Outsider Middie spurted away from the field in upper stretch to post a 3 3/4-length victory under jockey Francisco Torres in the $150,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) in track-record time over Polytrack at Arlington Park Sept 1 (VIDEO).
Forwardly placed by Torres at odds of 14-1, Middie split horses at the three-eighths pole and quickly drew off to open up a five-length advantage at mid-stretch. He finished on his own terms while recording a winning time of 1:49.27 as defending Washington Park winner Mister Marti Gras ran on for second.
"The thing about (Arlington's Polytrack) is when it rains, it tightens up the racetrack and you'll see faster times," Torres explained. "Around the three-eighths pole, I had so much horse. Everybody looked like they were just waiting for someone to move. When I found a seam between the horse in front of me and the horse outside of me, I went ahead and stole it. I got out, opened up, and held on."
The previous standard for nine furlongs over Arlington's Polytrack was 1:49.30 set by On Safari on Aug. 25, 2007, the first year the synthetic surface was in place at Arlington. The fastest 1 1/8 miles ever run at Arlington Park was by Spectacular Bid, who won the 1980 Washington Park Handicap in 1:46 1/5.
Philip Oliver is the winning conditioner for owners G. Watts Humphrey and Middie's breeder, St. George Farm.
The Washington Park Handicap was the second win in seven starts this year for Middie, a 4-year-old son of Officer out of the Green Dancer mare Sweettrickydancer. Middie earned $88,200 for the victory to boost his bankroll to $208,643 while improving his overall record to four wins from 16 trips to the post.
Mister Marti Gras rallied from toward the back of the pack for Eduardo Perez to get up for second, 2 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Pool Play, ridden by Miguel Mena.
"We got a good trip," said Perez. "We were just second best."
Hattaash, Workin for Hops, and 8-5 favorite Prayer for Relief, who faded early on the far turn, completed the order. Ballyjamesduff was eased after being distanced but walked off the track under his own power.
Prompted by Ballyjamesduff, multiple graded stakes winner Workin for Hops set a soft pace of :24.65, :48.88, and 1:13.65 before fading.
Middie paid $30.80, $11.20, and $4.60 while keying a $111.20 exacta. Mister Marti Gras returned $4 and $2.60. Pool Play paid $3.80.