|Arlington Park Barn Notes 07/27/03
In today's notes:
One year after Gary Tanaka's Falcon Flight captured the Grade III Arlington Handicap and came within half-length of victory in the Grade I Arlington Million, 3rd Turn Stables LLC's Honor in War becomes the second straight winner of Arlington's Million prep to stamp himself as a primary candidate in Chicago's showcase Thoroughbred event.
Honor in War actually announced himself as one of the best turf horses in the nation on Kentucky Derby Day when he proved clearly best in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. That race was won last year by eventual 2002 Million champion Beat Hollow, and the attraction of Saturday's Arlington program with its appearance by Honor in War was again legitimate as a preamble to Chicago racing's biggest day.
Honor in War came out Saturday's winning effort in excellent order and was doing well at his Arlington home Sunday morning in advance of his next scheduled start in Arlington Million XXI.
Trainer Paul McGee and primary owner Wil Woolford, a former NFL player, were both looking forward to Honor In War's upcoming assignment when engaged in conversation Sunday.
"Assuming all goes well between now and then, the Arlington Million is our primary goal," McGee said of the Aug. 16 event. "I was very pleased with his race yesterday and the way he responded when asked."
Wolford, a Louisville, Kentucky, native two years behind McGee at St. Xavier High School there, actually named his stable for the third turn at the Twin Spires oval, where for about a decade he watched Kentucky Derbys from Churchill's infield. In 2003, however, the ownership group watched Honor in War win Derby Day's Woodford Reserve from more elegant surroundings in the box area at the Twin Spires oval. Could there be a bigger thrill than that?
"Absolutely," said Wolford. "Winning a race with all the tradition of the Arlington Million would be the ultimate goal. Plus, it would be for a whole lot more money."
Arthur B. Hancock III's Owsley, a multiple graded stakes winner in 2002, returned to her winning ways in Saturday's Grade III Modesty Handicap at Arlington, well in time for an appearance in the Grade I Beverly D.: the Arlington Million's sister race that will be run on Arlington Million Day Aug. 16 as part of the International Festival of Racing.
Owsley was doing well when visited at Arlington Sunday morning during training hours, and groom Isai Delgado assured the mare had eaten everything put in her feed tub since Saturday's one-length score in the final local prep for the Beverly D.
The daughter of Harlan, who captured Keeneland's Grade II WinStar Galaxy last fall and Saratoga's Grade III Glens Falls Handicap last summer, was scheduled to leave Chicago around noon Sunday on a van bound for Saratoga. Would she be returning to Arlington for the Beverly D., trainer Randy Schulhofer was asked over the phone from his Saratoga headquarters?
"I don't know for sure, but it's certainly a possibility," said Schulhofer. "I've got to look and see who else is coming, but I was very pleased with her race yesterday."
Bushwood Stable's Better Talk Now and Team Block's Mystery Giver, second and third respectively in Saturday's Grade III Arlington Handicap, both came out of Saturday's test in good order but were unlikely to repeat their efforts in the Arlington Million Aug. 16.
Trainer Graham Motion, conditioner of Better Talk Now, feels that because of his colt's relatively small stature, an additional start in three weeks time is a little too much to ask.
Chris Block, trainer of Mystery Giver, indicated that the Illinois Horse of the Year in 2002 is also unlikely for Arlington's main event.
"We're happy with his performance yesterday," said Block, "but I was just talking to Keith (Arlington stakes coordinator Kelley) and it looks like the Million is going to come up just a little too tough for our horse. We'll watch and see how the Million shapes up, but it looks like it's going to be a little too salty, so we may run on the undercard in the John Henry Stakes."
John & Kris Richter's Bien Nicole and Nancy Vanier & Lyda Williamson's Beret, second and third respectively in Sunday's Grade III Modesty Handicap, both came out their Saturday assignments in fine fettle but their connections were uncertain about the Grade I Beverly D. as their next trips to the post.
"Bien Nicole came back good and ate up good," said Bridget Lambert, assistant to trainer Don Von Hemel at Arlington. "Donnie (Von Hemel's son and trainer of Bien Nicole) is at Remington right now, and Don won't be back until this afternoon, so I don't know what their plans are. They usually wait a few days before they decide, anyway."
"We were very pleased with Beret's race," said trainer Brian Williamson, who serves as his father-in-law Harvey Vanier's assistant at Arlington. "It was nice to get her stakes-placed. It will give her more value as a broodmare.
"We probably won't point for the Beverly D.," said Williamson. "We might shoot for the Estrapade instead."
Veteran jockey Corey Lanerie, who captured the riding title at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie during that recently concluded session, will begin accepting mounts at Arlington Park on Wednesday.
Arlington champion and current leading rider Rene Douglas posted his second successive riding triple Saturday, two days after winning seven races on Thursday's program. It was also Douglas's fourth straight racing day with at least three wins. Douglas won Saturday's $52,800 Honest Pleasure Stakes on Coast to Coast Racing Fund LLC's Next Bandit for trainer Bret Calhoun, the fourth aboard Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s My Sweet Heart for trainer Bobby Springer, and was up on Owsley for her Modesty tally.
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