Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Sunday, July 31

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/31/2011 #

In Today's Notes: Block Mulling 'Festival' Options Following Sunday Breezes; 'Festival'-Bound Willcox Inn, Upperline Work Well Sunday; Seans Silverdancer Being Pointed for Hatoof Stakes Aug. 13; Graham Ties Santana in Jockey's Standings With Saturday Triple

Team Block's Never Retreat, heroine of Canada's Grade III Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine July 10, is headed for a start in Arlington's Grade I Beverly D. Stakes following an impressive three quarter-mile breeze Sunday morning at Arlington, trainer Chris Block indicated shortly after the move.

"She had a very nice work this morning," Block said Never Retreat's breeze at six furlongs clocked in 1:14 under jockey Eddie Perez. "She's headed for the Beverly D."

Earlier this year, Never Retreat annexed Grade III Honey Fox Stakes in March and Keeneland's Grade II Jenny Wiley in April.

The Beverly D. – considered the Arlington Million's sister race and one of three Grade I races that will make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing on Aug. 13 – is now less than two weeks away.

Not so certain for the Beverly D. is the Block-trained mare Askbut I Won'ttell, owned by Team Block and Rich Ege, who was fourth in Arlington's Grade III Modesty Handicap July 9 after suffering from traffic problems in the lane. That daughter of the South African-bred sire Horse Chestnut breezed five furlongs in 59.60 and galloped out three-quarters in 1:13.80.

"She's on schedule and is still a possibility for the Beverly D.," Block said. "We'll probably make a definite decision by the middle of next week."

Team Block's Suntracer, runner-up behind All In Stable's Willcox Inn in Arlington's Grade II American Derby July 9 and the $100,000 Arlington Classic before that May 28, breezed five-eighths in 1:01.20 while in company Sunday morning and will be pointed for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes as the final leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple on Aug. 13, Block indicated later Sunday morning.

All In Stable's Willcox Inn, winner of the prestigious Arlington Classic and Grade II American Derby as the first two legs of Arlington's Mid-America Triple – and now in a position to sweep the Triple with a tally in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes Aug. 13 – breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 Sunday morning.

The sophomore son of Harlan's Holiday, trained by Mike Stidham, recorded early splits of 25, 37 and 49 on his way to the five-eighths time and then galloped out three-quarters in 1:13.60 before pulling up seven furlongs in 1:29.

Also on the work tab for conditioner Stidham was Stone Farm, John Adger, Oakcrest Farm and Stidham's Upperline, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 under assistant trainer Hilary Pridham in preparation for the Grade I Beverly D. Aug. 13.

The daughter of Maria's Mon, winner of last year's Grade III Arlington Oaks, then galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.60 and pulled up seven-eighths in 1:30.

Willcox Inn and Upperline are scheduled for their final pre-"Festival" moves in the middle of next week at either a half-mile or five-eighths.

Slapshot Racing's Seans Silverdancer, fourth in Arlington's $100,000 Purple Violet Stakes June 25 but winner of Hawthorne's $100,000 Debutante last fall, will be pointed for Arlington's $65,000 Hatoof Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile over Arlington's world famous turf course on Aug. 13 following her 2 1/4-length tally in a conditioned allowance race July 24.

"That race she won last week was scheduled for the grass but they took it off," said trainer Lisa Merritt earlier this week. "I've been trying to get her a race on the grass for a long time now. She's by Najran, so she should love it."

Jockey James Graham moved into a tie for the lead with J. Z. Santana in Arlington's jockey standings entering Sunday's races following Graham's riding triple at the conclusion of Saturday's 10-program.

Born in Ireland, Graham has never won an Arlington title but has finished second in previous seasons. The 32-year-old reinsman won Saturday's second race aboard Chuck and Meribeth Sandford and Secure Investments Take Charge Indy for trainer Patrick Byrne, the third on Green Lantern Stables' Sea Level Drive for conditioner Leigh Bentley and the ninth on Mike Dini and Kevin Pussilano's Cougar Cruise for trainer Dini.