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Tessa Blue & Leah's Secret Head Monday's Arlington Matron Handicap

Churchill Downs Communications | 05/23/2008 #

Bruce Lunford’s Tessa Blue and a stable coupling from WinStar Farm LLC of Leah’s Secret and Ballado’s Thunder will likely vie for favoritism in Monday’s 72nd running of the $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap.  The Grade III race for fillies and mares will be run at a mile and an eighth over Arlington’s Polytrack surface and will go as the eighth of 10 races on the special Memorial Day holiday program that starts at 1 p.m. Central time.

A daughter of Awesome Again, Tessa Blue returns to Chicagoland for the second time this year after running to a second-place finish as the even-money choice in the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course on April 19.  In that nine-furlong event, the Frank Brothers-trainee set the pace, was brushed in the stretch and had to settle for the runner-up spot behind Golden Velvet.  In her only other trip to the post in 2008, the 4-year-old filly had the lead in mid-stretch in the Grade II Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park but was outkicked late and ended up second in that race, also at Monday’s mile and an eighth route.  Larry Melancon will come in to guide the 118-pound highweight in the Arlington Matron.

Of the WinStar pair, Leah’s Secret, trained by Todd Pletcher, comes in off the tougher race, a second-place finish in the Grade II Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 2.  Although winless over the last two seasons, the daughter Tiger Ridge has won five of 19 overall including the Grade II Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland in 2006 while earning in excess of a half-million dollars.

The Bill Mott-trained Ballado’s Thunder enters off a one-length victory in a grassy Keeneland allowance race last month.  The daughter of 1992 Arlington Classic winner Saint Ballado does her best running on turf but has had some success on other surfaces including a win in a restricted stakes race at Santa Anita in April 2007.

Leah’s Secret has been assigned 117 pounds for the Matron, one more pound than her stablemate.  Arlington Park’s leading jockey Rene Douglas has been named aboard both halves of the entry.

Completing the field for Monday’s Matron are: Bentley Smith Revocable Trust’s Lady Carlock (Tim Thornton, 112 pounds); Alex Campbell Jr.’s Awesome Ashley (Jesse Campbell, 114); Letto Thoroughbreds Inc., Arbaway Farm & Carson Springs Farm’s Stop a Train (Chris Emigh, 113); Courtland Farm’s Indescribable (Jeremy Rose, 113); and Jer-Mar Stables LLC Angel Smoke (Jose Velez Jr., 113).