Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arlington Barn Notes: Wed., Sept. 17

                                Contact: Michael Adolphson
(847) 385-7558
Barn Notes:  Wednesday, September 17, 2014     
In Today's Notes: 
  • Stellaris Keeneland-bound after Rough Pucker Up Trip
  • Dank on the Comeback Trail Overseas

        Tom Van Meter and Mike Stidham's Stellaris has exited a disappointing trip in the Grade III $150,000 Pucker Up Stakes in fine order, according to Stidham, who also trains the charge.  The daughter of Harlan's Holiday was exiting a runner-up finish in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks and was expected to improve by many – attesting to her 4-1 second-choice post-time odds. 
"She came out okay," Stidham reported.  "She just hated the soft course.  Other than that, she's excellent."
Never out of the money in six previous starts on three different surfaces, the dark bay filly had been training very well at Arlington International Racecourse leading up the Pucker Up.  All of that changed when the gates opened.  James Graham was visibly uncomfortable on the filly, as she struggled with the ground and fell farther off the pace than she usually had placed herself in previous races. 
Turning for home, while trying to make an effort to gain ground inside – albeit an exhausted attempt – the sophomore filly was hindered by eventual runner-up V V Goodnight that prompted an objection from Graham against Mike Smith on said filly.  The claim was eventually disallowed minutes after Stellaris ambled home seventh of nine.
        "We learned our lesson with the soft turf," Stidham explained.  "Sometimes you just have to find out and move forward.  She had some trouble – and though she was probably done at that point – that's no reason to shut her off like that."
        A lightly raced versatile daughter of a fashionable late sire is an exciting prospect for the Stidham camp – especially since the veteran conditioner co-owns the filly.  Next on the docket – like many of the Stidham team – is a race at Keeneland. 
"We have her nominated to the (Grade III $150,000 Valley View) Stakes against 3-year-old fillies," Stidham confirmed.  "We'll look at that."  The Valley View, which is at 1 1/16-miles on the Keeneland turf, is to take place Oct. 17 and will provide a nice dodging of Grade I Beverly D. winner Euro Charline in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup one week prior. 
        James Wigan's Dank – who will go down as one of the most impressive victors of an International Festival of Racing event with her runaway victory in last year's Grade I Beverly D. – is on the comeback trail after some summer hiccups hindered her training this summer.  According to officials at the yard of conditioner Sir Michael Stoute, the daughter of Dansili is doing well and there is still miniscule hope that she can make it to Santa Anita to defend her title in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. 
        The 5-year-old mare has only had two starts since her Eclipse Award-clinching victory in California.  Dank began her year in an ambitious spot when taking on the boys in the Group I Dubai Duty Free, in which she had a trouble trip and finished third behind the Japanese superstar Just A Way.  Subsequently, she ran an uncharacteristically dull race against arguably the best 1¼-miles turf horses in the world in the Group I Prince of Wales's – finishing fifth behind Group I winners The Fugue, Magician, Treve and Mukhadram.
David ZennerSenior Manager of Communications
Arlington International Racecourse
2200 W. Euclid Ave. Arlington Heights IL 60006-0007
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