07/09/2016 6:54PM

Greengrassofyoming first among four at Stars and Stripes finish line

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Greengrassofyoming crosses the line at the head of the pack in the Stars and Stripes.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – On Million Preview Day in 2015 trainer Mike Maker won the Arlington Handicap with Quiet Force, who had been claimed for $35,000. On Million Preview Day 2016, Maker won the Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington Park with Greengrassofyoming, who was claimed by Maker and owner Michael Hui for $62,500 out of his most recent race.

“He’s such a beautiful horse. I’ve been watching him for a couple years, before he even broke his maiden, and we finally got him,” Maker said.

Greengrassofyoming prevailed in a blanket four-horse finish, beating O’Prado Ole by a nose, with Pumpkin Rumble a nose farther back in third, and The Pizza Man fourth by the same margin.

The Pizza Man, the 1-2 favorite, raced sixth of seven in the early going and was far behind the leader, but the pace in the 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes was strong enough and, while The Pizza Man raced wide around the last of three turns, he had aim on the leaders with a quarter-mile to run and failed to close the deal.

“I hate going around the turn outside like that, but I wanted to get him out,” jockey Robby Albarado said. “He had every chance to win from there.”

The Pizza Man won this race last year on the way to a popular victory in the Arlington Million. He has lost all three of his starts this season, and failed to substantially improve on his comeback run last out in the Wise Dan at Churchill.

“He’s a year older so,” trainer Roger Brueggemann said. “It is what it is. We’ll just have to try again.”

Greengrassofyoming, ridden to victory by Shaun Bridgmohan, was making his first start in a long-distance race, and Maker said he claimed the 6-year-old gelding with such races in mind. He raced mid-pack as longshot Chip Leader went an opening half-mile in a demanding 48.04 seconds, moved three wide with a sustained bid around the final turn, and just nipped a resurgent O’Prado Ole, who had tracked the pace-setter before taking over with more than three furlongs to run.

Greengrassofyoming, by Quest and out of the Dehere mare Flick, was timed in 2:27.74 for 1 1/2 miles on firm turf and paid $20.60 to win. Maker, who has Da Big Hoss as a major player for the American St. Leger here on Arlington Million Day, said Greengrassofyoming is possible for the John’s Call at Saratoga.