Chicago Barn to Wire



 Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 255-4300
Sunday, August 6, 2000
63rd Day


The rubber match. King Cugat, winner of the Grade 2 Arlington Classic July 1 is scheduled to return to Chicago's premier oval for the Grade 1 Secretariat August 19.

Pine Dance, who flew in from Ireland to take down winning honors in the Grade 2 American Derby July 23 and then returned to the Emerald Isle, is due to cross the Atlantic once again August 15 to try to repeat that performance in the $400,000 Secretariat four days later.

The winner of the first leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple facing off against the winner of the second leg in the third and final leg without either having a race in between. Interestingly, in the entire history of the Mid-America Triple, either in its modern years as an all-turf series or in any of its previous formats, this appetizing scenario has never previously come to fruition.

King Cugat, owned by the Centennial Farms of Don Little and trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, was less than fully extended when winning the Arlington Classic by two and three-quarter-lengths, but trainer Mott elected to pass the American Derby and return for the final event.

The son of top turf sire Kingmambo now boasts a four-race win streak, having captured Churchill's Jefferson Cup June 10 and the Grade 3 Crown Royal Turf Classic in his first start of the year. Previously, King Cugat had captured Gulfstream's Prized Stakes on Breeders' Cup weekend last November.

American Derby hero Pine Dance, owned by Highland Farms, Peter Wetzel and Five Star Racing Co., is a Kentucky-bred who was making his first start in the United States in the middle jewel of the Mid-America Triple.

Trainer Dermot Weld, who shipped Go And Go from Ireland to win the Belmont Stakes in 1990, exuded confidence the morning of the American Derby but the public allowed his colt to get away as the longest shot in the field. That proved to be a mistake when the son of 1992 Preakness winner Pine Bluff found running room along the rail in the lane to win by a length and a half with only occasional encouragement.

According to Weld, Pine Dance has continued to develop as a sophomore. A seventh place finish in his previous start in the Stakes July 1 was attributed to the yielding course at The Curragh. He had won his two previous starts.

But even if King Cugat and Pine Dance meet in their scheduled confrontation in the Secretariat, the Arlington Million Day added attraction is more than a rubber match.

Sam-Son Farm has an undefeated sophomore named Think Red (an appropriate name for a Secretariat contestant) who is also being pointed to the International Festival of Racing fixture. Think Red, a son of Red Ransom, won Woodbine's Grade 3 Toronto Cup at last asking, and his smallest winning margin in three career starts is two lengths.

Gary A. Tanaka's French-bred and French-campaigned Guillamou City, by the Lyphard stallion Lesotho, boasts six wins from eight career starts including five straight.

Wertheimer & Frere's Premier Pas, another French-bred, trained by Criquette Head, finished second in the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam at Deauville on Bastille Day (July 14), and missed by only a length when the runner-up in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp June 25. Head trained 1994 Beverly D. winner Hatoof.

Irish-bred Hymn, second to Pine Dance in the American Derby but a winner of his previous two starts in stakes company at Ascot and Sandown, is also currently slated to return for the Secretariat.

The Secretariat will be run two races after the Arlington Million on August 19, but it's not going to be one of those days to try and beat the traffic.


Arlington jockey Eduardo Perez is closing in on the 1,000-win milestone. The count through Saturday: Eduardo Perez - 995 lifetime wins, Arlington Total: 24

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