OUR CHANNEL, DIVINE OATH HEAD AMERICAN DERBY LINEUP
The Grade III $200,000 American Derby has become an international affair with the inclusion of Abdulla al Mansoori's England-based ship-in Our Channel in the mile and three-sixteenths turf test along with domestic runners from both coasts and Kentucky, as well as a solid local contingent to comprise the field of nine sophomores.
Having arrived Sunday from England, Our Channel will be making his first Stateside start for trainer William Haggas after finishing 13th in the Group I English Derby over a mile and a half. Prior to that, he turned in his best effort when winning a Trial for the Epsom Derby going a mile and a quarter. The son of English Channel will be ridden in his U.S. debut by 2011 Arlington riding champion James Graham.
Let's Go Stable's Divine Oath invades from his Belmont Park base after closing well to finish fourth in the second running of the $500,000 Penn Mile at Penn National Race Course. Prior to that, the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Broken Vow ran second in the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland to Mr. Speaker, who went on to capture last Saturday's Grade I Belmont Derby. Divine Oath has a pair of turf wins, breaking his maiden over the Gulfstream lawn in January followed by a turf allowance tally at the South Florida oval.
California invader Schoolofhardrocks ships in search of his first stakes victory off a solid turf allowance win at Santa Anita Park in April for trainer David Hofmans. The Amerman Racing Stables' homebred son of Rock Hard Ten finished a strong second as the favorite in the Listed Desert Code Stakes sprinting on the downhill turf at the Arcadia track in his race prior. On the Kentucky Derby trail earlier in the year, Schoolofhardrocks chased eventual Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome to a fourth-place finish in the Grade II San Felipe and finished eighth to dual classic victor in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby before shifting to the turf course for his two most recent starts. Victor Espinoza makes the trip from Southern California to ride.
The solid local contingent includes a pair of Illinois-bred Fort Prado sophomores, Tom Fedro Sr. and Team Block's Afortable and S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnertship's Big Tom Prado. The former, who broke his maiden over the Arlington turf last summer, enters off a third-place finish as the favorite in the Grade III Arlington Classic for trainer Chris Block while the latter, trained by Christine Janks, beat older state-bred rivals in a June 14 turf allowance race. Julien Leparoux has been named to ride Afortable while C. H. Marquez Jr. has the mount aboard Big Tom Prado.
The Larry Rivelli-trained Irish-bred Chief Barker, owned by the Susanne Stables, is looking for his first U.S. win after finishing eighth in his stateside debut – the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs – and fourth last out in the Arlington Classic. The Azamour colt won his first three starts in England as a 2-year-old before finishing a well-beaten sixth in the Group I Racing Post Trophy. Quincy Hamilton will be in the irons Saturday.
Completing the field for the American Derby (with jockeys listed) are: Ted and Jean Barlas and Diana Jacobs' Ghostly Wonder (Julio Felix); Holmark Stables' Giacallure (Joe Bravo); and Frank Jones Jr.'s Hesinfront (Channing Hill).
The American Derby, the second leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, will be run at a mile and three-sixteenths over Arlington's world famous turf course and serves as the final local prep for the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes, which will be held Aug. 16 as part of the one-day International Festival of Racing.
The race is one of four major stakes that comprise the track's Million Preview Day program. In addition to the American Derby, the 12-race card includes the Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap, 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 American Derby will have their entry and starting fees waived for the Secretariat should they elect to run in that event next month.
Arlington International Racecourse – the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run an 89-day meet in 2014 from Friday, May 2 through Sunday, Sept. 28. Arlington International Racecourse, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 11 off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Chicago, East Moline, Waukegan, Villa Park, Rockford, South Elgin, Hodgkins, McHenry and Orland Hills. Arlington International Racecourse is a proud member of America's Best Racing. Information on Arlington International Racecourse and Trackside OTB can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arlingtonpark and www.facebook.com/tracksideotb, and on Twitter at @Arlington_Park for the latest happenings, @arlingtonracing for the latest racing news and @tracksideotb for all things pertaining to off-track wagering.