Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, July 6, 2018

Churchill Downs Communications | 07/06/2018 #
  • Ezmosh (Coady Photography)

  • Graham Motion Sends Three for Ride to the Million
  • Graded Stakes Winners Arklow, Ezmosh Lead Cox Stakes Quartet
  • Twenty Four Seven Likely to Opt for Grade III Arlington Handicap


Trainer Graham Motion will have quite a busy day on Saturday with horses racing across the country in five different states. Three of his runners will be at Arlington International Racecourse contending stakes at Ride to the Million, presented by Miller Lite on July 7.

Motion will be represented by Just Howard in the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Handicap, who breaks from post nine under jockey Feargal Lynch at morning line odds of 20-1. Owned by Skeedattle Associates, the 4-year-old son of English Channel was recently third in the Grade III Dixie Stakes at Pimlico, which was taken off the turf and run over a sloppy going. It was his first start of 2018.

“Clearly he’s a better grass horse,” Motion said. “He was also coming off a layoff but (running on an off track) wasn’t what I had in mind.”

Just Howard is one of four graded stakes winners in the Arlington Handicap field. Four starts ago, he captured the Grade III Commonwealth Derby at Laurel Park on September 30, his fourth victory in a row. He previously won a pair of Laurel Park stakes when defeating fellow Maryland-breds in the Caveat Stakes on July 15 and open company in the Find Stakes on August 19.

“This came up a tough race between [Synchrony and Divisidero],” said Motion. “It is a race I’ve had in mind for him. We’ve just kind of freshened him up since he ran at Pimlico and have been looking for the right spot. I love the timing and I love running on that turf course. The extra sixteenth of mile should be good.”

In 12 career starts Just Howard has acquired $292,210 in lifetime earnings, a nice return on investment for the $37,000 that he was purchased for at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015. He was bred by Howard Bender and purchased from Eaton Sales consignment operation. Just Howard is the third of four foals out of the Alphabet Soup mare Aruban Sandwich, whose other three offspring were winners.

Motion’s other Arlington stakes contenders are Colonia (FR) in the $100,000 Hatoof Stakes and Celestial Insight in the Grade III $100,000 Modesty Handicap.

Breaking from post five at odds of 5-1, Colonia will make her Untied States debut in the Hatoof after having made five previous starts in her native France under the care of Chappet Fabrice. Owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Maurice Lagasse and Haras d’Etreham, she is by Champs Elysees (GB) out of the Muhtathir mare Clara Luna who is a half to multiple group winner Don Bosco.

“She’s been really straight forward,” Motion said. “She’s handled everything very well and just kind of fitted in. She’s just a filly that’s done very well since she came here.”

The Elkstone Group’s Celestial Insight will be making her second start for Motion in the Modesty Handicap. She previously was a close second to Lovely Bernadette in the Grade III Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 9.

Two days after the 5-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy competes at Arlington, she will go through the sales ring at Fasig-Tipton’s July Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale where she is listed as Hip 419. She will be consigned by ELiTE Sales.

Prior to racing for Motion, Celestial Insight was under the care of Wesley Ward, for whom she won her first two career starts – a maiden special weight at Belmont Park in September of 2015 and a first level allowance event over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park in December of that year. She went on to win two more allowance events including defeating a group of winners at Keeneland in October 2016, two of which were stakes winners La Piba and Venus Valentine. Celestial Insight did not win again until last November at Churchill Downs when capturing an allowance race on the grass.

“It’s always in the back of your mind when a horse comes off a long layoff that they could come up needing a bit,” Motion said in regards to her most recent start. “I think she’ll handle the distance well. You never know until you try but I have every right to think she can handle it. She’s a pretty nice filly.”

Celestial Insight was bought for $45,000 from Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale in 2014. She is the second foal of multiple stakes winner and three-time graded stakes placed mare Bai and Bai.

Elsewhere, Motion sends out Rugbyman in Belmont Park’s Grade III $300,000 Dwyer and Thewayiam (FR) in the $1,00,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational. On Saturday however, Motion will be at Delaware Park, where he will saddle Esquisse (FR) in the Grade III $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes and Maya Malibu in the Grade III $300,000 Delaware Oaks.


Two graded stakes winners lead a solid quartet of Brad Cox trainees in Saturday’s Ride to The Million, presented by Miller Lite at Arlington International Racecourse July 7.

Donegal Racing’s Arklow is stretching out to 1½ miles in the Grade III $100,000 Stars and Stripes Handicap after finishing fourth in the Grade I Old Forester Turf Classic on May 5 at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old son of Arch made his seasonal bow on February 24 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots against allowance company, where he closed from well off a slow pace to defeat stable mate Dot Matrix by a nose.

“Brad has always wanted to stretch Arklow out,” said assistant trainer Ricky Giannini, who will saddle Cox’s stakes runners at Arlington. “He’s got the pedigree for it. There’s a lot of good races out there aren’t as tough, between the distance and it being a little softer spot. He’s run a mile-and-an-eighth against really nice horses, and he’s a bridesmaid running third or fourth. With a little more distance and easier company maybe he gets the job done.”

Arklow earned the title of graded stakes winner as a 3-year-old when taking the Grade II American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs. Coincidentally, his half-brother Maraud went on to take this year’s edition of the American Turf Stakes. Arklow is out of the Empire Maker mare Unbridled Empire and was a $160,000 purchase from Penn Sales at Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale in 2015.

Florent Geroux ships in to ride Arklow, who will emerge from post four as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Stars and Stripes.

2018 Grade III Arlington Classic winner Ezmosh returns to the Chicagoland oval in the Grade III $100,000 American Derby where he will look to keep a perfect turf streak alive. In addition to the Arlington Classic, he won a first level allowance event over Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ lawn on March 25 over fellow American Derby contender Dubby Dubbie.

“He’s two-for-two over [the turf] so hopefully he’s three-for-three after tomorrow,” said Cox’s assistant Ricky Giannini. “Tizway, even though he was a good dirt horse, has produced some good turf runners.”

Other solid turf runners by Tizway include graded stakes placed Malibu Stacy as well as stakes winner Coasted. Ezmosh is owned by Zayat Stables in partnership with Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables. He will be ridden by Jose Valdivia, Jr. and will break from post five.

Cox’s other two stakes contenders are Andrew Farm and Marc Detampel’s Compass Zone in the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Handicap and Magic Cap Stables’ Cool Beans in the $100,000 Hatoof Stakes, both of which are making their stakes debut.

A son of Hard Spun, Compass Zone (post four, Florent Geroux, 8-1) was a recent second against allowance company at Belmont Park on June 9 behind Slim Shadey (GB), who is entered in the Grade III Stars and Stripes.  His two lifetime victories took place when breaking his maiden second time out at Fair Grounds in January and two starts later when he defeated winners over the grass at Keeneland Race Course on April 6.

“It’s an obvious step up,” Giannini said. “He did that last time out at Belmont Park and got beat by a seasoned horse in Slim Shadey. He’s lightly raced but we think it’d be a good stepping stone for him. Unfortunately, it came up a little tough but we’ll see.”

Cool Beans (post one, Florent Geroux, 4-1) has never coursed the wire first in four career starts. The 3-year-old daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) was second in her Saratoga Race Course career debut last August, but was elevated to first after eventual graded stakes winner Significant Form was taken down. She did not race again until April 11 in a first level allowance event over the lawn at Keeneland Race Course where she set the pace but finished third behind eventual graded stakes winners Toinette and La Signare.

“She’s faced good company for sure,” Giannini said. “On paper it looks like there’s a lot of speed and with her being a front runner, hopefully she doesn’t get hooked. A listed hundred-thousand stake is a good spot to test the waters.”


Trainer Roger Brueggemann has cross entered Twenty Four Seven in the Arlington Handicap and Stars and Stripes Handicap (both Grade III events for $100,000) and indicated on Friday morning that he would likely opt for the former of the two spots.

“It might be a little softer in there,” Brueggemann said. We’re just trying something with him, giving it a whirl. If he steps up, he might be alright.”

Owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds, the 5-year-old son of City Zip drew post eight for the Arlington Handicap and will be ridden by Jermaine Bridgmohan. He enters the Arlington Handicap on a three-race win streak, the last two of which took place against allowance company over the turf at Arlington.