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Rusty Arnold is one of those trainers who might not have horses in all the big races but always seems have one or two who rise to the upper rungs of the ladder.
This year, that would be Red Carpet Ready, a 3-year-old daughter of Oscar Performance who won the Grade 2 Eight Belles on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.
She started her career with three straight wins, including in the Forward Gal (G3) in February. Then she stretched out to a mile in the Davona Dale (G2) and finished third before cutting back to seven furlongs and winning the Eight Belles.
“Red Carpet Ready came out of her race in very good shape,” Arnold said Monday from Churchill Downs. “She acts good. She had an easy breeze on Friday. She is going to run probably on June 11 at Churchill Downs in the Leslie’s Lady. It's an overnight handicap. And the reason we're running there is the timing is perfect if we are going to try to make it to the Test (G1) at Saratoga. It's a race in the middle. It’ll either be there or she'll run in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont, one of the two.”
Arnold said he’d like “to have a barn full like” Red Carpet Ready.
“She's a sweetheart,” he said. “She's not a sissy, but she's easy to train. She's got a very good mind on her. She likes her job. Everything has gone very well with her so far.”
Red Carpet Ready is Arnold’s only graded-stakes winner this year, but that’s OK with him. His barn is “not full of champions, but I’ve got some horses that are fine.”
He discussed some of his other top runners for the latest in Horse Racing Nation’s Barn Tour series.
Sweet Cherry Pie. The 3-year-old son of Twirling Candy broke his maiden on second try at Keeneland in April, then was second to gate-to-wire winner Saudi Crown, trained by Brad Cox, in a Churchill Downs allowance Sunday. He “finished a very good second to probably a very good horse,” Arnold said. “Brad's horse had one start, was pretty spectacular. And our horse, Sweet Cherry Pie, his last start was very good off of kind of a green fourth at Gulfstream and he ran well yesterday. He wasn't good enough to beat Brad's horse but ran well. Very happy with him. He will probably stay at Churchill and come back in an a-other-than at the end of the meet if it's in the book the right way and the timing's good. And you'll probably end up seeing him on the grass before the year's over. He's out of a grass family, but he's run so well on the dirt, we just haven't gotten to that yet.”
Just a Care. The Ireland-bred daughter of Australia debuted in June at age 2 and didn’t return until February, when she broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park. That was followed by a second in a black-type stakes at Gulfstream, and then she was sixth last out in the Limestone Stakes at Keeneland. “Just a Care didn't run as well at Keeneland as we thought she would, but she came out of it well. Her next race is probably going to be the Stormy Blues at Pimlico (on June 18). And that would be her next start. It's 3-year-old fillies going five and a half on the grass.”
Work of Fiction. The 3-year-old Good Magic filly broke her maiden at Keeneland last month on her sixth try and her second try on turf. Then she came back last week to finish sixth in the black-type Horseshoe Indianapolis Handicap. “We came out of the maiden race, tried the stake in Indiana. She ran well, we didn't get anything. She was head and head for the lead at probably the sixteenth pole. She may be limited on how far she wants to run. But I think the grass has been her thing. She's moved up on it, and we'll probably leave her right here (at Churchill Downs), try to find a condition allowance race, a non-two at Churchill, probably a flat mile toward the end of June to early July and we'll see where she places herself from there.”
Spears Mill. The 3-year-old Quality Road filly was second in her December debut at Turfway and won her next start there in January but hasn’t raced since. “Spears Mill had to go to the farm. She ran a good race this winter and got her maiden broke. We've got pretty good hope for her. She had an issue. She went home. I don't have her back yet. I think she just started back in training with Geoff Mulcahy (of Mulcahy Equine) this week, maybe last week. And when she gets probably 30 days in or if he's satisfied with her, he'll send her on to me.”
She’s Keen. The 4-year-old daughter of Keen Ice has only one win from 11 career starts, but this year she has a second and two thirds from her three starts. “She's Keen has been a solid a-other-than. She runs well every time but hasn't got to the next level yet. She'll stay right at Churchill and come back in an a-other-than at Churchill, and probably will stay in this area.”
Medaglia Forever. The 3-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly hasn’t broken her maiden, but she has two seconds from four starts. “She's run two good races on the dirt. We had kind of a debacle in the middle when we tried her on the poly, which probably was an error. But her last race, she ran really, really hard. And we will run her back in a maiden race at Churchill Downs. We don't have a date picked out yet, but it will be a maiden at Churchill Downs. And she's a filly we think through the year will get better. That's a family that gets better, and I'm kind of excited about her. When she grows up and gets stronger and better, I think she'll improve.”