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Meal Penalty Wires Arlington Classic Field

Churchill Downs Communications | 05/24/2008 #

Sassasfras Racing & Gulf Coast Farms’ Meal Penalty dashed to the front right at the start of the $150,000 Arlington Classic and never looked back en route to a three-quarters of a length tally in the mile and a sixteenth grass race for 3-year-olds that serves as the first leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple series for grass favoring sophomores.

With Jose Velez Jr. in the irons, the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Tale of the Cat scooted through a brisk pace of 23.06 seconds, 47.02 seconds, 1:11.52 and 1:35.87 en route to a final time of 1:41.97, four-fifths of a second off the course record.

Saturday’s score was the second straight local stakes tally for Meal Penalty, who annexed the $53,700 Shecky Greene Stakes here two weeks ago.  The six-furlong distance of that event had Meal Penalty on edge for his turf debut in the Arlington Classic.

“He was very sharp coming off the three-quarters of a mile race,” said Velez, who is riding at Arlington Park for the first time this summer.  “I tried to slow him down a bit the best I could.  They came to me at the top of the stretch and when I asked him to go, he responded pretty good.”

Picking up his fifth win in nine starts overall, he added $85,500 to his bankroll which now stands at $224,895.  He paid $16.60, $10.20 and $8.40.

Prime Realestate rallied wide into the stretch to get up for second, a neck ahead of 55-1 outsider Mr. Mischief, who ran third in the 10-horse field.  Prime Realestate paid $7.40 and $5.40.  Mr. Mischief returned $16.20.

“I had a good trip,” said Earlie Fires, who rode the runner-up.  “The horse kind of got out there by himself.  The pace wasn’t that slow, so maybe he didn’t have as easy a trip as it looked.  The winner ran a big race.  We just couldn’t get to him.”

“My horse ran a great race, he closed well coming down the lane,” said Chris Emigh, jockey aboard Mr. Mischief.  “I was very pleased with his late kick. He out ran his odds today and, definitely look for him next time out.”

Blue Lion, Sporting Art, Sebastian County, Gangbuster, Amazing Results, Strait of Mewsina and Free Fighter completed the order of finish.