ARLINGTON HEIGHTS-- On a damp and overcast Saturday, the first three graded stakes of the 2013 Arlington Park season each saw longshot winners triumph, with locally based connections winning two of the three graded stakes. All three stakes carried a purse of $150,000 and Grade 3 status.
Arlington Matron: IMPOSING GRACE Edges Clear
After spending the Winter and Spring chasing around 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can in various dirt races, IMPOSING GRACE would again do some chasing, as she would be second, taken just off the pace throughout most of nine furlong Arlington Matron on polytrack. IMPOSING GRACE was the pursuer, LOTTA LOVIN would be the pursued in the early stages. The pair broke alertly and rattled off splits of :24.83 for the opening quarter, :49.38 for the opening half, and 1:13.67 for the three-quarters. In the stretch, the pressure on LOTTA LOVIN finally got to her and she yielded to third, passed by eventual winner IMPOSING GRACE and SISTERHOOD. SISTERHOOD wasn't that far behind the leading two at any stage of the race. In deep stretch, IMPOSING GRACE edged clear to score by a half length over SISTERHOOD. LOTTA LOVIN held on for third, a neck behind SISTERHOOD and a neck to the better over 5-2 post time favorite AUSUS, who rounded out the superfecta.
IMPOSING GRACE (front, white cap) takes command in the stretch to win the G3 Arlington Matron.
IMPOSING GRACE, a four-year-old filly by Empire Maker, was sent off at 8-1, the second longest choice on the toteboard. She paid $19.20 to win and covered the nine furlongs on the always-rated-fast synthetic in 1:50.21.
Winning trainer Wayne Catalano jumped for joy after winning the Arlington for the locally based Coffeepot Stables. While he gave uncertain plans after the race, he did think a graded stakes was possible off the second places finishes earlier in the year to Believe You Can.
Winning rider Channing Hill commented that "she really ran a big race. She broke well and was sitting extremely comfortable on the backstretch. She gave me all the confidence in the world picking it up at the eighth pole."
The $2 7-3 exacta of IMPOSING GRACE and SISTERHOOD returned $132.00. The fifty cent 7-3-6 trifecta of IMPOSING GRACE, SISTERHOOD, and LOTTA LOVIN paid $185.45. Dime superfectas with AUSUS in the fourth position yielded $184.49 to those who had it.
Hanshin Cup: HOGY Gets the Glory
Assistant Trainer John Poole mentioned in a post-race interview that HOGY does his best running "fresh", with a fair amount of time between starts. He hadn't seen the starter since the April 13 G3 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland. He would see it again in the one-turn mile Hanshin Cup for older males on polytrack.
Breaking from the outer-most post, HOGY would get a good pace to stalk, as NATE'S MINESHAFT predictably went to the lead. Whereas PATRIOTICANDPROUD did not break alertly, NATE'S MINESHAFT and carved out a zippy opening quarter of :23.30. HAMMERS TERROR was in close attendance, and he took the baton of leader went NATE'S MINESHAFT quickly ran out of gas. HAMMERS TERROR would lead at the half that was timed in an even zippier :45.73. The quick pace that also the half in 1:09.99 would soon take its toll on HAMMERS TERROR. HOGY, pressing from the outside, slowly grabbed the lead at the and quickly put a two length advantage on the field in the stretch. At the wire and timed in a swift 1:34.25 (.70 off a track record), HOGY emerged victorious by a length and a half. MISTER MARDI GRAS closed from the back of the pack, rallying from eighth to get second, nearly six lengths clear of HAMMERS TERROR, who held on after being involved in the quick front-end pace. 5-2 favorite SERUNI was fourth, a half length behind HAMMERS TERROR.
Locally stabled HOGY takes the Hanshin Cup.
HOGY, a four-year-old gelding by Offlee Wild, was sent off at 8-1 and rewarded correct punters with $18.40 win payouts.
Winning rider Chris Emigh serves as the first-call rider for the owner/trainer team of William Stiritz and Scott Becker that regularly fill the entry box on the circuit. After the race, he mentioned that "there were a couple of speed horses in it and this was wide open. I got the perfect spot where I wanted to be on the outside and he started dragging me turning for home."
Assistant Trainer John Poole, remarking about the penchant for a good race when HOGY is "fresh", mentioned to "Picks and Ponderings" that the July 6 Arlington Sprint on the local grass as a possible next race.
The $2 10-9 exacta of HOGY and MISTER MARDI GRAS returned $75.80. The fifty-cent 10-9-5 trifecta of HOGY, MISTER MARDI GRAS, and HAMMERS TERROR paid out $119.45. Dime superfectas with SERUNI in the fourth position netted $82.17.
Arlington Classic: GENERAL ELECTION Punches Winning Ticket
A packed field twelve of sophomore sod runners saw the starter in the Arlington Classic at a mile and a sixteenth on the "good" turf course. The large field ensured there'd likely be some kind of pace, and the early splits of :23.86 and :49.10 reflected that there was, though the race certainly slowed down in the intermediate stages. In the early stages, BELLS BIG BERNIE was the pace setter, with GEFEST and BOBO in close attendance until the second turn. When the 3/4 time of 1:14.28 was posted, the 1-3 finishers began to backpedal. 19-10 post time favorite ADMIRAL KITTEN, DORSETT, PROCUREMENT, and GENERAL ELECTION were all closing. In a bumpy stretch running, GENERAL ELECTION did graze GEFEST and DORSETT was involved as well. ADMIRAL KITTEN was widest of all. At the wire, GENERAL ELECTION was in front by a length to ADMIRAL KITTEN, with DORSETT and GEFEST third and fourth across the line. After a Stewards' Inquiry, objection by GEFEST's rider Rosemary Homeister, Jr., and second objection by GEFEST's trainer Gennardi Dorochenko, DORSETT was disqualified to third for interference and placed fourth behind DORSETT. That made the final 1-2-3-4 finish of the race GENERAL ELECTION, ADMIRAL KITTEN, GEFEST, and DORSETT in that order.
GENERAL ELECTION wins in his first start over the grass for trainer Kellyn Gorder.
GENERAL ELECTION, a three-year-old colt by Harlan's Holiday, stopped the timer on the "good" turf course in 1:45.48. Sent off at 13-1 odds, he returned $28.20 to win for each two dollar investment.
While DORSETT's trainer Michael Stidham understandably blew a gasket in the post-race portion, John Ortiz, the assistant to the winning trainer, "came into this race very confident. He does whatever you ask him to do." Ortiz told "Picks and Ponderings" that GENERAL ELECTION will point for the July 13 American Derby at 1 13/16 miles over the local sod next, likely skipping a June grass race.
Winning rider Joe Rocco, Jr. felt the winner "took to the turf obviously and it worked out real good", and described the bumpy stretch events from his point of view:
"I felt it hindered my horse more than he hindered others because when they contacted him, it turned my horse's butt sideways. I feel like we were going to draw off from there but it made him pause and then he went on from it. I think all the pressure was from the outside horse (DORSETT).
The $2 7-8 exacta of GENERAL ELECTION and ADMIRAL KITTEN netted $92.40. The fifty-cent 7-8-2 trifecta of GENERAL ELECTION, ADMIRAL KITTEN, and GEFEST returned $609.80. Dime 7-8-2-4 superfectas with DORSETT in the fourth position paid out $1,151.49 to those who had it.
All photos courtesy Four Footed Fotos.