|Arlington Park Barn Notes 07/20/03
In today's notes:
Less than 14 hours after his dominating five-length win in Saturday's Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park, Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift was on a van bound for Louisville.
However, the 4-year-old son of Dynaformer, equally adept on turf and dirt, is due back in Chicago in four weeks for the 21st running of Grade I Arlington Million August 16.
"He came out of the race very well," said trainer Murray Johnson Sunday morning shortly before his own return to trip to Louisville Trackside where his Kentucky string is based. "He loaded on the van this morning without incident and we will proceed with the same schedule we used in advance of the Washington Park when we bring him back for the Arlington Million."
In Saturday's $400,000 Washington Park, richest race of the Arlington season to date, Perfect Drift was allowed to settle early, challenged when set down for the drive, took command at the furlong grounds and drew off late while less than fully extended.
Stronach Stables Inc.'s Phantom Light, the Canadian invader who gave way suddenly after a half-mile in the Washington Park 'Cap, also came out of the race without problems and was on a van back to Toronto Sunday morning.
"He's on the road right now," said trainer Danny Vella from his Woodbine headquarters. "He's fine. He just got thrown off track right at the start and didn't seem to handle the surface. We'll live to fight another day."
Team Block's Mystery Giver and R'n R Breeders' Act of War each recorded Sunday morning breezes at Arlington Park in advance of prospective engagements in Saturday's Grade III Arlington Handicap, final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million three weeks later.
Mystery Giver, Illinois Horse of the Year in 2002 but the victim of diverse problems when disqualified from second in the $86,150 Cardinal Handicap June 21, breezed five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 over Arlington Park's world famous turf course Sunday morning with the 'dogs' up. Jockey Carlos H. Marquez Jr. was aboard for the move on the Chris Block trainee. Last season, the 5-year-old son of Dynaformer won the grassy Cardinal 'Cap by a half length.
Act of War, two-length winner of the 2003 Cardinal, breezed five-eighths of a mile over Arlington's main track Sunday morning in 1:02 2/5 for conditioner Gene Cilio with the veteran reinsman Curt Bourque astride. Act of War, a winner of his last two, one on dirt and one on grass, galloped out three-quarters in a strong 1:14 2/5.
Others being pointed for the Arlington Handicap at this time include 3rd Turn Stables LLC's Honor in War, winner in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3; Glen C. Warren's Candid Glen, fourth in the Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap June 21; and Ron Isbell Jr.'s Gretchen's Star, a winner in a turf allowance race at Churchill July 6.
Possible starters in the Arlington Handicap, run at the Arlington Million distance of a mile and a quarter, include Bushwood Stable's Better Talk Now, winner of the $55,000 Eight Thirty Stakes at Delaware Park June 29, as well as Three Kings Stable's Extra Check, fourth in Arlington's Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf July 5.
Jockey Rene Douglas, the current leader in the Arlington jockey standings and the defending champion of the last two seasons, recorded the first five-win day by any rider at Arlington Park this season on Saturday.
The Panamanian-born local champion won both halves of Saturday's daily double, winning the opener on Steven M. Asmussen's Everwhat for that trainer and the second half with Frank C. Calabrese's Berkshire Eagle for leading trainer Wayne Catalano.
Douglas then captured the $45,000 Smile Handicap with Fly Racing LLC's Skeet for trainer Bob Holthus, the seventh race on Keith Asmussen's Catchthegroom for Steve Asmussen, and the finale astride the Calabrese-owned and Catalano-trained Toomuch Chavez.
Interestingly, during the first eight races Saturday, Douglas finished second in every race that he didn't win.
Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day recorded a riding double Saturday at Arlington Park. Prior to his win astride Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift in the Grade II Washington Park Handicap, Day won the eighth race on Cocky, owned by Mill Ridge Farm & Audrey Otto.
Apprentice jockey Tim Thornton also recorded two wins for the day, winning the third race with Dare To Dream Stable #5 LLC's Tamarack Hills for trainer Hector Magana and the fifth with Orion Stables' Playing the Game for conditioner Jim McCoy.
Owner Calabrese, conditioner Catalano and trainer Asmussen also had two-win afternoons.
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