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Informed Decision flashes near record-setting speed
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff

Informed Decision, ridden by jockey Julien Leparoux, wins the Chicago Handicap on Saturday by nearly 5 lengths at Arlington Park.


Photo courtesy of Doug Clark

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Published: 7/5/2009 12:00 AM

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One day after 34,000 fans showed up for fireworks at Arlington Park, Informed Decision lit up the Polytrack in the $140,000 Grade III Chicago Handicap.

The 4-year old gray filly made every pole a winning one and came home an easy 4¾-length victor with a 7-furlong time of 1:21.3, just missing the Arlington Polytrack record of 1:21.2 set by Lovango in 2007.

It was hardly a surprise to the July 4 crowd, which made her the huge 1-5 betting favorite in the compact field of six.

"I've never run a horse at such a short odds ($2.40 to win)," said trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who stables horses at Delaware Park and Presque Isle. "So I was quite nervous. I felt a little pressure to win."

He felt a little relief when Informed Decision shook free from Canadian Invader Authenicat about three-sixteenths from the wire.

"Without, question, she is one of the fastest horses I've trained," said Sheppard, a native of England who came to the United States at 21 and has been training since 1966. "She just has raw speed."

"She is probably the fastest sprinter for 7 furlongs I've ridden," said talented Kentucky-based rider Julien Leparoux. "We knew there would be no pace. But we really had no plan."

The plan to purchase the filly by longtime owner George Strawbridge received outside assistance.

"I got a lot of information from people because she was bought in a 2-year-old-in-training sale in Baltimore," said Strawbridge, a native of Pennsylvania who has bred most of his own horses for more than 30 years. "That's why I named her "Informed Decision."

Strawbridge has won more than 80 stakes races, but Informed Decision became his first thoroughbred to win five straight races.

The daughter of Monarchos was coming off back-to-back Kentucky Grade I stakes conquests in April and May. Her last two wins of 2008 were in a Grade II stakes at Keeneland and a stakes event at Belmont Park in New York.

"She's right up there with the fastest I've owned," said Strawbridge, whose Forever Together, also trained by Sheppard, won Arlington's Reluctant Guest stakes last year.

Informed Decision, who has 8 wins in 10 starts and earnings of more than $811,000, will probably make her next start at Saratoga.

She is 5-for-5 in 7-furlong races and 4-for-4 on synthetic courses.

Unforgotten, the longest shot on the board at 17-1 under jockey Fernado Jara, came charging from last to grab second over Authenicat.

Arlington legend: Arlington will honor Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires today with a special winner's circle ceremony and other activities. Fires, Arlington's all-time winningest jockey, won his first race in 1965 and his last in 2008 during a career that spanned 43 years and featured more than 6,400 wins.