Updated on 09/17/2011 11:49AM

Have horse, will travel


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Other than the Breeders' Cup last fall, trainer Todd Pletcher can't recall running a horse at Arlington Park. Thursday, Lismore Knight was on his way from Pletcher's Belmont barn to Chicago for Saturday's Arlington Classic. His rival trainers in New York must wish he had sent the entire stable.

With two more wins Wednesday at Belmont, Pletcher was up to 27 for the meet, far ahead of his closest pursuers. An amazingly wet spell of weather there hasn't kept him from winning a slew of maiden and lower-level allowance races with well-bred young horses.

"It's been difficult to keep horses on schedule, but it's seemed like we've at least had one day a week where you could squeeze things in," Pletcher said.

The infusion of live stock into Pletcher's stable has gone on steadily for the past several seasons. If it continues, he may look more and more to sending horses like Lismore Knight on the road.

Lismore Knight was to have raced last weekend in the Hill Prince at Belmont. When rain moved that race to the main track, Pletcher went to his backup plan - Arlington.

"I haven't avoided Chicago," he said. "It's just the way it's worked out. There's a fair amount of expense involved sending a horse there if you're traveling alone."

In Lismore Knight's case, the price is $6,000. "If you're spending that kind of money, you'd better be sure they're going well," Pletcher said.

Lismore Knight is. At age 2, Lismore Knight won the Summer Stakes at Woodbine over last week's Queen's Plate winner, Wando. Lismore Knight won at six furlongs in his career debut, but also has proven successful at middle distances. At 1 1/16 miles, Saturday's Classic suits him, and if things go well, Pletcher will consider a return trip to Arlington for the 10-furlong Secretariat.

Walden logging travel miles

At any racetrack on any morning, you can't turn around without running into a trainer scrutinizing a horse being put through a workout. But few have gone as far as Elliott Walden did to watch his horse work.

European, an Irish import, runs Saturday in the Arlington Classic, his first start since Team Valor Stables purchased him and turned him over to Walden. But Walden was present for European's last work before the Classic, even though it took place at The Curragh in Ireland.

"I wasn't over there just for that," Walden conceded. "But I did get to see him work."

Walden took a quick European tour earlier this month with Ken Troutt and Doug Cauthen of WinStar Farm, one of Walden's primary clients. The idea was to tour various training operations and see how things were done.

"It was a good idea for us to be able to understand things when people present you a horse for sale," Walden said. "It gives you a context for what you're looking at."

Walden was at The Curragh June 19 when European vanned there to work with four other horses. "He looked very well," Walden said. "I had seen his video and I liked him."

Walden said one reason for his recent trip was to learn to better predict which foreign horses can make a transition to American racing.

"I've had them lose by 30 [lengths] and win by 10. You just never know," Walden said.

'Mystery' explained

The Illinois Racing Board issued a statement Thursday concerning the situation that arose here Saturday, when the horse Mystery Giver was pulled from the post parade and returned to the paddock to have weight taken from his saddle.

Mystery Giver, the heavy favorite for the Cardinal Handicap, finished second in the race, but was disqualified to ninth.

Mystery Giver's connections, owner Team Block and trainer Chris Block, were upset that Mystery Giver's pre-race routine was thrown off, and Arlington stewards launched an investigation to determine how the weight mix-up occurred. But the IRB release found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

The release said that two riders for the race after the Cardinal weighed in four pounds underweight just as the Cardinal field was headed to the racetrack.

When Mystery Giver's rider, Rene Douglas, had weighed in for the Cardinal, he needed to add four pounds. Arlington's clerk of scales realized that the scale had somehow been thrown out of balance, called the stewards, and Mystery Giver was returned to the paddock.

Velasquez's star on rise

Cornelio Velasquez, a surprise leader in the Churchill Downs jockey standings, will make an appearance Saturday at Arlington. As a sign of Velasquez's breakout success this year, trainer Bill Mott named him to ride Remind in the Arlington Classic.

"Billy likes Cornelio a lot," Velasquez's agent Richie DePass said Thursday. "He's been a big supporter of him. He was the first main trainer this winter at Gulfstream instrumental in getting him the recognition he needed."

With two more wins mid-way through Churchill's Thursday card, Velasquez remained on course to win the riding title in his first season there.