William Stiriz's 5-year-old gelding Hogy will have his work cut out for him when he attempts to defend his title in the Hanshin Cup (gr. III) at Arlington International Racecourse against 13 capable challengers, including six other graded stakes winners.
The one-mile Hanshin Cup, carrying a $150,000 purse, is one of three stakes on Arlington Park's May 24 card. The program also features the Arlington Matron Stakes (gr. III) for fillies and mares and the Arlington Classic (gr. III)—the first leg of the Mid-America Triple—for sophomore turf runners.
The Hanshin, for 3-year-olds and up on the Polytrack, is the ninth race on the card and has an approximate post time of 5 p.m. CDT.
Since winning last year's Hanshin Cup, the Scott Becker-trained Hogy has scored three other victories, including last year's Presque Isle Mile, which is also raced over a synthetic surface. Last out, the son of Offlee Wild —Floy, by Petionville won a six-furlong allowance race at Arlington in impressive fashion over dual stakes winner Saint Leon. Chris Emigh, Hogy's regular jockey for local engagements, has the call Saturday and the pair will break from post 4.
The 123-pound highweight in the large field is multiple stakes winner Fordubai, victorious in the Louisiana Handicap in January for owner/breeder Jim Tafel and trainer Greg Geier.
Among the other horses slated to face last year's Hanshin winner are graded stakes victors Joha, Havelock, Mister Marti Gras, Nikki's Sandcastle, Occasional View, and Pataky Kid.
Occasional View, a 6-year-old Silver Deputy gelding, is a synthetic track specialist. He won the April 12 Commonwealth Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland and ran second in the Vigil Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine earlier this month, both over seven furlongs on Polytrack. The Ken McPeek trainee is stakes placed over a distance of ground, so the one-mile Hanshin shouldn't be out of his reach. C. H. Marquez Jr. picks up the mount.
Nikki's Sandcastle also relished the Keeneland Polytrack when winning last year's Hagyard Fayette Stakes (gr. II) at the Lexington oval. Though winless in four starts this year, the Dave Kassen-trained son of Castledale has been facing tough competition and most recently finished third to Frac Daddy in the April 19 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. Leandro Goncalves has the mount.
The Chris Block-trained Mister Marti Gras and the Tom Proctor trainee Pataky Kid both scored their graded victories at Arlington.
Mister Marti Gras, by Belong to Me, won the 2011 Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) over the Polytrack but is winless since capturing the Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury Park last summer.
Pataky Kid won the Arlington-Washington Futurity as a 2-year-old and is 3-for-3 at Arlington including a score in the Coach Jimi Lee Stakes last summer. Eduardo Perez rides Mister Marti Gras while Rosemary Homeister Jr. has the mount aboard Pataky Kid.
Joha won the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland (gr. I) as a 2-year-old when trained by Tom Albertrani. Now trained by former Albertrani assistant Joshua Flores, the 4-year-old Johar colt ran sixth in the Ben Ali last time out. Florent Geroux will ride.
Although known more as a turf sprinter, Havelock won the 2012 edition of the Hanshin Cup. The Darrin Miller-trained 7-year-old has made two starts this year, failing to hit the board in a pair of grade III turf sprints in Kentucky. James Graham has the mount.
$150,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (gr. III, approximate post time 5 p.m. EDT), 3YOs and up, one mile (all weather track)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Havelock (MD), J Graham, 116, D Miller
2. Pataky Kid (OK), R B Homeister Jr., 116, T F Proctor
3. Sir Applesolutely (IL), J R Leparoux, 116, C M Block
4. Hogy (KY), C A Emigh, 116, S Becker
5. Nikki's Sandcastle (KY), L R Goncalves, 116, D C Kassen
6. Pass the Dice (KY), C Hill, 116, W M Catalano
7. Mister Marti Gras (KY), E E Perez, 116, C M Block
8. Joha (KY), F Geroux, 116, J Flores
9. Tulira Castle (KY), D Sukie, 116, J P DiVito
10. Occasional View (ON), C H Marquez, Jr., 116, K G McPeek
11. Fordubai (KY), S Russell, 123, G Geier
12. Valentino Beauty (KY), B J Hernandez Jr., 116, T Drury Jr.
13. Francois (KY), J Sanchez, 116, C Winebaugh
14. Mongolian Saturday (KY), E Esquivel, 116, E Ganbat