Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada, who won his second Grade III Arlington Handicap in the last three years on Saturday, came out of that most recent Arlington Million prep in good order and appeared likely to return for his third consecutive Million when Chicago’s centerpiece race celebrates its 30th anniversary edition less than five weeks from now on Aug. 18.

“That was fun yesterday,” said trainer Scooter Hughes Sunday morning as he and his wife drove back to their Lexington, Kentucky, home base from Chicago. “My son is hauling the horse and he left about two or three hours before we got on the road. They should be just about home by now.

“(Rahystrada) seems to have come out of the race well,” said Hughes. “He seems fine so far, and if he continues to do well over the next few days, I guess we’ll take another crack at the Million. He ran a pretty good race in it last year (fifth beaten less than four lengths) and a good race in it two years ago (fourth beaten three) as well. One of these years we’d like to win that sucker.

“In his last race (Colonial Turf Cup Jun. 16) he got stuck behind slow fractions and couldn’t make up enough ground at the end,” said Hughes. “This time we decided to change things up a little and go to the lead with him and it worked out just fine. The horse is really very manageable.”


Frank Calabrese’s Romacaca and Stone Farm et al.’s Upperline, first and third respectively a length and a half apart in Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap, might match strides once again in the upcoming Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Aug. 18 during Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing less than five weeks away.

Saturday’s Modesty ‘Cap for grass-favoring fillies and mares served as Arlington’s designed prep for the Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million during the Festival.

“(Romacaca) looks flawless this morning,” said Patti Miller, wife of Romacaca’s trainer Danny Miller as well as his main assistant on Sunday morning. “She ate up all of her dinner last night and is her usual self this morning. We’ll probably go ahead and nominate her to the Beverly D. and then see how the race shapes up.”

Trainer Mike Stidham, Arlington’s leading trainer through Saturday’s races, reported that the Modesty’s third-place runner Upperline was also doing well Sunday.

“The plan for Upperline right along has been to get some Grade I black type on her record, so I would think if she continues to do well we’ll still point for the Beverly D.,” Stidham said. “She made up some ground yesterday but she was on the inside until the eighth pole and the way the track was playing yesterday, she couldn’t get to them in time.

“As for (Barry Golden’s) Workin for Hops (last in Saturday Grade III Stars and Stripes after making the early pace), the experiment yesterday was to see if he could go long,” Stidham said. “That experiment is now over.”

Saturday’s Grade III Stars and Stripes at a mile and a half was placed this season as a prep race for the inaugural running of Arlington’s $400,000 American St. Leger Aug. 18, and Team Block’s pair of Ioya Bigtime and Suntracer, first and third respectively in the Stars and Stripes, remain under consideration for Chicago’s upcoming mile and 11/16ths marathon.

“I would say between the two of them ‘Bigtime’ is more likely at this time,” said trainer Chris Block Sunday.

“‘Bigtime’ has always been a very talented horse but a bit difficult to ride,” said Block. “He’s got a bit of Dynaformer in him, but (jockey) Jeffrey (Sanchez) gets along with him very well and got him to relax early yesterday, drop the bridle and keep him in a good spot with a loose rein on him on him until it was time to move.

“Suntracer had some eye issues during the winter, but it seems like he’s beginning to get his confidence back,” Block said.

Arlington’s leading rider Francisco Torres celebrated a four-win day Saturday, including both halves of the Daily Double and two stakes wins.

The Chicago-raised reinsman’s richest Saturday win came on Frank Calabrese’s Modesty Handicap victress Romacaca, conditioned by Danny Miller, but also included a tally on Harold Queen’s Tiree for trainer Gerald Bennett in the $66,400 Coach Jimi Lee Stakes.