Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed broke a seven-race losing streak and earned his first stakes win in the United States July 9 when taking over in upper stretch and scoring the $150,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) under James Graham.
The 5-2 favorite in a field of 10, Tajaaweed rallied past Interaction and Dean's Kitten in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths while covering 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.83 on the firm turf course. A group III winner in England at 3, the 6-year-old son of Dynaformer—Uforia, by Zilzal, won for the first time since his U.S. debut in May 2010 at Arlington when he took an optional claimer.
Herman Sarkowsky bred Tajaaweed, who improved to 4-2-1 from 16 starts and earnings of $252,104. The Arlington Handicap was the local prep for the Arlington Million (gr. IT) on Aug. 13. He is trained by Daniel Peitz.
“We decided to stop on him last winter, turn him out, point for this race and the Million, Peitz said. “Nine months later, here we are and we’re on our way to the Million.”
Tajaaweed raced near the back in the early going while longshot Amun Re set the pace by carving out fractions of :24.76, :48.99, and 1:13.26. Interaction and Dean’s Kitten pressed the pace and those two struck the front when they turned for home. Dean’s Kitten, with Julien Leparoux in the irons, briefly grabbed a narrow lead, but was run down by Tajaaweed from the outside nearing the eighth-pole.
Mister Marti Gras put in a late rally under Shaun Bridgmohan to get second, a neck in front of Dean’s Kitten.
Tajaaweed, winner of the 2008 Addleshaw Goddard Dee (Eng-III), was runner-up in his last two starts including the June 17 Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs. He finished third in the Arlington Handicap a year ago.
The winner was a $400,000 Keeneland 2006 September yearling sale buy. He was consigned by Hidden Brook, agent.
Tajaaweed paid $7.40, $4.40, and $2.80. Mister Marto Gras returned $6 and $3.40 while completing a $43.80 exacta (4-10). The trifecta (4-10-9) was worth $86.10 for $1.
Two races earlier in the $150,000 Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) for fillies and mares, Fantasia also grabbed her first graded stakes in the United States with a one-length victory under Rajiv Maragh.
A two-time group III winner in her native England, Augustin Stable’s Fantasia had been graded stakes placed three times earlier this year and tasted narrow defeats in a couple of grade I races in 2010. But she was able to get it done this time by rallying on the far turn and taking over near the sixteenth-pole.
Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, the 5-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells—Blue Symphony, by Darshaan, covered 1 3/16 miles in 1:53.80, which was just three-fifths of a second off the course record set in 1990 by Reluctant Guest.
As expected, even-money favorite Wasted Tears set the pace, taking the field of eight through splits of :23.85, :48.09, 1:11.78, and 1:35.95 before tiring to eventually finish fifth. Fantasia was sixth through a half-mile before getting into contention on the final turn and outfinishing her rivals in deep stretch.
“I knew I needed to be a little closer so I moved up a bit without using too much horse, and when I asked her she ran great,” said Maragh, who rode his first winner at Arlington Park.
Fantasia, bred in England by Ronchalon Racing UK, was runner-up in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) in her season debut at Keeneland, then finished third in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT), and second in the Foxwoods Just a Game Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont last out. She improved to 6-5-2 from 18 starts and has earned $673,441.
Sent off as the second choice, the winner paid $9.80, $5, and $3.20. Romin Robin returned $13.80 and $8 while completing a $141.80 exacta (4-1). My Baby Baby paid $4. The trifecta (4-1-6) was worth $278.60 for $1.