The mile and a quarter Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, which will be held Aug. 18, and is one of four major stakes that comprise the track’s Million Preview Day program. In addition to the Arlington Handicap, the 12-race card includes the Grade III $200,000 American Derby, the Grade III $200,000 Modesty Handicap and the Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes. As an added bonus, the 1-2-3 finishers in the Arlington Handicap will have their entry and starting fees waived for Arlington Million XXX should they elect to run in that event next month.
The Shug McGaughey-trained horse is an accomplished turf winner with seven victories in 14 starts and earnings in excess of a half-million dollars on the green. Alan Garcia is slated to ride.
Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada, winner of the 2010 edition of this race, returns to Arlington after a third-place run in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia last month. The son of Rahy won that race last year and followed that up with a fifth-place finish in Arlington Million XXIX last August. Since that time, the Scooter Hughes trainee captured the Grade III Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs last September. Joel Rosario picks up the mount aboard the 8-year-old gelding who will carry 120 pounds Saturday.
Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras returns to home base after taking his act on the road through his first four starts of 2012 – the best of which being a second-place finish in the Grade III Eclipse Stakes at Woodbine Race Course near Toronto. The Chris Block-trained son of Belong to Me was runner-up in this race last year and then followed that up with a victory over Polytrack in the Grade III Washington Park Handicap. Shaun Bridgmohan will make up most of the 118 pounds assigned to Mister Marti Gras.
Others in the Arlington Handicap (with jockey and weight assignment) are: Henry Pabst Trust’s Joinem (Jesus Castanon, 117 pounds), runner-up in the Grade III Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs last time out; William Stiritz’ Proceed Bee (Robby Albarado, 116), sixth in this race last year and most recently third in a third-level allowance here; Joyce Young & Gerald McManis’ Sky Blazer (Julien Leparoux, 116), a winner in two of his last three starts in allowance company; and Millard Seldin & the Estate of Hoss Inman’s Cherokee Lord (Inosencio Diego, 115), winner of the $125,000 Remington Green Stakes last autumn.
Also, Richard Sherman’s Sea o’Erin Stakes hero Nikki’s Sandcastle (Diego Sanchez, 115); Joseph Allen’s Vertiformer (Quincy Hamilton, 115), a third-level allowance winner here last month; Agave Racing Stable’s Southern Anthem (Miguel Mena, 114), third in a Churchill turf allowance June 3; and Team Block’s Mavericking (Tim Thornton, 113), a turf allowance winner over this course last month.