|Arlington Park Barn Notes
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In today's notes:
Reached by telephone at his London office, the first question for owner Gary Tanaka was obvious: would Falcon Flight be joining Sarafan in a double barreled bid to reach the winner's circle in the Arlington Million on August 17?
"I'm going to leave that up to the trainer (Don Burke II)," said Tanaka, speaking of Falcon Flight, Tanaka's "other" horse for the Arlington Million. "Falcon Flight is a little bit of an older guy, and it takes him a little longer to bounce back after each race.
"I would guess what he (Burke) would do is go ahead and make a plane reservation for Falcon Flight about Thursday," Tanaka said. "Then he'll work him on Wednesday out there in California, and if he works well, go ahead and shove him on the plane for Chicago."
Sarafan remains Tanaka's presumed bigger gun in the 20th running of the Arlington Million. Juddmonte Farms Inc.'s Beat Hollow is the projected favorite for the traditional centerpiece of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season, and Sarafan has beaten him twice to challenge his status as the choice.
"It's hard to know how those two will match up this time," said Tanaka of Sarafan's third meeting with Beat Hollow. "We've beaten him two different ways in races that were run differently. The other day (in Del Mar's Grade I Eddie Read Handicap July 28) we were giving him weight and the time before that in New Orleans (Grade II Explosive Bid March 24) he got weight from us. I think at level weights they are both pretty good horses, and I think a lot will be determined by the condition of the turf when they match up this time."
The subject returned to Falcon Flight, who won the final local prep for the Arlington Million here July 27 with a neck tally over the Arlington turf course when it was listed as "yielding." He also captured the Grade III Stars and Stripes here in 2001 on a firm course. Falcon Flight, should he run and win, would be the first the first horse to accomplish the Arlington Handicap-Arlington Million double, and also the first Stars and Stripes winner to win the Million.
If both Sarafan and Falcon Flight were to run, and were dueling down the lane, which horse would Tanaka be rooting for?
"That's a tough question," said Tanaka, who finished fourth in last year's Million with Caitano and eighth with Blues Traveller in 1994. "First of all, I'd just be happy to win the race. I love coming to Chicago to be a part of the International Festival. It's easy for me to get to from wherever I am, and the Arlington guys do such a great job organizing the event.
"But Sarafan is a gelding, and Falcon Flight is an entire horse," Tanaka said, "and they both have that same burst of late speed, so I guess if it came right down to the wire, it would be to my benefit to root for Falcon Flight."
Tanaka's emerald green silks with the gold trim on the white sash will be represented in the Grade I Beverly D. August 17 aboard Golden Apples, who was most recently second by a neck to Affluent in the Grade I John C. Mabee Ramona Handicap at Del Mar July 27.
"We were a little disappointed in that race," said Tanaka of the Ramona. "She's one of the best fillies we've ever had (including 2000 Beverly D. winner Snow Polina, Donna Viola, fourth in 1997, and User Friendly, eighth in 1994.) She's been coming on late, but then she falls short. We'll just keep trying."
There is also a possibility that Tanaka will have a starter in the Grade I Secretariat, third race run as part of the one-day International Festival of Racing August 17, although a potential purchase of a European-based candidate has not been completed.
"That's still up in the air," Tanaka said. "I really can't comment on that right now. Anything can happen."
Tanaka ran fourth in the 2000 Secretariat with Hymn; eighth in 1996 with Bahamian Knight; fifth in 1995 with Gold And Steel, who won the Grade II American Derby that year; and eighth in 1994 with Colonel Collins, a horse he co-owned with Robert Sangster. Naturally, his devotion to the International Festival of Racing remains passionate.
"Even though I'm in London, I try to keep Wall Street hours," Tanaka said, "so the middle of your day is my slow time, and there's nothing I'd rather do when I'm not busy than talk about horses."
Two weeks after his father won the $100,000 Round Table here on Million Preview Day July 27, Donnie K. Von Hemel will attempt to win the Grade III Singapore Plate for 3-year-old fillies with Pin Oak Stable's See How She Runs.
Although he's based at Remington Park this summer, the younger Von Hemel is no stranger to Arlington, having saddled Thunderhead Farm's Mariah's Storm to win the 1994 Arlington Heights Oaks before the local fixture for sophomore distaffers was renamed the Singapore Plate.
"It will be good to get back up there and visit with some old friends," said Donnie Von Hemel, who also saddled Mariah's Storm to win the Grade II Arlington-Washington Lassie in 1993 and the Grade III Matron in 1995. "I'm looking forward to an enjoyable weekend."
See How She Runs, the probable choice in the Singapore Plate, was undefeated in the first five starts of her career, including scores in Oaklawn's Grade II Fantasy April 12 and Woodbine's Grade I Selene May 20. However, in her most recent trip to the post, the filly was beaten by John Franks & Peter Abruzzo's Lost At Sea in the $150,000 Iowa Oaks.
"We ran our race," said Von Hemel, who will arrive Friday at Arlington from Oklahoma. "We just got beat by a good filly that we were giving a little weight (six pounds) to. I wasn't disappointed with the way she ran."
Lost At Sea, who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, will face See How She Runs again in the Singapore Plate. This time, the two will meet at equal weights.
"As they say - 'Nothing is easy'," Hollendorfer said of the upcoming rematch between the two fillies. "Haven't you heard of Jethro Tull?"
Brazilian-bred Verruma, owned by Ray & Beth Clifton and a veteran of graded stakes competition in Southern California recently, remains a possibility to accept the top impost of 121 pounds in Sunday's $50,000 Mariah's Storm Handicap at nine furlongs.
Other's likely for Sunday's feature include Jay Em Ess Stable's Miss Pickums, 116; Frederick Nichols' Symphonic Lady, 114; Sandbar Farm's Lunar Star, 114; Richard L. Duchossois' Applesolutely, 113; Spalding Stable's Harlan Ash, 113; Arthur B. Hancock III's Leslie, 111; and possibly George D. Michalson's Magic Motel, 112.
Jockey Chris Emigh has been the "go to" rider in each of the last three racing days at Arlington Park. Last Saturday, Emigh rode Nancy A. Vanier, Eiji Shirai & Lyda Williamson's Put It On to victory in the finale for a $49.60 payoff. He took Sunday's last race with Barbara R. & John Smicklas' Woodland Shadow, returning $61.20; and completed Wednesday's program with a win on Marc Goldish & Savoy Stable's Towering Sword, returning $12.40.
Jockey Corey Lanerie rode his second riding triple Wednesday since arriving July 31.
Trainers Tom Dorris and Steve Asmussen saddled training doubles Wednesday.
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