Eight older horses will line up for recognition in Saturday's Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the lawn at the Chicago racetrack. Highweighted Cool Conductor, fourth in the July 2 United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Monmouth, carries a top impost of 120 pounds, but the Bobby Frankel-trained Cal-invader Vangelis--looking for his first North American stakes win--is the 2-1 morning line favorite.
David Garner's 4-year-old Cool Conductor is one of the cast's younger members. The son of Strivinsky won a thriller by a nose over Artie Schiller in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico May 21 before another solid attempt against top class in the U.N. The colt also won added-money in the 2004 Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT).
Purchased privately by Garner, and bred in Kentucky by Rio Claro Tbs., R D Hubbard and C Sczesny, Cool Conductor was a $100,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2002, and RNAd at a high bid of $210,000 at the 2003 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale.
The stalking-type has earned Garner $510,046 in 17 starts. The 5-2 second choice posted a solid seven-furlong work (1:24.80) at Churchill Thursday morning indicating his readiness. Trained by Ralph Nicks, the bay Cool Conductor lands the services of Cornelio Velasquez for a ride starting two spots from the rail.
Bloodstock Management Services and Cheveley Park Stud's Vangelis is a 6-year-old horse who appears ready to add North American black type to a resume that already includes two group stakes wins in France. With experience in grade I company, and carrying the tack of multiple Eclipse Award-winner Frankel, he is a deserving favorite.
The son of Highest Honor was third best to Sweet Return and Red Fort in Hollywood's Charlie Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) over the distance June 11. Prior to that, Vangelis was just caught in the lane by Runaway Dancer in that track's 1 1/2-mile Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT).
The gray or roan Vangelis made his first start for the connections in a fourth-place finish in the 2004 Whittingham shortly after his arrival stateside. He has shown both consistency in his six U.S. starts and that he can handle the distance. Vangelis, who put in a fine five-furlong work (1:00.60) at Hollywood Sunday before shipping early in the week will carry 119 and Ramon Dominguez out of the seven hole.
Two horses to watch at slightly higher odds are the Laura DeSeroux-trained Artiste Royal, under 118, and the Frank Kirby-trained Cloudy's Knight.
A 5-year-old Lord Avie gelding, Cloudy's Knight is most familiar with the Arlington surface. Based there, he took the John Henry Stakes over the track in 2004, and recently was second best to Revved Up in the Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) there July 3.
Bred in Kentucky by Jerrold Schwartz, the chestnut Cloudy's Knight races in the colors of S J Stables. He has earned $235,735 in 17 starts and will carry 116 and Christopher Emigh for an early-running departure from post six.
French invader Artiste Royal is the 4-1 third choice and has a 2005 group III win in his birth nation in the 1 1/4-mile La Coupe Stakes June 16. Shipped over shortly after that win, the bay Artiste Royal spied the track in a formal work Wednesday, breezing three furlongs in 40.80.
Brice Blanc gets the call for a ride from post four.
Diplomatic Agent, by Deputy Minister; Demeteor, by Dehere; Major Rhythm, by Rhythm; and B. A. Way, by Lasting Approval make up the rest of the field from the rail out.Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT), Saturday, July 23, 3-year-olds and upward, 1 1/4 miles, $200,000.
PP--Horse, Weight, Jockey, Odds
1--Diplomatic Agent, 112, Eddie Razo, 15-1
2--Cool Conductor, 120, Cornelio Velasquez, 5-2
3--Demeteor, 114, Mark Guidry, 10-1
4--Artiste Royal, 118, Brice Blanc, 10-1
5--Major Rhythm, 115, Earlie Fires, 5-1
6--Cloudy's Knight, 116, Christopher Emigh, 4-1
7--Vangelis, 119, Ramon Doninguez, 2-1
8--B. A. Way, 115, James Graham, 12-1