At nine years of age, Robert Courtney Jr.’s
Rahystrada became not only the oldest horse to win the Arlington
Handicap but also the first horse to win the Grade III turf race three
times after having previously taken the 2010 and 2012 renewals of the
mile and a quarter race. Rosie Napravnik was aboard the son of Rahy who
was clocked in 2:01.66 over firm going.
“We’re as amazed as anybody,” said
trainer Byron “Scooter” Hughes. “He keeps telling us he wants to go, so
we go. Great ride by Rosie. She had it all in hand. It was great.”
Never far off the pace, Rahystrada
tracked leader Beer Garden who took the field of seven older runners
through early splits of 24.56 seconds, 49.47 seconds and 1:13.86 before
fading to last.
Rahystrada took the lead approaching
the top of the stretch and though he drifted out a bit in the lane, he
was able to hold off a late bid by Temeraine to win by a half-length.
“He’s very talented. He’s got as much heart as any of them,” said
Napravnik, who won her second graded stakes of the afternoon after
previously capturing the Stars and Stripes Stakes aboard Dark Cove.
The veteran performer added $117,600
to his career earnings which now stands at $1,371,750 and more
importantly will have his entry and start fees waived for the Grade I
Arlington Million on Aug. 17 should his connections decide to return in
five weeks. Rahystrada has made three previous starts in the Arlington
Million, finishing fourth in 2010, fifth in 2011 and third last year.
Both the runner-up Temeraine, who
rallied from far back to finish second by a neck, and third-place
finisher and post time favorite Dullahan will also have their entry and
start fees waived for the Million although the connections of Dullahan
have indicated that they are pointing instead toward the Grade I Pacific
Classic at Del Mar.
“I had a perfect trip,” said Eddie
Castro, who rode the runner-up. “I think a little more speed and he
could have won. He ran a great race and in the stretch he was flying.”
“I honestly think we could have won
if the leader didn't bolt in the stretch,” said Dullahan’s rider Kent
Desormeaux. “We were too far back for there to be any actual
interference, but he saw that horse bolt and he just stopped himself. He
got intimidated and that was it. I really think we could have won.”
“I thought he looked good finishing,”
added trainer Dale Romans of the beaten favorite. “I think he was
running hard and he got a little spooked by Rahystrada drifting in front
of him. It stopped his momentum a little bit. I thought he ran a nice
race. We are headed to the Pacific Classic after this.”
Third choice in the wagering, Rahystrada paid $8.80, $4.20 and $3.20. Temeraine paid $19.60 and $8. Dullahan paid $3.40.
Najjaar, Keep Up, Coalport and Beer Garden completed the order of finish.