A.P. Arrow, winner of the Clark Handicap (gr. II) last November, drew post one for the June 28 Suburban (gr. II) at Belmont.

A.P. Arrow, winner of the Clark Handicap (gr. II) last November, drew post one for the June 28 Suburban (gr. II) at Belmont.

Reed Palmer

Suburban Handicap Full of Intrigue

A.P. Arrow will carry top weight in the grade I contest June 28 at Belmont

Two-time graded stakes winner A.P. Arrow will make his first start since finishing fourth to Curlin in the March 29 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), as he takes on seven intriguing rivals in the $400,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. I) June 28 at Belmont Park.

Among those facing A.P Arrow in the 10-furlong contest are Argentine-bred Solar Flare, who trainer Larry Jones is very high on, Harlington, a 6-year-old son of Unbridled making just his third start in more than two years, and a pair of former claimers trained by Rick Dutrow Jr. The 122nd Suburban is race 9 on the Belmont card and will go to post at 5:15 p.m. EDT.

Although hitting the winner’s circle just five times in lifetime 23 starts, A.P. Arrow has been a consistent graded stakes runner the past three seasons. In fact, the son of A.P. Indy has been graded stakes placed eight times since October of 2005 and won the Skip Away Handicap (gr. III) and last year’s Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. A.P. Arrow was runner-up by a half-length in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 2 at Gulfstream Park before shipping to Dubai.

A homebred of Allen E. Paulson Living trust and trained by Todd Pletcher, A.P. Arrow is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Garimpeiro. An earner of more than $1.4 million, he is 0-for-2 at Belmont. Ramon Dominguez will ride the 118-pound high weight.

Fox Hill Farms’ Solar Flare made his American debut in allowance-optional claiming company June 3 at Delaware Park. The 4-year-old son of Salt Lake prevailed by three-quarters of a length after a long stretch duel. It convinced Jones to send him straight into grade I competition.

“We ran that race without thinking about the Suburban,” Jones said. “But he finished so quick the last 70 yards, plus he had already won at a mile and a quarter in Argentina, that we made the decision to run him.”

Solar Flare was 3-3-0 from seven starts in Argentina, the last of those a nine-length score Jan. 13 going about 10 furlongs. Jones took over training shortly thereafter and was not immediately impressed.

“We kind of had to let him adapt to North American training and he went through a ‘blah’ period,” Jones said. “He’s a very high quality colt. You normally wouldn’t think of a son of Salt Lake as wanting to go a mile and a quarter, but the mare put a lot of stamina into him. I don’t think the word ‘tired’ is in his vocabulary.”

Cornelio Velazquez will get the mount.

Harlington is an equally intriguing horse. Owned by Melnyk Racing Stables, he won five of his first six starts while racing in Pletcher’s barn, one of those victories coming in the 2006 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II). After finishing off the board in the Pimlico Special Handicap (gr. I) two months later, Harlington was sidelined for an entire year with an ankle injury. He then returned in May of 2007, won an allowance-optional claiming start and was sidelined for another year. The dark bay horse was handed to trainer Tom Albertrani and made his first start of the 2008 season May 31 at Belmont, finishing third.

“He’s been very consistent, and he is obviously talented,” Albertrani said. “He had had some time off, and after a few weeks after we got him in April we were looking to give him some kind of prep. He’s done well since he ran, and it seemed logical to go the next step. In the back of our minds we were looking at a race like the Suburban, which, with his pedigree, would help him as a stallion.”

Also to consider are Dutrow trainees Rising Moon and Frost Giant. Rising Moon has won four straight, including the May 18 Wagon Limit Stakes at Belmont. Less than two weeks later the son of Runaway Groom won an optional claimer by four lengths, also at Belmont. Frost Giant is a two-time group III winner in Ireland who will be making just his third start on the dirt.

$400,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:15 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. A. P. Arrow (KY), 118, Ramon A. Dominguez
2. Frost Giant (KY), 114, Rudy R. Rodriguez
3. Naughty New Yorker (NY), 114, Edgar S. Prado
4. Solar Flare (ARG), 114, Gabriel Saez
5. Rising Moon (KY), 115, Cornelio H. Velasquez
6. Harlington (KY), 116, John R. Velazquez
7. Hunting (KY), 115, Kent J. Desormeaux
8. Merchant Marine (KY), 114, Javier Castellano