Veteran gelding Rahystrada earned his 10th career victory when he kicked clear in the stretch run for jockey Inez Karlsson and held off defending champion Just as Well by a half length for a mild upset in the $150,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 17 on the Arlington Park turf course (VIDEO).
Trained by Byron Hughes for owner Robert E. Courtney, 6-year-old Rahystrada benefited in the 1 1/4-mile event when both Just as Well and General Quarters, the two top choices in the 11-horse field, fanned extremely wide on the final turn. Rahystrada got control in upper stretch to open up a clear lead. In spite of tiring late he had enough in the tank to hold off the 2-1 favorite Just as Well.
The deep-closing Tajaaweed was one length farther back in third. He finished a neck in front of dual grade I winner Marsh Side, who had the lead on the final turn but withered.
Third in the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico in his last start May 15, Rahystrada covered the 10 furlongs over firm turf in 2:01.26. The son of Rahy--Ministrada, by Deputy Minister, earns an automatic berth with entry and starting fees waived for the Arlington Million (gr. IT) on Aug. 21, as do runner-up Just as Well and third-place finisher Tajaaweed. The Arlington Handicap was the last of three grass stakes on the "Arlington Preview" program.
“He’s an amazing horse,” said Karlsson, who first rode Rahystrada 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.”
The Arlington Handicap was the 26th start for Rahystrada, who added $84,600 to a bankroll that now stands at $428,054. The chestnut won the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Churchill Downs grass Nov. 27.
Jaime S. Carrion Trustee bred Rahystrada in Kentucky.
Longshot Cross Village and third choice Marsh Side alternated on the lead through fractions of :25.29, 49.85, 1:12.62, and 1:37.21. Rahystrada sat mid-pack for Karlsson before shifting out a bit on the far turn to advance three wide on the leaders. After getting the lead, he edged away to a 1 1/2-length advantage mid-stretch.
Just as Well, rallying five wide into the lane, closed the gap in the final eighth but ran out of room. Just as Well remained winless since capturing Arlington Handicap one year ago.
“He ran a great race,” trainer Jonathan Sheppard said of the 7-year-old runner-up. “I think the only difference was that the winner got through on the inside and we had to go on the outside.”
Second choice General Quarters (5-2), winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) over yielding ground May 1, was even wider than Just as Well as he followed that one rounding the turn. He finished sixth.
“The grass was too hard for him,” said jockey Rafael Bejarano. “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 paid $14.20, $6.20, and $4.60 and keyed a $39 exacta. Just as Well returned $3.60 and $2.60. Tajaaweed, in his American stakes debut after transferring from Michael Stoute's stable in Great Britain, paid $5.40.
Marsh Side was followed by Giant Oak , General Quarters, Princeville Condo, Free Fighter, Cross Village, Imponente Purse and Rumor Has It.