Rahystrada Wins Grade III Arlington ‘Cap for the Third Time
At nine years of age, Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada became not only the oldest horse to win the Arlington Handicap but also the first horse to win the Grade III turf race three times after having previously taken the 2010 and 2012 renewals of the mile and a quarter race. Rosie Napravnik was aboard the son of Rahy who was clocked in 2:01.66 over firm going.
“We’re as amazed as anybody,” said trainer Byron “Scooter” Hughes. “He keeps telling us he wants to go, so we go. Great ride by Rosie. She had it all in hand. It was great.”
Never far off the pace, Rahystrada tracked leader Beer Garden who took the field of seven older runners through early splits of 24.56 seconds, 49.47 seconds and 1:13.86 before fading to last.
Rahystrada took the lead approaching the top of the stretch and though he drifted out a bit in the lane, he was able to hold off a late bid by Temeraine to win by a half-length. “He’s very talented. He’s got as much heart as any of them,” said Napravnik, who won her second graded stakes of the afternoon after previously capturing the Stars and Stripes Stakes aboard Dark Cove.
The veteran performer added $117,600 to his career earnings which now stands at $1,371,750 and more importantly will have his entry and start fees waived for the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 17 should his connections decide to return in five weeks. Rahystrada has made three previous starts in the Arlington Million, finishing fourth in 2010, fifth in 2011 and third last year.
Both the runner-up Temeraine, who rallied from far back to finish second by a neck, and third-place finisher and post time favorite Dullahan will also have their entry and start fees waived for the Million although the connections of Dullahan have indicated that they are pointing instead toward the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
“I had a perfect trip,” said Eddie Castro, who rode the runner-up. “I think a little more speed and he could have won. He ran a great race and in the stretch he was flying.”
“I honestly think we could have won if the leader didn't bolt in the stretch,” said Dullahan’s rider Kent Desormeaux. “We were too far back for there to be any actual interference, but he saw that horse bolt and he just stopped himself. He got intimidated and that was it. I really think we could have won.”
“I thought he looked good finishing,” added trainer Dale Romans of the beaten favorite. “I think he was running hard and he got a little spooked by Rahystrada drifting in front of him. It stopped his momentum a little bit. I thought he ran a nice race. We are headed to the Pacific Classic after this.”
Third choice in the wagering, Rahystrada paid $8.80, $4.20 and $3.20. Temeraine paid $19.60 and $8. Dullahan paid $3.40.
Najjaar, Keep Up, Coalport and Beer Garden completed the order of finish.