Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado solidified his status as the
best turf-favoring 3-year-old in North America with a 1 ¼-length victory over
European invader Wigmore Hall in the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at
Arlington Park Saturday before a crowd of 30,304, and in the opinion of his
jockey Kent Desormeaux he may be the best 3-year-old in North America
regardless of surface.
“I think he’s by far the best 3-year-old and I don’t just
mean on turf,” said the Hall of Fame jockey following his second straight
victory in the Secretariat after winning last year’s renewal aboard Take the
Points. “I think I should have won the Kentucky Derby but I got shut off at the
“We went slow,” Desormeaux said of today’s trip aboard the
son of El Prado. “He’s a natural striding horse and I had to drag him off
the lead which was my biggest concern. It worked out good. The turf is a bit
soft but we were going slow.”
Trained by Dale Romans, Paddy O’Prado covered the mile and
a quarter in 2:04.71 over a turf course rated “good” after overnight rains
Friday into Saturday morning.
The victory was the third straight stakes score for Paddy
O’Prado, who captured the Grade II Colonial Turf Cup and the Grade II Virginia
Derby in his previous starts after running third in the Grade I Kentucky Derby
and sixth in the Grade I Preakness Stakes. He earned $240,000 to boost
his bankroll to $1,351,297.
Hall, after breaking a step slowly, was last in the field of six sophomores
through three-quarters of a mile before commencing a rally to get up for second
“The pace wasn’t great for him,” said Jamie Spencer, who
rode the runner-up. “The horse had to be there too early. No excuses the
best horse won. I had plenty of time to get him though the straight. He
needs a stronger pace but you can’t have everything.”
Workin for Hops, winner of the $100,000 Arlington Classic
and Grade II American Derby over this course, had his bid for a sweep of Arlington’s Mid-America
Triple snapped with a third-place finish in the Secretariat.
“We didn't want to be too close,” said Workin for Hops’s
jockey Francisco Torres. “He showed up, I can't ask for more. They’ve met
before, the winner beat him by three lengths in Virginia and only a length and a half or two
here so we’re gaining on him.”
Cherokee Lord, a 50-1 outsider, set the pace in the race
through slow fractions of 25.80 seconds, 51.78 seconds, 1:16.94 and 1:41.52
before giving way to finish fourth.
Dean’s Kitten and Mister Marti Gras completed the order of
Paddy O’Prado, the 1-2 favorite, paid $3, $2.20 and
$2.10. Wigmore Hall returned $3.40 and $2.40. Workin for Hops paid $2.40.