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Grass Specialists Spotlight in 1000 Guineas, Arlington Classic
Three-year-old grass specialists are in the spotlight at Arlington Park Saturday in a pair of six-figure races for the sophomore turfers - the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas for fillies at one mile and the 75th edition of the $150,000 Arlington Classic for the boys at a mile and a sixteenth.
The two turf events are half of a quartet of stakes races that comprise the American 1000 Guineas Festival that also includes the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Matron for fillies and mares on the main track and the Grade III $100,000 Hanshin Cup for older horses also on the synthetic main course. The four stakes races will make up a $100,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 that will cover races eight through 11 on the 11-race card that starts at 1 p.m. Central time.
Phipps Stable's Consequence was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the local 1000 Guineas, which in addition to its purse offers the winner a guaranteed berth in the Grade I American Oaks Invitational at Hollywood Park in July. The El Prado filly, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner "Shug" McGaughey, was third in the Grade II Beaumont over Keeneland's Polytrack surface in April but last fall she was sixth beaten only four lengths for all of it in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park. Her lone victory came in her career debut over the Saratoga lawn last August. Her regular rider, John Velazquez, makes the trip to Chicago for the mount in the 1000 Guineas.
Blazing Meadows Farm LLC & Rick Claypool's Afternoon Stroll, who pulled off a 50-1 upset in the Appalachian in her turf debut, and Nelson McMakin's Hot Cha Cha, who was second in that one-mile Keeneland test, both finished in front of the morning-line favorite last out.
The former, who looks to make it two straight victories on the lawn, won the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes at River Downs last year in her only other stakes victory. Jamie Theriot has been named to ride the Timothy Hamm-trained daughter of Stroll. The latter, a Philip Sims-trained Cactus Ridge filly, captured the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park in March. She will be ridden by Orlando Mojica.
Also likely to receive support Saturday is Richard Brodie's Obsequious, who looks to rebound off a seventh-place finish in the Grade III Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland in April. Prior to that effort, the daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus was edged out in the waning strides of the Grade III Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park the previous month. The Elizabeth Gray-trained filly will be ridden by 2006 Arlington Park riding champion Chris Emigh, who won last year's inaugural American 1000 Guineas aboard Much Obliged.
Completing the field for the American 1000 Guineas are: Robert Zoellner's Peach Brew (Quincy Hamilton); Glen Hill Farm's Prytania (Rene Douglas); Silverton Hill LLC's Excelente (Miguel Mena); and Stronach Stables Inc.'s Run All Day (Kent Desormeaux).
Virginia H. Tarra Trust's Giant Oak, runner-up in the Grade II Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course last month, returns to the surface where he broke his maiden last summer and has been made the 5-2 morning line choice in the Arlington Classic.
The Arlington Classic, which goes as the 11th race Saturday, is the first leg of the Mid- America Triple which continues with the Grade II American Derby on July 11 and concludes with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 8. Arlington Park is offering a $500,000 bonus to the owner(s) of any horse who can sweep the troika of races.
A son of Giant's Causeway, Giant Oak was on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year but returns to his homebase to compete in Arlington's sophomore grass series. The Chris Block pupil has been training well for Saturday's Arlington Classic and recorded a 47.60 second half-mile breeze over the main track on Monday. He reunites with jockey Eusebio Razo Jr., who was aboard the colt for his two victories here last summer.
Among those to challenge the projected favorite are grade stakes winners Orthodox and El Crespo.
John and Kim Glenney's Orthodox invades from Kentucky after taking the Grade III American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day. Jon Court, who was aboard the John Glenney-trained son of Pulpit that afternoon, has a return call aboard the sophomore ridgling Saturday.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s El Crespo captured the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March before finishing 10th over Polytrack in the Grade II Lexington Stakes at Keeneland last time out. The son of A. P. Indy returns to the turf, where the George "Rusty" Arnold trainee is two for three, for the Arlington Classic. James Graham picks up the mount.
Another to keep an eye on in the Arlington Classic is Team Valor International and Gary Barber's Golden Mexico. The Irish-bred son of Daggers Dawn beat a talented field in his North American debut at Keeneland in April despite hopping at the start of the mile and sixteenth grass test. Trained by Christophe Clement, Golden Mexico will have the services of six-time Arlington riding champion Rene Douglas.
The remainder of the field for the Arlington Classic is: Glen Hill Farm's No Inflation (Kent Desormeaux); Kindred Thoroughbred LLC's Poltergeist (Quincy Hamilton); Dennis O'Neill's Flashmans Papers (Brice Blanc); Stacey Moak's Southern Anthem (John Velazquez); Walts David Stable LLC's Turfiste (Jamie Theriot) and William Stiritz's Proceed Bee (Chris Emigh).