There were just five starters in the $100,000 Hanshin Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park Saturday, but plenty of trouble nevertheless. Favored Gouldings Green was awarded victory when jockey Corey Lanerie was forced to take up while rallying along the inside, overturning a one-length victory by Fifteen Rounds.
Lanerie immediately lodged a claim of foul after the completion of the one-mile Hanshin and stewards, after a lengthy inquiry, agreed, determining that Fifteen Rounds and jockey Christopher Emigh had interfered when they dropped over to the rail after getting the lead from With Distinction in the stretch. Gouldings Green, the 13-10 choice who lacked speed from the outset, had rallied from the rear of the compact field but was forced to alter course, stewards decided, when lacking room at the rail.
"When I started in that hole there was room for three or four horses in there," said Lanerie. "It just kept getting tighter and tighter, and I knew he (Emigh) knew where I was so I figured there'd be no problem. I certainly don't blame Chris. He's a good rider and he was just race riding, but I think he crossed the line a little bit. I might have done the same thing. But I think I was on the best horse and that he definitely would have won."
Emigh felt he was clear and disagreed with the call, but Fifteen Rounds' trainer Christine Janks took the disqualification in stride.
"I think it was a bad call," Emigh said. "I was clear. You can change paths if you're clear."
"The horse won convincingly," Janks said of Fifteen Rounds. "The other horse never gave an inch. I feel sorry for Chris because Fifteen Rounds came down a little and it wasn't his fault. He rode a terrific race."
Trained by Anthony Reinstedler for owner Melnyk Racing Stables, Gouldings Green was a half-length better than Three Hour Nap, while Semaphore Man and With Distinction trailed. The final time for the one-turn mile was 1:34.
With Distinction set a lively pace of :22 4/5, :45 1/5 and 1:09 before being passed by Fifteen Rounds, who battled close to the lead on the outside before angling to the inside after getting the lead.
Gaining his first graded stakes win, Gouldings Green was coming off a head victory in Churchill Down's 1 1/16-mile Alysheba May 5. He won for the third time in his last four tries while improving his overall record to 6-2-1 in 12 starts. The 5-year-old chestnut son of Charismatic-Elusive Gold (Strike the Gold) has earned $329,616. Marvin Delfiner bred the winner in Kentucky,
Gouldings Green paid $4.60, $2.40 and $2.10. Fifteen Rounds, who was disqualified from his 15th career win in 25 starts, returned $3 and $2.40. Three Hour Nap, winner of the National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) April 22 and ridden again by Francisco Torres, was $2.40 to show.
Elsewhere at Arlington Saturday, jockey James Graham got his Memorial Day weekend off to a grand start by going a perfect five for five on the card. The five-win day was the first in the young career of the Irish-born jockey who has been riding in the United States for three years.
"I've had four a couple of times but this is my first time winning five," Graham said. "I'm so happy right now."
Graham notched his milestone win in the day's seventh race aboard Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s Sobresaliente, getting up in the final stride of the about one mile turf race. Earlier in the day, the 27-year-old rider captured the first race astride Gita, the second race with Gigi From Fiji, the third race with Ituna and the sixth aboard Ladyburn.
The five-spot doubled Graham's win total at the meet to 10, and places him fourth in the local jockey standings.