Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, June 29, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/29/2013 #
  • Margaret Burlngham's Saint Leon looks to repeat in the Arlington Sprint on July 6 but will have his work cut out for him.

In Today’s Notes: Saint Leon, Regally Ready and Chamberlain Bridge Head Arlington Sprint Noms; Friday’s Seventh Race Provided Meet-High Payoffs

If the nominees for Arlington International Racecourse’s premier showcase of speed, the $100,000 Arlington Sprint, are any indication, next Saturday’s 17th edition could be the best the track has presented.  If the stars align in the sky and at the entry box, the grassy 5½-furlong fixture could feature two Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winners, three of the most impressive sprinters of the current Arlington meet and a horse with the fourth-highest one-turn Equibase Speed Figure of the year, nationally. 

The Arlington Sprint is no stranger to good racing and great contestants.  Though the race winner does not earn an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup, it has had an impressive impact on the event.  In 2008, the first year it was contested on the grass, winner Mr. Nightlinger not only set the Arlington course record, but would also go on to be the beaten 7-2 favorite in that year’s inaugural Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.  In 2010, Arlington Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge would go on to capture that year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.  And, in 2011, Country Day would finish second in both the Arlington Sprint and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – the latter behind Regally Ready. 

Both of the aforementioned Breeders’ Cup champions Regally Ready and Chamberlain Bridge are under consideration this year for the Arlington Sprint.  Last year, the two met in here, but neither were at their best when they fell to fellow 2013 nominee Saint Leon. 

Vinery Stable’s Regally Ready was making his first start since a failed trip to Dubai and showed the effects of that venture with a dull fourth, beaten eight lengths.  Since then, trainer Steve Asmussen has only raced Regally Ready three times, with the son of More than Ready not showing any sign of waking up until Kentucky Derby Day this year when he ran a very good fourth in the Grade III Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes, beaten less than two lengths.  His Equibase Speed Figure that day of 112 is on par with his races in 2011. 

Carl Moore’s Chamberlain Bridge has had an astounding career.  Now eight years of age, the gelding is again on top of his game for trainer Bret Calhoun.  Always running at the apex of his division, the son of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner War Chant has competed in 40 stakes in his last 42 starts, including his aforementioned victory in the 2010 Arlington Sprint. 

Last out, in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap at Penn National, the gelding checked badly on the turn, losing all chance.  In his previous race, he charged hard to finish a length and a half in front of Regally Ready and a nose from victory in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint.  That day, Chamberlain Bridge earned a 116 Equibase Speed Figure, which is on par with his performances.  If entered, he would hope to do one better than last year, when he finished second to lights-out pacesetter Saint Leon.

Calhoun also has another promising nominee in the improving 4-year-old Canuletmedowneasy – a talented colt who has been highly competitive in turf stakes throughout the spring.  Also Carl Moore-owned, the son of Storm Cat stallion With Distiction was third last out in the $50,000 Honor the Hero Stakes at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.  Calhoun won this race with both Chamberlain Bridge and the aforementioned Mr. Nightlinger when they were in similar stages of their careers.

Margaret Burlingham’s defending champion Saint Leon may be 8-years-old, but if his initial 2013 outing is any indication, he could be better than ever.  In a May 12 allowance/optional claiming event, the son of Stravinsky bulldozed a good field of allowance horses over the Polytrack main course – earning a 110 Equibase Speed Figure, 106 Beyer Speed Figure and completing the fastest second-fastest six furlongs of the Arlington meet.  Trained by high-percentage conditioner Michele Boyce, Saint Leon was aiming toward an allowance that did not fill.  Calling an audible, Boyce decided to work him instead of shipping out and will train him up to a defense of his title.  A tremendous gate horse, Saint Leon has only been beaten out of it once in his last 9 starts. 

A nominee who could give Saint Leon some serious company is Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Work All Week.  A fleet-footed son of City Zip, Work All Week is the only horse to run a faster six-furlong time this meet than Saint Leon – 1:09.21 in an allowance on May 11.  Since then, the Roger Brueggemann-trained gelding lost a heartbreaker in the restricted Addison Cammack Stakes on June 8 to Fortino, Inc.’s Sweet Luca by a nose at the wire.  If entered, Work All Week would be making his second attempt on turf after a failed route experiment at Hawthorne Race Course in his November debut. 

The aforementioned Sweet Luca is on target for the Arlington Sprint pending a turf workout, according to trainer Chris Block.  If the workout pleases the conditioner, he will enter the gelded son of world-record holding turf miler Candy Ride.  Last out, in the Cammack, Sweet Luca ran a career-best 112 Equibase Speed Figure last out when nipping Work All Week.

The wild card in the Arlington Sprint nominees could be William Stiritz’s recent Grade III Hanshin Cup winner Hogy.  A son of Grade I-winning handicapper Offlee Wild, the Scott Becker-trained Hogy is bred for two turns, but has made his niche around one.  His race in the Hanshin, over a one-turn mile, was so impressive he earned a 123 Equibase Speed Figure – the fourth-highest one-turn number of 2013 (highest is 129 shared by Cross Traffic and multiple Grade I-winner Flat Out). 

A push-button type, Hogy has a huge finishing punch – shading :24 for his final quarter-mile in the Hanshin – and is versatile enough to do the same over a turf sprint.  In his last four attempts at a turf sprint, he proved victorious in three and lost by just over two lengths in the Grade III Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in the other.  Hogy, if entered, could add to what might be a phenomenal renewal and true showcase of Arlington speed.

The upset victory in Friday’s seventh race by Brinker Hill Farm and Law Dog Stables’ Go Go Fritzy led to a number of meet-high payoffs.  The Andy Hansen-trained filly was dispatched at odds of nearly 52-1. The win payoff was $105.80 was the largest thus far this season while the $35.40 place return equaled that of D N A Racing’s Commando Kat established on May 25.  The seventh race exacta combination of Go Go Fritzy and Suzanne J. Vander Salm’s Sweet Charise brought back a meet-best $1,082.20.

Though not season-long record payoffs, the seventh race trifecta (with Robert L. Adleta’s Bold Street Cat in the third spot) returned $1,929.80 for the 50-cent wager and the dime superfecta (with Gary & Mary West’s Your Move, the 7-10 post-time favorite, finishing fourth) was worth $1,191.82.