GRADE I WINNER ADMIRAL KITTEN TOPS GRADE III ARLINGTON HANDICAP
Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Admiral Kitten, winner of the 2013 edition of the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes, is returning to the site of his biggest victory as the 122-pound starting highweight in the Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap at a mile and a quarter on the turf.
By virtue of his Secretariat win, the son of Kitten's Joy is already a winner over the course and distance of the Arlington Handicap. Since that score, the Mike Maker trainee finished second in two more Grade I races last year – the Jamaica at Belmont Park and the Hollywood Derby at the now defunct Hollywood Park. His only win this year came in his seasonal bow when he captured the Grade III John B. Connally in Texas back in January. He has been chasing tough competition all year including a fifth place finish to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. Julien Leparoux has the mount on Admiral Kitten, who will spot his rivals three to seven pounds.
Magdalena Racing's War Dancer, the winner of the Louisville Handicap, does his best running on turf, and has not finished worse than second since stretching out to longer distances for his last two starts. Prior to the Louisville victory, the Ken McPeek-trained son of War Front was second in the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes, also at a mile and a half, at Keeneland. He won last year's Grade II Virginia Derby at the mile and a quarter distance of the Arlington Handicap. The four-time winner on turf will carry 119 pounds including jockey Alan Garcia.
Lothenbach Stables' Mister Marti Gras, a multiple graded stakes winner with earnings in excess of $1 million, has been entered in both the Arlington Handicap and the mile and a half Stars and Stripes. The son of Belong to Me has yet to win at distances father than a mile and an eighth but is graded stakes placed at a mile and a quarter. The 7-year-old gelding comes into the race off a victory in a mile and a sixteenth turf allowance last month. Eduardo Perez gets the return call on Mister Marti Gras who has been assigned 118 pounds for Saturday's engagement.
Others in the Arlington Handicap (with weights and jockeys are): Donegal Racing's Finnegans Wake (Victor Espinoza, 117 pounds), runner-up in the Grade I Secretariat in 2012; D. Lanni and J. Youngblood's Avanzare (Gary Stevens, 115); and Team Valor International's 2013 Grade III American Derby winner Infinite Magic (Channing Hill, 115).
The mile and a quarter Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be held Aug. 16, and is one of four major stakes that comprise the track's Million Preview Day program. In addition to the Arlington Handicap, the 12-race card includes the Grade III $200,000 American Derby, the Grade III $200,000 Modesty Handicap and the Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes. As an added bonus, the 1-2-3 finishers in the Arlington Handicap will have their entry and starting fees waived for Arlington Million XXXII should they elect to run in that event next month.
The Arlington Handicap will kick off a special All Stakes Mid Pick 4, covering races 7-10 that will include all four graded turf stakes – the Arlington Handicap, the Stars and Stripes, the American Derby and the Modesty Handicap in that order.