Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut will attempt to become the first horse in the 73-year history of the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) to win the event three times, as the son of Lemon Drop Kid takes on five rivals July 12 in the $200,000 turf event, which is the final local prep for next month’s Arlington Million (gr. IT).
An earner of more than $1.2 million in his career, 6-year-old Cosmonaut has taken the last two runnings of the 1 1/4-mile contest, which has accounted for two-thirds of his graded stakes wins. Trainer Carlos Martin was asked what it is about this race that brings out the best in his horse.
“That’s a good question, I don’t really know,” Martin said. “It seems to be the right distance for him and he obviously likes the turf. But (previous trainer) Patrick Biancone deserves all the credit for both of those races. I’m just going to try to help him make history. He’s training great, and for a 6-year-old he has a lot of enthusiasm for what he does.”
Martin was the one who originally selected Cosmonaut from the Keeneland 2003 September yearling sale and trained him during his 2- and 3-year-old seasons. But when the Kentucky-bred was shipped out west at the end of his sophomore campaign he stayed in the barn of Biancone, where he went on to win the Golden Gate Fields Handicap (gr. III) and the two Arlington Handicaps. It wasn’t until after Biancone was suspended for a year that Martin got him back.
Cosmonaut opened his 2008 season with a victory in the Tampa Bay Stakes Feb. 23, was fourth in the Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. I) at Keeneland, and most recently, lost by a nose in the June 14 Scottish Monk Stakes at Belmont. Although he won his first two runnings of the Arlington Handicap by going gate-to-wire, Martin said it is not imperative that Cosmonaut goes right to the front.
“We have a great jockey in Rene Douglas, so we’ll let him decide where to settle,” Martin said of Cosmonaut, who will carry a top weight of 118 pounds. “He doesn’t have to be on the lead. You know, he’s been right in the mix with some of the best horses in the country and has been very consistent. He’s a very good horse.”
Though his lone win in stakes company last year came in the Arlington Handicap, Cosmonaut was third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile after leading at the top of the stretch, beaten only a neck in the Shadwell Turf Mile, and just a half-length back in the Manhattan Handicap, all grade I turf events.
Bred by Patricia Pavlish, Cosmonaut is out of the Capote mare Cosmic Fire. Douglas will be riding the 7-5 morning line favorite for the first time.
Fab Oak Stable, Robert Hurley and John Goldthorpe’s Stream Cat is the 5-2 second choice despite having not started since October. The son of Black Minnaloushe finished fourth, beaten only a length, in the Arlington Million before finishing out his season with a third in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. III) at Turfway Park, and a second in the Fayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. James Graham gets the call from trainer Rusty Arnold.
Also to consider is Centaur Farms’ Florida homebred Distorted Reality. The 4-year-old Todd Pletcher trainee enters off a narrow victory in the 11-furlong Academy Award Stakes on the Belmont grass June 19. The consistent Distorted Humor colt is 5-3-1 from 14 lifetime starts.
$200,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT, race 6, 3:07 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds and Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
1. Stream Cat (KY), 117, James Graham
2. Distorted Reality (FL), 114, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
3. Corrupt (IL), 115, Shaun Bridgmohan
4. Tiger Woodman (KY), 113, Jesse M. Campbell
5. Cosmonaut (KY), 118, Rene R. Douglas
6. Yate's Black Cat (KY), 114, Miguel Mena