horseman Gerard Butler has invaded Arlington
Park before – most
recently during last summer’s International Festival of Racing when he saddled
Michael Deegan’s Pachattack to finish sixth in the Grade I Beverly D. won by
Richard L. Duchossois’ Éclair de Lune.
However, this season Butler is
returning with a vengeance – arriving from overseas Sunday morning with a
contingent of six or seven stakes-caliber horses scheduled to compete in
Arlington’s major events throughout the 86-day spring and summer session which
begins this Friday and runs through Sunday, Sept. 25.
who celebrated his 45th birthday last week, will be here Sunday to supervise
the arrival of his Arlington string, return Great Britain shortly thereafter to oversee the
bulk of his operation at Newmarket and then be
back and forth across the Atlantic
intermittently throughout the season.
“My assistant Andrew Morris
will remain in Chicago to be in charge of the Arlington runners,” Butler
explained Monday morning while speaking over the phone from Newmarket, “but
I’ll be coming over at various times to saddle them in the bigger stakes races.
“Pachattack will be among the
group leaving Newmarket Wednesday and arriving
at Arlington Sunday morning,” said Butler, who spent four years in the United States
as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and an additional nine
months as an assistant to the late Rodney Rash. “Pachattack dwelt
‘big-time’ leaving the gate in the Beverly D. last summer and lost all chance
in the race. Hopefully, if things go well for her at Arlington this season, down the line we’ll
get another crack at the Beverly D. with her this year.
“However, if things go
according to plan, we’ll be in action at Arlington
long before that,” said Butler.
“We may even have two horses for the (Grade III) Hanshin Cup (first stakes race
of the Arlington
season May 21). I have a horse named Beauchamp Viceroy who has been
running on the all-weather tracks over here and is owned by Erik Penser.
I saddled Beauchamp Pilot and Compton Bolter for Mr. Penser in the Arlington
Millions of 2003 and 2001.
“Another possibility I might
have for the Hanshin (run at one mile over Arlington’s
Polytrack) is Mark Johnston Racing’s Joe Le Taxi,” Butler said. “He’s a ‘bread-and-butter’
type horse we have who has been running over some of our ‘all weather’ tracks
“I’m bringing over an
Irish-bred 3-year-old colt named Burj Alzain (owned by Mr. Asaad Al Banwan) who
might fit very well into your Mid-America Triple Crown races,” Butler said of
Arlington’s sophomore grass series that begins with the 77th running of the
$100,000 Arlington Classic on May 28, continues with the 96th renewal of the
Grade II American Derby July 9 and concludes with the 35th running of the Grade
I Secretariat Stakes on this year’s Arlington Million Day Aug. 13.
“I also have two 4-year-old
fillies – (Michael Deegan’s) Maristar and (T. C. Stewart’s) Akhmatova – that
both might fit in the (Grade III) Arlington Matron May 28,” Butler said. “They’ve been running well
over our ‘all-weathers’ over here – Maristar has won her last two and Akhmatova
won two straight last November – and both should like the Arlington
“Lastly, I have another owner
who has been back and forth on the possibility of sending some horses over with
this group of mine, but I’ve got to get back to him today and tell him he needs
to make a decision. He’s either going to be on the bus, or he’s
not. We’ll see about that shortly.”
THREE DIFFERENT POST TIMES IN AT ARLINGTON FOR OPENING WEEKEND
Guests of Arlington Park
and fans of Arlington’s
simulcast signal should be aware that on Friday’s Opening Day program, gates
will open at 11:15 a.m. and the races will start at 3 p.m.
There will be free admission
for all customers on Opening Day and the first 5,000 customers will get a
coupon good for a hot dog and a draft beer, or a hot dog and a soft drink for
just a penny. Also on Opening Day, Arlington
will offer simulcast wagering on the Grade I Kentucky Oaks as well as advance
wagering on Saturday’s Grade I Kentucky Derby, presented by Yum! Brands.
On Saturday at Arlington the local post
time will be 12:15 p.m. with guests getting to enjoy Chicagoland’s Largest
Kentucky Derby Day Party to include the chance to watch and wager on the
Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs.
On Mother’s Day Sunday, when
post time is slated for 1 p.m., the gates will open at 11:15 p.m. and the first
5,000 ladies through the gates will receive a free rose.
Also, there will be an
opportunity to get a free keepsake photo with the whole family taken by one of Arlington’s roaming
photographers, and of course there will also be pony rides and a petting zoo in
the Park Area to keep the kids happy.