|Arlington Park Barn Notes
In today's notes:
Stronach Stables, Inc.'s Macho Uno remains on schedule for a start in Sunday's Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park, but the connections emphasize that the primary objective -- the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic -- is still four weeks away.
"It's the way he runs, not where he finishes, that's the important thing tomorrow," said Macho Uno's assistant trainer, Russell Derderian, when speaking Saturday morning outside Macho Uno's stall at Arlington Park. "He's got to run good tomorrow to make Joe (trainer Orseno) and Frank (owner Stronach) feel like they belong in the Breeders' Cup."
Traditionally, the $400,000 Washington Park Handicap is the main event for 3-year-olds and upward over the main track at Arlington Park. However, this year, the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are coming to Arlington Park for the first time in their 19-year history on October 26. That means that Sunday's Washington Park 'Cap becomes the final local prep for the $4 million Classic -- the richest race run in North America -- on that last Saturday in October at this Chicago oval.
Macho Uno, the Eclipse Award winning 2-year-old champion in 2000, has been compromised by various physical problems during the last two seasons.
In 2001, the colt by 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull was forced to miss a Triple Crown campaign but rebounded later in the year to win the Grade III Pennsylvania Derby last September.
Earlier this year, June 1 at Suffolk Downs, Macho Uno showed his natural talent once again when he tallied by a length and three-quarters in the Grade II Massachusetts Handicap and was a good third in the Grade II Suburban at Belmont July 6.
Following a fourth-place finish in Saratoga's Grade I Whitney Handicap August 24, Macho Uno was sent to Stronach's Adena Springs Farm in Canada for a brief vacation. Will the owner be on hand for Macho Uno's Sunday engagement here?
"I think Mrs. Stronach will be here, but I'm not sure about him," said Derderian. "He was in Europe yesterday, but then again, he has his own plane, so it's just another plane ride for him if he decides to come."
Among those capable of providing strong competition in Sunday's Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park is William L. Clifton Jr.'s Pleasant Breeze, the 7-year-old multiple graded stakes winner who arrived from Belmont Park late Wednesday night after a van ride from that New York oval.
"He's doing good," said Pleasant Breeze's groom Elario Barcia Saturday during training hours outside Barn 14 on the Arlington Park backstretch. "He went to the track this morning, he's gone to the track the last two days. He looks good, as you can see."
Although, as a foal of 1995, Pleasant Breeze is approaching senior citizen status as an active competitor, he still looks and acts like a 4-year-old, attentive and alert to his surroundings. Other than a minor abrasion near his right eye, the dark bay or brown horse doesn't have a mark on him.
Despite 31 trips to the post during his lengthy career, the son of Pleasant Tap out of a Turkoman mare had his first outing over the grass during the Saratoga meeting, and it may have refreshed him mentally. He won impressively when switched back to the main track for his next start, and has "been training super" of late, according to conditioner Jim Bond.
Three years ago, Pleasant Breeze won the Grade II Meadowlands Cup and two summers ago he captured the Grade II Saratoga Breeders' Cup.
Last year, Pleasant Breeze was fourth in the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream and returned to that South Florida oval to finish a good second in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Handicap.
"He's still tough," said Bond, "and he's ready to give another good performance Sunday."
James & Dennis Richard's Bonapaw, back at Arlington Park following a successful New York invasion for the winner's share of the Grade I Vosburgh last Saturday at Belmont Park, was enjoying his more familiar local surroundings where he spent the past summer.
"He goes back to the track tomorrow," said conditioner Norman Miller III on Saturday morning at Arlington Park. "That will be eight after the Vosburgh. We'll be following the same routine with him as we always have to get him ready for the Breeders' Cup."
Miller was speaking of the Grade I NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint, to be contested here October 26 when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships come to Arlington Park for the first time in their 19-year history.
"Bonapaw takes these trips wonderfully," said Miller of the recent East Coast excursion. "We left New York at 4 a.m. and arrived back here at 8 p.m. Thursday. We left in the dark and arrived in the dark.
"Bonapaw came off that trailer like he'd only been riding an hour," said Miller. "After that trip to Dubai last year, this is nothing for him. The only thing that was different last week was the track surface, and we already know he likes it here at Arlington."
Bonapaw, based at Arlington this summer until the New York trip, won the Grade III Hanshin Cup here July 20 and returned to the local winner's circle following the $100,000 Arlington Sprint August 24.
Three times in Illinois Thoroughbred racing history, the same ownership has swept both the Arlington-Washington Lassie and the Arlington-Washington Futurity in the same season.
However, the last time that feat was accomplished was 41 years ago, when Mrs. Moody Jolley's filly Rudoma captured the Lassie and her colt Ridan took top honors in the Futurity.
Eight years earlier, in the autumn of 1953, Hasty House Farm's Hasty Road was the victor in the local Futurity, shortly after that outfit's Queen Hopeful won the Lassie. Twenty years before that, in 1933, Dixiana's Mata Hari captured the Lassie, and Dixiana's Far Star posed in the winner's circle following the Futurity.
On Saturday at Arlington Park, Godolphin Racing Inc.'s Ashraaf will go to the post in the Lassie as the second choice in the program, while Godolphin's entry of Sharp Impact and Anasheed is the morning line favorite for the Futurity two races later. Also with representatives in each race is the ownership team of K. K. Jayaraman & V. Devi Jayaraman, who send out Explosive Beauty in the Lassie and Comic Truth in the Arlington-Washington Futurity.
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