Grand Couturier heads into the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park Sept. 13 as the morning line favorite in spite of a fifth-place finish in Saratoga's Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) last month that left trainer Robert Ribaudo a bit perplexed.
A day of upsets at Saratoga was punctuated by the most shocking surprise of all in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT), as the 33-1 longshot Telling took over approaching the top of the stretch and held off Better Talk Now for his first stakes win.
Just As Well, knocking on the door in his last two starts, broke through with his first graded stakes score in the $200,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf July 12.
Trainer Chris Block, the leading conditioner in Prairie State Festival history, tallied two more stakes victories in the ninth Illinois-registered series at Arlington Park June 21.
Team Block's Fort Prado grabbed all the headlines at this year's Prairie State Festival when the 6-year-old gelding became the first horse to be a four-time Festival winner by capturing the $84,150 Black Tie Affair Handicap for the third straight year.
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