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Arlington: Rahystrada earns fourth shot at Arlington Million
By Marcus Hersh
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – It was way back in July 2006 when a horse named Rahystrada made a winning career debut in an Ellis Park turf sprint race. His trainer at the time, Frankie Brothers, retired in 2009. His sire, Rahy, died in 2011. But Rahystrada, now a 9-year-old gelding, still is going strong. Not only did he come out of his win Saturday in the Arlington Handicap in decent shape, he came out of it looking for more action.
“He was raising a little hell this morning,” trainer Byron Hughes said Tuesday. “We’re going to have to put him back to work tomorrow.”
Rahystrada, racing for the 44th time, became the first horse to win three editions of the Arlington Handicap, leaving behind two-time winners Round Table and Cosmonaut. In all likelihood, he will be back in Chicago from Hughes’s base at the Kentucky Training Center next month for his fourth start in the Arlington Million. Rahystrada ran well in his first three Million tries, finishing fourth in 2010, fifth in 2011, and third last summer.
“We’re probably going to run,” said Hughes, who trains Rahystrada for owner Robert Courtney. “We’ll monitor who’s going to be coming from Europe. If they’re sending over a whole planeload of Grade 1 winners, we might have to look for something else.”
A European shipper won the Million two of the three times Rahystrada tried the race, and this year’s overseas contingent might be solid. Still, there is unlikely to be enough firepower to deter Rahystrada’s connections from giving their ageless gelding another shot.
Rosie Napravnik rode Rahystrada in the Arlington Handicap, but Hughes said he had no commitment from Napravnik for the Million. Rahystrada will probably have two workouts in preparation for the Million, Hughes said.
Pletcher may have pair for Secretariat
Todd Pletcher will have at least one and perhaps two runners in the Grade 1 Secretariat on the Aug. 17 Million card.
Pletcher, speaking on a conference call Tuesday, said Jack Milton, a narrowly beaten third last weekend in the $500,000 Virginia Derby, was being aimed at the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat.
“I had a chance to talk to [owner] Jack Wolfe, and Jack Milton is pointing toward the Secretariat,” Pletcher said.
Jack Milton won the Transylvania at Keeneland this past spring before finishing third in the $460,000 Penn Mile and in the Virginia Derby.
Pletcher’s second-place Virginia Derby finisher Charming Kitten also is a possible Secretariat runner. Pletcher said he would confer with co-owner-breeder Ken Ramsey before deciding between the Secretariat and the Hall of Fame at Saratoga.
Ramsey and his wife, Sarah, might have another Secretariat starter in Admiral Kitten, who finished second by a head to Infinite Magic on Saturday in the $200,000 American Derby. Admiral Kitten also finished second in the first leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple, the Arlington Classic, and lost significant ground on the far turn in both defeats.
“He ran his usual good race, but just came up a little short,” said trainer Mike Maker. “He was wide in both those races, and in his race before that, too. He doesn’t have to be on the outside; that was just circumstances. If you stay inside, you can get stopped, too.”
American Derby winner Infinite Magic stayed inside for most of his trip Saturday, coming two paths off the fence in midstretch just to pass fading pacesetter Mongolian Saturday. The perfect trip produced Infinite Magic’s first stakes win, but the performance might not send him on to the Secretariat.
“He’s got an automatic nomination to the race, so that’s a consideration, but there’s also the Del Mar Derby, the Saranac at Saratoga, and the Kent a half-hour from here,” said Maryland-based Rick Mettee, who trains Infinite Magic for a Team Valor partnership.
Team Valor has another horse, Ireland-based First Cornerstone, who also is a possible Secretariat starter.
Ausus earns shot at Beverly D.
After chasing the likes of Centre Court and Daisy Devine in solid turf-stakes tries, Ausus earned the first stakes victory of her career Saturday when she captured the Modesty Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths. The win, a fees-paid berth, and the fact Ausus is locally based is likely to earn her a step up to Grade 1 competition in the Beverly D., trainer Dan Peitz said.
“Why wouldn’t we take a shot if she’s doing well?” said Peitz, who trains Ausus for the Shadwell Stable.
Ausus, who earned a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure in victory, showed Peitz stretch acceleration on Saturday that he didn’t know the filly possessed.
“I had thought she was more of a grinder,” Peitz said. “I think the further we run her, the better she’s going to be.”
The Modesty was contested at 1 3/16 miles, the same distance as the Beverly D.
General Election fine physically
Arlington Classic winner General Election was vanned off the track after a seventh-place American Derby finish, but appeared to have sustained no injuries in the race.
“We got him back here to Keeneland and nothing’s really come up,” said trainer Kellyn Gorder. “We don’t have anything picked out for him yet, but it looks like he’s okay.”
Rahystrada - Ya gotta love him.
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