05/21/2011 6:55PM

Arlington: Workin for Hops switches surfaces, impresses in Hanshin

Four Footed Fotos
Workin for Hops showed he can handle Arlington's Polytrack surface with a sharp victory in the Hanshin.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Since the first two starts of his career – both solid Polytrack performances - Workin for Hops has been a grass horse, and the question in the Hanshin Cup on Saturday at Arlington was whether Workin for Hops’s superior turf form would hold up on Arlington’s all-weather main track. The answer was yes - most assuredly yes.

Under his new rider, James Graham, Workin for Hops ($6.40) got a lovely inside trip just in behind fast fractions (22.50 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 45.43 to the half) set by Cool Bullet and Pointing North. Graham tipped three wide into the stretch run, encouraged Workin for Hops to change leads at the three-sixteenths pole, and once straightened away, Workin for Hops was gone. Finishing strongly, Workin for Hops beat stakes-debuting Pacific Ocean by three lengths, running one mile in a good 1:34.55. Havelock finished third, while Country Flavor, who won this race last year, was fourth.

Workin for Hops, a City Zip 4-year-old owned by Estrorace LLC (Amy Bondon), won for the sixth time in 14 career starts. The Grade 3 $100,000 Hanshin was his second graded stakes, the other being the American Derby on Arlington turf last summer. Mike Stidham trains the winner, and

Stidham’s Arlington assistant, Brett McLellan, said the barn had confidence in Workin for Hops on Polytrack.

“He’s just thrived on it,” McLellan said. “Since we’ve had him up here, he’s just been perfect.”