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ARLINGTON PARK

Arlington Park release

Contact: Graham Ross (847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
GRoss@arlingtonpark.com

TWICE 'PERFECT' SET UP FOR ARLINGTON MILLION; 'STAGE' STRUTS STUFF

Two "Perfect" horses -- Saturday's Grade II Washington Park winner Perfect Drift and Sunday's Grade II Chinese Cultural Center Stakes runner-up Perfect Soul -- remain on schedule for a match-up in the 21st running of the Grade I Arlington Million August 16.

Also, Strut the Stage, who bested Perfect Soul by a length and a half Sunday at Woodbine and was second by a nose in Arlington's Grade I Secretariat two years ago, is now being considered as a potential nominee to Arlington Million XXI in time for a late nominations payment due Wednesday.

Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, less than fully extended when the five-length winner of Saturday's $400,000 Washington Park 'Cap, richest race of the Arlington Park's season run over the main course, is set to make his next start over Arlington's world famous turf course in the Million, centerpiece event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season.

"He came out of (Saturday's) race very well," said trainer Murray Johnson, who shipped Perfect Drift back to Trackside Louisville Sunday morning. "We'll proceed with the same schedule coming back for the Arlington Million as we did for the Washington Park. That would be to van back to Chicago that Thursday, school him in the Arlington paddock Friday, and run on Saturday."

Johnson, born in Australia, also has tentative plans for Perfect Drift beyond the Arlington Million, a mainstay of the World Series of Racing in recent years. The 4-year-old altered son of Dynaformer, not eligible to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships October 25, has received an invitation to compete in the Australia's Group I Carlton Draught Cox Plate in an additional part of the World Series of Racing that day, giving Johnson the opportunity to saddle a horse in a classic internationally renowned race in his native land.

Charles E. Fipke's Perfect Soul, winner of Woodbine's Grade II King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap June 15 before running second in Woodbine's Chinese Cultural Center Stakes Sunday when asked to go a mile and three-eighths, did nothing to discredit his connections' plans for an assault on the Arlington Million.

"I don't think he's at his best going that far," said trainer Roger Attfield of Sunday's effort. "I've always thought that the mile and an eighth to the mile and a quarter (Arlington Million distance) was his best run. Also, that was a good horse (Strut the Stage) that beat us. Perfect Soul came out of (Sunday's) race fine, and our plan right now is to run in the Million."

Sam-Son Farm's Strut the Stage, length and a half winner of the Chinese Cultural Center, is already familiar to Chicago racing fans after being beaten a nose in the Secretariat Stakes here two years ago. For more than a decade, there is an impressive history of horses that have finished first or second in the Secretariat as 3-year-olds coming back to perform well in the Arlington Million in subsequent seasons.

Masayuki Nishiyama's Paradise Creek finished second in the 1992 Secretariat and won the Million in 1994. Ryehill Farm's Awad won the Secretariat in 1993 and the Million in 1995. James Lewis Jr.'s Mecke was second in the Secretariat in 1995 and won the 1996 Arlington Million. Finally, Michael Tabor's Marlin won the 1996 Secretariat and then came back to capture the 1997 Arlington Million.

At the present time, Strut the Stage, who finished second behind Perfect Soul in the King Edward Breeders' Cup before conquering that rival Sunday, is not an Arlington Million nominee, but late nominations close Wednesday.

"I'll have to talk to the boss (Sam-Son's Tammy Samuel-Balaz) about it, but I would certainly think it is under consideration," said Sam-Son trainer Mark Frostad, when asked if Strut the Stage would be a late Million nominee. "Yesterday (Sunday) was a very good day for us. Our horse ran very well, he came out of the race very well, and we beat a very good horse (Perfect Soul)."

Incidentally, the 2003 Secretariat, final leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, will be contested along with the $700,000 Beverly D. on Arlington Million Day as part of Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing. They are the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois on an annual basis.

The Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's and middle leg of the Mid-America Triple, was run Sunday at Arlington and captured by Irish invader Evolving Tactics, owned by Moyglare Stud Farm and trained by Ireland's all-time leading trainer Dermot Weld.

"The plan would be to bring him back for the Secretariat," said Weld, when speaking of Evolving Tactics and also discussing other plans for the upcoming International Festival of Racing. "I'll probably bring my filly (Joseph Higgins') Dimitrova, who won the American Oaks at Hollywood Park the other day, for the Beverly D. and see if we can find one (most likely Moyglare's In Time's Eye, who runs in England next week) for the Arlington Million."

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