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Road to the 2010 Arlington Million: Vol. 2 - June 16
Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy, who saddled his 4-year-old gray colt General Quarters to finish third in Churchill's Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap June 12 on the main track, will switch surfaces once again for his next start July 17 in the Grade III Arlington Handicap over the Chicago oval's world famous turf course, McCarthy confirmed Wednesday.
"I can't wait to get him back on the grass," McCarthy said while speaking over the phone from Kentucky about his 2009 Blue Grass Stakes winner, who won last month's Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic over the Louisville lawn at Churchill on Kentucky Derby Day May 1. "I didn't really want to put him back on the main track last weekend, but I needed to get a race into him and I didn't want to take him out of the Midwest. That would have been too hard on me and too hard on the horse.
"I was pleased with his race (in the Stephen Foster)," said McCarthy. "I wish someone else had challenged the front runner early (pace-setter Battle Plan, owned by Overbrook Farm), but when they didn't, we didn't have much choice but to stay close behind him."
(Last winter at Fair Grounds, Battle Plan employed the same pace-setting tactics while unchallenged early in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap March 27, and was able to withstand the late bid of runner-up General Quarters by a length and a half over the Crescent City dirt.)
"My horse got a little heat-exhausted last weekend," said McCarthy of his one-horse stable. "It took me two and a half to three hours to get him back to normal. I'd like to give him a little time off for a week or so, but the way he's been bouncing back I might have to take him back to the track sooner than that.
"My plan now is to bring him up to Chicago three or four days before the Arlington Handicap," said McCarthy. "I want to give him time to get used to his surroundings and maybe give him one breeze over the turf course. Rafael Bejarano (aboard General Quarters for Woodford Reserve win) will be back on him again for this next race."
The Arlington Handicap is run at 10 furlongs on the grass as a designed prep for the Grade I Arlington Million five weeks later on Aug. 21 at that same distance.
"The Arlington Million is my main goal for the summer with this horse," said McCarthy.
Arlington Million XXVIII - signature event of the 2010 Chicago Thoroughbred racing season - will go the post late in the afternoon on the third Saturday in August, preceded by the 20th renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. for the world's best grass-favoring fillies and mares. Completing Arlington's International Festival of Racing on that day will be the 34th running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf caliber. Together, that trio of top-tiered turf tests are the only three Grade I events offered in Illinois on an annual basis.
As a possible tune-up for the upcoming Beverly D., Belmont Park features the Grade II New York Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf at 10 furlongs this Saturday. Included among the nominations to the New York Stakes are seven original nominations to the Beverly D. They are Jon and Sarah Kelly et al's Irish-bred Carribean Sunset, Team Valor International's South African-bred pair of Gypsy's Warning and Sweet Theresa, Charles Fipke's Lady Shakespeare, Graydon Patterson's Phola, Sagamore Farm's Shared Account and Juddmonte Farms' British-bred Treat Gently.
In Virginia Saturday, Colonial Downs hosts the Grade III All Along Stakes for fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the grass. Shared Account has already been drawn into that field, which also includes Darley Stable's Tizaqueena, an original Beverly D. nominee who won the Grade III Arlington Matron on Polytrack May 29 but also won the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile last year.
Also in Virginia Saturday is the Grade II Colonial Turf Cup for 3-year-olds as a possible prep for the Secretariat Stakes or the Grade II American Derby before that July 17 as part of Arlington's Million Preview Day. The American Derby, at 1 3/16-miles on the grass, is the middle leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple as well as the designed prep for the Secretariat as the final leg of the Triple.
Estrorace LLC's Workin for Hops, who won the 75th renewal of the Arlington Classic May 22 as the first leg of the Triple, heads the field for the Colonial Turf Cup, which also includes Triple nominee Paddy O'Prado, a gray sophomore colt owned by Donegal Racing that finished third in this spring's Kentucky Derby.
Other Mid-America Triple nominees in the Colonial Cup are WinStar Farm's Doubles Partner, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Dean's Kitten and Augustin Stable's Vamos a Ver.
Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Asbury's Gleam of Hope, another original Triple nominee, captured last Saturday's Grade III Jefferson Cup on the grass at Churchill Downs, and this Sunday Hollywood Park features the Grade III Will Rogers Handicap, restricted to 3-year-olds and run at 1 1/16-miles over the California grass.