|Arlington Park Stakes Results
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'GOLDEN' TRIP IN BEVERLY D. FOR IRISH-BRED FILLY
Astra Again Defeated As Race Favorite
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 17, 2002) -- Gary A. Tanaka's Golden Apples ran down defending champion England's Legend and held off a late rally from favored Astra to win the Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. by three-quarters of a length Saturday at Arlington Park. Pat Valenzuela was aboard the Ben Cecil-trained daughter of Pivotal, who covered the mile and three-sixteenths over turf officially listed as firm in 1:54.86.
"She ran a great, big race," said Valenzuela, who was riding the 4-year-old filly for the first time. "We started off slow. She made a good move entering the stretch. She ran pretty easily and had more of a kick than anybody else. The turf was in great condition for her. I knew she had the race won in my mind."
England's Legend, who led from gate-to-wire in last year's Beverly D., was again on the front end, leading through contentious fractions of 24.94 seconds for the opening quarter mile, 48.66 seconds for the half, three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.90 and a mile split of 1:35.18. She dug in when challenged in mid-stretch but eventually gave way to the winner.
"She did everything right, considering she was running with these kind of horses," said Corey Nakatani, England's Legend's jockey. "The ground was a little bit too firm for her (compared to last year). There was a little bit more pace in this race, but mostly, I think she would have liked a little bit more give to the ground."
Astra, who disappointed last year as the odds-on favorite and was the 13-10 betting choice of the crowd of 27,431 this year, was well back early and made a strong late rally out in the center of the track to get up for the place money. Although the turf course was labeled firm, Astra's connections felt that there was some give to the turf following heavy rain earlier in the week.
"I don't think she was ever comfortable," said Kent Desormeaux, who rode the beaten favorite. "She was hard ridden down the backside and she's just not fond of this ground. Over soft ground, she's not as comfortable. It's the only thing I can come up with. She went to the track like a million dollars and galloped back (after the race) like a million dollars. Her class was the only reason she finished second."
Golden Apples and Astra, the top two turf distaffers in training in the United States, had split a pair of earlier meetings with the former getting the nod in Grade II Santa Ana Handicap in March and Astra earning the victory in the Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap a month later. With her score in the Beverly D., Golden Apples has a 2-1 edge over her main rival and Cecil says that makes his charge number one in the division.
"I've always thought we've had the best grass filly in the country and now she's proven it," Cecil said. "She's been very unlucky in quite a few races since she got here (to the U.S.). I was confident that we got a nice race into her in the Ramona and she was a little unlucky not to win that. She's come along since that race and I think there's more improvement in her."
They may get a chance to meet again here in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which will be run as part of the World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 26, though Astra's trainer Laura de Seroux is taking a wait and see attitude depending on the unpredictable weather in Chicago at that time of year.
"It will depend on the weather whether we come back," de Seroux said. "I wouldn't want any more give in the ground then there was today."
Golden Apples, second choice in the betting, paid $6.80, $3 and $2.20. Astra paid $2.60 and $2.20. England's Legend paid $2.60. Volga, Golden Silca and Tates Creek completed the order of finish.
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