Arlington Park chairman Richard L. Duchossois, who named the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) (VIDEO) for his wife, won the race for the first time when his Éclair de Lune rolled to victory over Hot Cha Cha at the Illinois track Aug. 21.
"Winning this race means more to me than winning the Kentucky Derby,” said the 88-year-old Duchossois in accepting the Beverly D. trophy from his children and grandchildren.
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally won his first Beverly D., which precedes the Arlington Million, a race McAnally won twice previously with John Henry and once with Tight Spot.
“This is one race I’ve wanted to win for (Mr. Duchossois),” McAnally said. “He’s a first-class man and I knew he wanted to win this race for his late wife. He’s one of the greatest guys and very generous to everyone."
Junior Alvarado drove the German-bred and French-raced Éclair de Lune past pacesetter Romacaca in the stretch, and the 4-year-old filly held firm by 1 1/2 lengths for her first win in four starts in the United States. In the biggest win of her career, Éclair de Lune completed the 1 3/16-mile distance on a good course in 1:56.56.
Gypsy's Warning finished third, a neck behind Hot Cha Cha, in a race in which morning-line favorite Rainbow View was scratched earlier in the week due to an injury. That left a field of nine older fillies and mares.
Éclair de Lune dropped into second as she tracked to the inside of Romacaca, who jumped out a 4 1/2-length advantage early and clicked off quarter-mile fractions of :24.32, :48.81, and 1:13.67. Hot Cha Cha, along the inside, and French invader Biased were also forwardly placed.
Romacaca still enjoyed a clear advantage on the final turn but Éclair de Lune closed the gap steadily to put a head in front mid-stretch. The winner drew clear under firm right-handed urging from Alvarado as Hot Cha Cha, angled out for the drive by James Graham on the final turn, came on. Hot Cha Cha never got to equal terms with the winner, but bettered Gypsy's Warning, who rallied four wide through the lane for jockey William Buck.
“I had a perfect trip but couldn’t catch them,” Graham said of the runner-up. “Plus, she is in season.”
The best best-fancied horses in the field had difficult trips. Ave, the lukewarm 3-1 choice, was bumped early, shuffled back, and never menaced while finishing eighth. Second choice Treat Gently made a bid while wide on the far turn but bumped with Gypsy's Warning and lost her momentum. She finished fifth.
Group-placed at Deauville in her final start in Europe for trainer Yves de Nicolay, Éclair de Lune was coming off a second-place finish by a half-length to Tuscan Evening in the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the course July 17. That was her best U.S. effort prior to the Beverly D. The daughter of Marchand de Sable--Elegante, by Acatenango, won for the third time in 10 lifetime starts while banking $547,843. She earned $436,500 for the victory.
“Same type of race she ran the last time,” McAnally said of the trip for the 4-year-old daughter of Marchand de Sable. “Alvarado rode her last time and he felt he could win with her today.”
With the win, Éclair de Lune earned a starting slot in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
“I’m very proud to have been given the chance to ride this filly,” said Alvarado, Arlington's leading jockey. “This was a wonderful race for me to win. When I rode her the last time, I knew I could win this race with her because the pace was so slow last time that I had every confidence today.”
Th. Kohler bred the winning bay filly.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Éclair de Lune paid $14.80, $7.40, and $4.80 under equal weights of 123 pounds. Grade I winner Hot Cha Cha, third in the Modesty for trainer Phillip Sims, returned $5.40 and $3.40 and rounded out a $65.40 exacta. Gypsy's Warning paid $5.80 to show.