06/29/2012 3:22PM

Arlington Park: Workin for Hops rejoins Stidham for Sunday turf feature


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – When Workin for Hops concluded his 2011 season and went for a winter rest, he departed the barn of trainer Mike Stidham, who had trained him since he made the races as a 2-year-old in 2009. But when Workin for Hops returned for his 2012 campaign, his owner, Estrorace LLC, had transferred the 5-year-old to trainer Graham Motion.

Workin for Hops, though, could only finish sixth and fifth in a pair of allowance races this spring, prompting a call from the Stidham camp, wondering if Workin for Hops might be for sale. Done. Chicagoan Barry Golden owns Workin for Hops now, and the horse makes his first start back with Stidham in the featured fourth race Sunday at Arlington.

He fits the spot – a 1 1/16-mile grass race with multiple allowance conditions and also open to $80,000 claimers – like a glove. Stidham said Workin for Hops seems like the same horse he trained in 2011, and that horse loved the Arlington grass course. Workin for Hops didn’t make it onto Arlington turf last year (though he did win the Hanshin Cup and cross the finish line second in the Washington Park Handicap on Arlington’s Polytrack), but in 2010 he was the best locally based turf 3-year-old on the grounds, winning both the Arlington Classic and the American Derby by more than two lengths and turning in a solid third-place finish behind Paddy O’Prado in the Grade 1 Secretariat. James Graham, who rode the horse in the Hanshin and Washington Park last year, has the call, and off three recent Arlington works, Workin for Hops looks pretty tough.

Among his rivals is old hand Recapturetheglory, the 7-year-old who finished fifth in the 2008 Kentucky Derby and who makes his first start since last September for trainer and co-owner Louie Roussel. Recapturetheglory ran well on Arlington turf last May coming back from an extended layoff, but this break has lasted almost two months longer.

Moonshine Mullen won a second-level turf allowance by just a nose in his most recent start, but was game in so doing and might have room to improve. And Mystic, though he finished sixth, ran decently when beaten less than two lengths in a race at this class level June 3 at Churchill Downs.