Arlington Million

Barn Notes: Saturday, July 6, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/06/2013 #
  • Arlington Classic General Election winner looks to return for the Grade III American Derby July 13. Photo by Four Footed Fotos.

In Today’s Notes: General Election Ready to Claim Leg Two of Mid-America Triple; Ioya Bigtime to Take One More Stab at Streaking Dark Cove in Stars and Stripes; Flower Spell Wins on Six Days Rest for Mason

WinStar Farm’s General Election, winner of the Grade III Arlington Classic – the first leg of Arlington International Racecourse’s Mid-America Triple – on May 25, is slated to return to Chicago to pursue the second leg of the series in the Grade III $200,000 American Derby on Saturday July 13. 

Based in Kentucky with conditioner Kellyn Gorder, the son of Harlan’s Holiday has been aimed toward the 1 3/16-miles turf event since his local victory at 13-1 odds.  The Keeneland-based trainee has been working steadily toward this for his connections who are confident he will enjoy the additional furlong.

Two of the beaten favorites in the Arlington Classic, Procurement and Admiral Kitten, are probable to return for the American Derby to attempt to avenge their respective defeats.  Glen Hill Farm’s Procurement suffered a wide trip in the Arlington Classic, but made a strong bid to finish fifth in the 12-horse field beaten only a length and a half for trainer Tom Proctor.  The son of Milwaukee Brew has been training locally since.  Previous to the Arlington Classic, Procurement won the listed La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita at nine furlongs and could appreciate the additional real estate in the American Derby. 

Arlington Classic beaten favorite Admiral Kitten is probable to return after finishing a closing second at odds of just under 9-5 for leading national owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker.  The stretch-running son of Kitten’s Joy similarly ran out of ground in the Grade II American Turf Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day three weeks prior to the Arlington Classic and in an allowance at Keeneland three weeks prior to that.  All of those races were at 1 1/16-miles.  In the American Derby, Admiral Kitten will come into the race from a seven-week freshening and should appreciate the additional furlong.

A couple of intriguing possibles for the American Derby include Five Iron and Chamois.  The former, a recent stakes winner at Woodbine in the $150,000 Victoria Park Stakes over nine Polytrack furlongs on June 16, is owned by Fred M. Allor and looks to be on the improve.  Trained by Robert Martin, the son of Sharp Humor earned a 103 Equibase Speed Figure in that wire-to-wire victory, which came after a third to Queen’s Plate morning-line favorite Up With the Birds in the Marine Stakes May 26.

The ever-dangerous Christophe Clement stable has late-nominated the lightly raced Chamois for owners Jon and Sarah Kelly.  In just four starts, the son of Smart Strike has won a maiden, an allowance (both at Aqueduct Racetrack) and was a closing third in the Grade III Hill Prince Stakes on June 15 at Belmont Park.  The homebred has yet to take a step backward in his speed figures and should appreciate more ground, especially considering his damsire is Lomitas – sire of 2011 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream.

Team Block’s Ioya Bigtime not only has to prove he has not lost a step in the July 13 Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes, but he will also be defending his title against the horse many consider the best 12-furlong turf runner in America.  Still, the talented son of Dynaformer will be difficult to conquer on his home turf after a seven-week freshening for trainer Chris Block.

Even with his local following, Ioya Bigtime most likely will not claim betting favoritism.  That role will assumably go to the streaking Dark Cove, a muscular son of Medaglia d’Oro trained by Mike Maker for Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey who beat Ioya Bigtime in their last two meetings.  Last out, Dark Cove impressively outpaced Atigun and Najjaar in Churchill Downs’ Grade III Louisville Handicap to win by a half-length.  Previous to that, the 6-year-old horse won the Grade II Elkhorn by a widening 4¼ lengths at Keeneland.  Both of those races were at the same 12-furlong distance as the Stars and Stripes. 

Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man is currently probable for the race in what will be his first attempt at a marathon distance.  Bred to enjoy the stretchout, the son of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner English Channel is coming off a late-closing second to Coalport in the 1 1/16-mile restricted Black Tie Affair Handicap over the local turf.  Tom Amoss conditions the reigning Champion Illinois-bred 3-Year-Old.

Another coming out of the Black Tie Affair is Team Block’s Suntracer, who finished third in last year’s Stars and Stripes behind his stablemate.  Under the tutelage of Chris Block, the son of Kitten’s Joy has been aimed at this race since the spring.  In the Black Tie Affair, Suntracer made a strong bid in midstretch to finish fourth, beaten 5½ lengths.

The most intriguing possible for the Stars and Stripes is multiple South American Group I winner Quick Casablanca, from the barn of Christophe Clement.  In two stateside starts, the son of Until Sundown has finished second in the Good Reward Stakes on turf and unplaced in the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap on dirt – both at Belmont Park.  Owned by Pablo Gomez, Quick Casablanca won the Group I Chilean Derby in 2012 at 12 furlongs on the grass. 

In a superb training feat, local conditioner Ingrid Mason brought stakes winning stable star Flower Spell back on six days rest to win a turf sprint allowance Friday afternoon at Arlington International Raceecourse.  The win capped the second consecutive double-win day for the trainer who leads all female trainers and is tied for fourth overall.  “Obviously I’m very happy and grateful.  It’s hard to win at horseracing in the first place, much less twice in a day,” Mason remarked.   

Flower Spell’s win came less than one week after she took on her elders in the very tough renewal of the seven-furlong Grade III Chicago Handicap last Saturday and on a surface condition she did not particularly enjoy.  “I know she doesn’t like the softer turf like today, but I just thought she was much the best in there.  She was just so perfect after the last race.  There was no way I would have run her if she wasn’t perfect.  I scoped her three times.  I never would have run her if she wasn’t feeling so good and doing so well after the race,” Mason explained. 

The trainer was also taking advantage of the fact that local racing opportunities may be limited for her stakes-level sprinting sophomore.  “I think the last race might have taken something out of her, but this race came up and I saw the opportunity – especially since there’s no other spot to run her for a long time.”

On Friday, Flower Spell won despite not having the early lead – a rarity in her career, thus far.  “The course definitely wasn’t her thing.  I know she can rate, like she did today, but if that turf course would have been hard, she would have blown the doors off that other horse (pacesetting Chortle).  (Winning jockey James) Graham said the same thing.  She hit a couple soft spots and it kind of bogged her down a little.  She’s so big she sinks,” Mason said with a chuckle.