Meal Penalty, a gray son of Tale of the Cat trained by Todd Pletcher for Sassafras Racing and Gulf Coast Farms, won for the first time around two turns while making his turf debut in the 1 1/16-mile event. Getting away at odds of 7-1, it was the colt's third straight victory. The Arlington Classic is the first leg of the Illionois track's Mid-American Triple.
Under Jose Velez Jr. for the first time, Meal Penalty led nearly every step of the way while clicking off fractions of :23.06, :47.02 and 1:11.52 on firm going. He repulsed all challenges along the way and held a two-length advantage inside the eighth pole before Prime Realestate and Earlie Fires emerged from the pack in deep stretch to launch a belated bid.
Prime Realestate could not reach the winner in time but wound up a neck in front of the show horse, 55-1 shot Mr. Mischief, ridden by Chris Emigh. It was a head back to the fourth-place finisher, Blue Lion.
The final time was 1:41.97.
Two-time grade III winner Sporting Art, the 7-10 choice and 123-pound high weight in the field of 10, wound up fifth when he lacked racing room while making a stretch bid under Rene Douglas.
Meal Penalty was coming off a two-length win in the six-furlong Shecky Green Stakes on Arlington's Polytrack May 10. He has five victories in nine starts, and the winner's share of $85,500 pushed his career earnings to $224,895.
“He was very sharp coming off the three-quarters of a mile race,” said Velez, who is riding at Arlington Park for the first time. “I tried to slow him down a bit the best I could. They came to me at the top of the stretch and when I asked him to go, he responded pretty good.”
Bred in Kentucky by Forging Oaks Farm, Meal Penalty is out of Unbridled Beauty, by Unbridled's Song. He sold for $350,000 at Barretts in May 2007.
Meal Penalty carried 119 pounds to victory and paid a handsome $16.60, $10.20, and $8.40. Prime Realestate, coming off an allowance win on the Keeneland grass April 20 for trainer Wayne Catalano, returned $7.40 and $5.40 while rounding out a $2 exacta worth $85.80. Mr. Mischief, a maiden winner against Illinois state-breds in his last start, was $16.20 to show.
“My horse ran a great race, he closed well coming down the lane,” said Emigh, aboard Mr. Mischief. “I was very pleased with his late kick. He out ran his odds today and, definitely look for him next time out.”
Blue Lion and Sporting Art were followed by Sebastian County, Gangbuster, Amazing Results, Strait of Mewsina, and Free Fighter.