|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Edouard de Rothschild's England's Legend, the front-running heroine of last year's Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park, has settled in on the grounds at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval to compete in Saturday's Grade III Modesty Handicap.
The Modesty, at a mile and three-sixteenths on the grass, is the final local prep for the 2002 Beverly D. which will be run at the same distance on August 17, three weeks after Saturday's Million Preview Day.
Along with the Grade I Arlington Million, the $700,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat, Arlington's third Grade I event, will make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing on the third Saturday in August.
"She's doing well and she shipped well," said Nicholas Bachalard, a Frenchman who has been an assistant to trainer Christophe Clement for nine years. Bachalard, who traveled to Arlington by van from New York with the defending Beverly D. champion, also came with England's Legend last year for her successful invasion.
"This will be her first race of the season," said Bachalard on the shedrow of Barn 20 Friday morning. "It was time to start her back. Hopefully, this race Saturday will bring us up to the Beverly D. just right. We know she likes this turf course."
This will be England's Legend's initial foray in the Modesty. In 2001, the French-bred daughter of Lure came into the Beverly D. off a winning effort in Belmont's Grade II New York Handicap in mid-July. Following her Beverly D. triumph, last year, she was a good second in the Grade I Flower Bowl September 29, but was 11th in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf October 27 after making the pace for the first mile.
England's Legend, although away from the races since that Breeders' Cup outing, has several recent works on the grass in New York.
Tom Tatham's Kappa King, morning line favorite for Saturday's Grade III Arlington Handicap, arrived safely at Arlington Park late Thursday following an uneventful flight from Southern California.
Saturday's Arlington Handicap, at a mile and a quarter on the turf, is the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million August 17, traditional centerpiece of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season and part of Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing three weeks from Saturday.
Demetrio Lagunas, 37, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, and an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel for 20 years, accompanied Kappa King on his flight from California.
"We had a good flight with no problems," said Lagunas Friday morning, speaking outside Kappa King's stall in Barn 16. "I took the horse out to the track this morning for a gallop and he is doing fine."
Kappa King, one of a diverse group of Arlington Million nominations trained by Frankel, is a 5-year-old bay with a broad white blaze. The son of Kingmambo was bred in Kentucky but raced in France for the last two years. He has made two starts in the United States this season, both of which came at Hollywood Park.
In his most recent effort July 4, Kappa King finished a good third in the Grade II American Handicap, beaten a length and three-quarters for all of it despite racing three wide. Previously, he won his seasonal and American bow May 28 in a one-mile turf test with allowance conditions.
Gary A. Tanaka's Falcon Flight, hero of the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf last summer at Arlington Park, arrived from Southern California on the same flight with Kappa King prior to his start in Saturday's $225,000 Arlington Handicap.
Falcon Flight, a French-bred, gave trainer Donald J. Burke II the first victory of his career in the first start of his career in last year's Stars and Stripes.
"Nobody's picking us," Burke told owner Tanaka over his cell phone while walking Falcon Flight around the Stakes Barn Friday morning. "Probably because I'm listed as the trainer. If Neil Drysdale was training this horse, we'd be one of the favorites."
"How many trainers do you know who saddled winners in graded stakes during the first three starts of their careers?" asked Tanaka rhetorically, speaking from California where he is currently on vacation.
After his victory in the 2001 Stars and Stripes last July 1, Falcon Flight returned to the West Coast and ran a good fourth, beaten two lengths for all of it, in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap August 25. After that he was sixth in the Grade I Canadian International September 30 at Woodbine Race Course on the outskirts of Toronto. That Canadian outing was Falcon Flight's last trip to the post.
"We had a real bad trip in that race," said Burke. "We had to check sharply on the first turn, and if we hadn't had to do that we might have won it, because we would have been in front and never been bumped again later on in the race.
"He had a lot of old nagging problems, so we decided to give him a break after that," Burke said. "We wanted to give him a chance to get himself back together. We know he likes this turf course up here so we decided this was a good place to bring him back and get him started again. If he runs well we'll probably run him in the Million."
However, Burke, 36, a native of Napa, California, also brought Tanaka's Polaire on the flight to compete in Saturday's Modesty, and regardless of her performance, she is unlikely to stay for the Beverly D.
"She needs a little more time between her races," Burke said, "so I think we'll take our time with her and shoot for the E. P. Taylor (Sept. 29 at Woodbine) with her. She's doing well. She ran a very good race in the Santa Barbara and almost won it. If she runs that race back, I think she has an excellent chance. After that, we backed off on her a little bit. The basic purpose of that last start in the Royal Heroine was to get her focused again for this race."
Also stabled in the Stakes Barn is Ron Isbell Jr.'s Gretchen's Star, lightly regarded in the morning line odds for Saturday's Arlington Handicap but favored by his owner-trainer, who is bringing his one-horse stable back from a bowed tendon that kept him out of action for almost two years.
"I'm running my whole stable Saturday," Isbell said. "He's doing fine, as long as I can keep him from killing himself before the race on Saturday. At home in Lexington, I turn him out in a paddock after I train him, but I can't do that here, so he's really getting feisty. He's like a big kid, and I'm as proud of him as if he was my own kid. Listen to him squealing.
"I've been with this horse every day for the last three and a half years," said Isbell, 41, who learned under Kentucky trainers as diverse as Herb Stevens Sr. and Rusty Arnold. "He makes you have patience, but if I didn't take all the time with him that I've taken he'd be ruined by now. I read all I could about bowed tendons and everything I've done so far has worked. I studied all I could about split tendon surgery, but I've never seen one done that worked very well. I used all the old-fashioned ways instead.
"So here we are," Isbell said. "We walked today, and we'll run tomorrow."
Sally Schu trained on her own for nine years previously before becoming a valued assistant to Ken McPeek. And while with McPeek, in her assistant trainer capacity, the native of central Kentucky oversaw the preparation of Barry Griggs & Mike Goetz' She's a Devil Due, winner of the Top Flight Stakes here in 2000 and the Grade II Walmac International Alcibiades at Keeneland later that fall.
"She was a wonderful filly, and she's got a little Seattle Slew filly right now," said Schu, now training on her own again. "I can't wait to go and see her. She had so much talent.
"But this horse is probably the best I've ever had," said Schu Friday morning, speaking of Starlex Farm's Private Son, second by a neck in the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf July 6 and now to be a starter in Saturday's Grade III Arlington Handicap.
"I'm tickled to death to have a horse like this," said Schu. "I'm very lucky. He really ran well the other day and I think he'll run well Saturday. He's certainly trained very well.
"As for the cutback in distance (from the mile and a half Stars and Stripes), I hopefully don't think it will bother him," said Schu. "He sure doesn't act like he needs a distance. He won a mile and an eighth race at Churchill impressively this spring. He seems to adapt to about any distance.
"For the Stars and Stripes, I just breezed him a little bit longer and shortened up his breezes for this a little bit," Schu said. "He went :49 2/5 for a half in a sharp work last Wednesday on the grass with the dogs up. I'd given him an easy five-eighths the week before.
"I'm a little concerned, with the lack of rain here, that the turf may be a little hard for him right now," said Schu, "but everybody's got to run over it. However, when he worked the other day, I could hear his feet pounding on the turn, and when you hear that, it's a little hard. I hope we get some rain."
Arlington's leading rider Rene Douglas, who is also the defending jockey champion from the 2001 season here, was named Thoroughbred Times Jockey of the Week on Friday. Douglas led all North American jockeys with 17 wins from 37 mounts throughout the past week.
On Thursday at Arlington Park, nine different jockeys and nine different trainers posed in the winner's circle during the afternoon program. It was the first time since last September 21 that such a diverse day had been recorded locally.
On Sunday at Arlington Park, Junior Jockey Club members will get to meet the track veterinarian during their regular session from noon to 12:30 p.m.
On July 28, 1951, Citation, the world's leading money-winning Thoroughbred, was paraded before a crowd of 28,000 at Arlington Park in his last public appearance at a track before being retired to stud.
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