Tuscan Evening remained unbeaten in six graded stakes in 2010 when she led Eclair de Lune all the way in the $150,000 Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Arlington Park turf July 17 (VIDEO) .
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the Irish-bred mare Tuscan Evening defeated the German-bred filly Eclair de Lune by a half length, completing the 1 3/16-mile Modesty distance in a time of 1:55.11. The Modesty was the first of three turf stakes on Arlington's "Million Preview" program.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer shipped the 5-year-old Tuscan Evening out of Southern California for the first time since she arrived in the U.S. to see if she would handle the Arlington turf in anticipation of a possible start in the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) for older fillies and mares Aug. 21. He liked what he saw.
“I would love to come back for the Beverly D.,” Hollendorfer said. “That’s why we came here today--to see if she likes the course and to see if she would ship well. We’d like to come back for that if she comes out of the race well.”
Tuscan Evening earned an automatic berth and would have her entry and starting fees waived for the Beverly D.
Favored in all six of her graded stakes wins this year, Tuscan Evening was the 4-5 choice in the Modesty. She went directly to the front with Eclair de Lune, ridden by Junior Alvarado, on her outside. Tuscan Evening carved soft fractions of :25.25, :51.00, and 1:14.43, opening a 1 1/2-length advantage before Eclair de Lune drew closer in the stretch.
Hot Cha Cha also made a menacing move at the hedge for jockey James Graham in the lane. But she failed to match strides late as Tuscan Evening held Eclair de Lune, another Southern California shipper, safe in the final stages.
“I’m glad I didn’t see too much speed in the race,” Bejarano said. “She was really comfortable on the lead and set the pace. When I saw the other horse getting close to me at the half mile, I still had a lot of horse so I just kept running. In the stretch she showed me a big kick and I just had to hit her one time and she took off. She deserved to win.”
The 16-1 shot Eclair de Lune, owned by Arlington Park chairman Richard L. Duchossois, also earns a berth in the Beverly D., named for Duchossois’ late wife.
“She ran a great race,” said her Alvarado. “I was supposed to wait and take her back but no one was going to run with her, so I had to take a chance and chase her (Tuscan Evening).”
Third-place finisher Hot Cha Cha was 1 1/2 lengths behind Eclair de Lune and also earned an invite to the Beverly D. She nosed second choice Rainbow View, who rallied belatedly. Askbut I Won'ttell was a neck behind in fifth, followed followed by Single Solution.
Tuscan Evening, coming off a win in the Gamely Stakes (gr. It) at Hollywood Park May 29, has won at distances of 6 1/2 furlongs on the Santa Anita hillside turf course to 1 1/4 miles during her current streak. Since transferred to Hollendorfer's care for the 2009 campaign, William DeBurgh's bay mare has won 12 of 16 starts after she began her career with 11 consecutive losses in Europe. Tuscan Evening earned $89,100 for the Modesty victory to boost her career bankroll to $1,138,508.
Carrying top weight of 124 pounds, Tuscan Evening gave 11 pounds to the runner-up. She paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.10, keying a $31.40 exacta.
Hascombe and Valiant Studs bred the winner, who is by Oasis Dream--The Faraway Tree, by Suave Dancer.
Eclair de Lune, fourth behind Tuscan Evening in the 10-furlong Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) in her previous start for trainer Ron McAnally, returned $7.60 and $4.20.
Hot Cha Cha, who was coming off a win in Churchill Downs' Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) June 5, was $2.80 to show.