Morton Fink's Guided Tour tracked Duckhorn through the early going before reeling in the leader with just over a quarter-mile to run en route to winning Saturday's $400,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) at Arlington Park. The win marks the third graded stakes win on the year for the 5-year-old gelded son of Hansel.
Duckhorn set fractions of :46.77 and 1:10.41 while alone on the lead under Mark Guidry. Guided Tour kept within striking distance in second, while these two built up a sizeable gap back to third-place Chicago Six. Guided Tour moved to the lead before racing a mile in 1:35.19 and increased his lead to the wire, winning by four lengths over A Fleets Dancer after completing the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.76 on a fast track under Larry Melancon.
"I didn't want to use him early, but I didn't want that other horse to get away either," said Melancon. "If that horse gets too big on the lead, you don't get by. I thought I was in a good spot with him."
It was another four lengths back to 6-5 favorite Duckhorn. Chicago Six came home fourth, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Milwaukee Brew, who trailed at every call.
The $240,000 winner's share of the purse increases Guided Tour's earnings for the year past the $1-million mark. In his most recent start prior to Saturday, Guided Tour upset Captain Steve in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. In his first start of the year, he won the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita. The victory marks the first career win at the distance of 1 1/4 miles for the Niall O'Callaghan trainee, whose previous best finish at the distance was a runner-up showing in the 2000 renewal of the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. III). Guided Tour improved his career record to 11 wins from 28 starts. He was bred in Kentucky by Woodlynn Farm Inc.
"I think this was his best race," said O'Callaghan. "It's hard to say (what our plans are), but we'll take a look at the Arlington Million (gr. IT). He broke his maiden on the grass, and he's a gelding, so we don't have to answer to anybody."
The 3-2 second choice, Guided Tour returned $5, $3.60, and $2.20. A Fleets Dancer paid $6.40 and $2.40. Duckhorn was worth $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $39.20. (Chart, Equibase