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Barn Notes: Saturday, July 12, 2014

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/12/2014 #

In Today's Notes: Twenty-two Nominate to the Arlington Oaks; California Apprentice Van Dyke Makes Arlington Debut; Aurelia's Belle and La Tia Impress Clockers in Morning Drills

TWENTY-TWO NOMINATE TO THE ARLINGTON OAKS
James Miller's Aurelia's Belle leads a talented phalanx of filly nominations to next Saturday's Grade III $150,000 Arlington Oaks at Arlington International Racecourse. In what will be its 34th running, the Oaks is a 1 1/8-miles event over a single lap of Arlington's main course.

A graded stakes winner of $253,747 and three of seven starts, Aurelia's Belle has finished in the trifecta in five graded stakes, including a win over the Polytrack of Turfway Park in the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks in March. An off-the-board finish in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks in May for the Wayne Catalano trainee preceded an excellent runner-up in the Grade III Regret Stakes last out. Both of those events were at Churchill Downs.

Kathy Harty and Mark Dedomenico's Oaks-nominated Colonel Joan may be only a maiden winner, but she has always been highly regarded by trainer Eoin Harty. Third in both the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita Park last fall, the daughter of the Harty-trained Travers winner Colonel John comes off an easy win over locals in a June 6 turf maiden.

Another who has always been well esteemed by her connections, Curtis Green's homebred Maria Maria nominates to the Oaks off an excellent victory in a one-mile allowance over older fillies and mares. Third in last year's Listed Arlington-Washington Lassie, the Jimmy DiVito-trained daughter of Curlin out of a With Approval mare may enjoy the nine furlongs of the Oaks more than many of her contemporaries.

Holmark Stables II's Lassie winner She's Offlee Good nominates to the Oaks off a respectable third in the off-the-turf Northbound Pride Oaks at Canterbury Park on June 15. Trained locally by Richie Scherer, the daughter of Offlee Good is looking to become only the third filly in Arlington history to land the Lassie/Oaks double. Champion Top Flight executed the double in 1931-32 and Arlington fan favorite Mariah's Storm – the dam of champion sire Giant's Causeway – did the same in 1993-94.

Perhaps the most intriguing possible for the Oaks is Tom Van Meter and Mike Stidham's Stellaris. A satisfactory second – 6¼ lengths ahead of She's Offlee Good – in the Northbound Pride Oaks, the daughter of Harlan's Holiday was an eye-opening 7¾-length winner of a local allowance at 1 1/16-miles on May 15. Never off the board in four starts, she has been aimed toward this event since her trip to Canterbury.

A total of 22 fillies have been nominated to the Oaks. The draw will take place the Wednesday prior, July 16.

CALIFORNIA APPRENTICE VAN DYKE MAKES ARLINGTON DEBUT
To call him a sensation might be a bit of an understatement, considering his recent performance, but California-based apprentice Drayden Van Dyke has taken his show on the road this weekend to Arlington International Racecourse for Million Preview Day. The 19-year-old native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, will ride five horses – all for trainer Tom Proctor – including Gulsary in the Grade III $200,000 Modesty Handicap and Avanzare in the Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap.

"I'm definitely excited. It's a great opportunity to pick up these mounts," Van Dyke said. "I hope it works out. It's also a nice, wide track and was a great first impression when I got here. The jocks room is really nice and the whole facility is very elegant. Tom actually had me gallop a horse right after I flew in on the redeye. I wasn't expecting that, but it was a good chance to see the track."

Proctor has been vital in the development of Van Dyke. "I won my first race for him – it was my second ride and was on a horse for Glen Hill (Farm) called Money Clip on November 21 at Hollywood Park," Van Dyke explained. "His assistant Lisa Sloan actually hooked us up. He sent me to Glen Hill to learn to be a horseman. He doesn't like jockeys who aren't horsemen."

As far as his rides on Saturday for Proctor, Van Dyke is already doing his homework. "I haven't been on any of them, but I'm studying all their good races, looking at as much as I can and then I'll go out there and do what Tom tells me to do," he said. "Tom is easy to work with. He tells me what to do with the horse and to have fun."

Currently the leading rider at the first thoroughbred meet at Los Alamitos (10 wins with a four-win lead), Van Dyke departs soon after his Arlington rides. "I'm flying back out tonight," he said. "I have four rides tomorrow at Los Al."

AURELIA'S BELLE AND LA TIA IMPRESS IN MORNING DRILLS
Kentucky Oaks alum Aurelia's Belle turned in a sharp work Saturday morning for owner James Miller and trainer Wayne Catalano. Going five panels in 1:01.80 under Channing Hill, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40 full of energy.

"She's pointing to the (Arlington) Oaks," confirmed Catalano. "She worked good. It looks – at the moment – that Channing will ride her." The move was her final serious work before that Grade III $150,000 event over nine Polytrack furlongs – a complete circuit of Arlington International Racecourse's main track.

The leggy bay filly exits a good second – missing by a head – last out in the Grade III Regret Stakes on the turf at Churchill Downs – her first run since a disappointing ninth of 12 in the Kentucky Oaks. Previous to that, she was an easy winner of the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park over its Polytrack surface.

Hernandez Racing Club's multiple Illinois champion La Tia put in a wow-worthy move this morning, as well. Going five furlongs in a zippy :59, the daughter of City Place will race next in the Grade III $150,000 Ontario Matron at Woodbine on July 26. Exiting a disappointing third while defending her Lincoln Heritage Handicap title on June 21, the Armando De La Cerda trainee was a stellar winner of the Grade III Arlington Matron four weeks prior.