05/22/2009 11:00PM

Giant Oak rolls late in Arlington Classic


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Giant Oak's giant strides carried him to a one-length victory in the Arlington Classic Stakes, the last of four stakes races Saturday at Arlington Park. Jockey Eddie Razo, re-united with Giant Oak for the first time since last fall, thinks there might be more to come.

"It's kind of scary, but I think he can still improve," said Razo.

Giant Oak jumped off the Triple Crown trail and onto the Mid-America Triple caravan after finishing a fine second to Musket Man in the Illinois Derby on April 4. Arlington has put up a $500,000 bonus for a horse sweeping the Arlington Classic, the American Derby, and the Secretariat Stakes. Giant Oak is a third of the way there now.

Razo rode Giant Oak to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November at Churchill, but hadn't been back aboard the horse until Giant Oak moved from Hawthorne to Arlington, and started breezing over the Polytrack here. Razo, an astute horseman, said he immediately noticed that Giant Oak had improved.

"This year to last year, he's a different horse," Razo said.

The Arlington Classic unfolded much differently than it looked Saturday morning. Front-running Turfiste was scratched, front-running Orthodox stumbled at the start, and stretchout sprinter Flashmans Papers showed no speed. So, there was favored Golden Mexico, who was allowed to set a slow pace while in the clear - going to the half-mile in 49.22 seconds - but still was in the wrong spot.

"He needs to be covered up, but nobody went to the lead," said Miguel Mena, who picked up the mount when Rene Douglas was injured two races earlier.

Giant Oak raced along the inside, and got shuffled back to seventh around the first turn. Razo stayed glued to the fence until the stretch run, as longshot No Inflation took on Golden Mexico, and quickly went past. Giant Oak lacked focus when Razo asked him to run last year, but this time, he immediately went after No Inflation when Razo asked him to go. Giant Oak got to No Inflation inside the sixteenth pole, went clear at the finish, and galloped out strongly.

Trained by Chris Block for the Virginia Tarra Trust, Giant Oak paid $7.40 to win as the second choice. No Inflation finished a clear second in front of late-running El Crespo. Winning time for the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf was 1:43.59.

Euphony wins fifth straight in Matron

Bricks? Shag carpet? Moon dust? Is there any surface over which the filly Euphony can't win? Having conquered wet and dry dirt tracks, and turf courses at two different venues, Euphony conquered synthetic-track racing, winning the Arlington Matron over tough-luck Kiss With a Twist.

Euphony, a Pin Oak Stable homebred, now has won eight times in a 10-start career. She lost two in a row about this time last summer, but now has won five straight races for Pin Oak and trainer Donnie Von Hemel. The Grade 3, $150,000 Matron marked 4-year-old Euphony's first graded stakes victory.

"She's a wonderful filly," said Von Hemel, who has acutely managed Euphony's career.

Euphony, who paid a surprisingly generous $17.80 to win, beat Kiss With a Twist by three-quarters of a length. Heavily favored Indescribable, who won this race a year ago, finished third, and was not a factor in the stretch.

"I just don't think it was her day," said Kent Desormeaux, who rode Indescribable. "" felt like I never had horse. I had to encourage her to keep her in the race."

Euphony was in the race from the start. Though the plan was to sit in third, fourth, or fifth position, jockey Cliff Berry said, Euphony broke sharply and, with Berry urging her on to clear a couple horses to her inside, wound up on the lead into the first turn. Longshot Boudoir took over going into the backstretch, with Berry holding Euphony in second while staying on the fence. That can be an awkward position for a horse during a race, but Euphony seemed perfectly comfortable.

"She's a very, very intelligent horse," Berry said. "She'll start and stop for you whenever you want."

The pace was slow in the Matron - that's the way Arlington played all afternoon - 25.19 seconds for the first quarter, 49.75 to the half, and 1:14.54 for six furlongs. At about the three-eighths pole, Berry asked Euphony to clear Boudoir, and with smooth acceleration she went to the lead, turning into the stretch with a clear advantage. Kiss With a Twist, who stumbled at the start and was hung wide on the second turn, made a nice run at the leader, but Euphony held her clear.

* Born to Be clipped heels with Sky Mom at the top of the stretch, going down hard and pinning jockey Rene Douglas underneath her. Douglas remained conscious and was taken to a local hospital. He was said by his agent Dennis Cooper to have feeling in his feet, with pain in his arm and back.

"That's a good sign, actually," said Cooper. "At first he had no pain, then the pain started coming in."

Born to Be appeared to be injured, but was loaded onto the horse ambulance and taken to the detention barn to be evaluated.

Sky Mom and jockey Jamie Theriot were disqualified from fifth to last for causing Born to Be to clip heels.

Consequence captures 1000 Guineas

Ever since she zipped home to win her career debut in a turf sprint at Saratoga last summer, Consequence has given off the vibrations of a stakes horse. And now she has proven she is one. Getting a dream trip under John Velazquez, Consequence finished strongly and held off a good stretch run from longshot Excelente to win the second edition of the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas by a half-length Saturday at Arlington.

Consequence was sent directly into stakes competition off that maiden win, but she finished fourth in the Miss Grillo Stakes, sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and third last month in the Beaumont over Polytrack at Keeneland. Her trip from New York to Chicago delayed a day by plane mechanical problems, Consequence arrived here Wednesday from trainer Shug McGaughey's Belmont Park base eligible for an entry-level allowance race. Bettors still made her the 6-5 chalk, and were rewarded for their confidence.

A little antsy in the post parade, Consequence seemed eager to get to work, and after breaking sixth, she ranged up to press a slow pace set by Afternoon Stroll.

"With blinkers on, I knew she would be strong out of the gate," said Velazquez.

Gradually, Consequence relented to Velazquez's tight hold, and sitting second behind a half-mile in 49.32 seconds, Consequence found herself in ideal position.

"She settled really well on the backstretch," Velazquez said.

The leaders having gone so slowly, a mad dash to the finish was inevitable, and Consequence responded. She cleared the pacesetter, then found another gear when jockey Miguel Mena produced 13-1 Irish import Excelente.

"I was proud of the way she sprinted home," said Velazquez.

Excelente settled in sixth position, threading her way between horses and out into contention at the top of the stretch.

"When I came out at the three-sixteenths pole, I thought I had the winner," said Mena. "But she had an easy trip."

Pacesetting Afternoon Stroll held third, a head better than tough-trip Prytania. Consequence, bred and owned by the Phipps Stable, paid $4.40 to win, and was timed in 1:37.59 for one mile on firm turf.

Phipps-McGaughey double up with Vacation

Owner Phipps Stable, trainer Shug McGaughey, and jockey John Velazquez won their second stakes race of the afternoon when Vacation swept to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hanshin Cup Handicap.

Meanwhile, jockey Miguel Mena finished second for the third straight Arlington stakes race. Mena's mount, Dominican, was shut off at the eighth pole, and might have had a shot at the winner with a clean run.

Vacation got a clean run, pressing a surprisingly slow pace while four or five paths wide for much of the trip. But that worked fine. Vacation came to Chicago from New York with a 2-for-18 career record, but this was his first one-turn mile contested over a synthetic surface. Vacation had run in races up to 1 1/4 miles, but McGaughey said he was zeroing in on longer one-turn races as Vacation's best lick.

It looked like the Hanshin pace could be contested and swift, but it was neither. Rail-drawn Stonehouse was taken back, while Spotsgone was outrun for the lead by Voy Por Uno Mas, who went his first quarter-mile in a dawdling 24 seconds. Voy Por Uno Mas was well clear into the turn through a half-mile in 46.80 seconds, but he quickly lost his lead going to the quarter pole. Vacation was the first to pounce, and the one-length lead he took at the stretch call easily stood up as Domincan got hung up between Cherokee Artist and Amazing Results in upper stretch.

Vacation paid $9.20 to win, and was timed in 1:36.56 for one mile. Cherokee Artist, the mild favorite, finished third.