Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, July 20, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/06/2012 #

In Today's Notes: Willcox Inn Returns to Arlington in Sunday's Feature Attraction; Winner Pays $163.60 in Thursday's Arlington Finale


Lael Stable and All In Stable's Willcox Inn, hero of last year's Arlington Classic and Grade II American Derby before finishing fourth in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day, returns from an eight-month layoff to the scene of his greatest triumphs when he faces seven rivals in Sunday's $46,000 feature as the 8-5 choice in the morning line.

The race is an allowance and $80,000 optional claiming affair that will be contested at one mile over Arlington's recently rain-refreshed grass course.

In the first start of his career during a fall juvenile campaign in 2010, Willcox Inn defeated eventual 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom at Arlington. The Mike Stidham trainee was then taken to Kentucky where he finished third in Keeneland's Grade I Breeders' Futurity and was then third again in Churchill's Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

When beginning his sophomore season in New Orleans, Willcox Inn was the runner-up in Fair Grounds' $60,000 Grindstone Stakes over the Stall-Wilson turf course, returned to Polytrack to run eighth in Keeneland's Grade I Blue Grass Stakes and then was put back on the grass for the Arlington Classic which he won by 2 1/2-lengths. A four-length win the American Derby as the second leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple followed, and then the fourth-place run in the Secretariat when denied the Triple sweep.

Sent to Chicago's south side, Willcox Inn tallied by 4 1/2-lengths in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby last October, but a trip to the west coast for his most recent start last November proved fruitless, resulting in an eighth-place finish in the Grade I Hollywood Derby.

Capable of providing strong competition for Willcox Inn Sunday as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line is John Kuehl, David Conway and Heider Family Stables' Lil Bit O'Fun. In his most recent trip to the post the Tom Proctor trainee ran fourth in Arlington's $65,000 Sea o' Erin June 9 but was only beaten a length and a half for the win. Last year he won Indiana's $200,000 Oliver Stakes, was second by a neck in Del Mar's Grade II La Jolla Handicap and then seventh in the Grade II Del Mar Derby when beaten less than two lengths for the win.

Not to be dismissed in Sunday's feature is Captain Jack Racing Stable's Mr. Mischief as the 9-2 third choice in the morning line. The Illinois-bred won the $114,625 Black Tie Affair Handicap in his last start on Prairie State Festival Day June 16 for conditioner Tony Granitz.

Arlington's defending jockey champion James Graham gets the mount aboard Willcox Inn, Miguel Mena handles the reins astride Lil Bit O'Fun and E. T. Baird is slated for the saddle on Mr. Mischief.

Completing the field for Sunday's feature is William Stiritz's Proceed Bee, Chris Emigh up (6-1); Auglyn Stable, Terry Biondo, Cherrywood Racing Stable II and Margaret Burlingham's Conchacer, Julio Felix (12-1); Volunteer Racing's Forbidden Forest, Quincy Hamilton (8-1); Oak Knoll Farm's Fastestwhogetspaid, Constantino Roman (20-1); and S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership's Big Looie, Seth Martinez (10-1).

Silver Wing Stable's Mirka, an invader from Canterbury Park, returned the largest win price of Arlington's 2012 season – $163.60 – when capturing Thursday's last race for trainer Manny Perez with jockey Eddie Perez aboard.

Earlier in the day, Manny Perez saddled In His Favor Stable's Mulata to win the fifth and was completing a training double, while Eddie Perez had ridden Virginia Tarra Trust's Market Buzz to win the eighth race and was completing a sweep of Thursday's late daily double.

Arlington's 2006 jockey champion Chris Emigh also rode two winners Thursday, as did Seth Martinez to move into a tie for third in the jockey standings entering Friday's race day.

Mirka's place price of $66.40 Thursday was also a season high, while his show price of $21.80 equaled the season high for that mutuel.