Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Thursday, June 07, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/07/2012 #
  • Workin for Hops, shown winning the 2012 American Derby, is back with trainer Mike Stidham at Arlington Park.

In Today's Notes: Seruni-Middie Coupling Serves as Sea o' Erin Choice Saturday;  Workin for Hops Returns to Mike Stidham Barn; Arlington's Jackpot High-5 Carryover Swells to $778,070 Friday


The G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing-owned coupling of Seruni and Middie, both coming off winning efforts last month over Churchill's Louisville lawn, has been installed as the 5-2 choice in Saturday's featured $65,000 Sea o' Erin Stakes at 1 1/16-miles over Arlington's world famous turf course.

Nine rivals were named to face the favored entry in the Sea o' Erin.

Seruni came from just off the pace to capture a one-mile allowance and $100,000 optional claiming event by a head on May 2, while Middie proved best by a length and a half in a 1 1/16-mile allowance test May 20 under the Twin Spires.

Seruni, a 5-year-old Saint Liam gelding, finished second by a neck to Stella Perdomo's Forte Dei Marmi in his previous effort at Keeneland April 15, and that British-bred went on to finish third in Pimlico's grassy Grade II Dixie on Preakness Day May 19.

In Middie's only stakes start, the altered son of Officer finished seventh in the Grade II Mac Diarmida over the Gulfstream grass last winter.

Arlington's leading rider Francisco Torres was named aboard both halves of the Phil Oliver-trained duo.

Andrews T and S Racing's Mr. Vegas, winner of Fair Grounds' grassy Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap last Jan. 21 and subsequently second by a head in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap, has been pegged as the 4-1 second choice in the Sea o' Erin with Arlington's defending jockey champion James Graham listed in the irons.

One of two co-third choices in the Sea o' Erin at 5-1 in the morning line is Heider Family Stables et al.'s Lil Bit O'Fun, second by a neck in Del Mar's Grade II La Jolla Handicap last Aug. 13 and winner of Hoosier's $200,000 Oliver Stakes earlier in the summer.

Also slated at 5-1 in the Sea o' Erin is Terry Hamilton and Robert Morgan's Gleam of Hope, who finished sixth beaten four and half lengths in Arlington's Grade III Hanshin Cup in his last start May 19 but won an allowance and $80,000 optional claiming race at Arlington on May 6 that was scheduled for the turf but run over the main track.

Workin for Hops, who won the Arlington Classic and American Derby in 2010 while racing in the silks of Estrorace LLC, has been returned to the barn of trainer Mike Stidham, the conditioner who saddled Workin for Hops to win those first two legs of Arlington's Mid-America Triple that summer.

"It's really kind of an interesting story," said Stidham during training hours Thursday morning. "They took that horse away from us and sent him to (trainer) Graham Motion for those last two starts this spring, but when that didn't work out Hilary (Pridham, Stidham's assistant) called up Amy (Bondon of Estrorace) and asked her if the horse was for sale.

"We contacted (longtime Chicago owner) Barry Golden and asked him if he was interested," Stidham said, "and he said that he was and he had the horse sent back to us."

How was Workin for Hops coming along?

"We don't know yet," said Stidham. "We just got him back three days ago, but if he's three-quarters of the horse he once was, we'll be very happy with that."

It is now more than three-quarters of a million dollars. That's what will be available to one lucky bettor Friday at Arlington when the last race of the twilight racing program goes to the post at approximately 7 o'clock in the evening.

The only thing that one lucky bettor would have to do is select the first five finishers in Friday's Arlington finale in exact order and be the only person to do it on a single winning ticket.

The Jackpot provision means that the entire pool pays out only when there is one winning ticket sold that correctly selects the first five finishers in exact order.

Post time for Friday's first race at Arlington is 3 p.m.