Before a filly named Rachel Alexandra beat males then beat older males, a colt by Rough 'n Tumble set the standard of sterling sophomores. As a three-year-old, he won the Gotham, Withers, Arlington Classic (when on dirt), Vosburgh, and Hawthorne Gold Cup and was named that year's champion sprinter. The only off-the-board finish that year came at the hands of a disqualification in the Jersey Derby.
The following year, 1968, at age four, he crisscrossed the country taking down more stakes on his way to being a millionaire and a Hall of Famer. He won going short (Vosburgh, then at 7/8 mile), long (Suburban, then at 1 1/4 miles), on grass (United Nations), and made a stop at Arlington Park in August 1968 while going to earn champion honors in four categories: sprinter, handicap horse, a share of male turf honors, and Horse of the Year. Quite an encore.
His name: Dr. Fager. And, his performance at Arlington in the Washington Park at a single-turn mile is a statue-worthy performance. Carrying 134 pounds, he won by open lengths and sets the record for one mile on dirt, a record that's only been matched once since. Say "thirty two and one" around Arlington, and you might see a gleam in their eye of someone who remembers or appreciates that day. "Thirty two and one" refers to the final time of 1:32 1/5 for that year's Washington Park. Roll tape!
1968 Washington Park Handicap victory by Dr. Fager.
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Arlington Park -- Race 7 -- G3 Washington Park Handicap -- 1 1/8 miles on polytrack -- post time 3:56 pm CT
I've always had a soft spot for WORKIN FOR HOPS. He went out on the early lead in the Stars & Stripes on Million Preview Day, giving Ioya Bigtime his setup. I've always felt he was best at around a mile, and felt he had no business going a mile and a half around three turns. Now he's back a distance more within his range. He looks to be the controlling speed. He retains his regular rider, half of a potent team. MISTER MARDI GRAS won this race last year, holding off WORKIN FOR HOPS (who would be second, then disqualified to third). Off form over the winter in New Orleans, he rebounded to grab second in the Eclipse and was an okay third in the Arlington Handicap, chasing a lone speed Rahystrada that got a minor award in the Million. Eddie Perez gets back aboard. POOL PLAY ships south for trainer Mark Casse. He won the Foster last year then went into injury. He hasn't gotten the picture taken since that G1 victory, but he ran an okay fourth last time in the G3 Seagram Cup. Casse is 19% third off the layoff.
#3 WORKIN FOR HOPS (5/1)
#4 MISTER MARDI GRAS (5/2)
#7 POOL PLAY (9/2)
Longshot: #5 HATTASH (15/1) could have been yours for $40,000 last time and even for $27,500 early in the meet. He's got a win, two seconds, and a third in four polytrack routes this year. He's taking a big step up in class from $40K claimers and two-other-than allowances to today's strong G3 stakes. However, the trainer is having a solid meet and his best races of the year have all been when the pace has been slow (which it could be today with only WORKIN FOR HOPS on the front end). Getting Homeister to take the mount is a plus, the team have won together before at a price.
Updated on Thurs. Aug. 30 to include morning line odds.