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Rahystrada Wins Grade III Arlington Handicap
Robert Courtney's Rahystrada, third in the Grade II Dixie Stakes at Pimlico in his last start May 15, returned to his winning ways with a half-length victory over defending champion Just as Well in the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Handicap. The Byron Hughes-trained son of Rahy was ridden by Inez Karlsson and covered the mile and a quarter over firm turf in 2:01.26.
"He's an amazing horse," said Karlsson, who first rode the horse last summer in a $50,000 claiming race here. "I know he was ready. He likes to run off the layoff and he knows what to do."
By virtue of his score here, the 6-year-old gelding earns an automatic berth with entry and starting fees waived for the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 21, as do runner-up Just as Well and third-place finisher Tajaaweed.
The Arlington Handicap was the 10th win in 26 starts for Rahystrada, who added $84,600 to his bankroll, which now stands at $428,054.
Longshot Cross Village and third-choice Marsh Side alternated on the lead through fractions of 25.29 seconds, 49.85 seconds, 1:12.62 and 1:37.21. Meanwhile the eventual winner sat mid-pack, came through between horses in the stretch, took the lead approaching the eighth-pole and held off the late rally of Just as Well, who remains winless since capturing this same event one year ago.
"He ran a great race." Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said of the runner-up. "I think the only difference was that the winner got through on the inside and we had to go on the outside."
It was another length back to Tajaaweed. Marsh Side, Giant Oak, General Quarters, Princeville Condo, Free Fighter, Cross Village, Imponente Purse and Rumor Has It completed the order of finish in the 11-horse field.
"The grass was too hard for him," said jockey Rafael Bejarano, who rode General Quarters, who was sent off as second choice in the wagering at odds of 5-2. "He never really got comfortable out there. He ran alright for awhile, but then he kept switching leads to try to get comfortable and he never really did."
Rahystrada, dispatched at odds of 6-1, paid $14.20, $6.20 and $4.60. Just as Well, the 2-1 betting favorite, returned $3.60 and $2.60. Tajaaweed paid $5.40.