Photo: Four Footed Fotos
Confirming his recent form as one of the best long distance turf runners in the nation, Dark Cove torched the Arlington Park turf for a twelve furlong course record of 2:27.39. Sitting a perfect stalking trip under Rosie Napravnik, the six-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro snatched the lead turning for home, and easily held his challengers at bay down the stretch to win this afternoon’s Grade 3 Stars and Stripes by 1 ¾ lengths.
With defending race champ, Ioya Bigtime, laying down early fractions of :25.27, :48.47, and 1:12.80, the 3-5 choice always looked like a winner in second place under confident handling by his popular rider. The race highweight quickly pounced on the leader when asked, and proved much too strong for the late runners.
“It was a pretty clean trip. We just sat where I thought would be the best spot,” said Napravnik, who was competing in her first ever race at Arlington International.
Bet down to heavy favoritism due to similar types of wins in Keeneland’s Grade 2 Elkhorn, and the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, Dark Cove is on a serious roll. Claimed by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey last spring for $50,000, the bay horse continued to run in claiming events until switching to the marathon grass game at Keeneland. The change has made all the difference in the world.
In winning his third consecutive 1 ½ turf stakes race in impressive style, the Mike Maker trained horse did it at expense of the home team. A trio of Illini-breds completed the superfecta, with Suntracer and The Pizza Man running on late to claim second and third over Ioya Bigtime. Maker failed to commit to a next start for his new star, but those in attendance wouldn't mind seeing him come back next month for the American St. Leger.
With the win in the Stars and Stripes, Dark Cove earned $89,100 to elevate his career bankroll to $488,154, while winning for the 9th time in his 24 lifetime starts.