Trainer Michele Boyce has been
a strong supporter of Arlington Park’s Prairie State Festival since its inception in
2000, but the Chicago-based conditioner might be in a position to add
significantly to her totals when the six-stakes program restricted to
Illinois-breds has its annual renewal June 19 at Chicago’s northwest suburban oval.
strongest of her possible Prairie State starters is Barr Three and Cherrywood Racing
Stables II’s Princeville Condo, nominated to next weekend’s $100,000 Black Tie
Affair Handicap at 1 1/16-miles over Arlington’s
world-famous turf course.
Boyce held Princeville Condo’s
grass-racing talent in such high regard last winter that she sent the
5-year-old gelding to New Orleans
under the temporary care of friend and fellow trainer Greg Geier to see if he
could run in open company.
The first test came in Fair
Grounds’ $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap on Dec. 26 over the Crescent City oval’s Stall-Wilson turf
course. Princeville Condo answered the challenge, coming from far back in
the field to be best by a head at the wire.
With that question of open
company ability answered affirmatively, Boyce left the horse down in New Orleans with an eye
on Fair Grounds’ three-graded stakes grass series, but that dream was
eliminated when Princeville Condo finished an indifferent fifth in the Grade
III Col. E. R. Bradley Stakes as the first leg of the series on Jan. 23.
The reason for that defeat was
discovered the morning after the race when Princeville Condo was diagnosed with
an entrapped epiglottis. The horse was sent to Kentucky for surgery to correct that problem
but then he suffered a bruised foot that further delayed his return.
Princeville Condo finally
returned to the races May 15 here in the $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes over
Polytrack and finished second by a half-length despite the limited training.
“I was very pleased,” said
Boyce after the race. “If he hadn’t been kept wide, he might have won it,
and also it was his first time on ‘Poly’.
“We’re going to give him a
short work tomorrow morning,” said Boyce Saturday during training hours.
“Hopefully, that’s all he’ll need to be at his best. He’s been training
quite nicely in the mornings, and he’s always been a horse that stays fit.
“He’s won over every kind of
turf,” concluded Boyce, “so I don’t really have a preference as to how it comes
up, but safety-wise, I wouldn’t want it to come up too soggy.”
Including Princeville Condo,
Boyce has nominated four horses in four of the six Prairie State Festival
races. The others are Terry Biondo, Sally Lehnhardt and Cherrywood Racing
Stables II’s Saygoodnightgracie in the $100,000 Lincoln Heritage Handicap for
fillies and mares at 1 1/16-miles over the grass, Barr Three’s Happy Henrietta
in the $100,000 Isaac Murphy Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs, and
Barr Three’s Delightful Daisy the $100,000 Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old
fillies at three-quarters of a mile.
“Saygoodnightgracie ran a nice
race in her last start, but I’m not really sure of her status in this race (the
Lincoln Heritage),” said Boyce. “I would say she’s about 50-50 to go in
“I think I would give Happy
Henrietta a shot in the Isaac Murphy,” said Boyce. “She was coming off a
long layoff in her last race but I thought she ran well. Of course,
Christine’s (Janks) filly (Nicks) looks really strong in there. I would
say she’s definitely the one to beat.
“Also, I was very impressed
with (Purple Violet possible) Delightful Daisy’s last race,” concluded
Boyce. “We put the blinkers on her for that last start and they seem to really
have helped her focus on the task at hand. She seems to be rounding to
form now. But I also thought Christine’s filly (Princess Ally Rose) ran a
very nice race in her debut last time, so I would say that she would be one to
look out for here, too.”