ARLINGTON HEIGHTS--For each of the major turf stakes races, check out detailed reports on each of those races at ChicagoNow.
Straight Line Stakes: Francois holds on
The opener of the day's racing, the $65,000 Straight Line Stakes for three-year-olds on the polytrack, saw FRANCOIS stalk his way to victory. A cluster of runners set out on a honest but lively pace of :24.13 and :47.28 for the opening quarter and half. HAMMERS TERROR, close to the early pace throughout, took the lead at the three-quarter mark, but wilted in the stretch. The heavy even-money favorite would finish fourth, off the board. SWEET LUCA got first run on the leaders, but FRANCOIS got the best and last run, winning by a half length over SWEET LUCA.
FRANCOIS, a sophomore by Smarty Jones, was timed in 1:37.02 for the single-turn polytrack mile. He went off at 9-2 as the third choice in the wagering, paying $11.20 to win. Jeffrey Sanchez rode the winner for trainer Charles Bettis.
FRANCOIS (green silks) taking the Straight Line Stakes.
Hatoof Stakes, 1st Division: JULIA'S STAR Shines Brightest
The first of two divisions of the Hatoof Stakes appeared stronger on paper with American Oaks also-ran NAYARRA and Arlington Oaks winner LA TIA seeing the starter. However, it was another stakes veteran, JULIA'S STAR, who pressed and closed to take the victory in the second $65,000 stakes on the day.
LA TIA, to no one's surprise, took the early lead and cut fractions of :23.76, :48.66, and 1:13.73. In the stretch, the closers came in ZAPPER BELLE, NAYARRA, and JULIA'S STAR. JULIA'S STAR also had to fight off the closing challengers after grabbing the lead, holding on by a half-length in 1:44.01 for the "about" 1 1/16 miles on turf rated "good".
JULIA'S STAR, a three year daughter of El Prado, went off at nearly 10-1 and paid $21.60 to win. Julian Leparoux and Joan Scott were the winning jockey/trainer combination.
JULIA'S STAR (white cap) takes the first division of the Hatoof Stakes.
American St. Leger: Jakkalberry Strikes
Secretariat: Bayrir Holds All at Bay
Hatoof Stakes, 2nd Division: Leading Astray Leads at End
The familiar yellow and green silks of Team Block paid a visit to the Arlington International Festival winners' circle between the major stakes races. In the second division of the $65,000 Hatoof Stakes for three year old fillies on the turf, Trainer Chris Block and rider Eddie Perez served as the trainer and jockey of winner LEADING ASTRAY, an Illinois-bred three-year-old by Belong to Me.
LEADING ASTRAY dropped back to fifth at the start, behind the two-pronged leading pair of SOONERETTE and LADY CANDIDATE that set an early pace of :23.91 and :48.38. A length back when a three-quarters time of 1:12.76 was posted, LEADING ASTRAY was one of two three coming after the leaders. The other was FREEDOM REIGNS, with LEADING ASTRAY besting FREEDOM REIGNS by a head. A third closer, DRAMA DRAMA, got the show honors.
LEADING ASTRAY (yellow cap) takes the second division of the Hatoof.
Winning trainer Chris Block commented that "today was a test" for LEADING ASTRAY, with the logical next test being the G3 Pucker Up on September 15th.
LEADING ASTRAY was the slight favorite at 5-2 odds and paid $6.80 to win.
Beverly D.: I'm A Dreamer Holds On
Arlington Million: Little Mike Wins Big
Announced attendance for the Arlington International Festival of Racing was a very solid 34,002.
All photos courtesy Four Footed Photos. Special thanks to Sr. Communications Mgr. Dave Zenner for considerations.