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Defending Champion Spotsgone Seeks Hanshin Cup Repeat

Churchill Downs Communications | 05/21/2008 #
  • Spotsgone shown winning the 2007 Hanshin Cup.

One year ago Robert Yagos’ Spotsgone lit up the toteboard with a $165 mutuel as the upset winner of the Grade III Hanshin Cup but will head to post as the 5-2 morning line favorite in this year’s renewal of the $100,000 race to be run at a mile over Arlington Park’s Polytrack on Saturday.

The Hanshin Cup, in its 14th year as an exchange race with the Japan Racing Association, is one of three stakes races to be run at Arlington on the Saturday program. Also to be contested here May 24 are the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf and the $150,000 Arlington Classic, for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth on grass.

Since taking the 2007 edition of the Hanshin Cup, Spotsgone has earned stakes scores in the $150,000 Sea o’Erin Mile over the Arlington turf last August and the $100,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park. In his last start, the Grade III Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day May 3, he was carried out at the start and finished last of eight in the seven-furlong contest.

However, with three wins in four starts at Arlington Park, the Jinks Fires-trained 5-year-old has a definite home field advantage and will have the added benefit of being piloted by Earlie Fires, the track’s all-time reinsman. The starting highweight at 118 pounds, he will spot his seven rivals from one to four pounds.

Sure to receive support as the second highweight is Barry & Joni Butzow’s Lovango. The Hugh Robertson-trained son of Capote comes in off a third-place finish in Oaklawn Park’s Grade III Count Fleet Sprint Handicap and a similar placing in the $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes at the Arkansas oval. In his lone start over Polytrack, the bay colt captured last year’s $45,000 Forward Pass Stakes on the Arlington Million undercard. He will be ridden Saturday by the meet’s leading jockey Rene Douglas.

Named to face the top pair are: Richard Rudolph & Michael Vranich’s Stonehouse (James Graham, 115 pounds); Team Block’s Fort Prado (Eusebio Razo Jr., 116); Oxbow Racing LLC’s Steve’s Double (Ramsey Zimmerman, 117); Starlight Stable LLC, Donald Lucarelli & Paul Saylor’s Throng (Jesse Campbell, 117); Jim Tafel LLC’s Coragil Cat (Diego Sanchez, 115); and OFER Stables LLC’s Morada Key (Larry Sterling Jr., 114).

Of these, Coragil Cat and Throng come in off a one-two finish in a track-record setting run in the $53,000 Timeless Native Stakes on May 3 while Fort Prado returns to Polytrack after a trouble-filled second-place finish in the grassy $100,000 James B. Tafel Illinois Owners Stakes the same afternoon.