Arlington Park: Prairie State Festival of Racing

The summer racing season in Chicago is in full swing at Arlington Park Racetrack and it is a big day today.  Today’s card, The Prairie State Festival of Racing, is a celebration of Illinois Thoroughbred Racing, featuring six $100,000 Stakes Races.  In order to qualify for entry in any of the six races there is one small but mandatory component: you must be bred in the Land of Lincoln.  In addition, Arlington Park has dedicated a race on today’s card to benefit the Galloping Out Foundation.  The foundation is well-known its efforts and dedication for the rescue and care of retired Thoroughbred racehorses.

Since we’ve got 6 races to look at, let’s get back to racing.  

The Feature Race: Race 10, Black Tie Affair Handicap

For those that aren’t yet that familiar with Arlington Park, this premiere venue of the Midwest is most known for its turf course so it shouldn’t be a surprise that today’s feature will be on the grass.  At 1 1/16 Mile for 3 yr olds and up the Morning Line favorite is Princeville Condo at 3-1.  Winless since December of 2009 may seem a little confusing as to why this colt was made the ML favorite but there’s always good reason.  In his previous 5 starts before last months AlwOC where he finished 3rd at Arlington, the 6 yr old gelding has been racing against tough company including a G3 Stakes race.  Trained by Michelle Boyce with Jozbin Santana in the irons, he returns to the Black Tie Affair where he finished 2nd last summer.

Coming in on the ML as the 2nd choice at 5-1 is an up and coming gelding, new to the stakes race circuit.  Denham, 5 yr old gelding, was most often seen racing in an assortment of Allowance and Optional Claiming races over the last few years.  In Dec of 2010 Denham started getting hot.  Since that win at Hawthorne the gelding went on to make it 4 wins in a row including the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap in April.  The streak continued when he moved into Arlington for his first race of the meet in May.  Today he will have his eyes set on extending the streak to 6 against the toughest company he has yet to face.

Picks: #11 Gathering Cloud across the board and # 1 Free Fighter to win

Race 9, The Lincoln Heritage Handicap

For Fillies and Mares 3 yr old and up, there is little separation between the ML favorite and the 2nd choice for this 1 1/16 mile trip over the turf.  Dundalk Dust is the horse to beat at 7/5 on the ML.  She returns to Illinois for the first time since winning the Illini Princess  Handicap at Hawthorne last fall.  After that race she won again over a stronger field in the Falls City  Handicap – Gr.2, at Churchill Downs.  Her most recent race this year in the New Orleans Ladies  Stakes she didn’t fare so well, finishing 7th.  However, that was her first race of 2011 and this Chris Block trained Filly looks poised to return to winning form today.

Right behind her is another Chris Block trainee who is looking to get back into the winners circle for the first time since scoring the Virginia H. Tarra Illinois Owners Stakes in the Fall of ’09.  At 2-1, Peyote Patty, a 6 yr old mare, gets her short odds because even though she hasn’t won as of late, she hasn’t been able to find herself out of the hunt, recording two 2nd’s, a 3rd and a 4th in her last four races.

Picks: Tough to beat the favorite, so I’ll play exotic variations.  Tri: 7 over the 1-2-4

Race 7, Springfield Stakes

Onto the to the Polytrack for a 3 yr old 1 Mile Sprint.  Securing the ML favorite again this race is successful Arlington Park trainer Chris Block with Mavericking at 5-2.  A once Kentucky Derby hopeful got to off to a good start at the Fairgrounds this year, finishing 3rd in the Grindestone Stakes before finishing well off the pace in 11th in the Louisiana Derby.  Key challengers will be Table Games, winner of the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity in Dec and Hydro Power who is still going for his first stakes win.

Picks: # 7 Table Games across the board

Race 6, Purple Violet Stakes

Similar to the Springfield Stakes this is also a 1 Mile Sprint over the Polytrack surface except it is for 3 yr old Fillies.  Moving into IL from PA is the 5-2 favorite Our Lady in Red, who finished 3rd in last months Inaugural Stakes at Presque Isle Downs.  Prior to that she scored the biggest win of career for trainer Richard Scherer when she won the Pretty Jenny Stakes at Hawthorne in April.  Looking to contend is Seans Silverdancer listed at 5-1 on the ML.  A Hawthorne Stakes winner herself in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, she raced against very tough company and finished 7th in the Silver Bullet Day at the Fairgrounds in January.

Picks: # 9 Third Chance to win, # 10 Seans Silverdancer across the board

Race 4, Isaac Murphy Handicap

This 6 F Sprint for Fillies and Mares 3 yrs old and up on the Polytrack is highlighted by Cruise the ML Favorite at 5-2.  Recent winner of the Governor’s Lady Handicap at Hawthorne in April, the Christine Janks horse will be guided by a well-known national rider in Corey Nakatani.  Rose Mountain, Wild Hope and Tessies Tilbury also ran in the Governor’s Lady and return today in attempt to settle the score with Cruise.

Picks: # 4 Wild Hope to win

Race 2, White Oak Handicap

6 F on the Polytrack, for 3 yr olds and up.  This field of 7 was hard to sort out for the odds makers. 4 horses are set at or lower than 4-1 on the ML.  The 2 being the lowest are Shrewd Operator at 5-2 and Mighty Rule at 3-1.  Last year’s winner, Shrewd Operator, returns looking for a repeat win in this race.  Mighty Rule and River Bear step into this race after finishing 1st and 2nd in the Robert S. Molaro at Hawthorne in April.

Picks: # 5 River Bear to win

It is a great day of racing at Arlington Park today and a great day for celebrating Illinois Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding.  For those in attendance the fun doesn’t stop at the completion of today’s final race on the card.  Following the races, the Galloping Out 2011 Charity Fundraiser begins with live entertainment, silent auctions, and great food.  It’s a great cause so stick around.  Good luck to all horses, jockey’s, trainers, owners and their connections.

Written by: Little Brink


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