. Leger at 1 11/16 miles, and Eddie Graham said early Thursday afternoon that they’re leaning toward the Million.
“We’re real happy with the way he looked today stretching his legs and visiting the paddock,” Eddie Graham said. “We’re leaning toward the Million because it’s a great race with only seven horses so feel like we should take a shot, and he’s won at 1 1/4 miles before.”
Hardest Core is coming off a victory in the Cape Henlopen Stakes at 1 1/2 miles as part of a three-race win streak. He has won five of 10 starts and has earned $248,580.
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