It's a big day at Arlington Park on Saturday, and the six-race, Prairie State Festival, featuring six $100,000-added stakes races is just part of the allure.
In addition to the stakes races, there will also be a specially designated race on the card to benefit the Galloping Out Foundation for the rescue and care of retired Thoroughbred racehorses.
And then following the races there will be a charity fundraiser to benefit Galloping Out. Two words: Elvis impersonator!
But more on that later, now back to racing.
A total of 56 horses were entered for the Festival races which are:
• The Black Tie Affair Handicap for 3-year-olds & upward at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Denham seeks his sixth straight victory and he will head to post as the 122-pound highweight. His unbeaten streak extends to last December at Hawthorne and also includes a victory in the $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap in April.
• The Isaac Murphy Handicap for fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & upward at 6 furlongs on the Polytrack. Cruise, winner of the $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap at Hawthorne in April, is the 122-pound highweight. The Christine Janks-trainee comes into the race off a sixth-place finish in open company in the $60,000 Prairie Rose Stakes in Iowa on May 31.
• The Lincoln Heritage Handicap for fillies & mares 3-year-olds & upward at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Dundalk Dust, champion 3-year-old filly and champion turf female, will shoulder top impost of 122 pounds. The Chris Block-trainee is unraced since a seventh-place finish in the $100,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at the Fair Grounds in March.
• The Purple Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on Polytrack. Prominent entrants include stakes winners Third Chance, heroine of the $100,000 Showtime Deb Stakes at Hawthorne; Seans Silverdancer, winner of the $100,000 Illinois Debutante at Hawthorne last December; and Our Lady in Red, who captured the $100,000 Pretty Jenny Stakes in April.
• The White Oak Handicap for 3-year-olds & upward at six furlongs on Polytrack. River Bear, champion male sprint horse and winner of the 2009 White Oak, is among seven entered for this year's renewal as is the race's defending champion, Shrewd Operator. However, highweighted for this year's running is Mighty Rule, winner of the $100,000 Robert S. Molaro Handicap at Hawthorne in April.
• The Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on Polytrack. This race drew a field of 11 sophomores including Table Games, winner of the $100,000 Illinois Futurity last December, and the stakes-placed Mavericking. Both horses are trained by the Prairie State Festival's leading trainer Chris Block.
As a reminder, Daily Herald handicapper Joe Kristufek will host a "Big Event Chat" previewing the Prairie State Festival Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. on Horseplayernow.com.
Race for a great cause:
In Saturday's specially designated race to benefit the rescue and care of retired race horses, Arlington Park will donate the purse money and commissions earned on the race to the Galloping Out Foundation, a 501(c)-3 nonprofit organization which was founded in 2010 as a cooperative effort between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Chicagoland Thoroughbred racecourses.
"Our most important goal is making sure the Thoroughbred athlete has a chance for a second career once his racing days are over," said Galloping Out President Nate Ruffalo.
Following the races, Arlington will host the Galloping Out 2011 Charity Fundraiser in the track's paddock area where there will be a silent auction, live entertainment including an Elvis impersonator and a chance to mingle with trainers and jockeys.
Tickets for the event are $25 which will include hors d'oeuvres and two drink tickets. For more information, contact Mary Stout in the ITHA office at (847) 577-6464.