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Illinois-Bred Horses Shine in the Prairie State Festival

On this hot (well, hot to me) and sunny day in Chicago the best of Illinois-bred runners were featured in a sextet of $125,000 stakes races. The day started off with quite the downpour (so much that the first race was delayed) but the sun came out and provided the expected picturesque setting at Arlington Park. The racing today provided some rather large upsets too! Here is the review of the 2012 Prairie State Festival!






































 (Classic setting from Arlington Park - after the rain subsided) 


(Warm day at Arlington) 

8-1 choice Capt. Bullet Bob took home the White Oak Handicap, a race featuring 3 year olds and older at six furlongs on the all-weather track. Stalking the pace setter Roarin Missile, jockey Tim Thornton fought diligently down the stretch to take the race by just a neck. Actually it was a fairly close finish in this one as Four Left Feet and Roarin Missile were both right there in the end as well. Odds on favorite, and long time dominator of the Illinois circuit, River Bear failed to fire today for rider Danush Sukie. 
 (Capt. Bullet Bob squeezes through for victory)
(Capt. Bullet Bob scores! - Photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos) 
(Capt. Bullet Bob and Tim Thornton in the winners circle) 
(Winning jockey Tim Thornton

Second longest choice in this field, Sandia Crest, took home the victory at 20-1 for Frank Kirby’s Hondo Ranch in the Springfield Stakes featuring up and coming 3 year olds going one mile on the Polytrack. With the earlier rain one might have thought that the speed would have held. Italian Breeze got out to the lead as expected, but he couldn’t hang on. Sandia Crest came out of the clouds and finished from dead last early to take the win by 1 ¼ lengths. The horse I had been watching for some time, Report Card, didn’t like how the track “balled” up under his feet according to jockey Cisco Torres. Still, it’s always great to see long time Chicago trainer Frank Kirby win!
(Sandia Crest crosses first!) 
(Sandia Crest - photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos) 
(Sandia Crest - a winner!! **see anyone else familiar in the photo?**) 

Odds on favorite Third Chance did exactly what we all expected her to do and that was to destroy the field in the Isaac Murphy Handicap, winning by 6 ½ lengths! Kip Berries set the early lead through ¼ of a mile as expected. Then Third Chance took over ½ mile in and never looked back. This was really Third Chance’s race to lose: her form held and she did not disappoint! 
(Third Chance - the winner!)
(Third Chance - courtesy Four Footed Fotos)
(Winning jockey Cisco Torres)
I caught up with winning jockey Cisco Torres after the race to ask about his trip and any concern about Kip Berries.  

Making only her second start as a three year old, and just coming off her maiden win (a nine length victory on May 25) La Tia and jockey Constantino Roman took the lead out of the gate and never looked back scoring a large 8 ¼ length victory at 6-1 in the Purple Violet Stakes! Throughout the entire one-turn mile race on the Polytrack La Tia’s lead just kept getting bigger and bigger. Pretty Jenny victor Dolly Peach and jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. got up for 2nd. 
(La Tia leads the entire way!) 
(La Tia!  - Courtesy of Four Footed Fotos) 

(La Tia in the winners circle!) 
I caught up with Constantino after the race to get his take on the trip. 

In yet another impressive victory on the day, James Graham drove post time favorite Cumulonimble to a three length victory over a place dead-heat of Pathway and Katie the Lady. Katie the Lady had the lead for most of the race, though it never was a large one. She didn’t set absurdly fast fractions, but she just could not hold the lead in the end. Cumulonimble was just too tough and caught the leader mid-stretch. James Graham commented after the race, “It was a perfect setup. They went a little quick up front. My filly sat real well and when I pulled the trigger - she went.” 
(Cumulonimble wins on the turf course!) 
(Cumulonimble! - Courtesy of Four Footed Fotos) 
(Cumulonimble and James Graham!) 
(Winning jockey James Graham!) 

Always one of my favorite races, this turf race features the best older horses going 1 1/16 miles. In this case, the speed held as winning jockey ET Baird guided the oldest horse in the race, seven year old Mr. Mischief, to a 1 ½ length victory over Chris Block’s Suntracer. 30-1 shot Peso tracked Mr. Mischief for most of the race but couldn’t apply enough pressure and faded in the end. 
(Mr. Mischief alone on the lead! - Courtesy of Four Footed Fotos) 
(Mr. Mischief in the winners circle) 

(Winning jockey - ET Baird!)
I caught up with ET after the race to find out if he was concerned with Peso challenging the lead.  
I hope you can tell by the photos and videos that I had a great time covering the races today from Arlington! There was a constant stream of information flowing from the @chidarkhorse Twitter account so I hope all of you had a chance to follow the action and maybe even cash some tickets today! 
Also, don't forget to check out the great new series from Arlington Park as they take a look at the life of a jockey "Behind the Silks" (featuring Tim Thornton). 


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Older Comments about Illinois-Bred Horses Shine in the Prairie State Festival...

Great recap Dark Horse! I must say I have never been closer to Illinois racing and I am finding it to be a wonderful experience.
Thanks Shadowfax! It was a bit hot for my Minnesotan blood for sure, but a very fun day none the less. Third Chance was quite impressive!
Great job recapping the racapping a great day of racing at AP. I like the video interviews, good and poignant questions. Better you than me out there in the heat.
Thanks for the recap Chris, the interviews with the jocks were great!
Hit enter too soon. I enjoyed the jockey interviews as well.... Nice work by the Dark Horse!
Great recap!!!
Love the exclusive coverage/photos/videos, Dark Horse!
Nice photo/video spread! Love the boots on Tim Thornton.
Dad, can i be the philidelphia horses?

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