Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, May 12, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/12/2012 #

In Today's Notes: Hanshin Cup Toasts Start of Arlington Stakes Schedule May 19; Reminder: First 'Learn to Win' Seminar of 2012 on Tap Sunday

Chicago racing fans will be raising their cups in a toast to the kickoff of Arlington's 2012 graded stakes season on May 19. That's when the Windy City's showcase Thoroughbred oval will present the 60th running of the Grade III Hanshin Cup for 3-year-olds and upward at one mile over Arlington's Polytrack surface.

Interestingly, the trainers who have saddled the winners of the last two renewals of the $150,000 Hanshin Cup have horses under solid consideration for the upcoming 60th anniversary edition – Arlington's headline attraction on this year's Preakness Day.

Trainer Mike Stidham, who saddled Estrorace's Workin for Hops to win last year's Hanshin, has nominated Terry Hamilton and Robert Morgan's Gleam of Hope to the 2012 version and there are striking similarities between the two.

Both are 5-year-old chestnut geldings and both are sons of City Zip, but while Workin for Hops won the Arlington Classic and American Derby as a sophomore, Gleam of Hope's two wins here came as an older horse. Prior making his 2012 debut locally a winning one last Sunday going a mile over the Polytrack in allowance and $80,000 optional claiming company, Gleam of Hope also won here going 10 furlongs last Aug. 28 as the odds-on choice of the fans.

Chicago-based trainer Greg Geier, who saddled Jim Tafel's Country Flavor to win the Hanshin two years ago, has Tafel's Fast Alex nominated to this spring's renewal. Although Fast Alex is coming off a disappointing effort in Fair Grounds' Grade II New Orleans Handicap on April 1, the 5-year-old entire son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes hero Afleet Alex recorded excellent runner-up finishes in this winter's Louisiana Handicap and Grade III Mineshaft Handicap as the first two legs of the Big Easy's three-race series for older horses.

Geier also saddled Barrington resident Tafel's Coragil Cat to win the 2008 Hanshin Cup.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Lonesome Street, trained by Mike Maker, is also considered quite possible for the Hanshin at this time. The son of Broken Vow unveiled a new aspect of his talent when he showed an affinity for Polytrack in his most recent trip to the post – launching a bold late bit to capture Keeneland's Grade II Commonwealth Stakes by a convincing 2 1/4-length margin. Before that, during most of his career he had been reserved for grass competition.

Ashbrook Farm's San Antone is another under strong consideration for the upcoming Hanshin. Trained by Rusty Arnold, who won this race 21 years ago with Ashbrook Farm's Bright Again, San Antone visited the winner's circle in his most recent start April 27, taking an allowance and $80,000 optional claiming nine-furlong event over Keeneland's Polytrack by a neck in a front-running performance.

Peter Callahan's Scotus, conditioned by Ken McPeek, is another nominee to the Hanshin Cup under consideration at this time. The 4-year-old by Successful Appeal has won his last two in a row, including a late-running 3 1/4-length score last time April 7 going seven furlongs in allowance and $80,000 optional claiming company over Keeneland's Polytrack.

This will be the 18th year that the Hanshin Cup has been run as an exchange race with the Japan Racing Association and May 19 has also been designated as Japanese Heritage Day at Arlington, celebrating Japanese culture and featuring Japanese music and special entertainment throughout the afternoon.


Arlington guests are reminded that the first "Learn to Win" seminar of Arlington's 2012 season will be held on Mother's Day Sunday.

Hosted by's Joe Kristufek and Brian Spencer, the seminars will be held on selected weekend dates (weather permitting) during the 2012 season. On each date, Kristufek and Spencer will be in the Park area to help give fans the tools they need to become successful bettors.