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Layoff perfect for Karelian
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/26/2008 11:56 PM

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Jockey James Graham and Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold have this pattern down pretty well.

Give the horse a long layoff, then run in a stakes race at Arlington Park.

Coming off the sidelines for his first start since last Aug. 27 at Saratoga, Karelian came home ahead of runner-up Yate's Black Cat by three-quarters of a length to win the 22nd running of the $150,000 Sea o'Erin Handicap.

Just two weeks ago on the same sod, Graham and Arnold hooked up to win the Grade III Arlington Handicap with Stream Cat, who had been away since last Oct 27.

The 29-year-old Graham is No. 5 in the Arlington jockey standings.

The native of Dublin, Ireland, could not remember winning a stakes race in his five-year career on a horse who had been away as long as Karelian.

"Rusty did a great job training," said Graham, who sat sceond nearly all the way in the mile race behind pace-setting Voy Por Uno Mas before grabbing the lead in midstretch.

"I was a little worried when he was being a little aggressive early, but it played to his advantage and he finished strong," Graham said. "I'm just thankful Rusty uses me on these horses."

Perhaps Star Trek fans used Karelian for their win wagers.

"I believe Karelian is the name of the people in Star Trek (1960s television series)," said owner D. Richard Masson of Los Angeles, who works in the finance business and also owns Karelian's dam Leaning Tower. "We are kind of Trekkie fans and I thought this name had a nice ring to it."

The 6-year-old gelded son of Bertrando rang up his seventh win in 14 starts for $285,458 earnings.

Karelian paid $16.60 as the fourth betting choice in the field of 10, which included Frank Calabrese's even-money favorite Lewis Michael, who ran a close-up fourth.

"Twice he (Lewis Michael) made a move, so I know he was giving me his best," said jockey Rene Douglas. "I'm very happy how he ran after such a long time away (nine months)."