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Workin for Hops Tops Competitive Hanshin Cup

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/18/2011 #

Multiple stakes winner Workin for Hops, who races for Amy Bondon’s Estrorace LLC, heads a competitive group of nine, including defending champion Jim Tafel LLC’s Country Flavor, entered for Saturday’s Grade III Hanshin Cup.  The one-mile race over Polytrack is the first event on Arlington’s $4.3 million stakes schedule.

A son of City Zip, Workin for Hops comes into the Hanshin off a runner-up finish to Get Stormy in the Grade I Maker’s Mark Mile over the Keeneland turf course and before that ran fourth in a pair of graded stakes races over the lawn at the Fair Grounds.  The Mike Stidham-trained 4-year-old won both the $100,000 Arlington Classic and the Grade II American Derby over the Arlington turf course last year.  While a proven commodity over grass, he has made just two starts on all-weather courses, boasting a win and a second albeit against easier competition.  James Graham has the riding assignment.

Defending champion Country Flavor has not started since March when finishing eighth in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds.  Prior to that the Greg Geier-trained son of Empire Maker ran third in the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap and won the $60,000 Tenacious Handicap.  Jozbin Santana picks up the mount aboard Country Flavor for the first time Saturday.

Trevor Stewart’s Akhmatova is the lone filly in the race.  The daughter of Cape Cross is trained by Gerard Butler, who is campaigning a string stateside at Arlington Park for the first time in 2011.  The 4-year-old has not started since January when she finished seventh beaten only 2 ½ lengths for all of it in a stakes race over the all-weather surface at Deauville in France.  Eduardo Perez has been named to ride.

Robert & Lawana Low and Winmore LLC’s Cool Bullet has a pair of runner-up finishes in stakes company over Polytrack this year.  The Red Bullet gelding ran second to Aikenite in the Grade II Commonwealth at Keeneland and before that was second in the $50,000 Forego at Turfway Park.  E. T. Baird gets the call.

Gary & Mary West’s Pacific Ocean carries a perfect three-for-three record into the Hanshin, breaking his maiden over the Arlington Polytrack last August.  The son of Ghostzapper then won a first-level allowance at Keeneland last fall and a second-level allowance there earlier this year.  The Wayne Catalano trainee will be ridden by Junior Alvarado.

Completing the field for the Hanshin (with riders listed) are: Tim Williams’ Pointing North (Eusebio Razo Jr.); Silverton Hill LLC’s Havelock (Jermaine Bridgmohan); Jean & Ted Barlas and Mike Porcaro’s Quite a Handful (Tanner Riggs) and Flying Zee Stable, Kona Stable, M. Imperio & K. Hui’s Pulsion (Florent Geroux).