07/03/2013 2:31PM

Arlington Handicap will serve as Dullahan's prep for Pacific Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Dullahan will use the Arlington Handicap as a stepping-stone to a defense of his title in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Multiple Grade 1 winner Dullahan, with an eye toward a repeat bid in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, will make his first start since traveling to Dubai this spring in the Arlington Handicap on July 13.

Dullahan’s trainer, Dale Romans, said he also intends to start Finnegans Wake in the Arlington Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile turf race that serves as the major local prep for the Arlington Million. Both horses are owned by Donegal Racing. Finnegans Wake is seeking his first stakes win, but finished third in the Virginia Derby and second in the Secretariat Stakes last summer.

Dullahan, a $1.7 million earner, never has won a turf race of any kind, nor has he won on dirt, but Dullahan’s three victories on synthetic surfaces include two Grade 1’s last year, the Blue Grass and the Pacific Classic.

“The big thing with him is we’d like to go back and defend our Pacific Classic title,” Romans said. “This would be a stepping-stone toward that.”

Dullahan and the Romans-trained Little Mike, who runs this weekend in the United Nations at Monmouth Park, are gearing up for the second half of their seasons after an ambitious trip to Dubai. Romans sent both horses abroad in early March to prep for Dubai World Cup Night starts in Meydan races on March 9. Neither horse ran well in his prep, and neither came close to peak form on World Cup Night, with Dullahan checking in 11th of 12 in the $10 million World Cup. Romans, though, said he has no regrets concerning the trip.

“Hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t have a problem with what we did or how we did it,” Romans said. “They didn’t come out of their [prep] races quite as well as we wanted them to, but there’s a lot of money, a lot of prestige there.”

Romans said he had seen no signs of a post-Dubai bounce from either horse. Dullahan has posted three sharp dirt workouts at Churchill, most recently going five furlongs in 1:00.20 on June 29.

“He couldn’t be training any better. He’s been a little sharper since he got back from Dubai,” Romans said.

Stephanie’s Kitten points to Diana

One horse who won’t be running on the July  13 Million Preview Day Card – which includes the American Derby, the Modesty, and the Stars and Stripes, along with the Arlington Handicap – is Stephanie’s Kitten.

With wins in the Distaff Turf Mile and the Just a Game Stakes to start her season, 4-year-old Stephanie’s Kitten has a claim as the best female turf horse in North America at the moment, and her connections – owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wayne Catalano – had considered using the Modesty as a prep race for the Grade 1 Beverly D. Instead, Stephanie’s Kitten was shipped from Kentucky to Saratoga on Tuesday, and she will start there in the Grade 1, $600,000 Diana Stakes on July 27. Catalano, however, said a Beverly D. start three weeks later has not yet been ruled out.

“If everything is well, she could make both of them. She’s very lightly raced, and if she comes out of it great, we could hit it flying and still run in the Beverly D.,” said Catalano.

Catalano said he has 19 stalls at Saratoga that will be filled by week’s end. Stephanie’s Kitten is the most accomplished horse he’s shipping to New York, and Catalano’s upcoming stakes action mainly comes at Arlington, where he plans to run Coalport in the Arlington Handicap and Bold Kitten in the July 20 Arlington Oaks.

Flower Spell may run on short rest

Flower Spell’s participation in the featured fifth race here Friday depends on fireworks.

The 3-year-old Flower Spell just raced Saturday, finishing a decent fifth – despite breaking through the gate before the start – after setting the pace against older rivals in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap. Trainer Ingrid Mason is eager to send Flower Spell back into action Friday in a five-furlong turf allowance race restricted to 3-year-olds, but said the filly would be scratched if Arlington’s annual fireworks show after racing Thursday upsets her.

“It just depends on how things go tomorrow night with the Fireworks display,” Mason said. "If she gets upset, I’m probably not going to run her. If she doesn’t, she will. I don’t have another good spot to run her for a while.”

But Flower Spell, even at her best, is no standout. Stoupinator nearly caught Flower Spell in a turf sprint earlier this meet, and both Catalano-trained entrants, I’m Already Sexy and Gold Edge, can win.

◗ Cozze Up Lady, a solid winner of the Chicago Handicap on Saturday, came out of the race well and will make her next start at Saratoga, with the Aug. 3 De La Rose over one mile on turf a more likely spot than the Aug. 2 Caress over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, according to trainer Bret Calhoun.

◗ In Chamberlain Bridge, Hogy, and Saint Leon, Saturday’s $100,000 Arlington Sprint, a 5 1/2-furlong grass race drawn Wednesday, came up with a solid core. Hogy won the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup over one mile on Polytrack in his last start, while Saint Leon and Chamberlain Bridge both are past winners of the Arlington Sprint. Another former winner of the race, 9-year-ol Yankee Injunuity, is also entered.