07/06/2013 6:07PM

Arlington: Saint Leon repeats in Arlington Sprint

Four Footed Fotos
Saint Leon, inside under E.T. Baird, holds off Hogy to win the Arlington Sprint.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Saint Leon does not run frequently, but he is making the most of limited opportunities. The vintage 8-year-old turf sprinter won his fourth straight start Saturday at Arlington when he captured the $100,000 Arlington Sprint for the second year in a row, gamely holding off Hogy to win by a head.

Saint Leon, breaking on top as usual, led all the way under regular rider E.T. Baird, fending off an early challenge from Chamberlain Bridge and a late one from Hogy, who looked like he was poised to push past Saint Leon at the eighth pole, but never could reach him.

“He tried hard today,” said Michele Boyce, who trains Saint Leon for owner Margaret Burlingham. “A lesser horse would have given it up.”

Three and one-quarter lengths behind Hogy came Global Power, who was disqualified from third to last for veering inward and impeding multiple horses at the start. Jockey Kent Desormeaux said Global Power false-broke and came out of the gate with his head snapped to the left. The disqualification elevated Chamberlain Bridge from fourth into the show spot.

But Saint Leon and Hogy were much the best Saturday. Saint Leon and Baird got away with a comfortable pace, going 22.97 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.16 for the half while Chamberlain Bridge, breaking well for a change, applied mild pressure. But stuck between horses at the quarter pole, Chamberlain Bridge had no kick, as Hogy, who narrowly avoided disaster during the chaotic start, moved powerfully up to engage the leader at the top of the stretch.

“I thought I was going to be able to outkick that horse,” said jockey Chris Emigh. 

But Saint Leon would not let Hogy pass. Hogy made no ground from the sixteenth pole to  the finish, with Saint Leon still on top through 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03. The favorite, he paid $4.60 to win.

Boyce said plans are fluid for Saint Leon, who raced four times in 2011 and four times last year, and the Sprint was as major a goal as any Saint Leon might have all year. Burlingham was part of the ownership group that originally campaigned Saint Leon, a gelding by Stravinsky, but early days did not go well, as Saint Leon wound up in $5,000 claimers at Mountaineer Park before Burlingham claimed the horse for herself in July 2009, telling Boyce to take as much time as she needed, and retire Saint Leon if that seemed best. Saint Leon didn’t race for almost a year and was a changed horse when he returned: His win Saturday made him 10 for 16 since Boyce took over his training. How astutely has Saint Leon been managed? His only two stakes starts have come in the Arlington Sprint, and he has won them both.