Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, winner of the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in his last start, and Susan & John Moore's Iron Deputy, who captured the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park in his last trip to the post, head a compact but classy of field of five entered for Saturday's Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park.
The $400,000 Washington Park Handicap, the richest main track race of the season at Arlington, is a 1 3/16-mile test that has been won over the years by such stalwarts as Armed, Swaps, Round Table, Dr. Fager and Spectacular Bid.
Arlington Park oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has installed Perfect Drift as the race's 6-5 morning-line favorite off his head decision in the June 14 Stephen Foster over Mineshaft, who went on to win the Grade II Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in his next start. Prior to the Stephen Foster, the 4-year-old gelded son of Dynaformer ran a good fourth in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard.
Trainer Murray Johnson has the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be run on turf on Aug. 16, penciled in as Perfect Drift's main summer objective. Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day has been named to ride Perfect Drift, who will carry starting highweight of 120 pounds and spot his rivals from three to six pounds.
The Jimmy Jerkens-trained Iron Deputy invades from New York after posting a gate-to-wire 2 1/2-length score in the Brooklyn Handicap on the same day as the Stephen Foster. The Brooklyn is the biggest victory for the son of Silver Deputy, whose career has been interrupted on more than one occasion by injury. Richard Migliore, who has been aboard the 4-year-old colt in all eight of his starts, will make up most of the 117 pounds assigned to Iron Deputy.
Stronach Stable Inc.'s Phantom Light ships in from Canada where the son of 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic hero Alphabet Soup led every step of the way en route to a four-length tally in the Grade III Dominion Day Handicap at Woodbine Race Course on July 1. Earlier this year, the Daniel Vella-trainee won the Grade III Eclipse Handicap at Woodbine. Phantom Light will carry 116 pounds including Arlington's leading jockey Rene Douglas.
Patricia Pavlish's Aeneas looks to rebound after a disappointing seventh-place finish over a sloppy racetrack in the Grade I Pimlico Special at that Maryland oval on May 16. Previously, the son of Capote ran a good second to Hero's Tribute in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap in South Florida in March. Gary Boulanger will come in from his Calder Race Course homebase to ride the Marty Wolfson pupil who will carry 115 pounds in the
Completing the lineup for the Washington Park is Adele Dilschneider & Claiborne Farm's Flatter. The 4-year-old son of A. P. Indy makes his stakes debut after running through his allowance conditions in Kentucky.
After finishing fourth in his initial trip to the post in June 2002, the Steve Penrod-trained colt has rattled off four straight scores, most
recently proving an easy victor in a 7 1/2-furlong fourth-level allowance race at Churchill Downs on June 27. Flatter has been assigned 114 pounds and will be ridden by Craig Perret.
The field in post position order with jockey and weight:
1. Aeneas, Gary Boulanger, 115
2. Phantom Light, Rene Douglas, 116
3. Iron Deputy, Richard Migliore, 117
4. Flatter, Craig Perret, 114
5. Perfect Drift, Pat Day, 120