Arlington Park Racing: Victory Tour

Guided Tour continued his North American victory tour at Arlington Park in the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) on July 21, and his guide, trainer Niall O'Callaghan, considered the results his best yet.

That's a mouthful one race after defeating Captain Steve in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. II), but the son of Hansel out of the Topsider mare Dancing Mahmoud had another tough assignment here. He stalked the lone-on-the-lead favorite Duckhorn, just as he had in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) two months earlier. But instead of losing touch, as he did at Hawthorne, the gritty 5-year-old gelding survived fractions of :23.51, :46.77, and 1:10.41 and blew by Duckhorn entering the stretch.

A Fleets Dancer, a non-factor early, closed to claim second, four lengths behind the winner, with a tiring Duckhorn another four lengths back in third. The winning time of 2:00.76 was well off the track record for the 1 1/4-mile race, lengthened by a furlong this year to go along with the $400,000 purse that had been boosted by $150,000.

Jockey Mark Guidry admitted Duckhorn was bothered by the early pressure. "I got him relaxed, but on the first turn something on the outside (Guided Tour and jockey Larry Melancon) came and he picked it up. I really didn't want him to do that, but I didn't have much of a choice. That's his game and that's how he runs."

O'Callaghan said he gave the crafty veteran Melancon no specific orders, explaining, "If you tell him to go chase the other guy and you go too fast...you don't want to put those restrictions on a jockey. I told him, 'Use your own judgment.' "

Guided Tour's majority owner, Morton Fink, was also impressed, saying, "We just beat Captain Steve. He had every right to bounce."

The Northbrook, Ill., retired movie theater owner said Guided Tour has supplanted millionaire mare Annoconnor as the best horse he has owned over the past 30 years. Guided Tour has earned $1,630,253, but the three dozen well-wishers who mobbed the winner's circle were hailing his determination and courage, not his bankroll. Fink is contemplating an even bigger sequel.

"We haven't been on the grass in a long time, and we wanted to see how he'd do at a mile and a quarter," Fink said. "Now we have options, and one of them is the Arlington Million (gr. IT on Aug. 18)."


MISTER'S AMERICAN

Fan Club's Mister, who won the $250,000 American Derby (gr. IIT) the day after the Washington Park Handicap, is more likely to appear at Arlington on Million Day--in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT). A torrential downpour two hours before the Derby left the course soft, and allowed the upset victor and jockey Randy Meier to set trotting-horse-like fractions of :51.80 and 1:18.86 on his way to a final time of 2:03.27 for the 1 3/16 miles. The win was an emotional one for trainer Rickey Harris, whose once-powerful 50-horse stable has been reduced to three in the wake of a serious injury in an auto accident.

"This horse is class when he gallops; he's class on the horse path; everything about him is class," she said. "I've had Olympic horses; I've had champion show horses; and when I came into this business I've always wanted good horses. I've had 38 stakes horses, but this horse is exceptional."

Co-owners Patricia Miessler and Cliff Raber, who bred the Illinois-foaled son of Mr. Greeley out of the Lear Fan mare Exciting Fandance, have been in the horse business together since Raber worked with Miessler's late husband for the McDonald's Corp.

"My husband and Cliff loved the horse business," Miessler said. "They bought their first horse together, Exciting Fandance, who happens to be the dam of all our horses. It is so gratifying, with this being the second generation."

Monsieur Cat, an even longer shot than Fan Club's Mister at 26-1, pressed the slow pace all the way around before finishing second, 3 1/2 lengths back. Favorite Royal Spy finished third and didn't care for the soft going according to trainer Cole Norman.

Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., aboard fourth-place finisher Sligo Bay, coming off a win in the Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT), said, "Coming down the stretch, he made a little move like he was ready to do some good running, but he didn't go on. He hasn't run in a while, and maybe that affected him with the heavy going."

(Chart, Equibase)

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