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Arlington Park Bodes Well for Breeders

19 August 2002

ILLINOIS -- If this year's World Thoroughbred Championship Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park is anything like that track's big three preview turf races, then they better load the film in the cameras -- and have back up, just in case.

Arlington Park presented its International Festival of Racing on Saturday, featuring three important prep events for the trio of Breeders' Cup turf races to be run over that same course Oct. 26.

Highlighting a record 12-race program that handled $15,851,625 in wagers were the $700,000 Beverly D. for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf hopefuls, the $1 million Arlington Million for those pointing to the Breeders' Cup Turf, and the $400,000 Secretariat for sophomores who may challenge their elders in the Breeders' Cup Mile or Turf.

Once again Chicago's monument to racing showcased an international field in each of the three Grade I events.

The 20th edition of the first million-dollar race ever run in America proved to be, if not as historic, just as exciting as the inaugural. In the 1980 Arlington Million, the great John Henry won his six-figure share by a whisker over The Bart in a race so close the track announcer thought the other horse had won. And although there have been some great editions since that first Million, this year's turf tussle was vintage. The 1 1/4- mile run became a cavalry charge in the final eighth of a mile.

Forbidden Apple led the field into the sprawling home stretch with race favorite Beat Hollow and a host of challengers bearing down. Jockey Jose Santos managed to ration pedestrian fractions on the pacesetter, so when Jerry Bailey came charging alongside Forbidden Apple on Beat Hollow, the target was fighting back.

Sarafan was in high gear and the German-bred Paolini was desperately looking for room as Falcon Flight dropped to the rail in search of dayight while the European longshot Ulundi was winding up in the middle of the course.

With nostrils flaring, whips whaling and jockeys driving, the race to the finish looked like the Radio City Music Hall chorus line. In a blanket finish, Beat Hollow won by inches over the fast-closing Sarafan. A nose behind Sarafan came Forbidden Apple, who bettered Ulundi by a head. Another nose separated Ulundi from Falcon Flight, who was just another head in front of Paolini.

Less than a length is all that separated first to sixth in the nine-horse field.

The move by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel to replace jockey Alex Solis (who got Beat Hollow beat with a bad ride in the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar) with Jerry Bailey seemed to be genius after the race. But it was pure Bailey who got the son of Sadlers Well up in time with a well-timed ride and returned $3.40 to his faithful backers.

The Beverly D. began the trio of features as the seventh. Five in the field of six came into the 1 3/16- mile race with hefty credentials.

The favorite, Astra, returned to the course of her worst performance in 15 lifetime starts. The daughter of Theatrical had finished last -- beaten almost 25 lengths -- in last year's renewal in the only outstanding blemish against 11 victories.

Defending Beverly D. victress England's Legend once again became the pacesetter. But unlike last year, England's Legend could not take her rivals gate-to-wire.

Golden Apples, who tracked the early flight, came running at the leader in mid-stretch under Pat Valenzuela. Golden Apples would then hold off a belated bid by Astra to prevail by less than a length. England's Legend held third.

As with the case of Beat Hollow, trainer Ben Cecil also fired his jockey, Garrett Gomez, after Golden Apples lost the Ramona Handicap by a neck on the Del Mar lawn. With the victory, Golden Apples leads her personal score with Astra at 2-to-1, and paid $6.80 to win as the second choice.

Although the connections of Golden Apple intend to return to Arlington for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the Astra team is coming to the conclusion that their mare may just not care for the Arlington course.

The Secretariat concluded the trio of turf races as the 11th on the card. The final jewel in the Mid-America Triple, the 1 1/4-mile event featured seven with the Bill Mott trainee Orchard Park as the favorite. Juddmonte Farms entry of Chiselling was a close second choice to give Beat Hollow's connections two-of-three features on the day.

The European Jazz Beat seemed to have the field beat in deep stretch, but jockey Kent Desormeaux had Chiselling in high gear and motoring in the middle of the course. At the end, it would be Chiselling in the very final jump to nail Jazz Beat in another photo-finish, returning $9.20 to win.

Jockey Jerry Bailey could give no excuse for the off-the-board performance of Orchard Park as Extra Check checked in third. Although trainer Bobby Frankel would not commit Chiselling to the Breeders' Cup, Desormeaux said if the son of Woodman continues to improve, then he should be given a "shot" on the big day.

We will see which way the winds blow for the winners when the championship comes to the windy city.

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