The last two six-figure state-bred summer stakes were contested at Arlington on a seasonable mid-June afternoon. The two stakes were for older horses bred in the Land of Lincoln on the grass. Here's a look back.
Lincoln Heritage: LA TIA from Start to Finish
The plan was simple for trainer Armando De la Cerda and his horse LA TIA in the $ 100,000 Lincoln Heritage Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the grass course. Go to the front, dictate the terms, and hope for the best. He mentioned that plan in a post-race interview for "Picks and Ponderings."
"It's the way she (LA TIA) runs (out front). She likes the grass, the whole family likes the grass, " dictated De la Cerda.
The plan worked without a hitch. LA TIA broke alertly in the Lincoln Heritage and when she stopped the clock for a quarter mile in :24.24 she was two lengths in front. Good night, game over, drive home safely on an Arlington turf that hasn't been the kindest this meet to front-runners. It would be a repeat of the May 11 allowance featuring LA TIA, GOLDWAY, and MOURETTE: LA TIA dictating the terms from start to finish. Clock times were :48.72 for the half-mile and 1:12.91 for the three-quarters mile.
Final winning margin for LA TIA was three and one-half lengths, and she was followed by TIPSY making a mild pressing close to round out the exacta. Closer WITH A TWIST got third place money, one and one-quarter lengths behind TIPSY and two and one-half lengths clear of GOLDWAY.
LA TIA leads every step of the Lincoln Heritage.
LA TIA, a four-year-old Illinois-bred daughter of City Place, traveled the 1 1/16 miles on "yielding" turf in 1:44.15. Bet early and bet often, she was sent off as the strong 3-5 favorite and backers collected $3.20 win mutuels.
Winning rider Constantino Roman was "really happy" with the victory. He added that "she's a really nice filly and I feel really comfortable on her. She definitely feels bigger and stronger, and I think we can win bigger races with her."
Echoing that sentiment, winning trainer Armando De la Cerda plans to aim LA TIA next to the July 13 $200,000 G3 Modesty Handicap on Million Preview Day.
The $2 5-6 exacta of LA TIA and TIPSY paid $15.60. The fifty-cent 5-6-1 trifecta of LA TIA, TIPSY, and WITH A TWIST returned $8.70. Dime superfectas with GOLDWAY in the fourth position yielded $3.67.
Black Tie Affair: COALPORT Strikes Gold
While the clouds were out for the Lincoln Heritage, the sun came out for the $100,000 Black Tie Affair, the open complement of the female-restricted Lincoln Heritage.
Predictable speed was shown from the outside as defending Black Tie Affair Champion MR. MISCHIEF went to the front and dictated the terms, doling out splits of :23.88, :47.90, and 1:11.41 for the opening quarter, half, and three-quarters. Rail-drawn TAZZ came closer on the backstretch run and the two began to move in tandem. But the move softened up MR. MISCHIEF at the expense of TAZZ, and both would backpedal to off-the-board positions and be swallowed by the closers and pressers. COALPORT struck the front in mid-stretch and pulled away, extending the lead to two and three-quarters lengths at the line. 2-1 favorite THE PIZZA MAN checked in second, three-quarters a length in front of PRINCEVILLE CONDO. SUNTRACER rounded out the superfecta, two lengths from the top trio.
COALPORT pounces in the Black Tie Affair.
COALPORT, a four-year-old Illinois-bred son of Kitten's Joy, was timed for the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.18. The course was rated "yielding", but closer to "good" with respect to the final clock time. Like his sire, COALPORT is owned by Mr. Ken Ramsey and Mrs. Sarah Ramsey. COALPORT returned $7.80 to win and was sent off as the second choice at just below 3-1 odds.
James Graham was the winning rider and thanks to pre-program shuffling "found out late this morning" he would replace injured rider Channing Hill (slated to return in 2-3 weeks, according to Daily Racing Form) aboard COALPORT. Graham accepted the mount and reflected post-race, "(how the pick-up mount) worked out great for us today. I didn't break very well, but got into a great position early. Turning for home I picked him up and he sprinted and did a pretty good job today."
Also not concerned was winning trainer Wayne Catalano. Catalano "wanted a race over the course (a win on May 24 here at Arlington) for COALPORT, to save him for the stakes. If they can close, they you gotta run in a stakes with a Kitten's Joy (offspring)" Catalano felt the "yielding" turf was not an issue for COALPORT. He also didn't disclose any clear next-race plans at publish time.
The $2 3-6 of COALPORT and THE PIZZA MAN yielded $26.60. The fifty-cent 3-6-8 trifecta of COALPORT, THE PIZZA MAN, and PRINCEVILLE CONDO returned $63.95. Dime superfectas of 3-6-8-9 with SUNTRACER in the fourth position paid $43.34 to their backers.
All photos courtesy Four Footed Fotos.