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Tajaaweed Wins Grade III Arlington Handicap
Improving from a third-place finish in this race a year ago, Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed stormed down the center of the course to win the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Handicap by 1 ½-lengths. James Graham rode the Dan Peitz-trained son of Dynaformer who covered the mile and a quarter over firm turf in 2:01.83.
By virtue of his score here, the 6-year-old horse earns an automatic berth with entry and starting fees waived for the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 13. Tajaaweed finished sixth in last year’s Million and it has been the primary goal of connections to get a chance to better that run.
“We decided to stop on him last winter, turn him out, point for this race and the Million, Peitz said. “Nine months later, here we are and we’re on our way to the Million.”
Graham, who was riding Tajaaweed for only the second time, faulted himself for the horse’s defeat in the $77,000 Opening Verse at Churchill Downs last month but indicated he learned about his mount’s tendencies which helped here.
“I was more confident coming into to today’s race,” he said. “I pulled the trigger too soon last time. Today, I waited and it paid off. I had a perfect trip. I had a lovely run up the fence until about half-way around the turn the second time. I pulled the trigger and it was over.”
The Arlington Handicap was the first win for Tajaaweed since May 2010 and his fourth in 16 starts overall. He earned $85,500 to push his bankroll to $252,104 and paid $7.40, $4.40 and $2.80.
Mister Marti Gras ($6 and $3.40) rallied late to nab second money from Dean’s Kitten ($3.40), who did hold on to finish third. Both horses also earn berths in the Arlington Million.
“He ran good but he had an outside post which I wasn’t too happy about,” said Mister Marti Gras’ rider Shaun Bridgmohan. “I wasn’t able to tuck him in as much as I wanted because of the outside post but I thought he ran well.”
Free Fighter, Juniper Pass, Proceed Bee, Sanagas, Interaction, El Crespo and Amun Re completed the order of finish.