Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, May 20

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/20/2011 #

Pimlico’s Dixie ‘Cap on Preakness Day a ‘Million’ Prep for ‘Paddy’; Arlington Classic Hero Workin for Hops Tops Saturday’s Hanshin; Interesting Arlington Matron Matchups on Memorial Day Weekend

The eyes of Thoroughbred racing world turn toward Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday for the 135th renewal of the Preakness as the middle jewel of the 2011 Triple Crown, but one race earlier the second step on the road to this summer’s Grade I Arlington Million goes to the post when Pimlico hosts the 110th running of the Grade II Dixie Handicap at a mile and an eighth over the grass course at the Old Hilltop.       

Dominating the cast of eight older horses slated for the Dixie Handicap is Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, odds-on in the Dixie morning line and familiar to Chicago racing fans for his convincing 1 1/4-length score in last summer’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day.

The history of Secretariat winners and runner-ups in later Arlington Millions is well documented from past International Festivals.

Masayuki Nishiyama’s Paradise Creek finished second in the 1992 Secretariat and won the Million in 1994.  Ryehill Farm’s Awad won the Secretariat in 1993 and the Million in 1995.

The late James Lewis Jr’s Mecke was second in the Secretariat in 1995 and won the 1996 Arlington Million, and Michael Tabor’s Marlin won the 1996 Secretariat and came back to win the 1997 Arlington Million.

Brushwood Stable’s Kicken Kris won the 2003 Secretariat and became the adjudged Arlington Million winner the following summer.

Finally, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten’s Joy won the Secretariat in 2004 and came back to be the odds-on choice in the 2005 Arlington Million, had a clear lead at the furlong grounds but then succumbed to the late run of Mrs. John Magnier’s Powerscourt to finish second.

Interestingly, Kitten’s Joy was trained by Dale Romans, and Romans also trains Paddy O’Prado, so assuming Paddy O’Prado gives a good account of himself in Saturday’s Dixie ‘Cap, Romans may get his second chance for a win in the Arlington Million Aug. 13.

Estrorace’s Workin for Hops won the first two legs of Arlington’s 2010 Mid-America Triple by capturing last year’s 75th renewal of Arlington Classic as well as last year’s 96th running of the American Derby, but was then denied the chance to become the fourth horse to sweep the Mid-America Triple when he was defeated by Donamire Farm’s Paddy O’Prado in the 34th running of the Secretariat Stakes during the International Festival of Racing.

This year’s Mid-America Triple begins with next week’s renewal of the $100,000 Arlington Classic over Arlington’s world famous turf course, but Workin for Hops returns to action this Saturday in the Grade III Hanshin Cup over Arlington’s Polytrack course.

Workin for Hops, who is trained by Mike Stidham and will be ridden by James Graham, is the projected 3-1 favorite in the morning line for the first graded stakes of the 2011 season at Arlington Park.

The son of City Zip broke his maiden over Arlington’s Polytrack course with a seven-length tally in September of 2009, and finished second by two lengths in his next trip to the post over Keeneland’s Polytrack that October, but has run over the grass for all of his 11 starts since.                                                                                      

In addition to the Arlington Classic next Saturday, Chicago’s premier Thoroughbred oval will also present the 75th anniversary edition of the Grade III Arlington Matron for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at nine furlongs over the Polytrack.

Nominees to the Matron include Michael Deegan’s Pachattack, sixth in last summer’s Grade I Beverly D. when compromised by an extremely tardy break from the gate; Stone Farm et al.’s Upperline, heroine of last summer’s Grade III Arlington Oaks; and Derby Daze, Mark Hoffman and Earl Trostrud’s Hooh Why, who captured Keeneland’s Grade I Ashland in 2009.