Stone Farm, John Adger, Oakcrest Farm and Mike Stidham’s Upperline, who won the Grade III Arlington Oaks two years ago during her sophomore campaign, will be staying at home to attempt a rare double by winning Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Matron for fillies and mares over the local Polytrack at nine furlongs, trainer Mike Stidham said Wednesday morning during training hours.
“It looks like we’re going to stay right here at home,” Stidham said. “We were thinking about going to New York and running in Saturday’s Sheepshead Bay, but they’ve had a lot of rain up there this week and it looks like there’s a chance of more rain before this weekend.
Should Upperline win Saturday’s Matron here, she would elevate herself into some rare air in Arlington racing history. When Thunderhead Farms’ Mariah’s Storm won the Arlington Matron in 1995, she had won the Arlington Oaks the previous year and Arlington-Washington Lassie as a juvenile two years earlier. She remains the only filly in history to win all three of those local classics.
Previously, when Russell L. Reineman Stable’s Sweetest Chant won the Arlington Matron in 1982 as a 4-year-old, she had won the Arlington Oaks the previous year and became the first horse to capture both races.
Since then, in 2000, trainer John Hennig brought J. C. Routsong’s Megans Bluff to Chicago to win the Arlington Oaks and then brought her back up to the Windy City to win the Arlington Matron with her later during her sophomore summer.
On Saturday, Upperline could become the fourth horse join that group with an Arlington Matron win.
One mare who won’t get a chance to become the fifth horse in history to win the Arlington Matron in successive seasons is the 2011 Arlington Matron heroine Pachattack, now owned by Flaxman Holdings and trained by Graham Motion.
“I’m afraid we’re going to have to skip it,” said Motion’s stable manager Jane Buchanan Wednesday morning, speaking over the phone from Maryland’s Fair Hill training center. “Graham doesn’t feel she’s quite ready to give her best effort in the Matron, and I’m afraid that’s also true of (Earle Mack’s) Clarinet. We’re going to have to miss it with both of them.”
However, Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stable’s Kathmanblu, Tracy Farmer’s La Gran Bailadora and Green Lantern Stables’ Sea Level Drive, second, third and fourth respectively behind Pachattack in Keeneland’s Grade III Doubledogdare Stakes over Keeneland’s Polytrack April 20, are all expected to run in Saturday’s Arlington Matron.
Kathmanblu, who was beaten only a neck by Pachattack in the Doubledogdare after racing wide, won Fair Grounds’ Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes as a sophomore and then ran third in that spring’s Grade I Ashland at Keeneland.
SLAMIT TO MAKE GRASS DEBUT IN ARLINGTON CLASSIC
Black Gold Racing’s Slamit and that same partnership’s No Spin are both expected to contest Saturday’s 77th running of the $125,000 Arlington Classic, trainer Tim Ice confirmed Wednesday morning during training hours.
Saturday’s Arlington Classic is the first leg of Arlington’s all-grass Mid-America Triple for 3-year-olds, which will continue with the Grade III American Derby on Million Preview Day July 14 and conclude with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day Aug. 18.
“I’m particularly anxious to see how Slamit runs over the grass on Saturday,” Ice said. “He’s never run a race on grass. In fact, he’d never even stepped on a turf course until last Sunday when I worked him and No Spin together on the turf here, but I thought he worked really well going over it.
“Slamit did win a race at Sam Houston (the $50,000 Spring Stakes) in the mud last March 10,” Ice said, “but I really liked the way he traveled over the grass last Sunday. I thought he worked super.
“I also thought No Spin handled it well, Ice concluded, “but he’d run over turf before (winning Hawthorne’s $60,000 Royal Glint Stakes last Oct. 29.)”
Incidentally, Raut LLC’s Arlington Class entrant Hero of Order, who paid a $288 win price when winning the Grade II Louisiana Derby over the main track in New Orleans April 1, has made three grass starts in his career, but has yet to win over it.