Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, September 27, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/27/2013 #
  • Real Solution (outside), the adjudged winner of Arlington Million XXXI, starts in Saturday's Turf Classic at Belmont.

  • 2012 Arlington Million winner Little Mike is in search of his first win of the year in Saturday's Turf Classic at Belmont.

In Today’s Notes: Million Winners Square off in New York; Martinez Lands Thursday Hat Trick

The winners of the last two Arlington Millions are set to face off in the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park on Saturday when Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike and Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Real Solution head a talented field of 10 in the $600,000 event.  A major prep and ‘Win and You’re In’ event for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Turf Classic will be just one of the major races around the country featuring runners from some of Arlington’s biggest races.

Both Real Solution and Little Mike last raced in this year’s edition of the Million, with Real Solution winning via disqualification after being hindered in deep stretch by The Apache.  Little Mike, a popular wire-to-wire victor in the 2012 Million, looks to return to form and achieve his first victory of 2013 after a 2012 that saw him win three Grade I events, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf. 

While Real Solution is listed at 8-5 on the morning line – mostly due to being coupled with his multiple Grade I-winning stablemate Big Blue Kitten – Little Mike is an enticing 10-1 with new rider Mike Smith.  Aside from Big Blue Kitten, winner of the Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational last out, their major competition could come from Phipps Stable’s 2012 beaten Million favorite Boisterous. 

Across the country in California, Santa Anita Park will play host to Marketing Mix in the Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes, a race she impressively won last year.  The beaten favorite in this year’s edition of the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes and runner-up in 2012, the Glen Hill Farm-owned mare is looking to regroup after her uncharacteristically flat performance in Chicago last out. 

Trained by Arlington-based Tom Proctor, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro went on to finish second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, a race for which the $250,000 Rodeo Drive is a course and distance ‘Win and You’re In’ prep.  So far, aside from her hiccup at Arlington, Marketing Mix has been brilliant in 2013 – winning the Grade I Gamely Stakes and Grade III Sunset Handicap – both at Hollywood Park and the latter over the boys. 

If Marketing Mix is to prove victorious once again, she will have to beat Calumet Farm’s impressive filly Starstruck, an attractive daughter of world-class stallion Galileo who last out won the Grade III Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth for trainer Larry Jones.  Another formidable challenge will come from Hronis Racing’s Lady of Shamrock, a tough daughter of Scat Daddy who nearly shipped to Arlington for the Beverly D., but was withdrawn from consideration about a week before the race.  Trained by the always-dangerous John Sadler, Lady of Shamrock won the Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap via disqualification at the course and distance earlier this year.

Elsewhere in the country, Grade III Arlington Classic winner General Election is set to roll in the Grade III Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs for owner WinStar Farm and trainer Kellyn Gorder.  Listed as the morning line favorite at 3-1, the son of Harlan’s Holiday is trying to get back on the winning track after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Grade II Del Mar Derby last out on Sept. 1 and a poor showing when seventh in the Grade III American Derby prior to that.  Trainer Wayne Catalano, who is about to wrap up his 11th Arlington title, sends out Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s intriguing Gentleman’s Kitten, who debuted at Arlington last September and recently defeated his elders in an allowance/optional claiming event at Saratoga. 

Jockey Seth Martinez scored three consecutive wins on Friday’s card in the seventh through ninth races to boost his season wins to 41.  Currently ninth in the standings in wins and purse earnings, Martinez scored on J. Socorro Flores’ Modesta in the seventh, John Donaldson’s Inspeightofthings in the eighth and Barry and Joni Butzow’s Jost Van Dyke in the ninth.  Fourth in 2012 (58 wins) and seventh in 2011 (47 wins), the hat trick was a boost for Martinez during a season that has been highlighted by two stakes wins.