Up the track in a pair of Dubai starts earlier this year, Dullahan will look to jump-start the second half of his four-year-old season when he returns to action in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington Handicap. The Dale Romans-trained colt tops a field of eight in the 1 1/4-mile turf race, which serves as the final local prep for the 31st running of the Arlington Million on August 17.
A Grade 1 winner at two on Polytrack, Dullahan went on to add major victories to his byline in the Blue Grass and Pacific Classic last year. The chestnut son of Even the Score also finished third, beaten less than two lengths, in the Kentucky Derby. All of those efforts came on the main track (dirt and all-weather), but Dullahan also placed in a couple of graded turf stakes earlier in his career and switched back to the sod for his final two starts in 2012, recording a fifth in the Jamaica and a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
He did not fare well in two starts on the Tapeta at Meydan, finishing 11th in both a Group 3 event and the Dubai World Cup, and tries the turf again following a 105-day layoff Saturday. Despite turning in some respectable efforts, Dullahan will be seeking his first turf win in his sixth attempt Saturday. Kent Desormeaux regains the mount.
Rahystrada posted a front-running score in last year's Arlington Handicap and captured the 2010 edition as well. A three-time winner over the local course, the Bryon Hughes-trained gelding also finished third in last year's Arlington Million. The nine-year-old was no factor when fourth in the June 9 Monmouth, but he's eligible to show more in the third start off the layoff at Arlington. Rosie Napravnik will guide the front runner.
Coalport, a two-time winner over state-breds this meet for Wayne Catalano, and Louisville Handicap third-placer Najjaar are also entered.
The Arlington is one of five stakes on Saturday's program. Four of the top five finishers from the May 25 Arlington Classic will resume their rivalry Grade 3, $200,000 American Derby, which serves as precursor to the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on the Million undercard. A total of 11 three-year-olds are set for the 1 3/16-mile test.
General Election closed fast to record a 13-1 upset in the Arlington Classic and will keep Joe Rocco Jr. in the saddle for the American Derby. The Kellyn Gorder charge denied the rally of the favored Admiral Kitten, who also returns Saturday. Runner-up in the American Turf at Churchill Downs two back, Admiral Kitten loses the services of Joel Rosario, who will remain on the East Coast to ride at Belmont and Colonial Downs on Saturday, but Julien Leparoux should serve as an able replacement aboard the Mike Maker-trained colt.
Dorsett, who was disqualified from third and placed fourth by the stewards in the Arlington Classic, is also back Saturday along with Procurement, who was caught in traffic before closing fast for fifth. Procurement posted a win in the La Puente at Santa Anita two starts back for Tom Proctor.
Dark Cove, a reformed claimer who exits graded victories in the Louisville and Elkhorn for Maker, heads a field of six in the Grade 3, $150,000 Stars and Stripes at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Multiple Grade 3 hero Ioya Bigtime is back for a title defense but will need to improve upon his non-threatening, unplaced efforts in the Louisville and Elkhorn. Illinois-bred stakes winners Suntracer and The Pizza Man are also entered.
The Grade 3, $200,000 Modesty Handicap is a prep for the Beverly D. on the Million undercard, but there is little star power in the eight-horse field. Ausus has been facing better in her last couple of starts, including a fourth in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, and Danny Peitz-trained filly figures to compete for favoritism here. Other contenders in the 1 3/16-mile turf affair include stakes winner Artemus Kitten, Colonial Flag, Embarr and La Tia.
The $75,000 Coach Jimi Lee will also be offered and features a field of 12 three-year-olds at seven furlongs on Polytrack. Pataky Kid, a three-length winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity in his last appearance on the oval, looks like the one to beat for Proctor.