Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, May 27

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/27/2011 #

International Festival Previews Abound Saturday; Alternation Works at Arlington Friday; The Run for Voodoo Renewed Saturday at Arlington

Arlington’s Park’s prestigious International Festival of Racing, to be run this year on August 13, may still be 11 weeks away but the stepping stones to get to Chicago’s showcase afternoon of racing have already begun.  Significantly, those early steps continue in earnest across America this Saturday on Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday’s spirited 76th renewal of the $100,000 Arlington Classic, whose past heroes include a Triple Crown winner and a slew of other Hall of Fame sophomores, serves as the first leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple – a series which continues with the Grade II American Derby on July 9 and concludes with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 13.  To date, three horses have swept the Mid-America Triple and favored among Saturday’s Classic contenders is All In Stable’s Willcox Inn.  That son of Harlan’s Holiday beat Team Valor’s eventual 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom at Arlington last Sept. 18.

Willcox Inn is trained by Mike Stidham, who saddled Estrorace’s Workin for Hops to win last year’s Classic and American Derby before finishing third to Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’ Prado in the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes.  Previously, Paddy O’ Prado had finished third in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

In New York on Saturday, Belmont Park hosts the 53rd running of its Grade II Sheepshead Bay Stakes for fillies and mares at 11 furlongs over the Long Island lawn.  That race is an early stage leading up to Arlington’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Aug. 13 as the sister race to the Grade I Arlington Million         

British-bred Cheetah, owned by Robert Scarborough and trained by French-born Christophe Clement; German-bred La Luna de Miel, owned by Team Valor and trained by British-born Graham Motion; and Chilean-bred Belle Watling, owned by Flying Zee Stable et al. and trained by French-born Patrick Biancone; are all entered in Saturday’s Sheepshead Bay and are all also original nominations to the 22nd running of Arlington’s $750,000 Beverly D.

Out on the West Coast Saturday, Hollywood Park offers the Grade II American Handicap at one mile over the grass and that $150,000 event has served as an early indicator of Arlington Million possibilities in past seasons for horses that can stretch out. Also, at Churchill Downs on Saturday the Grade III Louisville Handicap at a mile and a half on grass can serve as an early Million prep for horses that are able to cut back in distance.

Original nominations to the Arlington Million slated to go to the post in Saturday’s American Handicap are Richard Duchossois’ German-bred Goldwaki and Don Van Racing et al.’s The Usual Q. T., while Saturday’s Louisville Handicap includes Arlington Million original nominations include Stella Perdomo’s German-bred Musketier, trained by British-born but Canadian-based Roger Attfield.

 Interestingly, also going to the post in Saturday’s Louisville Handicap is Barbara Hunter’s mare Keertana, facing male rivals Saturday but an original nomination to this summer’s Beverly D. but not the Arlington Million. 

Pin Oak Stable’s Alternation, considered a possible starter in the upcoming Belmont Stakes June 11, breezed five furlongs at Arlington Park Friday morning in 1:00.60 before galloping out three-quarters in 1:13.

Arlington Park jockey Eddie Razo was aboard for the move which Arlington clocker Bobby Belpedio caught in early splits of 37.60 and 49 flat.

Alternation, trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, won Belmont’s Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at last asking May 14. 

Owner Vanessa Nye of Voodoomon Racing and a significant supporter of Thoroughbreds after their racing years are concluded, will sponsor the second running of The Run for Voodoo in Saturday’s seventh race.