07/05/2011 3:25PM

Arlington Park: Weld looking for fourth American Derby win

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Benoit & Assocites
Wasted Tears will stretch to 1 3/16 miles Saturday in the Modesty at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The three graded turf stakes on Saturday’s Million Preview Day program all should come up with at least decent-sized fields when the races are drawn Wednesday. Arlington racing officials expect at least 10 entrants in the Grade 2, $300,000 American Derby, and are hopeful of getting nearly as many in the other two Grade 3, $150,000 stakes, the Modesty and the Arlington Handicap.

The American Derby, second leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple for 3-year-old turf horses, will have an overseas presence, with Irish trainer Dermot Weld sending in Cannon Hill for the race. Weld has won the American Derby three times, with Pine Dance in 2000, Evolving Tactics in 2003, and Simple Exchange in 2004, but his last two starters in the race – Perfect Casting in 2007 and Golden Arrow the year before – both finished fifth. In 2008, Winchester came for the last leg of Arlington’s turf series, the Secretariat, and won it. Cannon Hill, a gelded son of Holy Roman Emperor owned by Bertram Firestone, has never won a race of consequence and has only one win of any sort in his career. He has, however, fared decently against some excellent competition. Last summer, for instance, he came within a half-length of recent Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach in a maiden race.

Wasted Tears and Fantasia head what should be a strong edition of the Modesty, a prep for the Grade 1 Beverly D. Wasted Tears scored a five-length win in the Grade 3 Ouija Board at Lone Star on May 30, her 2011 debut, and won 5 of 7 starts in 2010. The front-running 6-year-old mare has yet to race beyond 1 1/8 miles and will be stretched out to 1 3/16 miles Saturday. Fantasia is another miler-type and is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont. The Matron field also is expected to include Never Retreat, a multiple graded stakes winner this year, and My Baby Baby, who captured the Grade 3 Mint Julep at Churchill last month.

In the Arlington Handicap, Tajaaweed will try to improve upon his third-place finish in the 2010 edition of the race, which was won by Rahystrada. Tajaaweed most recently finished second in the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill. The field for the Arlington Handicap remained in flux this past weekend, with a slew of horses deemed potential but uncertain runners.

Butler runners will miss stakes

English-based trainer Gerard Butler might have had a runner in the American Derby, but Burj Alzain was pulled up abruptly after a Sunday turf work and is out of the race.

Burj Alzain breezed seven furlongs in 1:31.40 under Junior Alvarado, who pulled Burj Alzain up less than a furlong past the finish and quickly dismounted. Butler ran onto the turf course, and Burj Alzain was taken off the track in a horse ambulance. A half-hour later, Burj Alzain was walking without lameness around the shed row.

“Junior did the right thing by pulling him up,” said Butler, who could initially find nothing wrong with Burj Alzain but said the American Derby was definitely out after the incident. “It took five years off my life.”

The Butler-trained Pachattack, a highly impressive winner of the Arlington Matron on May 28, suffered what Butler termed “a minor setback” following a six-furlong work in 1:13 on June 17. Missed training time cost Pachattack an intended start in the July 16 Delaware Handicap, but the mare has returned to training and is tentatively being pointed to the Beverly D. Butler, however, said he is eager to try Pachattack on dirt at some point.

◗ Jesus Castanon, who won the first three races Sunday at Churchill Downs and who scored his first Triple Crown victory when Shackleford won the Preakness Stakes in May, has moved his tack to Arlington and is scheduled to begin riding here Thursday. Castanon is represented by agent Dennis Cooper, who booked Arlington mounts for such leading local riders as Rene Douglas, Mark Guidry, and Shaun Bridgmohan.

◗ Former jockey Carlos Silva won his first race as a trainer when Heavenly Lass scored a half-length win in the fourth race Friday. Heavenly Lass is owned by the Asiel Stable, a longtime client of trainer Richard Hazelton, for whom Silva rode first call for many years.

Heavenly Lass was ridden to victory by Brandon Meier, who recently returned from an injury suffered early this year and has ridden two winners since his comeback.