08/09/2017 3:16PM

Ascend makes quick turnaround for Arlington Million

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ascend wins the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Ascend made the lead at the top of the stretch just two Saturdays ago in the 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga but was swallowed up by deep closers late in the race and checked in fourth as the 9-5 favorite.

Still, the disappointing performance from Ascend, who had won the Grade 1 Manhattan in his previous race, had nothing to do with trainer Graham Motion deciding to run Ascend back two weeks later in the Arlington Million.

“I already had in mind that we could run back in this race, so it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction,” Motion said.

Ascend shipped Tuesday from New York to Arlington, and though he drew poorly in post 12 for Saturday’s race, a return to the form he showed in winning the Manhattan at the Million’s 1 1/4-mile distance would make him very competitive.

Motion is a trainer who often doesn’t even work horses back until a couple of weeks after they race. During the last five years, he has started 45 horses within two weeks of their previous race, and 21 of them have finished third or better. Of those horses, three ran back in graded stakes: Lake Drop finished second at odds of 5-1 in the 2012 Red Smith Stakes, and Rusty Slipper was fourth at 6-1 in the 2013 Florida Oaks and Fortune Pearl finished third at 8-1 in the 2014 Black-Eyed Susan.

“Ascend has always been a laid-back, easygoing horse, and this seems like something he could handle,” Motion said. “I haven’t done much with him since the Bowling Green, but I’ve been very happy with him.”

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