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Barn Notes: Friday, May 16, 2014

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/16/2014 #

In Today’s Notes: Ry’s the Man Headed to Arlington Classic; Stellaris Impressive in Thursday Feature, Possibly Oaks-bound

RY’S THE MAN HEADED TO ARLINGTON CLASSIC
Lothenbach Stable’s homebred Ry’s the Man is on target for the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Classic on May 24 – the first leg of Arlington International Racecourse’s Mid-America Triple – for trainer Neil Pessin.  On May 11, the son of Officer put in a leisurely stroll on the Arlington grass, going six panels in 1:21.40. 

“In the work, he didn’t do much,” said Pessin.  “He just strolled around there and finished up strong down the lane; just an easy three-quarters.  We have been trying to relax him since he sprinted last time.”

The bay gelding, who made his debut at Arlington in September in a main track sprint, has run three times in 2014 – all in allowance races and has yet to finish out of the money.  Last out, in a Keeneland turf sprint, he finished a solid second under current leading Arlington jockey Florent Geroux. 

“He’s fit and ready.  The farther he goes, the better he seems to be,” explained Pessin.  “Right now, the game plan is to not show speed, but – that being said – if they go ‘52 and change,’ we may be closer.  The main thing is he relaxes and comes at the end and should be a tough customer in the Classic.  Geroux will be back on him.”

STELLARIS IMPRESSIVE IN THURSDAY FEATURE, POSSIBLY OAKS-BOUND
Thursday’s feature race at Arlington International Racecourse, an off-the-turf allowance optional claiming event for sophomore fillies, turned into a procession for Tom Van Meter and Mike Stidham’s Stellaris, under the capable hands of James Graham.  The 1 1/16-miles event drew six fillies, but at the end Stellaris skipped under the wire 7¾ lengths ahead of her nearest rival, with the jockey barely moving a muscle. 

“She looked great coming out today,” said Stidham, who also trains the filly.  “I didn’t know what to think once the race came off the grass – sometimes it’s impossible to know what the others would do at that point – but we knew ours liked it.”

In her previous race, a maiden victory on April 12 at Keeneland – also over 1 1/16-miles and a Polytrack course – the daughter of Harlan’s Holiday won with similar ease, despite being forced wide.  On Thursday, she ran greenly down the lane, but remained impressive.

“If she ever learns to run in a straight line, she could win by even more,” Stidham laughed.  “We will train her behind horses some and hopefully that will work itself out.”

One of Stidham’s best horses to date was another offspring of Harlan’s Holiday – Willcox Inn – and the locally based conditioner hopes his newest progeny of the late stallion can progress toward the higher levels.  “We’re hoping she can be a stakes filly.  We’ll definitely be looking at the (Grade III $150,000) Arlington Oaks (on July 19) later in the meet.  We think she’ll really like the grass too and might try her on the turf sometime between now and then.”

A talented but somewhat troubled juvenile last year, Stellaris has been a project of patience for the trainer.  “We had her as a 2yo and she had a little problem with her knee,” Stidham explained.  “But, we gave her time and it paid off.  She is definitely very talented.”

Having a talented 3-year-old filly at Arlington is an enviable position for any trainer.  In addition to the Oaks, other races on the stakes schedule include the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes on Aug. 16 – Arlington Million Day – and the Grade III $175,000 Pucker Up Stakes on Sept. 13.