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HRN Original Blog:
Head Heart & Hooves

Memorial Day Weekend at Arlington Park!

Nates Mineshaft 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

A trio of stakes races highlight the Saturday before Memorial Day card at Arlington Park: the Grade 3 Arlington Matron, the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup, and the Grade 3 Arlington Classic. Arlington will be celebrating the holiday with Family Day, live music, and free admission for all active military and veterans. Also on the docket are solid, competitive stakes fields.

 

Arlington Matron

Experienced racemare Hooh Why is the 3/1 morning line favorite in the Arlington Matron. Making her fifty-second lifetime start, Hooh Why will be going for her thirteenth win for trainer Michael Reavis, who has hit the board with five of his ten starters thus far. Hooh Why has run on the turf her last six starts, but she now returns to the Arlington main track, where she is 2-2-1 from six starts. Last year, Hooh Why finished second to Upperline in this event after setting the pace. Meet-leading rider Emmanuel Esquivel will be aboard.

Three of the entries here come out of the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland: Ice Cream Silence, Sisterhood, and Lotta Lovin, who finished first, second, and sixth, respectively. Of these three, it is sixth-place finisher Lotta Lovin who is the lowest price at 9/2 on the morning line. Trained by Mike Maker, the four-year-old filly will be making her second start at Arlington and twentieth of her career, seeking her ninth win. This will be the fourth graded stakes try for Lotta Lovin and she looks to improve off of previous off-the-board finishes. Mike smith will get his first call aboard Lotta Lovin, who has been working quickly as usual approaching the race.

Doubledogdare Stakes winner Ice Cream Silence is the lightest-raced entry in the Matron field. She has four wins and two seconds from eight starts and will be running in her fourth consecutive graded stakes for George Arnold, who has been successful in graded stakes and with repeat winners. The four-year-old Street Sense filly has never run at Arlington, but she has run twice on synthetic surfaces where she was second in her career debut and first in the Doubledogdare. She is 6/1 on the morning line.

Sisterhood, 8/1 on the morning line, is the final entry coming out of the Doubledogdare, where she ran arguably the best race of her career to take second. This will be her first race at Arlington and second graded stakes attempt. Trainer Wesley Ward tightened the screws in Sisterhood's latest six-furlong work, which she completed in 1:13 & 2.

I like Ausus in this race for trainer Danny Peitz. She comes out of the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, where as Peitz noted: “She ran behind four Grade 1 winners. She didn't disgrace herself.” I agree completely. Centre Court and Daisy Devine, first and second in the Jenny Wiley, are two very good horses. Peitz is hoping for more pace for the four-year-old Invasor filly and he should get it here. Aside from an off race at Churchill Downs last fall, Ausus has always run well, hitting the board in seven of eleven lifetime starts. Ausus is also 5: 2-2-0 at Arlington Park and may be coming into this race in top form. Jimmy Graham gets the call. Did I mention she is 8/1 on the morning line?

Rounding out the field from inside out will be Distorted Legacy (5/1, Stall/Gomez), Diva's Diamond (15/1, Silva/Thornton), Imposing Grace (Catalano/Hill), and Absolute Crackers (Motion/Castro).

 

Hanshin Cup

The Hanshin Cup features a heavy favorite, Nates Minshaft, who dominated the 2012 New Orleans Handicap. He has been off since finishing third to Ron the Greek and Wise Dan in last year's Stephen Foster. Aside from the Alysheba (the one race in that stretch where I actually bet him...), Nates Mineshaft put together a very impressive 2012. If he can come off this long layoff anywhere near that form, he is a very deserving favorite. However, this will only be his second career start on synthetics, though trainer Anne Smith says that he is handling the surface “just fine.” She has decided to enter him here “to see if, at age six, he still wants to be competitive. We’ll know more about where he is after the race.” Smith says that they are looking to try running him on grass in the future if he takes to the surface.

The 3/1 second choice is Mister Marti Gras, a hard-trying six-year-old gelding who has not finished worse than fifth in the last two years. Chris Block will saddle Mister Marti Gras for his third Arlington start. Mister Marti Gras is currently 2: 1-1-0 on the Arlington main track, having won and placed in the Washington Park Handicap the last two years. He is very likely to factor here.

The rest of the field for the Hanshin Cup includes Seruni (9/2, Oliver/Smith), All Stormy (15/1, Geier/Desormeaux), Scatman (8/1, Mott/Rocco), Hattash (30/1, Bettis/Geroux), Hammers Terror (10/1, Stidham/Graham), Night Party (10/1, Huffman/Sellers), Patrioticandproud (15/1, Casse/Gomez), and Hogy (8/1, Becker/Emigh). To me, this race looks chalky.

 

Arlington Classic

The Arlington Classic caps off Saturday stakes racing at Arlington on the turf course.  American Turf runner-up Admiral Kitten is the favorite at 3/1, coming off two second-place finshes in turf routes. Illinois Derby runner-up Fordubai is the second choice at 9/2. He has experience on the turf, having broken his maiden over the Hawthorne course. Procurement, the 4/1 third choice, comes out of a trio of listed stakes at Santa Anita and will attempt to take his improving form Eastward. General Election, runner-up in the Lexington last time out, rounds out the top choices at 5/1. Admiral Kitten is a deserving favorite, but I may get sentimental with Brown Almighty, who I saw break his maiden at first asking here at Arlington last summer. He is 12/1 on the morning line.

Rounding out the Arlington Classic field are Gefest (30/1, Dorochenko/Homeister), Bells Big Bernie (30/1, Mullins/Thornton), Dorsett (20/1, Stidham/Graham), Yorkshire Icon (15/1, Peitz/Hill), Whiskey Bravo (20/1, Scherer/Emigh), Bobo (20/1, Gray/Geroux), Bambazonki (8/1, Block/Perez).


Although I will be away for the weekend, I may make some plays tomorrow @HeadHeartHooves. Good luck and happy Memorial Day, Nation!

 

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Mister Marti Gras for the win, Alex!

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Meet Alex Fawell 

Unlike many, I did not grow up with horseracing. My first time at the races was the 2008 Kentucky Derby. I bet on Colonel John. That fall, I had the good fortune to go to England, where I visited Ascot and Kempton. When I returned to the U.S., I was hooked. I started reading handicapping books, studying historic sire lines, watching races and going to Portland Meadows regularly. While the purses there were small, I was able to be close to the action and see firsthand the day-to-day operations of an average American racetrack.

 

Last year I moved home to Chicago. I went to Arlington for the first time this year. In the interim, I have devoted my time to understanding all aspects of horseracing  I hope to provide unique isights on handicapping perspectives and multifaceted analyses on the state of horseracing today. I will strive to write with an open mind and a willingness to learn through the writing process. I will not claim to be an expert, but I will read thoroughly, write carefully, and be honest.

 

To me, the all-time greats are Kelso, John Henry, Round Table and Yeats. Horses I like because they have won me money include Raven's Pass, Alternation, and I'll Have Another. The greatest horse I have even seen live is Zenyatta. I also enjoy the Bears, the Bulls, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, Mexican food, good Bourbon, and old-time music - specifically that played on the 5-string banjo. Thanks for reading!