America Mon Amie (All American (AUS) - Si Si Mon Amie, by El Corredor) went into Saturday's Arlington 3rd winless since October. Still, she often found herself in the frame, including a second-place finish behind Lovely Loyree in the Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap this summer. The Anthony Granitz trainee had done some of her best work at a flat mile -- including her only stakes win, a score in the 2015 Northbound Pride Oaks at Canterbury -- and returned to that distance last week. She had some tables to turn on Daddy's Boo, a frontrunning winner on July 8 when America Mon Amie finished a belated sixth. Saturday's shorter field helped Daddy's Boo's case, and that one went off a heavy favourite at 1.1/1. America Mon Amie, on the other hand, was the 18/1 longest shot on the board. Under a masterful ride by Corey Lanerie, America Mon Amie saved all the ground, rallied up the rail, and stuck a neck in front of Daddy's Boo come the wire.
Trainer Mike Campbell tallied a pair of maiden special weight winners last week: in consecutive races, no less, albeit with a bit of time to rest between the pair.
In Friday's finale, sophomore filly Warretta (Majestic Warrior - Bafferta, by In Excess (IRE)) made her second career start. It was a notch up in class from her debut: she had been unveiled in a $20,000 maiden claiming turf dash, finished fourth beaten just a length for all of it, and earned her ticket to protected company. Back at about five furlongs on the turf, and with Joel Campbell in the irons again, Warretta showed that hoped-for second-start progression. Near the rear early, she was never out of touch with the field. She fought gamely between horses through the stretch, and edged clear to win by a length and a quarter over a four-horse blanket place photo.took
The next morning, Campbell picked up right where he left off. He debuted two-year-old Take Charge Dude (Take Charge Indy - Gospel Girl, by Holy Bull). A $65,000 yearling at OBS August last year, he is a half to Happy Farm (Ghostzapper): a two-time winner as of Saturday who subsequently rattled off his third straight win in a starter allowance at Saratoga on Sunday. Take Charge Dude stalked the pace set by favoured Im the Best I Know, a horse who finished second on debut behind a sensational debut runner in Mind Trappe. He ran back with a solid effort -- but Take Charge Dude and rider Santo Sanjur took it to Im the Best I Know in a long stretch duel, and got the head bob come the wire.
Valdivia closes in on 100
Last year, rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. had 100 wins in 416 starts at Arlington Park. That left no suspense near the end of the season as to who would win the riding title, as he was comfortably clear of second-place Mitchell Murrill's 76 wins. This year, with Murrill not joining the jockey colony regularly until mid-July, Valdivia has even more of a runaway lead in the standings. Valdivia finished last week with 98 wins on the meet, making it likely that he will match last year's win total sometime this race week.
That includes eight wins last race week, including three on Arlington Million day. Though he did not annex any of the stakes races, Valdivia owned the undercard.
In the second race, after the defection of a pair of horses with strong early speed, Valdivia sent Larry Rivelli trainee Good Bye Greg to the front for a wire-to-wire win in a main track sprint allowance. Two races later he made another gate-to-wire score, albeit one that required more late grit. Trainer Enebish Ganbat had cross-entered Mongolian Greywolf in the Bruce D Memorial Stakes and a maiden special weight at a mile and a sixteenth on grass. He opted for the maiden special weight, and Valdivia turned back a rally from Savage Battle to make every call a winning one. In the very next race, a salty starter-optional going seven furlongs on the polytrack, Valdivia had the call on Tammy Domenosky trainee Electrifying, the only horse in the field of ten who was in for the optional $10,000 tag. The ride testified to the power of saving ground: second-place Francois got hung in the five path through the turn. He rallied well -- but Valdivia kept Electrifying inside, found a hole, and rode the rail to victory.
Photo: Nicolle Neulist.
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