Arlington Looks Ahead to Washington Park & American Derby

Edited from an Arlington Park notes

Aeneas Arriving Tuesday For Washington Park 'Cap
Patricia Pavlish's Aeneas, second in the grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap earlier this year, will leave South Florida next Monday night to compete in the grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park July 19, trainer Marty Wolfson confirmed Wednesday.

The 4-year-old colt disappointed when a well-beaten seventh in the grade I Pimlico Special May 16, but Wolfson is quick to dismiss that most recent outing.

"The racetrack at Pimlico that day was a quagmire," said Wolfson, speaking over the phone from Miami Wednesday morning. "In addition to the terrible track conditions, it was 53 degrees in Maryland the day of the Pimlico race. After coming from the warmth of South Florida, that didn't help us at all However, we beat both Hero's Tribute and Balto Star in there, and they are very good horses, so I think the track conditions hurt all of us.

"His (Aeneas') race in the Gulfstream Park Handicap was a good one," said Wolfson. "What really impressed me was the way he stuck his head in front of Hero's Tribute at the quarter pole and that horse was driving the whole way. Eventually, Hero's Tribute just outclassed us (with a four-length win), but that race showed me a lot about my horse."

Aeneas, who worked three-quarters Tuesday at Calder in 1:13 3/5, is a Capote colt out of the Gone West mare Gone to Venus. The dam is owned by Aeneas' owner-breeder Patricia Pavlish, who will come to Chicago to watch Aeneas compete July 19.

"In Greek mythology, Aeneas was a Trojan warrior who was a son of Venus," Pavlish explained. "He was involved in a lot of battles but survived all of them, and that by itself tells you something about him.

"We feel this horse is on the way up," she said. "There are better things in store for him. He comes from a family that gets better as they get older. He has an older sister who is a group II stakes winner trained by Bob Baffert. We have a 2-year-old colt by Deputy Minister out of this mare named Deputy Rokeby who hasn't started yet, as well as a yearling filly and a suckling colt from the mare. She's been good to us."

Perfect Drift Arlington-Bound
Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, winner of the grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 14, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Trackside Louisville last Saturday in preparation for a start in the Washington Park Handicap.

However, trainer Murray Johnson has indicated that Perfect Drift's ultimate goal is the Arlington Million (gr. IT) on the turf at Chicago's northwest suburban oval on August 16.

Before winning the Stephen Foster, Perfect Drift ran fourth, beaten less than three lengths in the grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the grass at the Twin Spires oval on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3.

"The Million is our main focus," said Johnson. "We're just using this race ($400,000 Washington Park Handicap) to get there."

Three years ago, Mula Gula ran second in the Washington Park Handicap and came back to run third in the Arlington Million.

Weld Coming To American Derby Again With Evolving Tactics

Three years ago Pine Dance came from Ireland to capture the grade II American Derby for Ireland's all-time leading trainer Dermot Weld.

Last year, Weld brought Moyglare Stud Farm Jazz Beat across the Atlantic to finish second in the American Derby, returned the Irish-bred colt to The Emerald Isle, and then brought him back to finish second in Arlington's grade I Secretariat.

This season, arrangements have been made for Moyglare's Evolving Tactics to ship on a transatlantic flight Sunday to compete in the $250,000 American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's, one week later. The 89th running of the American Derby, oldest stakes race contested at Arlington Park, will be run July 20 as the middle leg in Arlington's Mid-America Triple.

Evolving Tactics finished third in the listed Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot in his last start June 19. Weld is most famous in this country for bringing Go and Go from Europe to win the 1990 Belmont Stakes.