Arlington Report (Cont.)

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"This horse has matured the older he's gotten," Stokes said. "He's a pretty unraced horse for his age (15 lifetime starts). He still has some reserves, as far as that's concerned. It's always difficult for a horse to improve his form after what he's shown this year. Everything he does from now on is just a bonus for us. If he's sound and happy and he's telling us he can race another season, maybe we'll do it. We have a lot of his blood at home we can breed with and test with, and if he's still sound, why not?"

First it's on to Belmont for the Man o' War (gr. IT) on Sept. 8. Winning the Million, the third leg in the Emirates World Series Racing Championship, gives Silvano's connections incentive to rejoin that series in the fall. They're considering the Cox Plate (Aust-I) in November, the eighth leg in the series. As for the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), the 12-furlong distance is a bit too far for Silvano, Stokes said. Wherever he goes, the $2.15 million career earner will have the fans back home rooting for him.

"A lot of people know Silvano now through the articles about his traveling," Stokes said. "There's a lot of interest in him. They'd like to see him running in Germany. He's a star in German racing, and they never get to see him race. We have a lack of tracks and distances that are suitable for him. That's why we started traveling."

LEGENDARY WIN

England's Legend took a less circuitous route to Arlington than Silvano, but the French-bred daughter of Lure--Mystery Tune (by Commanche Run) has already competed on seven courses in her eight-race career. She broke her maiden at first asking at Saint-Cloud, and was sent by owner Edouard de Rothschild to trainer Christophe Clement in Florida after her fourth start in France.

"The owner is basically an owner/breeder, and he's always looking for opportunities to improve and get some black type for his fillies," said Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to Clement.

After one unplaced allowance start for England's Legend at Gulfstream Park, Clement sent her to Santa Anita, where she cruised to an allowance win and captured the fancy of jockey Corey Nakatani. A man will trade his kingdom for a filly who runs 12s all day, and Nakatani wasn't too proud to beg to ensure his seat aboard England's Legend.

"I was so impressed with her that I begged (Clement) and pleaded with him to keep her here (in California) for the Santa Ana and then to run in the Beverly Hills Handicap against Astra," Nakatani said. "I thought then that she was good enough to beat Astra. I think she's one of the top fillies in the country, without a doubt."

Returning instead to Belmont with Nakatani aboard for the New York Handicap (gr. IIT), England's Legend survived a stumbling start and cruised to a 1 1/2-length win over Gaviola, with Spook Express finishing third. But not even an optimist like Nakatani could have expected England's Legend to run away and hide in the world-class Beverly D. field.

"She does everything so easy and does everything I ask her to do in a race," Nakatani said. When the rider asked his filly to take the lead, she opened three lengths after a quarter mile clocked in :24.85, widened to five lengths after a half in :49.29 and increased her advantage under only mild urging, finishing up the 1 3/16-miles in 1:56.75. All the distaffers who chased the pace faded badly, and The Seven Seas and Spook Express, eighth and ninth, respectively, at the first call, finished second and third.

"There wasn't a tremendous lot of pace on form," Nakatani said. "I thought that when I got the lead, I could dictate how fast I was going. This filly is very kind."

Bachalard said the Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) is a likely destination for England's Legend, with the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) a question mark because she is not Breeders' Cup eligible. "But I'm sure the owner will look into it," he commented.


BACK TO TURF

The Secretariat was as competitve as the Beverly D. was a runaway, with at least five horses battling for the lead during the stretch run. But the final nose on the wire belonged to Startac, who flew from last to first in the final half-mile under Alex Solis.

Asked how he maintained the discipline to wait until the late going to make his move, Solis replied, "I just had to be patient. All the way around, I just kept thinking, 'Be patient. Be patient.' With this kind of pace, most of the horses really struggled in the last part. I was very fortunate that I saved enough. You're either going to look like a genius or like a clown. It really worked out good today."

Royal Spy set early fractions of :24.55, :49.39, and 1:14.87, giving way to American Derby (gr. IIT) winner Fan Club's Mister at that point. Bailey had favored Mizzen Mast, the French star making her U.S. debut, in perfect striking position, but the Juddmonte Farms entry came up empty in the stretch. New Yorker Sharp Performance took over late, only to yield to Canadian star Strut the Stage, who was gobbling up ground on the grandstand side and appeared to be home free. But Solis found an opening for Startac, and the son of Theatrical and Tenga (by Mr. Prospector) unleashed his explosive move in the nick of time, finishing up the 10 furlongs in 2:04.91. Strut the Stage nailed down the place by a half-length over Sharp Performance.

"It took away some of the pain from earlier on," Bray said of Astra's poor showing. The trainer saddled Cigar for the Paulsons in the NYRA Mile (gr. I) as an assistant to Bill Mott. He was hired as their private trainer in California when Paulson's health deteriorated, and after Paulson died he opened a public stable, continuing to train horses for the Paulson Trust.

The Kentucky homebred was a top 2-year-old turf runner in California last year, but then the Triple Crown trail beckoned. He won the Turf Paradise Derby impressively, but three dull efforts followed, culminating in a 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

"We kind of got off track," Bray said of the Derby aspirations. "He came out of the Derby in great shape, which was a big plus because a lot of horses go through that Triple Crown series and don't make it through in one piece. We gave him some time off by design, with all the better turf races being in the second half of the year, including this race, the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) and the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT)."

That's the probable dance card for Startac, provided he stays healthy, Bray said. The colt should only improve, said the trainer, who added, "He should really be exciting next year."

Madeleine Paulson basked in the victory, explaining that she's still enjoying the sport after 18 years as an owner. One of her dreams in racing, she said, is to own "a female Cigar."

"There's always a dream," she said. "If you lose the dream, then it's time to get out of the game. For me there's always another dream. I'm in it for the long haul."

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