|Arlington Park Barn Notes 8/22/03
In today's notes:
Speed is always dangerous -- even in sprint competition -- and one fleet son of Seattle Slew who could upset Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Sprint at Arlington Park is Fog City Stable's Distinction.
The Arlington Sprint, observing its seventh renewal this weekend as the major sprint stakes held at the local oval on an annual basis, was won last year by Dennis & James Richard's Bonapaw. That speedster went on to win the Grade I Vosburgh at Belmont Park in September and was a contestant in the Grade I Napa Breeders' Cup Sprint at Arlington in October.
However, because Distinction only graduated from "non-winners of one other than" company in his last trip to the post July 26 at Ellis Park, the 4-year-old colt will be lightly regarded in the wagering in Saturday's headline attraction, but he is royally bred and may be in a position to upset Saturday's field of seven speedsters, several of whom are stakes winners.
Out of the Wild Again mare Omi -- herself a multiple stakes winner -- Distinction was sent to the post in Santa Anita's Grade III San Miguel Stakes while still a 3-year-old maiden and made the pace briefly before weakening to finish fifth. In his next start, back in the maiden ranks, he made the pace briefly again before being pulled up, and did not race again for 11 months. What happened?
"It was a series of little things," said assistant trainer Greg Falk, in charge of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas's Chicago string at Arlington Park. "It was never any one major set back, but a bunch of little things that kept coming up. One thing would get corrected, and then some other minor thing would pop up. That would get fixed, and then something else would happen to him."
Now, however, Distinction may have turned a corner. In that recent start in Western Kentucky, the Florida-bred led every step of the way in a one-mile test and drew off late for a four and a quarter-length score.
"That race was very encouraging," said Falk. "I think he really needed it as a confidence thing. Hopefully, he has some confidence now off of it and can build on that in this race. We've changed his training a little, and we're doing some different things with him in the mornings that seem to have helped.
"I'm very happy we drew toward the outside, because he likes it better out there," Falk said, "and he gets a little less weight than the others. That should help. I'm not sure Earlie (Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires) can do 112, but we might get in there with 114 pounds."
Quarter Horses return to Arlington Park Sunday for the 11th running of the Grade III (A.Q.H.A.) Windy City Dash, a $50,000 affair for 3-year-olds and up.
An overflow field of 13, including one also eligible, has been entered for the 400-yard dash that will serve as the featured event on the Sunday program.
Among the speedsters in the body of the race is Sheri Loy's A Run Run Runaway, who finished third in last year's running here at Arlington. Quarter Horse jockey David Sheplar gets the mount this year.
Quarter Horse jockey G. R. Carter Jr., considered the Gary Stevens of Quarter Horse riders, comes to Arlington for the mount on Chris Fowler and Blackburn Racing Stables' So Royally Smashed, dismissed in the morning line following a 10th place finish in his last trip to the post after hopping at the start, but a winner of a Remington Park stakes earlier in the summer.
K. C. Carden's A Toast to KC, a sorrel gelding who has won nine of his last 10 starts, all at shorter distances, will be asked to extend his speed an additional 50 yards in Sunday's test under regular rider Cody McDaniel.
Don or Brenda Evans' Casa de Royalty, a winner of his last five straight and first or second in his last seven starts, is also sure to draw support from the fans.
Veteran reinsman Carlos H. Marquez Jr. rode three winners on Thursday's nine-race program at Arlington Park to solidify his fourth-place position in the local standings.
Marquez won Thursday's opener aboard Charles J. Sigrist & Moises R. Yanez's Hello My Friend for trainer Yanez, came back in the fifth on Team Block's Explosive Green for conditioner Chris Block, and closed out his "hat trick" in the finale with a tally on Team Diamond Racing Partnership's Change the Record for trainer Tony Granitz.
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