Arlington Million

General Quarters Pointed Toward Arlington Million Aug. 21

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/05/2010 #

In Today's Notes: 

  • General Quarters Pointed Toward Arlington Million Aug. 21
  • Jockey Brandon Meier Records Season's First Triple Sunday
  • J. R. Smith Junior Wins First Arlington Race in Seven Years

Sound the alarm! Tom McCarthy's General Quarters, who fought so gamely to capture last Saturday's Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, is now being pointed for an assault on the 28th running of the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 21.

"I'd really like to come to Chicago this summer and run this horse in the Arlington Million," said General Quarters' 76-year-old old owner-trainer McCarthy shortly after his 4-year-old gray colt's neck tally in last weekend's Woodford Reserve.  "I started thinking about a summer grass campaign for this horse last winter in New Orleans, and after he ran so well last weekend I'd like to go ahead with those plans.

"The Arlington Million is the main goal right now," said McCarthy, "but I also might bring General Quarters up to Chicago for the prep race on July 17 (the 75th anniversary edition of the Grade III Arlington Handicap.)"

Casual racing fans who concentrate their interest on the Triple Crown races each spring might remember numerous pre-Derby profiles on McCarthy and his one-horse stable from a year ago when the Louisville resident saddled last year's Grade I Blue Grass Stakes hero to starts in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. After dull performances in both those races, however, bone chips were discovered and surgery was performed to send him to the sidelines for the rest of the summer and fall.

The Woodford Reserve, run at nine furlongs, annually serves as the first step on the road to the 10-furlong Arlington Million - always the showcase race of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season over Arlington's world famous turf course.

Three Woodford Reserve winners - Masayuki Nishiyama's Paradise Creek in 1994, James Lewis Jr.'s Mecke in 1996 and Juddmonte Farm's Beat Hollow in 2002 - went on to win the Arlington Million later in those seasons.

Columbine Stable's Manndar in 2000 and Juddmonte Farms' Cacique in 2006 won the Woodford Reserve in the spring and both were runner ups in the Arlington Million later those summers.

General Quarters finished second in four straight races on the main track at Fair Grounds this winter, including the Grade II New Orleans Handicap March 27 and the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 20 prior to making only his second lifetime start on the grass last weekend.

How did McCarthy celebrate his first win following four frustrating runner-up finishes in New Orleans?

"By the time I got done doing up my horse after our race it was eight o'clock at night," said McCarthy.  "I did get to watch the Derby back at the barn, but by the time I got home I just took a shower and went to bed.

"I want to give this horse a few days off," McCarthy concluded, "so I probably won't send him back to the track until Thursday."

Jockey Brandon Meier scored the first "hat trick" of the 2010 Arlington racing season Sunday, winning the second half of the Daily Double with Ben Barnow's longshot Ovid Fasti for trainer Mike Dini and a $67.40 win payoff, coming right back to the winner's circle aboard Williams Thoroughbreds and Tom Dorris's Terrific Tim for trainer Dorris, and concluding his triple on Mario Donato and Chris Wagner's Helicopter for conditioner Larry Rivelli.

Rivelli currently leads the local trainer standings with four wins, while Helicopter has won his last four straight, his last four over Polytrack and is now six for eight in lifetime starts at Arlington. 

Trainer J. R. Smith Jr. - for many years a local fixture - returned to the Arlington Park winner's circle for the first time in seven seasons when Power Ten Farm's At the Finish took down winning honors in Sunday's fifth race.

At the Finish was ridden by Inez Karlsson, who had a riding double Sunday and currently leads the local jockey standings through Sunday with five wins.

Veteran reinsman Michael Baze, new to Arlington this season after years on the Southern California circuit, also posted a riding double Sunday.