Sunday, July 6, 2014

Arlington Barn Notes: Sunday, July 6

                                Contact: Michael Adolphson
(847) 385-7558
Barn Notes:  Sunday, July 6, 2014       
In Today's Notes: 
  • War Dancer Works toward Million Preview Day
  • Our Channel Arrives for American Derby
  • Saint Leon Exits 'Wonderfully' after Arlington Sprint 3-Peat

        Diamond M Stable's War Dancer worked got his first taste of the Arlington International Racecourse turf on Sunday morning, working a leisurely five furlongs in 1:06.80 for trainer Kenny McPeek.  The son of War Front had veteran jockey Chris Emigh in the irons and is preparing for a run in either the Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap at 1¼ miles or the Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes at 1½ miles on the same July 12 Million Preview Day card. 
        While no decision has been made on which race the multiple graded stakes winner will compete, it is certain that competing in either will result in ample support at the windows and probably favoritism in the Stars and Stripes.  A winner last out in the Grade III Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, he also annexed the Grade II Virginia Derby last year over Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's recent Belmont Gold Cup winner Charming Kitten. 
Speaking of the Ramseys, in 2013 their Dark Cove – who won the Louisville Handicap before coming to Arlington – debated between the Arlington Handicap and Stars and Stripes before ultimately choosing and convincingly winning the latter. 
This year the Stars and Stripes looks to once again be a similar field to the Louisville, as Team Block's runner-up Suntracer is set to compete, as well as Skychai Racing, Sand Dollar Stable and Terry Raymond's Moro Tap, who finished third.  Others possible for the race include John Royer's Dad Are We Here and  Rhonda Thurman and J.C. McCleary's Bubba's Big Show,
If War Dancer competes in the Arlington Handicap, he will most likely face the Ramsey's Admiral Kitten, Team Valor's Infinite Magic and possibly Lothenbach Stable's Mister Marti Gras.  Admiral Kitten took the Grade I Secretariat at the course and distance of the Arlington Handicap last year as a sophomore, but has yet to return to that level of performance in 2014. 
Inifinite Magic has raced sparsely since the best performance of his career, a win in last year's Grade III American Derby, in which he bested Admiral Kitten.  Mister Marti Gras exits a convincing allowance score over the local lawn, which followed a respectable runner-up finish in the Grade III Hanshin Cup over a flat Polytrack mile on May 24. 
On the fence for the Arlington Handicap include Donegal Stable's Dale Romans-trained Finnegans Wake, who was a very good fourth in last year's Grade I Arlington Million, as well as Jon and Sarah Kelly's multiple graded stakes performer Chamois from the always dangerous barn of Christophe Clement.
        Abdulla al Mansoori's Our Channel arrived from his English base, by way of Amsterdam, early Sunday morning for his planned attempt at the Grade III $200,000 American Derby in good order, according to his connections.  The son of English Channel is to quarantine until late Monday and hit the track early Tuesday morning. 
        "He's doing really well," said assistant trainer Archie Watson.  "We got in early this morning  and he took it all in stride and come through the trip well.  Our plan is to hit the track at around 7:00 am Tuesday morning.  We will do a little jog on the training track and then take him to the main course on the other days leading up the race."
        The chestnut colt raced last in the Group I Investec (English) Derby at Epsom Downs, a left-handed course with a tight turn into the stretch.  After breaking well and setting the pace, the American-bred led until the quarter-pole before fading. 
        "He's a very handy horse and he's run at some of the more unconventional tracks in Britain," Watson continued.  "Tight turns and American-style racing should work for him.  He won the Epsom trial and then the (English) Derby was the plan beforehand.  He ran a great race to lead to the 2-pole and that's probably as far as he wants to go (stamina-wise).  We entered him for this series earlier in the year and it was in the plans all along.
        "He's a very good horse who runs on any sort of ground and we believe he'll do very well here," Watson concluded.  If all goes well, the two-time winner in five starts will return to his British home before a possible attempt at the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 16. 
        Margaret Burlingham's 9-year-old warhorse and local favorite Saint Leon exited his third consecutive victory in the Listed Arlington Sprint in good order according to his connections.  The son of Stravinsky was a wire-to-wire facile winner of the marquee sprint event of the Arlington International Racecourse meet.
        "Wonderfully.  He came out wonderfully," beamed trainer Michele Boyce.  "He was quite full of himself today, feeling like an Oscar-winning movie star after reading his reviews."
        Making his third start of the meet and year, the gelding was winning his 11th race for his connections.  Earlier in the year he finished second to well seasoned stakes winners Hogy and Bet Seattle in allowance races in May and June, respectively.  "He's an easy horse to get fit.  When you hook a horse like Hogy first out this year – who had a few races in him already this year – it definitely helped get (Saint Leon) more fit.  He was ready to go yesterday.
        "E. T. said to me that if he had $1 million in the post parade, he would have bet on him," Boyce continued.  "He said he had never seen him quite so focused.  Usually Saint Leon will start to grab the bit right before they get into the gate, but this time he was like that from moment he got on the track.  Anyone who would try to go after him the first part was going to sacrifice themselves."
        As far as the future for the stellar sprinter, it is still up in the air.  "That's the only bad part," Boyce explained.  "I like to stay at home (at Arlington) and he didn't enjoy the two times he shipped last year.  He hated the heat at Ellis Park and didn't like the undulating course at Kentucky Downs."  Boyce additionally confirmed that she will hope to run in an allowance race or two locally and possibly look the Grade III $150,000 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland on October 4.
David ZennerSenior Manager of Communications
Arlington International Racecourse
2200 W. Euclid Ave. Arlington Heights IL 60006-0007
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