The first two stakes races on Million Preview Day at Arlington Park ran true to form Saturday, with 17-10 favorites Make No Mistake and Discreet Hero winning their grade III preps. In the day's final stakes race, 7-1 Illinois-bred Ioya Two held off Megans Bluff and favorite Solvig to win the $150,000 Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a nose.
In the first stakes of the day, Make No Mistake sat just behind a slow early pace, was moved up by an alert Robby Albarado to challenge the pace on the backstretch, then outdueled Takarian in the stretch to earn a neck-length victory in the $250,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT). The 6-year-old Irish-bred completed the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.53 on a good turf course and earned $150,000.
"I was behind a really slow pace," Albarado said. "I saw an opportunity midway on the backstretch to let him get clear."
Takarian finished three lengths ahead of third place El Gran Papa. Orleans Road, Smilin' Slew, Pleasant King, and Kick Boxer completed the order of finish.
The win marks Make No Mistake's second on the year from three starts, with both wins coming on turf listed as good. He began the year at Hialeah, winning the Bougainvillea Handicap (gr. IIIT) before finishing second to Hap in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) on firm turf. Since the Dixie, Make No Mistake was purchased from Moyglare Stud Farm by Bruce Barton and Alvin D. Haynes and switched from Christophe Clement's barn to trainer Burk Kessinger Jr. The son of Darshaan was bred by Roncon and has now won five of 19 career races.
"We'll either come back in the Million or go in the Man o' War (gr. IT)," Kessinger said when asked about the winner's next start. "I'll have to see how the horse comes back. He came up to this race on three breezes, so I'm very proud of him."
Make No Mistake returned $5.40 for the win and led a $19.80 exacta.
Later on the card, Discreet Hero earned his third consecutive victory and fourth in seven career starts – all this year – in the $125,000 Round Table Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds. The son of Honour and Glory completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.73 on a fast track to earn the 1 1/4-length win.
"We looked at the Form and there were a few (other horses) that had speed," Laviolette said. "He broke real sharp and was just loping along. The pace wasn't too fast. He was sitting comfortably and when I asked him, he made a great move."
Like Make No Mistake, Discreet Hero returned $5.40 for the win, but the exacta – completed by 21-1 longshot Western Pride paid $84.60. X Country, Horrible Evening, Gift of the Eagle, and San Pedro completed the order of finish.
Jockey Shane Laviolette guided Discreet Hero to victory for trainer Albert M. Stall Jr. and owner B. Wayne Hughes. Discreet Hero prepped for the Round Table with a 4 1/4-length victory in the one-mile Alydar Stakes after winning a Churchill Downs allowance test by 1 3/4 lengths. Paul and Cynthia Busby bred him in Kentucky.
In the Modesty, Ioya Two raced just inside Jig through a slow opening quarter-mile (:24.90), and set the fractions from there before being saved by the wire to win by a nose over Megans Bluff. Solvig was a fast-closing third, a half-length behind Megans Bluff. Histoire Sainte, Polaire, Badouizm, Jig, Lady Angharad, Lady Tamworth, Sassy Sabrina, and Abita completed the order of finish.
Ioya Two (Lord At War--Ioya, by Naskra) completed the 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.47 on the good turf under jockey Mark Guidry. She paid $16.40 for the win and earned $90,000 for Team Block. David and Patricia Block bred the Chris Block trainee in Illinois. The victory marks the second straight for the 6-year-old mare, coming on the heels of a win in the restricted Lincoln Heritage Handicap, which she won for the second straight year. The Modesty marks her ninth win from 24 career starts and her first graded stakes win. (Charts, Equibase