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Full Field for Hanshin Cup

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/21/2014 #
  • Hogy, shown winning the 2013 G3 Hanshin Cup, is on target for a return bid. (Four Footed Fotos)

Hanshin Cup defending champion Hogy will have his work cut out for him in his repeat bid in the Grade III $150,000 race when he faces 13 challengers including no fewer than six other graded stakes winners. 

The one-mile Hanshin Cup is part of a stakes tripleheader on Saturday that also features the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Matron for fillies and mares and the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Classic – the first leg of the Mid-America Triple – for sophomore turf runners.

Since winning last year’s Hanshin Cup, the William Stiritz-owned Hogy has won three more times including a victory in the $250,000 Presque Isle Mile, which is also raced over a synthetic surface.  Last out, the Scott Becker-trained son of Offlee Wild won a six-furlong allowance race in impressive fashion over multiple stakes winner Saint Leon.  Chris Emigh, Hogy’s regular jockey for local engagements, has the call Saturday.

Among those slated to face the defending champion are graded stakes winners Wade Wacker’s Joha; Silverton Hill’s Havelock; Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras; Richard Sherman’s Nikki’s Sandcastle; Robert Trussell’s Occasional View; and Swifty Farms’ Pataky Kid.

Occasional View, a 6-year-old Silver Deputy gelding is a synthetic track specialist having won the Grade III Commonwealth at Keeneland in April and finished second in the Grade III Vigil at Woodbine earlier this month, both over seven furlongs.  The Ken McPeek trainee is stakes placed over a distance of ground, so the one-mile Hanshin shouldn’t be out of his reach.  C. H. Marquez Jr. picks up the mount.

Nikki’s Sandcastle is also a graded stakes winner over Polytrack after taking last fall’s Grade II Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.  Though winless in four starts this year, the Dave Kassen-trained son of Castledale has been facing tough competition and most recently finished third to Frac Daddy in the Grade III Ben Ali at Keeneland.  Leandro Goncalves has the mount.

The Chris Block-trained Mister Marti Gras and the Tom Proctor trainee Pataky Kid are both graded stakes winners over this track.  The former, by Belong to Me, won the 2012 Washington Park Handicap over the Arlington Polytrack but is winless since capturing the $125,000 Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury Park last summer. The latter won the Arlington-Washington Futurity as a 2-year-old and is three-for-three here including a score in the $65,000 Coach Jimi Lee Stakes last summer.  Eduardo Perez rides Mister Marti Gras while Rosemary Homeister Jr. has the mount aboard Pataky Kid.

Joha won the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland as a 2-year-old when trained by Tom Albertrani.  Now trained by former Albertrani assistant Joshua Flores, the 4-year-old Johar colt ran sixth in the Ben Ali last time out.  Florent Geroux is named.

Although known more as a turf sprinter, Havelock won the 2012 edition of this race.  The Darrin Miller-trained 7-year-old has made two starts this year, failing to hit the board in a pair of Grade III turf sprints in Kentucky.  James Graham will ride.

Even the non-graded stakes winners bring solid credentials to the Hanshin.  The Jim Tafel-owned and Greg Geier-trained Fordubai (Sheldon Russell) won the $65,000 Straight Line Stakes over the Hanshin course and distance and is multiple graded stakes placed; Kenneth Fishbein’s Francois (Jeffrey Sanchez), trained by Cheryl Winebaugh, won the 2012 Straight Line here and is coming into the Hanshin off an allowance race victory at Hawthorne; Mongolian Stable’s Mongolian Saturday (Emmanuel Esquivel), trained by Enebish Ganbat, ran second in both last year’s Straight Line here and in the $400,000 Researcher at Charles Town.

Also, Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm’s Sir Applesolutely (Julien Leparoux), comes in off an allowance race victory over the Keeneland Polytrack and had a sharp work here earlier this week for trainer Chris Block; Gary and Mary West’s Pass the Dice (Channing Hill), a Wayne Catalano-trained 6-year-old, has won half of his 10 starts and last out was second to Departing in a tough Churchill Downs allowance race; Curtis Green’s Tulira Castle (Danush Sukie), winner of the $60,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay last out for trainer Jimmy DiVito; and the Bruce Lunsford-owned and Tom Drury-trained Valentino Beauty (Brian Hernandez Jr.), a graded stakes-placed son of Vindication who comes on off a Keeneland turf victory.