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Arlington Matron, Arlington Classic Top Memorial Day Weekend Stakes
The Grade III Arlington Matron and the $125,000 Arlington Classic, both longtime fixtures at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval, will share top billing on Saturday, May 26. Stone Farm, John Adger, Oak Crest Farm & Mike Stidham's Upperline headlines the Arlington Matron and Grade II Mark Bacon & Diane Wells' Silver Max prominent among the sophomores entered in the Arlington Classic.
Upperline, winner of the Grade III Arlington Oaks over this course and surface in 2010, returns to Arlington off a victorious run in the Grade III Bewitch Stakes over the Keeneland turf course last month. The 5-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon, who finished fourth in this race last year, has had other successes on synthetic surfaces including a score last summer in the $100,000 Trillium at Woodbine. James Graham will ride the Mike Stidham-trained mare.
Maple Lane Farm LLC's Ariana D comes out of a third-place finish in the Grade I Madison at Keeneland in April in her 2012 debut. The Andrew McKeever-trained daughter of Rock Slide won just once last year but that was in the $100,000 Avowal over Woodbine's Polytrack. The 6-year-old mare is consistently around the money as she has finished in the top three in 20 of 27 trips to the post. Willie Martinez is named to ride.
Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables' Kathmanblu; Tracy Farmer's La Gran Bailadora; and Green Lantern Stables LLC's Sea Level Drive all exit the Grade III Doubledogdare having finished second, third and fourth respectively in that mile and a sixteenth race over Keeneland's Polytrack.
La Gran Bailadora ran second in this race last year while Kathmanblu captured the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the Fair Grounds in 2011. Sea Level Drive is looking for her first win in stakes competition. Shaun Bridgmohan is slated for the tack for La Gran Bailadora, Corey Lanerie has the call to ride Kathmanblu and Rosemary Homeister Jr. gets the nod astride Sea Level Drive.
Completing the field for the Matron are: the Estate of Gail Gee, Mark Hoffman & Earl Trostrud's Hooh Why (Francisco Torres), a Grade I winner as a 3-year-old who has captured her last two races against easier company on turf at Tampa Bay Downs; and Olympia Star Inc.'s Hemera (Florent Geroux), fourth in an Arlington Park allowance race on May 4.
In the Arlington Classic¸ a mile and a sixteenth turf race which serves as the first leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple that continues July 14 with the Grade III American Derby and concludes with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 18, attracted a field of 10 sophomores topped by Grade II American Turf winner Silver Max.
The Dale Romans trainee is four-for-four this year on turf. In addition to the American Turf victory at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day May 4, the son of Badge of Silver captured the Grade III Transylvania at Keeneland in April. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride.
Charles and Scott Heider & Michael Dahir's Monastic gets another chance after a fourth-place finish as the 2-1 favorite in the Transylvania. In his only other start of 2012, the Tom Proctor-trained son of Rock Hard Ten ran third in an open allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs in March. A victor over the Churchill Downs turf course last fall, Monastic will be ridden Saturday by Shane Sellers.
Raut LLC's Hero of Order, a 109-1 upset winner in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, will try the turf for the first time since finishing fourth in the $75,000 Black Gold at the Fair Grounds. Since winning the Louisiana Derby, the son of Sharp Humor ran last of 13 in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes over Keeneland's Polytrack and then ran fifth against older rivals in a second-level allowance race here two weeks ago. Trained by Gennadi Dorochenko, he will be ridden Saturday by Quincy Hamilton.
Trainer Tim Ice sends out a pair in No Spin and Slamit, both of which run for Black Gold Racing. The former is a stakes winner on turf having captured the $60,000 Royal Glint at Hawthorne last fall while the latter, a victor in the $50,000 Spring Stakes at Sam Houston, will be making his grass debut. Channing Hill gets the call aboard No Spin while Rosemary Homeister Jr. will ride Slamit.
Shadwell Stable's Najjaar makes his turf debut in Saturday's Classic after racing on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year, finishing sixth in the Grade II Rebel and seventh in the Grade I Arkansas Derby. James Graham gets the riding assignment.
Completing the field for the Classic are: Jim Tafel LLC's All Stormy (Florent Geroux); Manganaro LLC & Woodford Racing LLC's Street Serenade (Willie Martinez); and Kendel Standlee & Richard Schultz's North of Never (Francisco Torres).