08/07/2011 6:34PM

Arlington: Secretariat principals get in turf works

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Willcox Inn, winning the American Derby, will try to sweep Arlington's turf series for 3-year-olds in the Secretariat Stakes.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Banned and Willcox Inn, two prime contenders in a blockbuster edition of the Secretariat Stakes, turned in turf workouts on Sunday morning at Arlington, but other intended grass workers were rained onto the main track by a mid-morning downpour. The Secretariat, Beverly D. and Arlington Million make up a Grade 1 triple on Saturday at Arlington.

Willcox Inn worked in company with Beverly D. entrant Upperline, breaking off about five lengths behind the filly before finishing on nearly even terms. Trainer Mike Stidham timed Willcox Inn in 50.40 seconds for a half-mile and Upperline in 51.40 for the same distance. Both horses galloped out well down the backstretch before pulling up on good order.

“Both horses got what they needed out of the work,” said Stidham.

Willcox Inn will attempt to sweep Arlington’s three turf stakes for 3-year-olds this summer when he starts in the $400,000 Secretariat on Saturday. Willcox Inn comfortably won the Arlington Classic and the American Derby in his two most recent starts, but faces far stronger opposition in the Secretariat, a race expected to include the top three finishers from the Virginia Derby as well as a shipper – either Treasure Beach or Roderic O’Connor, both capable of winning - from Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.

“Without a doubt, this is a big step up,” Stidham readily conceded Sunday.

Air Support, the Virginia Derby winner, arrives here later in the week from New York, but Banned, a neck behind Air Support in Virginia, is based with trainer Tom Proctor’s Arlington string, and worked five furlongs in 1:05 on Saturday. Banned was a powerful winner of the American Turf and Jefferson Cup before suffering a narrow loss at the hands of Air Support. Casino Host, who led late in the stretch in the Virginia Derby before giving way late, also was pre-entered in the Secretariat.

Another Secretariat pre-entrant, Suntracer, was one of the horses whose intended turf work had to be scrapped because of rain. Instead, Suntracer worked five furlongs on Polytrack in 1:01.80, while stablemate Never Retreat, among the pre-entrants for the Beverly D., went the same distance in 1:03.80. Another Beverly D. hopeful, Pachattack, went six furlongs in a fast 1:12.

Four out-of-town shippers for the three Saturday Grade 1's have arrived in Chicago. Mission Approved came by van last Friday, while Europeans River Jetez, Zack Hall, and Wigmore Hall came by plane Saturday night. Ziayarid, a French horse for the Secretariat, will fly here Tuesday, while O’Brien will send Million favorite Cape Blanco as well as his Secretariat starter by private charter on Wednesday. Californians Eclaire de Lune and Dubawi Heights, both Beverly D. runners, are due in Tuesday, while horses from the East Coast will be arriving on flights Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Arlington officials.