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General Quarters, Mister Marti Gras & Workin for Hops Top Washington Park Handicap
A troika of accomplished stakes winners – Thomas McCarthy’s General Quarters, Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops and Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras – share top starting impost of 119 pounds for Saturday’s Washington Park Handicap. The Grade III race carries a $100,000 purse and will be run at a mile and an eighth over Arlington Park’s all-weather Polytrack.
General Quarters has Grade I victories on both Polytrack and turf on his ledger with scores over the synthetic in the 2009 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and on the grass in the 2010 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. However, the son of Sky Mesa is winless in two starts this year. Trained by his owner, the 5-year-old horse finished second in his seasonal bow over seven furlongs in a Churchill Downs allowance race and then ran a disappointing seventh over the lawn in the Grade II Firecracker at Churchill on July 4. Jamie Theriot has the mount.
Workin for Hops, who last year captured the first two legs of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple – the $100,000 Arlington Classic and the Grade II American Derby – before finishing third to Paddy O’Prado in the Grade I Secretariat here, has a win over Arlington’s Polytrack when he took the Grade III Hanshin Cup earlier this season. The Mike Stidham-trained son of City Zip finished off the board in two subsequent grass starts. James Graham, who guided the 4-year-old gelding to the Hanshin score, has a return call.
Mister Marti Gras returns to a synthetic surface after finishing second in the Grade III Arlington Handicap on turf in July. The Chris Block-trained son of Belong to Me ran third in the Grade III Ben Ali Stakes over Keeneland’s Polytrack in April. Between those two starts, the 4-year-old gelding won a turf allowance race at Churchill Downs in June. Eduardo Perez, who was aboard Mister Marti Gras when he won the $200,000 Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs last year, has been named to ride.
Joseph Engelhart and Magdelena Racing’s Dark Cove invades from Saratoga for trainer Ken McPeek. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt’s lone victory this year came over Polytrack at Keeneland in April when he beat a tough allowance field going a mile and a sixteenth. Junior Alvarado picks up the mount.
The remainder of the field for the Washington Park (with jockeys and weight assignments) are: Asaad al Banwan’s Burj Alzain (Florent Geroux, 114 pounds), a runner-up on Arlington’s Polytrack in May; Russell Reineman Stable’s Color Me Blue (Tim Thornton, 114), a recent allowance winner over Polytrack; Michael Deegan’s Maristar (E. T. Baird, 113), two-for-two over Arlington’s Polytrack; and Ron Herrell, Keith Wexler and Brian Reed’s Hoosier Kingdom (Jozbin Santana, 113), winner of the restricted A. J. Foyt Stakes at Indiana Downs in his last start.