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Long road back for Harlington
ELMONT, N.Y. - The last time Harlington ran in a graded stakes race, few people had even heard of the horse that would beat him that day. While Invasor used the Pimlico Special as a springboard to become the 2006 Horse of the Year, Harlington went to the sidelines with an injury.
Two years later, Harlington has only been able to run twice more, winning an allowance race in May 2007 and losing an allowance race in May 2008. But Harlington has emerged to run another day, and will do so in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.
On Wednesday, Harlington completed preparations for the Suburban by working five furlongs in 1:02.97 over Belmont's main track. Though he finished third in a conditioned allowance race here on May 31, trainer Tom Albertrani felt it was a good effort considering he was beaten by the proven mud-lover Tasteyville.
"I felt that he was going to need the race," said Albertrani, who only took over the training of the 6-year-old horse this year. "I can only do so much with him in the morning. I just felt the race was going to do him more good than two or three more works."
Harlington, a son of champions Unbridled and Serena's Song who was previously trained by Todd Pletcher, has won 6 of 9 races in his career. He suffered a wrenched ankle in the 2005 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, then came back late that year and began a three-race win streak that culminated in a neck victory in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in 2006. Following a fourth-place finish to Invasor in the Pimlico Special, Harlington has been plagued by a reoccurrence of ankle problems.
"He's a big horse, and to me it looks like it takes a lot of work to keep him in condition," Albertrani said. "We haven't missed a day since he arrived; that might be the key with him, just keeping him on a schedule where he keeps his fitness."
Harlington is one of seven horses expected for the Suburban, run at 1 1/4 miles. The others are A. P. Arrow, Angliana, Frost Giant, Naughty New Yorker, Rising Moon, and Solar Flare.
Precious Kitten has quarter crack
Precious Kitten, among the leaders of the female turf division, has missed about two weeks of training due to a quarter crack in her left front foot, and likely will not run again until August, trainer Bobby Frankel said Wednesday.
Frankel said Precious Kitten could be pointed to either the John C. Mabee at Del Mar on Aug. 3 or the Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Aug. 9. Precious Kitten won the Mabee last year.
Precious Kitten had developed a quarter crack before the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap at Hollywood Park on Memorial Day, a race she won impressively. Frankel said that an infection developed in the quarter crack and "we had to start all over again," he said. "It's all out, we're just waiting for it to dry out."
Frankel said Ian McKinlay, a hoof lameness specialist who specializes in quarter cracks, looked at the foot on Wednesday and said he would put a patch on it in a few days.
Locals accept American Oaks invites
The connections of Raw Silk and Backseat Rhythm have accepted invitations to run their 3-year-old fillies in the $750,000 American Oaks Invitational at Hollywood Park on July 5.
Raw Silk, trained by Tom Albertrani for the Darley Stable, is coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Sands Point here on May 31. She is 2 for 4 on turf.
"I like the fact that it's a mile and a quarter; she looks like she'll run all day," Albertrani said Wednesday. "There's not a lot of opportunities here right now until Saratoga. In the meantime, it looks like a good spot to try her."
On Wednesday, Raw Silk worked five furlongs in 1:01.34 over Belmont's main track.
Backseat Rhythm, who finished second in the Matron and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at 2, is coming off a front-running victory in a first-level allowance race going 1 1/4 miles here on May 23. She is 2 for 3 on turf.
"Distance is going to help us and it's going to hurt some of the others," said Pat Reynolds, who trains Backseat Rhythm for owner Paul Pompa. "That fits into the equation. She'll be trained to go a mile and a quarter. I can't envision one running bad when they're training as good as she is."
On Sunday, Backseat Rhythm worked six furlongs in 1:14.40 on the outside part of the turf course.
Coa still day to day after spill
Eibar Coa took off his mounts for a third consecutive day on Wednesday, still bothered by bruised ribs suffered in a spill here last Friday. Coa, who took off stakes engagements at Colonial Downs last Saturday and at Woodbine on Sunday, took off four scheduled mounts on Wednesday.
Matt Muzikar, agent for Coa, said the jockey remained very sore and was having some trouble breathing. Muzikar named Coa on five horses for Friday.
Casino Drive owner donates to Anna House
Hidetoshi Yamamoto, the owner of the Japanese-based colt Casino Drive, made a $30,000 donation to Anna House, a day-care facility located on the grounds of Belmont Park.
Yamamoto visited Anna House when he came here for the Belmont Stakes, where Casino Drive was set to start before a foot bruise forced him to scratch.
According to a press release, Yamamoto was impressed by the early-child programs and what the facility was doing for the children of backstretch workers. The release said Yamamoto hopes others in the racing industry will follow his example and donate to Anna House.
Barrier Reef draws rail for return
Barrier Reef, winner of the Whirlaway Stakes over Aqueduct's inner track in February, returns to New York and to dirt in a second-level allowance race here on Friday.
Barrier Reef, now with Godolphin, last raced on April 4 when he finished seventh in the Grade 3 Transylvania, a stakes race moved from the turf to Keeneland's Polytrack.
Barrier Reef breaks from the rail in a field of six that includes Slambino, an 8 1/2-length winner of a first-level allowance on June 4, and Deputyville, who drops back into allowance company after four stakes tries.