Favored Ballingarry capped a dream weekend in Chicago for trainer Laura de Seroux when he angled out in the stretch and drew away to a 1 3/4-length win in the $$200,000 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) on a soft Arlington Park turf course Sunday.
De Seroux, who came into the weekend with only four wins in 68 starts in 2004, also saddled Toasted for victory in the Arlington Classic (gr. IIT) Saturday.
Ballingarry, a 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, hadn't won since last year's Stars and Stripes, when he caught a good course. He lost five in a row after that. De Seroux added blinkers for Sunday's effort, which was virtually a carbon copy of last year's win.
The 9-5 choice opened up a three-length lead in the stretch with Rene Douglas aboard, and was kept to the task in a time of 2:36 1/5 for the 1 1/2-mile test.
Douglas notched his fourth consecutive victory in Arlington's traditional holiday headliner. In addition to scoring last year with Ballingarry, Douglas captured the race in 2002 with Cetewayo and in 2001 astride Falcon Flight.
Silverfoot finished second but was disqualified for interference with Art Variety coming out of the final turn and placed fourth. Grey Beard, a 37-1 shot who finished a neck behind Silverfoot, was moved up to second and Art Variety was placed third.
Ballingarry settled nicely on the inside for Rene Douglas in mid-pack as Quest Star and Carlos Marquez Jr. established excruciatingly slow fractions of :26, :52 3/5, 1:19 2/5 and 1:45 1/5, due in part to the soggy conditions following some heavy rains Saturday.
After the quarter pole, the bay was angled out slightly while third and soon swept past the pacesetter and Grey Beard.
"It was a slow pace again today," said Douglas. "I had a lot of confidence. I found the hole again. We moved up a little earlier than I expected but they were going really slow. I figured if he was that good, I should be able to win the race. When he switched leads and I asked him, he just took off. I thought he was good when I rode him last year, but he's even better now.
"I want to give credit to Laura de Seroux," Douglas added. "It's takes guts to put blinkers on a horse like this for a big race. But she was confident that what she was doing was right."
De Seroux said she made the decision after Ballingarry fell way off the pace as the 11-10 favorite in his last race, the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs, where he finished third.
"I was disappointed in his attitude in his last start, taking himself back like he did," de Seroux explained of her decision for the change in equipment, "so I put blinkers on him and it helped."
Silverfoot, ridden by Robby Alberado, checked when he ran up on horses on the far turn and tried to force his way through on the inside of Art Variety on the outside, bumping hard and forcing Art Variety outward. Unsuccessful at getting through, Silverfoot, angled in and worked his way through traffic on the inside. He rallied well without menacing the winner. Grey Beard also rallied through the stretch along the inside.
"We just had a tough trip, that's all," said Albarado. "I just didn't get through like I wanted."
"(Silverfoot) knocked me sideways and pushed me out of the way coming out of the turn," said Brice Blanc, who rode Art Variety and lodged the claimed foul that resulted in the disqualification of Silverfoot. "I lost all my momentum after that."
Quest Star, the 5-2 second choice in the field of eight, faded to seventh.
The Irish-bred Ballingarry earned $120,000 for owners Port Trust, Marsha Naify and San Gabriel Investments. It was his third win in North America since taking the Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine in September 2002. He has started 11 times since transferring from Aidan O'Brien's care in Ireland. He has career earnings of $1,705,215 with a record of 6-1-5 in 20 tries.
He paid 45.60, $4 and $3. Grey Beard, ridden by Frank Lovato Jr., returned $21.80 and $7.80 and completed a $181.20 exacta. Art Variety was $4.20 to show for a $663.40 trifecta.