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Arlington Park

Arlington International Festival of Racing Notes (8/8/15)

Contact: Michael Adolphson

In today's notes:


Arlington International Racecourse’s International Festival of Racing featuring the Arlington Million Presented by LiftMaster attracted 44 pre-entries from six countries in its four graded stakes. Topped by the 33rd running of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million, which has a full field of 14 nominated, the Festival also features the Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. (10 pre-entries), Grade I $450,000 Secretariat Stakes (9) and Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger (11).

A total of 43 individual horses nominated, with Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man the lone horse cross-entered. The Roger Brueggemann trainee is pre-entered in both the Million and American St. Leger. Representatives from the United States, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, France and Germany are pre-entered. All four of the Festival races are to be contested over the Chicagoland oval’s world-renowned turf course.

A full list of pre-entered horses can be found at


Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Big Blue Kitten will continue his impressive 7-year-old season in the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million, where the son of Kitten’s Joy is expected to vie for favoritism. Fresh off a victory in the Grade I $500,000 United Nations over 11 furlongs, the bay ridgling will cut back a furlong to the Million’s 1 1/4-miles distance in what will be his fourth race in 2015 after a victory in the Grade III $150,000 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont to kick off his campaign in early May and a runner-up finish in the Grade I $1,000,000 Manhattan sandwiched between.

“We’re trying to make him into a stallion and the Million is a much more prestigious race than the (Grade I $1,000,000) Sword Dancer,” Ken Ramsey explained. “Plus, we won it in 2013 with Real Solution and (Big Blue Kitten) already won the Sword Dancer before.

(Trainer) Chad (Brown) was leaning toward going there, but we run what I like to call a democratic dictatorship,” continued Ramsey. “I listen to what everyone has to say and then I make the decision and I thought the race that we should win is the Million. I would like to win the Eclipse Award with him and if you want to be voted the best, you have to beat the best – and the tougher horses are in the Million.”

Ramsey has a storied history with the Million. In 2005, his beloved Kitten’s Joy was second in the race as the favorite. Injured in the race, the son of El Prado would be retired shortly thereafter and go on to be arguably the top grass sire in America. In 2013, his son Real Solution closed like a rocket to fall short in second, but was placed first after the disqualification of The Apache, resulting in Ramsey taking home the Million trophy. A victory by Big Blue Kitten would be the first time Ramsey has crossed the wire first in the Million.

“The old man (Kitten’s Joy) ran in it himself and it was his last race, so we really like to win it,” Ramsey continued. “We’ve already got one son who won it and it definitely makes the stud fee stay up there every time one of these ‘Kittens’ runs well in there. Plus, I’ve never received a trophy where an armored truck delivers it to your home. On sheer beauty alone it’s the most beautiful trophy I’ve ever seen and I would love to have another one.”


Though she may wind up being a longshot in the wagering, one would be remiss to overlook Lisa Lex’s Lots o’ Lex in the Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. on Aug. 15. Eighth last out after washing out in the paddock prior to the Grade III $100,000 Modesty Handicap, the Gerry Aschinger trainee has been training exceptionally since and already has a sharp victory over the Arlington International Racecourse turf course earlier this season.

“We are putting her in there and she’s been doing very well,” Aschinger said. “We have been taking extra time with her and schooling her in the paddock and the test barn. She’s a very talented filly.”

In the Beverly D., the daughter of Kitalpha will be making her 12th start in a career that didn’t commence until Oct. 15 of last year. Since, she has won four races and placed a strong third in the Grade III $150,000 Endeavor Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs behind Grade I fillies Testa Rossi and Hard Not to Like.

“She’s really learned how to rate well and we think she’ll move forward,” Aschinger continued. “She was rank before and always wanted to set the pace, but now I can see her rating (in the Beverly D.) behind it. In her allowance win she rated so well – hopefully she runs like she did then.”


Michele and Cliff Love’s Xtra Luck came into the Grade III $100,000 Stars and Stripes on July 11 as a horse who finally found a home in marathon turf races. Bet to 5-1 off his rousing victory in the Grade III $100,000 Louisville Handicap on May 23, the son of Exchange Rate rated close to the pace under Brian Hernandez, Jr., over the rain-soaked good going and ran well to finish fourth, beaten less than two lengths by Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man.

Next, the dark bay gelding who excelled the moment he attempted a three-turn race will get even more ground in the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger over its 1 11/16-miles trip – three-sixteenths of a mile farther than the Stars and Stripes and Louisville.

“He’s doing really good right now,” trainer Neil Howard reported. “You would think the extra distance would be OK and not a problem with him. These types of horses are used to running a mile and a half and they usually do OK even if it’s a bit farther.”

Howard, though he believes his 4-year-old charge can handle mostly any surface or footing, also indicated he would prefer a little less cut in the ground this time around.

“Softer ground last time might have bothered him a little since he was up on the pace, but he can run on it just fine – and obviously The Pizza Man is a hell of a horse and won impressively,” he said. “If it’s softer, it obviously favors the Europeans a little more because they’re used to running on that. So, saying that, I would say given the choice, you obviously want it a little firmer for him.”


Eleven-time Arlington International Racecourse leading trainer Wayne Catalano took advantage of what looks like a wide-open field in the fourth running of the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger and pre-entered two from his expansive stable. Alpha Kitalpha, owned by Joe, Jacquelyn and Don Cochonour’s Arapaho LLC, and Gary and Mary West’s Highball were thrown into the mix for the marathon 1 11/16-miles event.

“They both are doing very well,” Catalano said. “Alpha Kitalpha worked extremely well (Saturday) morning and we’re taking a shot with him. He’s the more likely of the two. Highball, we’ve always had high hopes for him and he’s always been very talented. He’s starting to come into himself right now.

“It looks like a wide-open race,” Catalano continued. “That’s the major reason we are in there and the owners (of Alpha Kitalpha) and I believe he will really like the distance.”


Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s powerful stable will be well-represented on Arlington Million Day, Aug. 15, and one of their top chances at taking home a trophy is when Hyper races in the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger. A winner of 10 of 26 lifetime starts and $818,705 in purses, the son of Victory Gallop enters off a third-place finish in the Grade III $150,000 Singspiel Stakes at Woodbine in which he went to post as the 3-2 favorite and finished belatedly behind classy marathoners Aldous Snow and Dynamic Sky.

“He’s eight years old and runs all day, so I think the race will be perfect for him,” said Ken Ramsey of the Chad Brown trainee. “He was off for a while after hurting himself, but he has come back very well and the time off did him good. He had a few niggling things bothering him, so we took him to the farm in Nicholasville, Kentucky, where he could freshen. It’s a beautiful place and we use a spa on our horses that really helps them, as well. We think he has a big chance to win.”

Earlier this year, he was third in the Grade I $400,000 Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont Park and followed that effort up with a traffic-riddled eighth-place finish in the Grade I $1,000,000 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day. In 2013, before being off for a year and a half and returning in the Man o’ War, the bay horse won two stakes, including the Grade II $250,000 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park over 11 furlongs and the restricted $100,000 John’s Call at Saratoga over 13 furlongs – a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the 1 11/16-miles distance of the American St. Leger.

- END -

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