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Boyce Ready for Prairie State Festival

Arlington Park.

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.


Surely the 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 there.


“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.”






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