Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd.'s Evolving Tactics, J. J. Pletcher and Barry Simon's Lismore Knight, and Mrs. John Magnier & Michael Tabor's France head a well-matched group of 12 sophomore grass specialists from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean assembled for Saturday's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park.
Bis Repetitas was entered but scratched Thursday by trainer Bobby Frankel due to difficulty in getting Bis Repetitas and stablemate Tates Creek to Chicago from southern California.
Evolving Tactics, a European-based son of Machiavellian trained by champion Irish trainer Dermot Weld, shipped from The Emerald Isle to win the American Derby (gr. IIT) by a neck in his United States debut at Arlington three weeks ago. He was sent back to Ireland following the American to continue his preparations for Saturday's race and returned to Arlington Park on Monday. As was the case for the American Derby, Irish rider Patrick Smullen will be in the irons.
Lismore Knight, winner of the Arlington Classic (gr. IIT), did not participate in the American Derby, opting instead to run in the 1 1/8-mile Kent Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT)at Delaware Park the same day. The son of Woodman finished third as the 6-5 favorite under John Velazquez. Rene Douglas, who successfully piloted Lismore Knight in the Arlington Classic, gets a return call aboard the Todd Pletcher trainee.
France, an English-bred son of Desert Prince, may be the most accomplished of the race's strong European contingent. Winner of the EBF Tetrarch Stakes (Ire-III) in April at The Curragh in April, France finished second in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) a month later, a race in which Evolving Tactics ran ninth. Last time out, the Aidan O'Brien pupil was third in the Goffs International Stakes (Ire-II) at The Curragh. Michael Kinane, France's regular rider, will make the trip from Ireland for the mount Saturday.
In addition to Evolving Tactics and France, Gary A. Tanaka's King's Drama and Christopher Ransom's Joe Bear are European-based runners. Like Evolving Tactics, King's Drama made a previous American foray, running a troubled third in the $500,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 12, and was sent back to France before shipping to Arlington Tuesday evening. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Mike Smith has been named to ride the Robert Collet-trained King's Drama.
Joe Bear, a son of Peintre Celebre, faces his toughest task to date in the Secretariat but comes to Chicago in good form having captured the Racing Post Handicap at Goodwood and the Joe Jennings Bookmakers Rated Handicap at Newmarket in his last two starts. Trainer Philip Mitchell has tapped Southern California-based jockey David Flores to ride Joe Bear.
The remainder of the field is American based and includes Taub, Papiano & Noctis Stable's Californian (Gary Stevens); Sondra D. Bender's Foufa's Warrior (Ramon Dominguez); Everest Stables Inc.'s Gato Gato Gato (Chris Emigh); Naify, Sugarman, Vistas LLC et al.'s Just Wonder (Kent Desormeaux); Brushwood Stable's Kicken Kris (Javier Castellano); and Brett Rice's Native Hawk (Paul Nolan).
Of these, Foufa's Warrior and Just Wonder come in off graded stakes victories. The former, a Lawrence Murray-trained son of Jade Hunter, rallied from well of the pace to win the Kent at Delaware Park last month. The latter, from the California-based stable of Laura de Seroux, employed similar tactics to capture the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park in June.
Californian and Gato Gato Gato ran two-four in the American Derby. Kicken Kris was second in the Virginia Derby while Native Hawk finished second in the $40,000 John Bullit Stakes at Canterbury Park. Bis Repetitas finished second to Just Wonder in the Cinema.$400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/4 mile on turf (6 p.m. CDT)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Lismore Knight (KY), 121, Rene R. Douglas
2. Foufa's Warrior (MD), 121, Ramon A. Dominguez
3. Evolving Tactics (IRE), 121, Pat Smullen
4. France (GB), 116, Michael J. Kinane
5. (SCRATCHED) Bis Repetitas (KY), 119, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
6. Californian (GB), 121, Gary L. Stevens
7. Kicken Kris (KY), 116, Javier Castellano
8. King's Drama (IRE), 116, Mike E. Smith
9. Just Wonder (GB), 123, Kent J. Desormeaux
10. Native Hawk (FL), 116, Paul M. Nolan
11. Joe Bear (IRE), 116, David R. Flores
12. Gato Gato Gato (KY), 116, Christopher A. Emigh