July 4, 2010

Celebrating the 4th at Arlington Park

If you‘ve never been to Arlington Park in suburban Chicago, I urge you to make the trip. The track, facility, and the grounds are unmatched in the United States for pristine beauty. Arlington Park, which was rebuilt after the fire of 1985, is simply a showplace for the Thoroughbred. I had a wonderful time there today, and in the process saw a champion mare win for the first time in 2010. Seeing a champion in person is something that never grows old for me, and as I watched the other big races from around the country, it occurred to me that the grey mare might not be the only champion female winning today.

Of course the champion I saw in person was Informed Decision, winning the Chicago Handicap. It is a race that she also won last year on her way to the Eclipse Award as the nation’s best female sprinter. Today’s race was tougher than expected as Informed Decision had to outgame the upstart, longshot speedster, Rinterval, to the wire. At the finish, she was a head better than her rival, who was in receipt of seven pounds, as the two mares pulled clear of the rest of the field. After being upset in her first two starts of the year, and being tested by an unknown today, it appears that the champ may not be quite the force that she was in 2009. Her three races this year, while not as impressive as last year for sure, have been solid, and a little improvement may get her to a level contending for another championship. I would not put anything past this beautiful grey mare who has now won 12 times in 17 lifetime races.

If Informed Decision is unseated as Eclipse winning sprinting female, it may be a three-year-old New York bred who is able to turn the trick. Fanny Freud is no run of the mill state bred. Take a look at her record, and you get an idea just how good this filly is. The daughter of Freud has now won 8 times with 2 seconds in 10 tries sprinting. Today she easily handled her competition in snaring her first grade 1 victory. Sent off as a heavy 7-10 choice despite the presence of a recent grade 1 winner in Champagne d‘Oro and a sharp stakes winner in Bonnie Blue Flag, Fanny Freud proved much the best in the Prioress. The winning margin ended up only being 1 ¾ lengths, but it seemed far easier than that, as Fanny made a quick and decisive move as the horses straightened out, that settled things early in the lane. From there she coasted home and will now head to Saratoga as clearly the horse to beat in the Spa’s prestigious Test Stakes.

Leaving the female sprinters for just a moment, Maram may have been the horse that most impressed me today. It was not a major stakes that she won, and she only ended up winning the Miss Liberty by a head, but I thought her performance was scintillating. Stuck on the outside, and behind a slow early pace, Maram appeared to be in deep trouble as late as the eighth pole. Still in the 7th position at the stretch call, the four-year-old daughter of Sahm suddenly turned on the afterburners. Gaining on the sharp stakes winning turf filly, Strike the Bell, with every stride, Maram got up in the last few strides to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Gaining all that ground on good fillies, who were sprinting home, speaks volumes of her ability. It was the fifth win in only eight starts for the dark bay filly who has run exclusively on the grass. Always a classy sort, in 2008, she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in only her third lifetime start. Last year she was thrown to the wolves by running in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf off of only two preps. She was not up to the challenge that day, but was still only beaten 3 ½ lengths. Back and healthy this year, I believe the sky is the limit for her now at four, and I see another run and win in the BC as a real possibility.

Photo Courtesy of Four Footed Fotos


darlene said...

nice writing about the Good Girls of the day They all were classy with their runs Thanks

Michael said...

I was wondering if you give your many Readers a winner at the track! Maybe to bring in more fans to the Sport we both love.

ja.raymond said...

I know you had a great time; I watched Informed's race - Rinterval really made her run her guts out! And Maram, what a closer!!

John B said...

Been there in 2007 for the 25th Arlington Million! Nice track, small but nice!