|Arlington Park Barn Notes
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In today's notes:
Jay Em Ess Stable's Miss Pickums, enjoying a mid-summer turnaround at Arlington Park, is getting good just in time for Monday's Grade III Arlington Matron.
The Matron, traditionally the main event of the local season for fillies and mares at nine furlongs, highlights the Labor Day program in the first of only two Monday racing days at Arlington in 2002.
Miss Pickums' last two starts, both winning efforts at Arlington, were a welcome form reversal from her previous pair of outings in Louisville where she lacked the needed late response. What caused her welcome turnaround?
"I just think she really likes that track," said trainer Paul McGee, over the phone from Louisville Friday. McGee had returned to Kentucky after saddling Bet On Sunshine to finish third in Thursday's feature here. "Miss Pickums always showed some talent, and I think her 'back class' began to show up."
In her last trip to the post here August 11 in the $50,000 Mariah's Storm Handicap, Miss Pickums settled just behind the early leaders when going nine furlongs. She took command in upper stretch, drew off quickly and won by four and a half while less than fully extended. Before that in a conditioned allowance race July 19 when going a mile, she had won by three and a half lengths using the same off-the-pace strategy.
"She has speed when she needs it," said McGee, "but she's not a speed horse. The fact that she can adjust is to her advantage."
At Churchill Downs in June, Miss Pickums, assigned 116 pounds for the Matron, had finished ninth when asked to negotiate the turf course at the Twin Spires oval.
"She's bred to be a turf horse," said McGee, "but she didn't seem to care for it so I don't think we'll try that again for awhile. In her race before that (when Miss Pickums finished third beaten about five lengths in late May) she just hooked some good horses early and got caught in a speed duel.
"But she's doing good now," McGee said, "and I expect her to give a good account of herself in the Matron on Monday."
And how did Bet On Sunshine, three-time winner of the Arlington Sprint, come out of his race Thursday?
"He's fine," said McGee of the David P. Holloway Racing colorbearer. "He ran a good race. He's just a little older now and may have lost a step. I'll sit down with Mr. Holloway a little later in the season and we'll figure out what our options are."
Edward P. Evans' With Ability, who disappointed last month in the Grade I Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga, was vanned from that upstate New York oval Friday afternoon for her upcoming engagement in Monday's Grade III Arlington Matron.
"She was just a little overmatched in that race," said trainer Mark Hennig speaking from Saratoga Friday. "There was just too much quality in the Go For Wand. With Ability is just not ready for Grade I horses right now. I thought I'd send her to the Matron and see how she matched up with that group."
Prior to the Go For Wand, With Ability, who was assigned 116 pounds in the Matron, had been a good second in the Grade II Fleur De Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs June 15. In that Louisville outing, she made the pace, could not match the winner when challenged but gamely held the place. Before that, the daughter of 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner A. P. Indy had won the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap at Sportsman's Park by almost six lengths last April.
"She's doing real well right now," said Hennig, who will not personally be coming to Chicago for the Matron. "She'll work Saturday morning at Arlington, and hopefully, she'll run well Monday. She'll be stabled in Neil Howard's barn."
The Bessemer Trust 2-Year-Old Challenge, which kicks off with Saturday's Grade I Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, is comprised of eight 2-year-old races that lead up to the Grade I Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
That Breeders' Cup Juvenile, of course, will be held at Arlington Park on October 26 as part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, which come to Chicago for the first time this fall.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), in conjunction with Bessemer Trust, will once again offer bonus monies of $1.3 million in the series.
Among the potential bonuses: The Challenge will award $250,000 to the owner of any colt or gelding who wins one of the series' eight designated races plus the Juvenile.
The Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity, to be contested September 28 at Arlington Park, is one of those eight races.
The Group I Grosser Preis von Baden, sixth leg of the 2002 World Series Racing Championship (WSRC) and first race in the series since the Grade I Arlington Million, will be contested on Sunday at the Iffezheim Racecourse in Baden-Baden, Germany.
Eight runners, including two Derby winners and a Derby runner-up, are expected to go to the post in the mile and a half turf test.
Jockey Andreas Suborics, who won the Arlington Million last year aboard Silvano and finished sixth astride Paolini this year, has been named to handle the reins on Samum, who won the Grosser Preis von Baden two years ago.
A special Breeders' Cup Information Table is being set up to confirm ticket status, distribute applications for available seating and offer general information on the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park October 26.
Forty-seven years ago Saturday, on August 31, 1955, Nashua, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, went wire-to-wire to defeat Swaps, ridden by Bill Shoemaker, in a match race at Washington Park.
Trainer Dallas Stewart's barn has been selected as "Barn of the Month" for August.
Leading rider Rene Douglas had a riding triple Thursday at Arlington Park.
Trainer Wayne Catalano had the second of back-to-back training doubles Thursday at Arlington, increasing his lead in the 2002 trainer standings to seven over Jerry Hollendorfer.
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