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California Invaders Top Washington Park Handicap
Back on the Arlington Park stakes schedule after a one-year hiatus, the Grade III Washington Park Handicap returns with added incentive for the eight starters who passed the entry box for the mile and three-sixteenths headliner as the race winner earns an automatic starting position in the Breeders' Cup Classic under the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" format, with the winner of each of the Challenge races automatically qualifying for the corresponding divisional race in the Breeders' Cup World Championships to be held at Santa Anita Park Nov. 6-7.
Heading the field for the $200,000 race is Dyan, David & Barry Abrams' Unusual Suspect, winner of the $150,000 Cougar II Handicap over Del Mar's Polytrack surface on Aug. 5. The homebred son of Unusual Heat is making a quick turnaround after posting a fifth-place finish, beaten only 2 ½ lengths for all of it, in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap over that track's turf course Aug. 30. The Barry Abrams-trained winner in eight of 39 starts will carry 118 pounds and be ridden Saturday by Arlington's leading jockey Junior Alvarado.
Also coming out of the Cougar II for the Washington Park is third-place finisher Church Service, who races in the colors of Daniel Capen & Robert Tjosvold. The Pulpit gelding made a four-wide move into the stretch in that mile and a half affair and rallied late to get up for the show money. Previously, the Mile Mitchell-trained 6-year-old closed to finish second in the $100,000 Gallant Man Handicap over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. James Graham, currently second in the Arlington standings, gets the call Saturday and will make up most of the 118 pounds assigned to Church Service.
Invading from Canada and highweighted at 120 pounds for the Washington Park is Haras Santa Maria de Aras S. A.'s Palladio, recent victor in the Grade III Seagram Cup over Woodbine's Polytrack. The Roger Attfield-trained son of Lycius is a multiple graded stakes winner over that surface having captured the Grade III Durham Cup there last October. Regular rider Richard Dos Ramos is expected to make the trip from Toronto to ride Saturday.
Alghuwayriyah Stable LLC's Eldaafer, winner of the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park in June, comes to Chicago after finishing third in the $250,000 Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park on July 18 in his most recent trip to post. The Diane Alvarado-trained son of A. P. Indy is 5 for 11 in his career. The 4-year-old gelding has been assigned 118 pounds for the Washington Park and will be ridden by Clinton Potts.
Locally based Gran Estreno returns to Arlington for the Washington Park after winning the $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald over the Canterbury Park turf course in his last trip to post. The Minnesota victory was the fifth straight for the son of Lucky Roberto, who earlier this year was claimed for $20,000 in successive starts and now races for the Feel The Thunder Stable of Marty Nixon. Trained by Mike Stidham, Gran Estreno has been assigned 115 for the Washington Park and will have the services of his regular rider, E. T. Baird.
Completing the field for the Washington Park Handicap (with jockey and weight assignment) are: Tom Gregerson & Hicklin Farm LLC's Let It Rock (Eusebio Razo Jr., 114 pounds); Ashbrook Farm's Wicked Style (Jesus Castanon, 116); and David P. Holloway Racing Inc.'s Dubious Miss (Chris Emigh, 116).
The Washington Park Handicap is part of a Saturday stakes tripleheader that also includes the meet's signature events for 2-year-olds - the Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity and the Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie.