On another unseasonably hot September day, the Arlington meet drew to a close. A pair of turf mile stakes anchored the card: the Les Ahrens Memorial Stakes for open company, and the Steve Morgan Memorial Stakes, the fillies' and mares' complement.
In the Les Ahrens Memorial Stakes, consistent Illinois-bred gelding Cammack found his winning ways once more. The Team Block homebred, for trainer Chris Block and rider Jose Lopez, kicked clear in the final furlong to tally his first victory of the Arlington summer meet in three tries.
Fittingly, the final stakes race of the meet went to the meet's leading jockey, owner, and trainer. Daddy's Boo, ridden by Jose Valdivia, took the Steve Morgan Memorial Stakes in gate-to-wire fashion for trainer Larry Rivelli and owner Patricia's Hope LLC. Daddy's Boo was a major part of that; her victory was her fourth of the summer at Arlington, all of which she achieved for that trio.
Les Ahrens Memorial Stakes: CAMMACK Returns to His Winning Ways
Sent off the favourite in the Claiming Crown Emerald prep race at Kentucky Downs on September 10, Cammack turned for home looking like he was going to blast clear. Instead, he flattened to check in fifth, a length behind winner Special Ops. Despite Cammack's uncharacteristically fizzling at the finish in that outing, his team remained undeterred -- thirteen days later, the Illinois-bred gelding returned to the starting gate, this time notching back up to open stakes company in the Les Ahrens Memorial Stakes.
The public was not sure the real Cammack would return, and let him go at 8.4/1 in the field of six. Instead, most of the interest focused on 4/5 favourite Kasaqui, making his first start back after a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. Two other horses with recent stakes-level form took attention, as well. 3/1 second choice Applicator was making his first start since upsetting the Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs on September 6, and 4.1/1 third choice Oak Brook had beaten Cammack in the Black Tie Affair Handicap earlier this meet, and again when he finished second (to Cammack's sixth) in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap.
Oak Brook sent to the early lead. Into the far turn, Applicator rushed up to press him, with Kasaqui attending the pace three wide. Cammack tracked off that flight, with Coco Mon just behind and Crewman further back. Down the backstretch, Applicator continued to press Oak Brook on the lead; Kasaqui settled just behind them, with Cammack still tracking.
Entering the far turn Oak Brook began to have difficulty keeping up; Applicator went on with it. Kasaqui got first run on Applicator as the field turned for home, but Cammack was winding up. Shaken up past the quarter pole, Cammack responded quickly, swung out four wide near the three sixteenths marker, and began to close ground.
Unlike two weeks ago, his kick carried him all the way to the wire this time. Cammack left Oak Brook behind him at the furlong pole, overwhelmed Applicator and Kasaqui near the sixteenth, and came home a length to the good. Kasaqui took the place photo, a head in front of Applicator. It was another two and three quarters lengths back to Oak Brook, with Coco Mon and Crewman completing the finish order. Christian C, Chip Leader, Imposing Will, and Spring Up were all stakes scratches.
Cammack is a seven-year-old dark bay or brown gelding by Giant's Causeway out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Fort Pond -- making him a half-brother to Illinois-bred multiple graded stakes winner and Indiana-based sire Fort Prado. He took his name from Addison Cammack: an Arlington stakes namesake, and a good friend of trainer Chris Block. A homebred for Team Block, he was ridden to victory by Jose Lopez, who today rode Cammack for the first time in a race. His victory in the Les Ahrens Memorial Stakes was his third win in seven starts this year, and his 11th in 30 career outings. The victory was his third career triumph in a stakes race. It was his first in an unrestricted stakes race, as his other stakes victories had come against state-bred and starter stakes company. The $39,560 winner's share of the purse brought Cammack's career earnings to $356,800.
Jockey Jose Lopez followed trainer Chris Block's instructions to break well and stay in the clear. The late stages went as well as either hoped they would. "Once you reach the stretch see if you’ve got to move to the outside -- if so just go on with it, switch to the outside and just go," Lopez recounted Block instructing. Lopez continued, "When I saw [Applicator and Kasaqui] go by, I was like go ahead. I was just waiting, sit, sit, sit – and when I made my move that was it. He felt wonderful."
Cammack stopped the timer in 1:36.22 for a mile over firm turf, and rewarded his backers with $18.80 to win. The $1 exacta over Kasaqui (5-8) paid $22.80. A trifecta with Applicator in third (5-9-1) returned $40.65 for each $0.50 base bet. The dime superfecta with Oak Brook fourth (5-9-1-4) came back with $15.43.
Steve Morgan Memorial Stakes: DADDY'S BOO Finds the Perfect Spot
Since getting nailed on the wire by America Mon Amie in an allowance race on the Arlington Million undercard on August 13, Daddy's Boo had been searching for the perfect race. She scratched from the One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs on September 6, then scratched again from the Avers Wexler Memorial Stakes over the Arlington polytrack on September 9. (Her stablemate, Moms Choice, ended up winning the Avers Wexler.) Daddy's Boo instead turned up on the Arlington grass today, in the Steve Morgan Memorial Stakes. There, she would attempt to turn the tables on America Mon Amie, and face eight other foes as well.
The horseplayers figured Daddy's Boo had found the right spot indeed, sending her off the 2.4/1 favourite in the field of ten. That came despite the fact that several foes brought more back class with them. Daddy's Boo's biggest win to date came in the Mary Todd Stakes at Gulfstream Park last year, one of their Presidents' Day starter stakes. Second choice Prado's Sweet Ride (3.1/1) is a Grade 3 winner coming out of a five-length defeat in the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes; third choice Lovely Loyree (7/2) was coming off a win against state-breds in the Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap, but won against open fillies and mares at Indiana Grand last year, and is multiple Grade 3 placed as well.
Daddy's Boo came out of the gate well; though Some Say So briefly attempted to contend, Daddy's Boo carried a clear and comfortable advantage into the apex of the first turn. Some Say So settled to stalk, Stormin Elle and Lovely Loyree stalked closest in range, and the rest chased from farther back.
The bids began as the field traversed the second turn. Lovely Loyree, parked wide, was asked to improve from that tracking flight; just behind her, Prado's Sweet ride also vied while wide.
Daddy's Boo, still in hand, let no one close to her. Jose Valdivia pushed the reins as the field turned for home, and drew further off at will. Prado's Sweet Ride improved four wide in shallow stretch, and successfully fought to capture second -- but still crossed the wire four and a quarter lengths of Daddy's Boo, still in hand. It was another three quarters of a length from Prado's Sweet Ride back to Stormin Elle, who saved ground and found just enough to snipe third, a nose in front of Lovely Loyree. America Mon Amie, Paint the Corners, Some Say So, Shelbysmile, One Last Shot, and Disqualified completed the order of finish. Felt In Pocket, Inconclusive, Seeking Treasure, and Sweetbaby were all stakes scratches.
Daddy's Boo is a six-year-old gray or roan mare by Sweet Return (GB) out of the Slew Gin Fizz mare Precocious Pet. Bred in Florida by Red Oak Stable, Daddy's Boo bears the colors of Patricia's Hope LLC, who claimed her for $50,000 at Gulfstream Park in December of 2014. She is trained by Larry Rivelli, and was ridden to victory by her regular pilot, Jose Valdivia, Jr. Over the course of her career, the grey has proven herself a win machine: today she posted her 15th victory in only 24 career outings. The $38,418 winner's share of the purse brought her career earnings up to $332,082.
Daddy's Boo covered the firm turf mile in 1:35.50, almost three quarters of a second faster than the males, and returned $6.80 to win. The $1 exacta over Prado's Sweet Ride (1-10) paid $16.70. A trifecta with Stormin Elle in third (1-10-3) came back with $64.45. The superfecta with Lovely Loyree in the lowest rung returned $53.77 for each dime on the combination.
All photography courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.
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