Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
A trio of Grade III stakes races on Saturday will not only kick off the Memorial Day holiday weekend at Arlington International Racecourse, but will also serve as the curtain raisers on the track’s 25-event $5.5 million stakes slate. Two of Saturday’s main events will be run over the Polytrack while the third will be contested over Arlington’s grass course.
The lone turf race in the stakes troika is the $150,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth. The race, which serves as the first leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple, drew full field of 12 including Ken & Sarah Ramsey’s Admiral Kitten, second in the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day. The Mike Maker-trained Kitten’s Joy colt has never finished worse than second in three turf starts. Mike Smith has been named to ride.
Among those slated to face Admiral Kitten in the Arlington Classic are Jim Tafel’s Fordubai, runner-up in the Grade III Illinois Derby last month. The Greg Geier-trained son if E Dubai broke his maiden on the turf last fall. Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount.
Stakes winners Brown Almighty, General Election and Procurement have also been entered in the Arlington Classic. The first named, a Big Brown colt owned by Tri Star Racing, Joe Denson and Brent Gasaway and trained by Tim Ice, broke his maiden over this course last summer before shipping south to annex the $50,000 Sunny’s Halo at Louisiana Downs. Eddie Castro gets the call.
WinStar Farm’s General Election, runner-up in the Grade III Lexington over Keeneland’s Polytrack in April, will be making his turf debut for trainer Kellyn Gorder. Joe Rocco Jr. rides.
Glen Hill Farm’s Procurement invades from Santa Anita Park for trainer Tom Proctor. The son of Milwaukee Brew won the $70,000 La Puente Stakes at that track on April 21. Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard Procurement in his last four starts, gets a return call.
Others in the Arlington Classic, with riders named, are: Lothenbach Stables’ Bambazonki (Eduardo Perez); John Bell’s Bells Big Bernie (Tim Thornton); Rich Fontana’s Bobo (Florent Geroux); Terry Hamilton’s Dorsett (James Graham); Olympia Star’s Gefest (Rosemary Homeister Jr.), Erich Brehm & Gene Voss’s Whiskey Bravo (Chris Emigh); and Jim Ford’s Yorkshire Icon (Channing Hill).
The $150,000 Hanshin Cup at a mile over Polytrack attracted 10 older horses topped by Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft, a multiple graded stakes winner with more than $600,000 in career earnings. The 6-year-old son of Mineshaft has not raced since finishing third in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs last June but prior to that had won the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap, the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap and the Grade II New Orleans Handicap. E. T. Baird will get a leg up from trainer Anne Smith for the Hanshin.
Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, a career earner of more than $800,000, ran second in the Grade III Washington Park Handicap last fall in his last appearance at Arlington and has been competitive in several starts since, including two wins at Hawthorne last fall. The Chris Block-trained son of Belong to Me will be reunited with regular rider Eduardo Perez.
The remainder of the field for the Hanshin Cup (with riders named) are: G. Watts Humphrey Jr. & St. George Farm Racing’s Seruni (Mike Smith); Jim Tafel’s All Stormy (Kent Desormeaux); KFBC LLC’s Hattaash (Florent Geroux); Terry Hamilton’s Hammers Terror (James Graham); Camelia J. Casby’s Night Party (Shane Sellers); Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners & Gary Barber’s Patrioticandproud (Garrett Gomez); and William Stiritz’s Hogy (Chris Emigh).
Completing the trifecta of stakes races is the $150,000 Arlington Matron for fillies and mares at a mile and an eighth on Polytrack.
William Butler’s Lotta Lovin, a proven stakes winner on Polytrack, invades for trainer Mike Maker. The daughter of Repent has taken six of her seven victories over all-weather surfaces. Mike Smith has been named to ride the 4-year-old filly.
G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Ice Cream Silence could prove tough in here off a neck victory in the Grade III Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland in her last trip to post. The 4-year-old Street Sense filly is trained by Rusty Arnold and will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr.
Hooh Why, the millionaire mare owned by Mark Hoffman & Earl Trostud Jr., finished second in this race last year. The 7-year-old is in good form and will be ridden by the meet’s leading rider Emmanuel Esquivel.
The rest of the field for the Arlington Matron (with jockeys named) are: Bruce Lunsford’s Distorted Legacy (Garrett Gomez), Ken & Sarah Ramsey’s Sisterhood (Joao Moreira), Asiel Stable’s Diva’s Diamond (Tim Thornton); Shadwell Stable’s Ausus (James Graham); Coffeepot Stables’ Imposing Grace (Channing Hill); and Flaxman Holdings’ Absolute Crackers (Eddie Castro).