07/14/2012 7:22PM

Arlington Park: Rahystrada takes Arlington Handicap on front end

Four-Footed Fotos
Rahystrada, with Joel Rosario aboard, wins the Arlington Handicap.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rahystrada winning the Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington Handicap on Saturday wasn't especially surprising. The horse had won the race in 2010 and went off at 4-1 after a good third behind Turbo Compressor in the Colonial Turf Cup. That he won the Arlington Handicap leading from start to finish - that was surprising.

Rahystrada hadn't been a first-call leader since an allowance race at Turfway Park in December 2008, but his connections sensed a lack of pace in the Arlington Handicap and advised jockey Joel Rosario accordingly.

"They told me there wasn't a lot of speed in the race," said Rosario, who was riding Rahystrada for the first time. "I sent him out of the gate and tried to hold my position."

Hold Rahystrada did, but only just. Boisterous, rallying from eighth place behind a moderate pace, gained steadily through the stretch run, but his rally fell a neck short of the winner.

"He came running but he just got beat," said jockey Alan Garcia. "I couldn't explain to the horse he had to get there sooner."

Rahystrada, an 8-year-old one-time claimer, has run well at Arlington before. Besides winning the Arlington Handicap two seasons ago, he finished fourth in the 2010 Arlington Million and fifth in the race last year.

"We've been taking care of him the last couple years and he's rewarding us," said trainer Scooter Hughes. "He's as good as ever."

Cherokee Lord looked like the speed of the race, but Rahystrada made the front, setting fractions of 24.15 seconds, 48.51, 1:13.19, and 1:38.11 on the way to a final time of 2:01.84 for 1 1/4 miles on good turf. Mister Marti Gras won a close three-way photo for third, with Vertiformer fourth and Cherokee Lord fifth. The winner paid $10.60.

Rahystrada, a gelding by Rahy, won for the 13th time in 38 starts. Hughes said to expect him back next month for the Million.