Gran Estreno, a former claimer who registered his first graded stakes victory at Arlington Park last summer to cap a six-race winning streak, returns to his favorite track for the $100,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (gr. III) May 29.
Arlington's one-mile Polytrack event drew a field of nine, with the 7-year-old Gran Estreno to break from post 7 for trainer Michael Stidham and Martin Nixon's Feel The Thunder Stable. The Hanshin Cup, which precedes the $150,000 Arlington Matron Stakes (gr. III) on the program, is carded as the ninth race at 5:14 p.m. CDT.
Stidham took Gran Estreno for $20,000 just over a year ago at Arlington, where the Argentina-bred has won all five of starts on both the synthetic and turf courses.
During last year's winning streak for his new connections, the son of Lucky Roberto won both the Claiming Crown Emerald Stakes at Canterbury Park and the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) Sept. 5 at Arlington. In that 1 3/16-mile race, jockey E.T. Baird was able to set crawling fractions and Gran Estreno proved impossible to run down late as he scored by a half-length.
Following five consecutive losses after that, including three defeats to begin the 2010 campaign, Gran Estreno appears to be rounding back into top form. He tallied by four lengths in front-running fashion over an optional claiming allowance field going one mile over Arlington's Polytrack May 6.
Gran Estreno, who owns a lifetime record of 10-3-5 in 27 start and earnings of $332,880, will once again be ridden by Baird in the Hanshin Cup.
Stidham also entered Darley Stable's Tybalt, who defeated two rivals in an off-the-turf optional claiming allowance at Fair Grounds in his most recent start Feb. 27. Tybalt has raced most of his career on turf, starting in England, and will be giving Arlington a try for the first time. Michael Baze rides the 6-year-old son of Storm Cat--Tuzla from post 8.
Wildeydsouthernboy, who drew the far outside post for trainer Hugh Robertson and Homewrecker Racing Stable, captured a minor stakes at Arlington one year ago and has won six of eight starts over the surface. The 5-year-old Double Honor gelding is coming off a fourth-place effort in a stakes at Hawthorne April 24 and will be ridden by Cliff Berry. Wildeydsouthernboy has won eight times in a 14-race career while earning $207,353.
Recapturetheglory is coming off a second to Tizdejavu as the favorite in an Arlington turf allowance May 9 in his first start of the year. The lifetime winner of four races in 16 starts and a field-best $455,695 in earnings, the 5-year-old by Cherokee Run captured Hawthorne's 2008 Illinois Derby (gr. II) by four lengths at odds of 15-1. He is part of Louie Roussel III entry along with Brothers Nicholas, who ran second to Gran Estreno last time out.
$100,000 Hanshin Cup Handicap (gr. III, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. McLard (KY), J E Felix, 111, C Livesay
2. Mad Flatter (FL), F Geroux, 116, J D Thornbury
3. Country Flavor (KY), I Karlsson, 116, G Geier
4. Victory Notion (KY), J Alvarado, 116, J Talley
5. a-Brothers Nicholas (KY), E E Perez, 116, L J Roussel, III
6. a-Recapturetheglory (KY), E E Perez, 116, L J Roussel, III
7. Gran Estreno (ARG), E T Baird, 116, M Stidham
8. Tybalt (KY), M C Baze, 116, M Stidham
9. Wildeydsouthernboy (IL), M C Berry, 116, H H Robertson
a- Louie Roussel III-owned entry