Merriefield Farm's favored Always First, second in his last two starts, fought pacesetter Cloudy's Knight in a long drive to the wire, prevailing in the final stride by a nose in the $200,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT), the traditional Fourth of July headliner at Arlington Park.
Always First and Ramazutti, the second and third-place finishers in the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) May 26 at Churchill Downs, top a competitive field of nine grass course specialists entered in Wednesday's $200,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap (gr. IIT).
Dreadnaught, a 7-year-old gelding with more than $600,000 in career earnings, holds a substantial class edge in the $100,000 Sussex Stakes on the Delaware Park turf course Saturday, but the confirmed closer will have to overcome a pronounced track bias to reach the winner's circle for trainer Thomas Voss.
Twin Oaks Stable's Our Peak, a 73-1 longshot with leading rider Rosie Napravnik working the reins, nipped Ah Day by a neck to win the $85,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds Saturday at Laurel Park.
Trillium Stable's Dreadnaught closed out his 2004 campaign with back-to-back graded stakes victories, coming from off the pace with a dramatic surge to nip Demeteor by a neck with a dramatic surge in the $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on the Calder Turf Course Saturday.
Veteran Maryland horseman Tom Voss confirmed Saturday that Trillium Stable's 4-year-old gelding Dreadnaught, winner of Aqueduct's Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) last out, will be on a van this week bound for Calder Race Course and Saturday's $200,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT).
Former hurdler Dreadnaught won an all-out stretch duel with Certifiably Crazy for his first graded stakes victory in the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the Aqueduct turf Saturday.
Only 12 of the 13 horses entered for Friday's Foundation Stakes at Pimlico can run. Saturday's Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs also pulled in a lot of runners, with 14 entries.
Ten jumpers, including the race's two previous winners, pre-entered for the Oct. 19 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I).
Fox Ridge Farm's homebred Anofferucantrefuse beat favored McDynamo to the early lead, then was shadowed by that rival throughout the 2 1/8 mile course of the Joe Aitcheson Hurdle Stakes (NSA-I) en route to a two-length win Friday at Pimlico.
Jayeff B Stables' Navesink rebounded from his lone career defeat to win Sunday's $249,000 Kent Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park. Earlier on the card, John's Call began his 10-year-old campaign the same way he started his 2000 season, with a victory in the $69,100 Cape Henlopen Overnight Handicap.
John's Call, thoroughbred racing's distinguished senior citizen, will be vanned to New York Tuesday from Tom Voss's farm in Maryland for a flight to Tokyo and an engagement in the Japan Cup.
Godolphin Racing's Man O' War Stakes (gr. IT) hopeful Fantastic Light put in a five-furlong drill over the main track at Belmont Park Wednesday morning in preparation for Saturday's $500,000 race. Other probable starters for the race include Aly's Alley, Down the Aisle, Ela Athena, Gritty Sandie, Honor Glide, John's Call, Sunshine Street, and Timboroa.
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