Juniper Pass, winner of consecutive grade II races in California, tops a field of 10 in the $150,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 9 at Arlington Park.
The 1 1/4-mile Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep for the Arlington Million (gr. IT), which will be held Aug. 13. It is one of three graded turf stakes on Arlington’s Saturday card that also includes the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares, and the Arlington Derby (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds.
A son of Lemon Drop Kid—Child Bride, by Coronado’s Quest, Juniper Pass ships to Chicago off consecutive victories in the March 20 San Luis Rey (gr. II) on the Santa Anita dirt and the April 17 San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita turf. Owned by Robert and Betty Irvin, the 4-year-old colt will be racing outside of California for the first time in his 13th start. He will carry top weight of 122 pounds, including jockey Brice Blanc.
Thomas Bell III trains Juniper Pass, who has won four times and earned $284,380.
Another horse trying the Arlington footing for the first time is Interaction, the Horse of the Year and three-time group I winner in his native Argentina. Making his first start for Christophe Clement, Interaction last raced on March 3 when he finished seventh in the Emirates Airline Dubai City of Gold Stakes (UAE-II) on turf at Meydan Racecourse. In his other start in 2011 he was third in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (UAE-II) on Tapeta. Corey Nakatani will have the mount.
Other top contenders include Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dean's Kitten and Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed. Grade II winner Dean’s Kitten enters off a victory in the May 30 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park, one start after finishing runner-up in the Ben Ali (gr. III) at Keeneland. The 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy was third at the finish but dropped to fourth for interference in last year’s American Derby over the Arlington turf and then ran fifth in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT). The Mike Maker trainee will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Tajaaweed, a group III winner in England as a 3-year-old in 2008, was third in this race in 2010 and comes into this year’s renewal off a second in the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs three weeks ago. Earlier this season, the Dan Peitz-trained son of Dynaformer ran second over this course in a third-level allowance optional claimer. He will team with James Graham and carry 118 pounds.
Earlier on the card in the $150,000 Modesty Handicap, the Bart Evans bred, owned, and trained Wasted Tears will tote top weight of 122 pounds in a field of eight fillies and mares going 1 3/16 miles. The Modesty serves as the final local prep for the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) on Aug. 13.
A 6-year-old daughter of Najran, Wasted Tears is a six-time graded stakes winner and has captured the last three editions of the Ouija Board (gr. IIIT) at Lone Star Park including winning May 30 by five lengths in her most recent start. A 12-time winner in 17 starts on turf including the 2010 John C. Mabee (gr. IIT) at Del Mar, the front-running mare will be testing her stamina limits, as she has never run more than 1 1/8 miles in her career.
Wasted Tears arrived in Chicago last week and worked three furlongs over the Arlington turf July 6, getting the distance in :38 around the dogs. Julien Leparoux, aboard for her most recent score, retains the mount.
Another top contender is Augustin Stable’s Fantasia, who comes into the Modesty off a second-place finish in the Just a Game (gr. IT) at Belmont Park June 11. In two other starts this year, the Jonathan Sheppard-trained daughter of Sadler's Wells finished third in the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs May 7 and second in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) at Keeneland in April. Her only North American tally came in the River Memories Stakes at Woodbine last October but she is a two-time group III winner in England. Fantasia will carry 120 pounds and be ridden by Rajiv Maragh.
The Chris Block-trained Askbut I Won'ttell is winless in three starts this year but captured the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill and the My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder last year.
Endless Expanse, trained by Clement, is looking for her second U.S. victory after winning her North American debut at Gulfstream Park in February.
My Baby Baby comes into the Modesty off a come-from-behind tally in the Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill June 11.
$150,000 Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 3 & Up, 1 3/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Romin Robin (FL), J Z Santana, 115, D C Kassen
2. Askbut I Won'ttell (FL), S Bridgmohan, 118, C M Block
3. Wasted Tears (KY), J R Leparoux, 122, B B Evans
4. Fantasia (GB), R Maragh, 120, J E Sheppard
5. La Gran Bailadora (KY), C J Lanerie, 116, M J Maker
6. My Baby Baby (KY), R Albarado, 118, K G McPeek
7. Oregon Lady (IRE), J L Castanon, 116, R L Attfield
8. Endless Expanse (IRE), C S Nakatani, 118, C Clement
$150,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 5:41 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Proceed Bee (KY), J Alvarado, 116, S Becker
2. Interaction (ARG), C S Nakatani, 120, C Clement
3. Free Fighter (IL), T Thornton, 116, M L Reavis
4. Tajaaweed (KY), J Graham, 118, D C Peitz
5. Sanagas (GER), R Maragh, 114, H G Motion
6. El Crespo (KY), F Geroux ,117, G R Arnold II
7. Juniper Pass (KY), B Blanc 122, T R Bell II
8. Amun Re (FL), J E Felix, 114, K Chudzik
9. Dean's Kitten (KY), J R Leparoux, 119, M J Maker
10. Mister Marti Gras (KY), S Bridgmohan, 117, C M Block