Thomas McCarthy’s General Quarters, winner of the Grade I
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in May, faces 10 rivals
including Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well in the Grade III $150,000 Arlington
Handicap Saturday at Arlington
The Arlington Handicap serves as
the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be held Aug.
21, and will be run at the Million distance of a mile and a quarter over
Arlington’s world famous turf course.
The race is one of three major
stakes that comprise the track’s Million Preview Day program. In addition
to the Arlington Handicap, the 11-race card includes the Grade II $200,000
American Derby and the Grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap. As an added
bonus, the 1-2-3 finishers in the Arlington Handicap will have their entry and
starting fees waived for the Million should they elect to run in that event
A son of Sky Mesa, General Quarters comes in off a
third-place finish over dirt in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill
last month and earlier this year was second in three main track stakes races at
the Fair Grounds including the Grade II New Orleans Handicap.
As a 3-year-old last year, General Quarters won Tampa’s Grade III Sam F.
Davis Stakes and Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass on the road to the 2009 Triple
Crown, but was compromised by a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby and
subsequently injured in the Preakness. General Quarters will carry
co-highweight of 122 pounds including Rafael Bejarano, who rode General Quarters
in the Turf Classic.
Also in at 122 pounds is Robert S. Evans’ Marsh Side,
winner of the Grade I Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine last year and the
Grade I Canadian International over that same course the previous year.
The 7-year-old Gone West horse, trained by Hall of Fame
conditioner Neil Drysdale, returns to the turf after disappointing runs on dirt
in the Group I Japan Cup last November, and on the synthetic Pro Ride surface
at Santa Anita in the Grade II San Antonio Handicap and Grade I Santa Anita
Handicap. Robby Albarado has been named to ride.
Defending champion Just as Well returns to Arlington in search of
his first win since last year’s Arlington Handicap. The son of A. P. Indy
followed his local score with a second-place finish to Gio Ponti in the
Arlington Million and a runner-up placing behind Marsh Side in the Northern
Dancer. His best effort this year was a second in the Grade II Dixie
Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day May 15. Assigned 119 pounds for
Arlington Handicap, Just as Well will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Robert Courtney’s Rahystrada, winner of the Grade III
River City Handicap at Churchill last fall, most recently was third in the Dixie. The son of Rahy is trained by Byron Hughes
and will be ridden by Inez Karlsson.
Others in the field for Saturday’s Arlington Handicap
include (with jockey and weight assignment): Thomas Fedro & Team Block’s
Free Fighter (Francisco Torres, 116 pounds), winner of the Grade III Louisville
Handicap at Churchill in May; Virginia Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak (Junior
Alvarado, 116), reigning Illinois Horse of the Year; Barr Three LLC &
Cherrywood Racing’s Princeville Condo (Jesus Castanon, 114), runner-up in the
Illinois Owners Stakes and Black Tie Affair Handicap in his last two starts;
and Shadwell Stable’s Tajaweed (Michael Baze, 114), an allowance winner over
this course two starts back.
Also, Codelaria Jessica’s Imponente Purse (James Graham,
113), group stakes placed in Brazil;
George Ditola’s Cross
Village (E. T. Baird,
112), an allowance winner over this course; William Patterson’s Rumor Has It
(Florent Geroux, 110), a dual overnight stakes victor here last summer.