(from Arlington Park reports)
Two grade III stakes to be contested on Polytrack -- the $150,000 Arlington Matron and the $100,000 Hanshin Cup handicaps -- join with a pair of top-notch grass events to provide a quality afternoon of racing at Arlington Park on May 23.
The grass stakes are the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies going one mile and the $150,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. Together, the four stakes races will make up a $100,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 Pool that will cover races eight through 11.
Indescribable looks for a repeat in the Matron after winning the 2008 renewal by half a length. Since that victory in the 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares, Courtlandt Farm’s daughter of Pleasant Tap was transferred to trainer Bill Mott and finished third in the Go For Wand (gr. I) at Saratoga last July.
The 5-year-old mare kicked off her 2009 season with a 2 1/4-length score in Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) over Keeneland’s Polytrack April 17. She has successive stakes scores going back to last November's triumph in the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Churchill Downs turf course. Kent Desormeaux, aboard for her two most recent races, gets the call in the Matron. Indescribable is the 2-1 morning line choice.
Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings’ Serenading is a synthetic track specialist with four wins and 11 in-the-money finishes. The daughter of A. P. Indy was runner-up to Indescribable last time out but captured the $100,000 Bellemahne Stakes at Woodbine in her previous start last August. John Velazquez rides the Josie Carroll trainee.
Euphony, owned by Pin Oak Stable, rides a four-race win streak into the Matron, most recently returning from nearly six months off to capture the $100,000 Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn Park April 8. Trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, the 4-year-old filly will partner again with her regular rider Cliff Berry.
Alfred H. Nuckols Jr.'s homebred Kiss With a Twist was third in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) on the Keeneland turf last time out after winning the My Charmer and the Wintergreen at Turfway Park during the winter. The Jose Fernandez-trained daughter of Lemon Drop Kid will be ridden by Miguel Mena.
The Hanshin Cup, which is in its 15th year as an exchange race between Arlington Park and the Japanese Racing Assoc., is led by Illinois-bred Stonehouse, a winner of his last three starts. Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich's 5-year-old is the 3-1 choice in the field of eight older horses.
The Chester House horse crushed state-bred rivals in the $90,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap last time out after beating open company foes in Oaklawn Park’s $100,000 Fifth Season and in the $75,000 Gulf Coast Classic at Delta Downs. Trained by “Spanky” Broussard, Stonehouse will be ridden by Perry Compton.
Jim Tafel’s Coragil Cat is the defending champion after a three-length triumph last year. The 5-year-old won the Timeless Native Stakes at Arlington opening day and took that same prep last year in track-record time before capturing the Hanshin. The Greg Geier-trained son of Forest Wildcat will be ridden by Diego Sanchez, who was astride for both his local victories last season.
Cherokee Artist won a pair of allowance races over synthetic surfaces in his two most recent races – scoring over Keeneland’s Polytrack as well as over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. Jeremy Rose gets the call from trainer Graham Motion to ride J. Mack Robinson’s son of Cherokee Run.
Silverton Hill’s Dominican, winner of the 2007 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, looks for his first tally since capturing an allowance race at Presque Isle Downs last July. Trained by Darrin Miller, the son of El Corredor will be ridden by Miguel Mena.
Consequence was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the local 1000 Guineas, which in addition to its purse offers the winner a guaranteed berth in the American Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park in July.
The El Prado filly, trained by Shug McGaughey for Phipps Stable, was third in the Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface in April. Last fall she was sixth, beaten only four lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park.
Her lone victory came in the filly's career debut over the Saratoga lawn last August. Regular rider John Velazquez makes the trip to Chicago for the mount.
Virginia H. Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak, runner-up in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Hawthorne Race Course last month, has been made the 5-2 morning line choice in the Arlington Classic. Giant Oak returns to the surface where he broke his maiden last summer.
The Arlington Classic is the first leg of the Mid-America Triple which continues with the American Derby (gr. IIT) on July 11 and concludes with the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) on Aug. 8. Arlington Park is offering a $500,000 bonus to the owner(s) of any horse who can sweep the troika of races.
A son of Giant's Causeway , Giant Oak was on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year but returns to his home base to compete in Arlington’s sophomore grass series. The Chris Block pupil has been training well for the race, recording a :47 3/5 second half-mile breeze over the main track on May 18. He reunites with jockey Eusebio Razo Jr., who was aboard the colt for his two victories at Arlington last summer.
Among those to challenge the projected favorite are graded stakes winners Orthodox and El Crespo.
$150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:57 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, M/L Odds
1. Sky Mom, J Theriot, 118, 8/1
2. Kiss With a Twist, M Mena, 118, 9/2
3. Gloria Goodbody, J K Court, 116, 15/1
4. Laguna Plateada (CHI), E Razo, Jr., 116, 30/1
5. Venetian Causeway, B Blanc, 116, 15/1
6. Born to Be, R R Douglas, 116, 12/1
7. Euphony, M C Berry, 123, 6/1
8. Serenading, J R Velazquez, 118, 4/1
9. Indescribable, K J Desormeaux, 123, 2/1
10. Home's the Best, L Wade, 123, 20/1
11. Boudoir, E E Perez, 116, 30/1
$100,000 Hanshin Cup Handicap (gr. III, Race 10, 5:28 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (All Weather)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, M/L Odds
1. Stonehouse, P Compton, 123, 3/1
2. Cherokee Artist, J Rose, 120, 7/2
3. Dominican, M Mena, 116, 9/2
4. Voy Por Uno Mas, J Alvarado, 123, 12/1
5. Vacation, J R Velazquez, 116, 6/1
6. Spotsgone, J M Johnson, 118, 12/1
7. Amazing Results, R R Douglas, 118, 5/1
8. Coragil Cat, D Sanchez, 118, G Geier, 4/1