Frank Mancari’s Free Fighter took the lead in mid-stretch
and drew off to win the $100,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes Saturday at Arlington
Park. The Mike Reavis-trained son of Out of Place was ridden by Tim
Thornton and covered the mile and a half over Polytrack in a track record of
2:31.98 for the seldom run distance.
Originally carded to be run on turf, the Stars and Stripes
was moved to the main track after an overnight storm dropped a single-day
record of nearly seven inches at nearby O’Hare International Airport.
(trainer Reavis) and I planned to let him sit comfortably wherever he was and
sit off the speed a little bit,” Thornton said. “It worked out perfectly.
I was able to sit on the fence all the way around there and save all the ground
until (Kingofthebluegrass) was stopping bad in front of me. I was able to ease
out and when I asked him to pick it up, he did.”
Illinois-bred 6-year-old won this race in 2009 when owned by Tom Fedro &
Team Block and trained by Chris Block. Mancari purchased the horse
privately over the winter in Florida and sent him to Reavis to train.
2011 Stars and Stripes was his first victory for his new connections and his
eighth in 32 starts overall. He added $58,800 to his bankroll which
stands at $441,768.
Grade I winner Winchester, the 9-10 post time favorite, was making his first
start on a surface other than grass and did well to finish second in the
“He ran great, no excuses,” said Liam Kelly, assistant to
trainer Christophe Clement. “Cornelio (jockey Velasquez) said he's a
different horse on grass. When they took (the race) off the grass we were
thinking of scratching. He'd never run on it before, and nothing against
the other horses but it didn't look the strongest field. We had to take
Proceed Bee was third, followed by Hattash, Lemonade Kid,
Kingofthebluegrass and Getta Rhythm to complete the order of finish.
Free Fighter paid $20.60, $7.60 and $4.40. Winchester
returned $2.60 and $2.40. Proceed Bee paid $3.40.