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Barn Notes: Friday, July 18, 2014

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/18/2014 #
  • Just the Judge wins the classic Group I Irish 1000 Guineas in 2013. [photo courtesy of racingfotos.com]

In Today’s Notes: Just the Judge Possible for Beverly D.; Catalano Approaching 1,000th Arlington Win; Million Probable Triple Threat Preps Saturday in England

JUST THE JUDGE POSSIBLE FOR BEVERLY D.
Group I winner Just the Judge may not be a household name in the racing world on this side of the Atlantic, but in Europe she is considered one of the best of her sex over the last two seasons.  Such could change in August, as the daughter of Lawman is aiming toward a possible run in the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes. 

Owned by Qatar Racing Limited and the famous Sangster Family, the 4-year-old filly is exiting two consecutive thirds behind the highly regarded Thistle Bird – considered by many to be the best middle distance mare in Europe – in the Group III Princess Elizabeth Stakes on June 6 and the Group I Pretty Polly Stakes 23 days later. 

Last year, Just the Judge was a superbly game second in the Group I English 1000 Guineas to Sky Lantern before impressively taking the Group I Irish 1000 Guineas over good-to-firm ground.  She is conditioned by Charlie Hills, the son of the legendary Barry Hills, who twice raced in the Grade I Arlington Million (including a third with Motavato in 1982 behind Perrault). 

CATALANO APPROACHING 1,000th ARLINGTON WIN
Eleven-time champion Arlington International Racecourse conditioner Wayne Catalano is quickly approaching a historic landmark within his considerable tenure at the Chicagoland course, as he stands at 993 Arlington wins.  Interestingly, he has seven horses entered locally this weekend (one Friday, four Saturday and two Sunday), including James Miller’s morning line favorite Aurelia’s Belle in the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Oaks.  The New Orleans native would become only the second trainer in Arlington history, behind Richard Hazelton (1,181 wins), to achieve 1,000 wins.

Days prior to the meet, Catalano stated that he planned on a “come from behind” strategy for the 2014 meet, considering he also has strings at Churchill Downs, Monmouth Park and (now) Saratoga.  So far, he has shown signs of following through with that claim. 

After a glacial – relative to his past meets – beginning, the three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer has picked up the tempo in both the mornings and afternoons.  Bands of Catalano charges – including many 2-year-olds – have hit the worktab and a flurry of victories have hoisted him to fifth place in the standings with 15 wins.  Larry Rivelli, the only trainer in the last nine years to claim a title other than Catalano (2011), currently leads with 32 victories.

MILLION PROBABLE TRIPLE THREAT PREPS SATURDAY IN ENGLAND
Team Valor’s Triple Threat, who has been targeting the Grade I Arlington Million since the Spring, gets his final tune-up on Saturday in a tough renewal of the Group III Doom Bar Stakes – an event formerly known as the Steventon Stakes.  In years past, the event has produced Million contenders and this year its field is arguably tougher than ever. 

Expected to compete against the Andre Fabre trainee is early favorite and multiple Group I winner Al Kazeem.  After a failed attempt – though it is certain the attempt was agreeable – at stud, the John Deer homebred returned to the yard of Roger Charlton and on Saturday makes his first start since a credible sixth in last year’s Group I Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. 

The other major player in terms of back class is Al Asayl Bloodstock’s Battle of Marengo, a former Coolmore-owned Aidan O’Brien trainee who finished fourth in last year’s Group I English Derby when going off as the second choice.  The (now) David Simcock trainee has not raced since a fruitless tenure in Dubai over the winter. 

Triple Threat was last seen running a poor seventh in the Group I Prix Ganay behind dueling champions Cirrus des Aigles and Treve, but ran an excellent third behind fellow Million possible Smoking Sun one race prior in the Group II Prix d’Harcourt over the Million and Doom Bar’s 10-furlong distance.  The son of Monsun’s best performance to date came in the Group II Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte as a sophomore over the same distance. 

The Doom Bar should provide an excellent Million trial for Triple Threat, as it is not only at the aforementioned distance and includes a quality roster, but is also raced over the fairly flat and left-handed racecourse of Newbury.