Arlington Park Plans Huge Stakes Day for Saturday, July 7 / Leading Trainers

Arlington Park is just about to kick it into high gear for this weekend’s upcoming Holiday race card. On Saturday, July 7, the beautiful facility — with one of the world’s most pristine and magnificent grass courses — will play host to five Stakes events in a row. Four of those are Graded Stakes events.

Here is a closer look at Saturday’s major features:

  1. Race 5: G3 American Derby
  2. Race 6: Hatoof Stakes
  3. Race 7: G3 Arlington Handicap
  4. Race 8: G3 Modesty Handicap
  5. Race 9: G3 Stars & Strips Stakes

If you get the opportunity, head out to the track. If not, catch all the live action on


Trainer Mike Stidham said Thursday afternoon that he will point two-time graded stakes winner Synchrony toward the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Handicap, which is run on the Arlington International Racecourse turf at a distance of 1 3/16 miles for 3-year-olds and upward. The Arlington Handicap is one of four graded stakes events scheduled for Ride to the Million, presented by Miller Lite set to take place on Saturday, July 7. The top three finishers of the Arlington Handicap will have their entry and starting fees waived for the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million on August 11.

Owned by Pin Oak Stable, the 5-year-old son of Tapit kicked off his year with victories in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap on February 17 and the Grade II Muniz Memorial Handicap on March 24, the latter of which he took over graded stakes winner Arklow who also is pointing toward the Arlington Handicap. Last time out, Synchrony raced over a yielding turf course at Churchill Downs in the Grade I Old Forester Turf Classic, where he finished third beaten 3¾ lengths behind Yoshida (JPN) when traveling 1 1/8 miles.

Following his most recent effort, Stidham indicated that he would point towards the Arlington Million as the long term goal.

“Our goal is that he runs well on the (Arlington) turf and then what we can consider the Million,” Stidham said. “After that we’ll see, but the only race where he didn’t run as well was that bog at Churchill in the Grade I (Old Forester Turf Classic). That turf was so bad, but he came from last to make a pretty good run at them. I think he’ll like the Arlington turf.”

Synchrony began his career under the care of trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, who conditioned the horse to two victories before a third place effort in the Grade III Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Synchrony joined Stidham’s contingent last winter and made his grass debut a winning one in his second start for the trainer, which took place in a second level allowance event at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Since then, he has either won or placed in six starts over the grass.

Should Synchrony put up an effort worthy of a start in the Million, he would likely keep the horse with his local string to train for the race.

Stidham will also be represented by Godolphin’s two-time stakes winner Hallie Belle in the Grade III $100,000 Modesty Handicap, a 1 3/16- mile event on the turf course. The top three finishers in the Modesty will also have their entry and starting fees waived in the Grade I $600,000 Beverly D. at Arlington’s International Festival of Racing on August 11.

The Modesty Handicap would be the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro’s graded stakes debut. She won the Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park on April 21 and has since trained with Stidham’s contingent at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

“She won (the Dahlia Stakes) first time we ran her at Laurel,” Stidham said. “We’re coming in off of that win with her and she’s doing well again.”

Stidham went on to say that Dare To Dream Stable’s Memory Bank is a possibility for the Grade III $100,000 Stars and Stripes Handicap. The Illinois-bred son of Misremembered last raced when finishing second in the Black Tie Affair Handicap on June 9. He has either won or placed in his last nine starts, which include an open company allowance win over the lawn at Tampa Bay Downs and a local allowance triumph against state-breds on earlier this year.

Leading Trainers This Meet:

Here is a closer look at the top trainers at Arlington Park so far this meet. The trainer dominating the standings is none other than Larry Rivelli, who has a commanding 20 win margin over second place holder Wayne Catalano.

Larry Rivelli100311717$637,919
Wayne M. Catalano5911164$296,815
Chris M. Block539211$300,927
Hugh H. Robertson27783$198,900
Louie J. Roussel, III25775$123,713
Brian Williamson55767$231,206
Michele Boyce31743$263,251
Roger A. Brueggemann23721$136,255
Steve Manley556103$172,601
Ingrid Mason44684$105,917
James M. Gulick18632$179,675
Christopher Davis18625$133,616
Scott Becker38569$181,046
Manny Perez66568$89,736
Joe Kirby355310$117,278
Terry R. Young23525$91,458
Liane P. Davis11511$94,555
Ignacio Correas, IV25452$113,650
Cheryl Winebaugh19422$70,495
Andrew McKeever18416$43,768

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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