Arlington Park Stakes Advance
Contact: Brian W. Spencer
TRIPLE THREAT TAKES ON THE PIZZA MAN, UP WITH THE BIRDS IN STACKED ARLINGTON HANDICAP
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 8, 2015) – Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s Triple Threat tops a highly competitive field of accomplished older horses in the 80th running of the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Handicap on Saturday afternoon at 1 3/16 miles on the world-renowned Arlington International turf course. Going as the sixth race, the course prep for the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million has also drawn the likes of many looking to take advantage of its guaranteed entry into said marquee event with a top-three finish – including Sam-Son Farm’s Grade I winner and 2013 Canadian Horse of the Year Up With the Birds and Midwest Thoroughbreds’ graded stakes-winning Illinois-bred hero and eight-time local winner The Pizza Man.
Triple Threat, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, enters off a lone start in the United States when taking the Grade II $200,000 Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 7 at 1 1/8 grassy miles. The son of Monsun closed resolutely to run down well-regarded Middleburg in the final strides under Jose Lezcano, who gets the return call Saturday from post eight. Triple Threat is hoping to use the Arlington Handicap as a springboard to the Million – a race to which he was aimed last year while under the tutelage of Andre Fabre, but did not enter after a series of poor showings in his native France.
One cannot mention Triple Threat without doing so for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone’s homebred Middleburg, a half-brother to Winchester, the romping winner of Arlington’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes in 2008. An allowance type who has steadily improved through careful handling, he has finished out of the money once in 14 starts and placed in his only two graded stakes attempts his last two starts – including his nose-loss to Triple Threat. Arlington’s 2014 champion jockey James Graham makes his first appearance of the 2015 meet on Saturday and rides the son of Lemon Drop Kid from post nine for the always-dangerous Christophe Clement.
The Pizza Man – the 121-pound highweight (to Triple Threat’s 120) – enters the Arlington Handicap in what will be only his second race of the year, while also cross-entering into the Grade III $100,000 Stars and Stripes, a race he won in 2014. A winner of the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger on the Million undercard last year, the local favorite will hope to use a victory in the Arlington Handicap as a springboard to the centerpiece of the Arlington meet. Regular rider Florent Geroux, who was aboard last out in the $65,000 Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs to kick off his season – a race he easily won by 2½ lengths – returns to the saddle from post four for trainer Roger Brueggemann.
Up With the Birds will make his second start for trainer Graham Motion, who has explicitly stated that the Million is the goal for the Canadian classic-winning son of Stormy Atlantic. Fourth last year in the Million while under the care of longtime trainer Malcolm Pierce, the bay 5-year-old exits his first race of the season – an encouraging third in the Grade II $300,000 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Drayden Van Dyke gets the return call from post two aboard the seven-time winner and leading earner in the field with purses in excess of $1.4 million.
John James Revocable Trust’s Dramedy, like The Pizza Man, is cross-entered in the Stars and Stripes. Trained by Gerald Aschinger, the beautifully bred half-brother to Grade I winner Bluegrass Cat exits a front-running win going 1½ miles in the Grade II $250,000 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland. The son of Distorted Humor drew the rail in the field with Rosemary Homeister, Jr., slated to ride.
The remainder of the Arlington Handicap field is comprised of Greco Racing Stable and trainer Mike Reavis’ recently impressive local allowance winner Yankee Dealer – also cross-entered in the Stars and Stripes – (Samantha Colvin, post five), Gary and Beth Leverton’s Frank Kirby-trained multiple allowance winner Coco Mon (Emmanuel Esquivel, post six), Nancy Vanier and Mike Schmitt’s Brian Williamson-trained stakes-placed R. Great Adventure (Edgar Perez, post seven) Warner Thoroughbreds’ Mike Maker-trained stakes winner Quiet Force (Julien Leparoux, post 10) and O’zbekiston Racing’s Otabek Umarov-trained outsider Looks to Spare (E. T. Baird, post three).
Arlington International Racecourse – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 77-day meet in 2015 from Friday, May 1 through Saturday, Sept. 26. Arlington International Racecourse, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates ten off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Chicago, Waukegan, Villa Park, Rockford, South Elgin, Hodgkins, McHenry and Orland Hills. Arlington International Racecourse is a proud member of America’s Best Racing. Information on Arlington International Racecourse and Trackside OTB can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arlingtonpark and www.facebook.com/tracksideotb, and on Twitter at @Arlington_Park for the latest happenings, @arlingtonracing for the latest racing news and @tracksideotb for all things pertaining to off-track wagering.