| Contact: Graham Ross
Sunday, July 16, 2000
GRADE 2 WASHINGTON PARK HANDICAP ON TAP FOR SATURDAY
The Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap, a mile and an eighth Chicago summer season highlight since the 1920s, has attracted 20 nominations for its 68th renewal on Saturday at Arlington International Racecourse.
In the last two decades the Washington Park has been won by two horses that went on to Horse of the Year honors in the same season. Jeffrey Sullivan's Black Tie Affair was the most recent to accomplish the double feat in 1991, but Hawksworth Farm's Spectacular Bid also took both honors in 1980. Tartan Farm's Dr. Fager, who won the local race in 1968 and was eventually named Horse of the Year, set a world record when winning the Washington Park under a 134-pound impost.
Spectacular Bid's sire, Bold Bidder, won the race in 1966, and such familiar names as Swaps in 1955 and Gun Bow in 1964 also boast Washington Park victories.
The most prominent name among those likely to contest the Washington Park Handicap Saturday is Steven J. Gula's Mula Gula, who is coming off an eighth-place effort in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park June 18 after throwing a shoe in that grass test.
In his first start of the year, on the main track at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, Mula Gula finished second, beaten a head, in the Grade 2 Winnercomm Handicap at the Twin Spires oval.
Mula Gula, a Lil E. Tee colt, appears to be equally proficient on grass or dirt. If his projected start Saturday on the main track is successful, tentative plans call for Mula Gula to come back on the local grass course for the Arlington Million.
Juddmonte Farm's Skimming is another likely Washington Park Handicap participant. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bobby Frankel, Skimming was second, beaten a length and a half, in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap July 5. In his previous effort June 8, the Nureyev colt visited the winner's circle in $80,000 optional claiming company at Hollywood Park, and had finished third, beaten five lengths in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at the Southern California oval before that. Lazy Lane Farms, Inc.'s Bright Valour, another likely for the Washington Park, was second be less than four lengths to Moreton Binn & Enllomar Stable's Yankee Victor in the Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap here June 25. Previously, Bright Valour had won the $42,000 Dr. Fager at the local oval June 4.
Possible at this time for the Washington Park Handicap is Stonehedge Farm, Inc.'s Blazing Sword, adjudged winner of the Grade 3 Widener Handicap March 18.
Morton Fink's Guided Tour, a winner of his last two in allowance company at Churchill Downs, is also a possible starter in the Washington Park.
ARLINGTON STARTER JAMES THOMSON DEAD AT 95
James Thomson, 95, the official starter for Secretariat's Kentucky Derby and for many years the starter at Arlington Park, died July 8 in Crystal Lake.
Mr. Thomson, who began his starting gate career as an assistant shortly after the opening of Arlington Park, became the starter at the Chicago oval in the early 1960s and remained in that position here until the mid-1970s.
He was also the official starter for the Kentucky Derby from 1957 until 1973.
Mr. Thomson was born Oct. 4, 1904 in Gretna Green Scotland. He emigrated to Canada and later the United States and became a citizen in 1940.
Survivors include a son, James (Rosemary) Thomson of Marion, Iowa, and a daughter, Marybeth (Grant) Prather of Cary.
COUNTDOWN TO 4,000
Arlington Jockey Tim Doocy won one race Saturday at the local oval,
and is now five wins away from the 4,000-win milestone. The count through
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