Arlington Million

General Quarters Gets Thursday Breeze at Churchill

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/03/2010 #

In Today's Notes: 

  • General Quarters Gets Thursday Breeze at Churchill
  • Memorial Day Offered Other International Festival Updates
  • Belmont's Hill Prince Friday Previews Secretariat Stakes

Tom McCarthy's General Quarters, being pointed for Arlington Million XXVIII Aug. 21 as the owner-trainer's main summertime goal, breezed five furlongs at Churchill Downs Thursday morning with new rider Alex Solis in the irons.

"He had a real good work this morning," said McCarthy shortly after the move, officially timed in 1:01 flat although McCarthy clocked it in 1:00.60.  "That was the first time Alex had been up on him, and when they came back Alex said the horse went beautifully for him.  He said he couldn't get him pulled up until they were half-way down the backside.  That's how strong the horse felt under him."

Thursday's move by General Quarters, who won Churchill's Grade I Woodford Reserve on the grass on Kentucky Derby Day May 1, was planned as a tune-up for Churchill's Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap June 12, a nine-furlong affair run over the main track in Louisville.

However, plans call for the gray 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa to be returned to grass for his next start in the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 17 over Chicago's world famous turf course.  That race is designed as the final major local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million five weeks later.

As a sophomore last season, General Quarters won the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes over Tampa Bay Downs' main track in February and the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes over Keeneland's Polytrack in April before being forced to steady twice in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and subsequently being injured in last year's Preakness Stakes.

"I believe this horse can run over any surface," said McCarthy of General Quarters, who also posted four straight runner-up finishes over the main track at Fair Grounds this winter.   "That's why I was so anxious to try him on the grass in Louisville this spring to see if it made sense to shoot for the Arlington Million.  I'd like to bring him up to Chicago a few days before the Arlington Handicap to get him a feel of the course up there and also school him in the paddock to get him familiar with the new surroundings."

Three years ago, Team Valor International and Green Lantern Stable brought their South African-bred mare Irridescence to Chicago to make her first American start in the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes as part of Arlington's International Festival of Racing that summer.

Considered as a 6-year-old mare in the United States, although foaled in September of 2001, Irridescence pressed the pace in the 2007 edition of the Arlington Million's sister race, took command at the top of the stretch but was then worn down in the final yards to be beaten a head by the German-bred Royal Highness, owned by Monceaux Stable.

This summer, when the 20th renewal of the $750,000 Beverly D. is contested Aug. 21, Team Valor International and Green Lantern Stable may be in a position to try again for the win.

That partnership's Gypsy's Warning, another South African-bred mare considered a 5-year-old in the Northern Hemisphere although foaled in September of 2005, made her first North American start in Monmouth's Grade III Eatontown Handicap for fillies and mares over the Jersey Shore lawn on Memorial Day. Gypsy's Warning got up in the final yards to take down winning honors in the 1 1/16-mile race by a nose although she had been away from competition for almost a year.

Gypsy's Warning, an original nomination to this summer's Beverly D., is now trained by Graham Motion but won two South African Group I races for previous trainers Ormond Ferraris and Duncan Howells.

In a related update concerning the 2010 Beverly D., Braly Family Trust's Evening Jewel captured the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on the grass as the odds-on choice in the wagering out on the west coast Monday at Hollywood Park.

Interestingly, Evening Jewel, trained by James Cassidy, is an original nomination to this summer's Beverly D. although no 3-year-old filly has won it in its 20-year history. 

Belmont Park offers a daily double on its Grade II Brooklyn Handicap Friday that will carry over to Saturday's Grade I Belmont Stakes, but also offered Friday over the Long Island lawn is the Grade III Hill Prince Stakes for grass-favoring 3-year-olds.

Hill Prince contestants that were original nominations to Arlington's Mid-America Triple include Harvey Clarke and Ron Winchell's Krypton, Priscilla Graham's Noah's Dream, Ammerland Stud's Nordic Truce and Namcook Stables' Lethal Combination.

The Mid-America Triple continues with Arlington's Grade II American Derby July 17 and concludes with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day Aug. 21.