Arlington Million Preview Day in Photos: Ghost Hunter Stars

Arlington Million Preview Day in Photos: Ghost Hunter Stars
Photo: Heidi Carpenter

Midsummer means heat, humidity, insects, and great racing at Arlington Park. Although this particular Saturday in July is technically a month away from midsummer, this year’s Million Preview Day brought all of the above, and then some.

With fresh faces and returning ones, equine and human alike,  it was a wonderful day at one of the jewels of the Thoroughbred circuit.


In the American Derby (G3), a 1-1/8 miles turf route, favored Sonic Boom led wire-to-wire with Julien Leparoux in the irons. The colt’s flashy chestnut-and-chrome looks belied his pedigree, with the plain More Than Ready as his sire and equally plain Indian Charlie as his damsire.


The American Derby was Sonic Boom’s first graded stakes win, and third win in four stars for the year. Said Ian Wilkes, trainer of Sonic Boom, “This was a step forward for him today. I think with Julien, we figured out how to ride him, and let him do his thing.”

Sonic Boom is walked in the paddock prior to the American Derby (G3).

Sonic Boom and Julien Leparoux warm up in the post parade prior to the American Derby (G3).

Sonic Boom and Julien Leparoux take the lead early in the American Derby (G3).

Sonic Boom and Julien Leparoux win the American Derby (G3).

Sonic Boom and Julien Leparoux win the American Derby (G3).

Sonic Boom and Julien Leparoux after winning the American Derby (G3).

Argentinian mare Dona Bruja has found the midwest turf to her liking. Fresh off a win in the Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs, Dona Bruja faced down Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1) winner Time and Motion to add the 1-1/16 mile Modesty Handicap (G3) to her resume. The five-year-old mare is now two-for-two in the United States, and has won ten of her 12 races overall.

“I had a lot of confidence in this filly. All I wanted to do was get her settled into a nice rhythm, and she relaxed really nice for me, more so today than she has before, she’s very professional,” jockey Declan Cannon remarked.

One Liz is walked in the paddock prior to the Modesty Handicap (G3).

Dona Bruja (ARG) is walked in the paddock prior to the Modesty Handicap (G3).

Time and Motion is walked in the walking ring prior to the Modesty Handicap (G3).

Daring Duchess and Julien Leparoux walk in the walking ring prior to the Modesty Handicap (G3).

One Liz and Daring Duchess lead early in the Modesty Handicap (G3).

Dona Bruja (ARG) and Declan Cannon win the Modesty Handicap (G3).

Declan Cannon points to Dona Bruja (ARG) after winning the Modesty Handicap (G3).

Illinois-bred and sentimental favorite The Pizza Man hoped to take his third win in the 1-½ miles Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3). This year’s edition of the Stars and Stripes was the eight-year-old gelding’s fifth consecutive entry in the race. With regular rider Florent Geroux up, The Pizza Man finished a game second to Keystoneforvictory and Julien Leparoux.


“[The Pizza Man] felt good, turning for home I thought I was going to get the win, but the one horse just ran him down the last eighth of a mile,” said Geroux. “He ran great, I think he’s improved on his last race and I think he’s moving in the right direction. He’s a little bit older now and it might take him a bit longer to get to his top form.”

Keystoneforvictory is walked in the walking ring prior to the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3).

The Pizza Man and Florent Geroux walk in the walking ring prior to the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3).

The Pizza Man and Florent Geroux make their move in the Stars and Stripes (G3) homestretch while Keystoneforvictory and Julien Leparoux, near the rear, simultaneously begin moving up.

Keystoneforvictory and Julien Leparoux win the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3).

The Pizza Man and Florent Geroux finish a strong second in the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3).

Keystoneforvictory and Julien Leparoux are led into the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3) winner's circle.

Favored Kasaqui (ARG) also hoped for a repeat victory in his race, the 1-1/16 mile Arlington Handicap (G3). With James Graham up, the gray horse was had rough going early and late in the race, finishing third. Ghost Hunter, a well-traveled seven-year-old gelding, saved ground with the inside path to win by 1-¾ lengths.

“I think my decision to go inside was the right one. I was trying to decide – if I went outside it would use too much – and then the door opened and I took it,” said jockey Edwin Gonzalez.

The Arlington Handicap was the first graded stakes win for Ghost Hunter, and the gelding’s 18th win in 46 starts.

Manitoulin is walked in the paddock prior to the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Kasaqui (ARG) is walked in the paddock prior to the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Ghost Hunter and Edwin Gonzalez are led in the walking ring prior to the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Manitoulin and Florent Geroux warm up in the post parade prior to the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Kasaqui (ARG) and James Graham warm up in the post parade prior to the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Oak Brook and Crewman set the early pace in the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Ghost Hunter and Edwin Gonzalez win the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Ghost Hunter and Edwin Gonzalez win the Arlington Handicap (G3).

Ghost Hunter and Edwin Gonzalez win the Arlington Handicap (G3).

 Meet Heidi Carpenter

 

An equestrian since 1986, Heidi has loved horses for as long as she can remember. She fell in love with the sport and history of Thoroughbred racing as a young girl after reading about the great champions of yesteryear, including Man o' War, Lexington, Equipoise, and Citation.

Heidi has a great interest in the stories, connections and images abound in Thoroughbred racing. She also enjoys studying pedigrees and racing history.

Heidi lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband (who is also a racing fan) and four cats, and has her beloved horse, Limerick, boarded nearby. Registered as Amanda Bry, Limerick is a 1991-model OTTB mare that Heidi has had since 1996. Heidi also runs Racing Reviewer.

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