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Juniper Pass, Interaction Top Grade III Arlington Handicap
Betty & Robert Irvin’s Juniper Pass, a winner of back-to-back Grade II events in California, and Poza de Luna’s Interaction, a multiple Group I winner in his native Argentina, head a field of 10 older horses entered for Saturday’s Grade III $150,000 Arlington Handicap.
The Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be held Aug. 13, and will be run at the Million distance of a mile and a quarter over Arlington’s world famous turf course.
The race is one of three major stakes that comprise the track’s Million Preview Day program. In addition to the Arlington Handicap, the 11-race card includes the Grade II $200,000 American Derby and the Grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap. As an added bonus, the 1-2-3 finishers in the Arlington Handicap will have their entry and starting fees waived for the Million should they elect to run in that event next month.
A son of Lemon Drop Kid, Juniper Pass comes to Chicago off consecutive victories in the Grade II San Luis Rey over a mile and a half on the dirt and the Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap at a mile and three-quarters on the grass at Santa Anita Park this spring. The mile and a quarter distance of the Arlington Handicap should prove to the 4-year-old’s liking as he sports an allowance win and a good third-place finish in the Grade I Hollywood Derby at 10 furlongs. Trained by Thomas Bell II, Juniper Pass will tote starting high weight of 122 pounds and be ridden by Brice Blanc.
An Argentine-bred son of Easing Along, Interaction will be making his first start since March 3 when he finished seventh after making the pace in the Group II Emirates Airline Dubai City of Gold Stakes on the turf on the Super Thursday program at Meydan Racecourse after finishing third in the Group III Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 over the Meydan Tapeta surface a month earlier. In 2009, Interaction captured some of Argentina’s most prestigious races including the Group I Jockey Club and the Group I Carlos Pellegrini. Making his North American debut for trainer Christophe Clement, he will carry 120 pounds and have the services of Corey Nakatani.
Dean’s Kitten, owned by Kenneth & Sarah Ramsey, enters off a victory in the $150,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park in his most recent effort May 30. A son of 2004 Secretariat Stakes winner Kitten’s Joy, the 4-year-old colt was third through the finish line but subsequently placed fourth for interference in last year’s Grade II American Derby over this course and then ran fifth in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes over the Arlington Handicap course and distance. The Mike Maker trainee will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and shoulder 119 pounds.
Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed looks to better his third-place finish in this race one year ago and comes into this year’s renewal off a good second in the $77,000 Opening Verse at Churchill Downs three weeks ago. Earlier this season, the Dan Peitz-trained son of Dynaformer ran second over this course in third-level allowance optional claimer. He will team with James Graham and carry 118 pounds.
Others in the field (with weight assignment and riders listed) are: G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s El Crespo (Florent Geroux, 117 pounds); Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras (Shaun Bridgmohan, 117); Frank Mancari’s Free Fighter (Tim Thornton, 116); William Stiritz’ Proceed Bee (Junior Alvarado, 116); Keith Chudzik’s Amun Re (114, Julio Felix); and Andreas Jacobs’ Sanagas (Rajiv Maragh, 114).