Giant Oak goes through a workout at Arlington Park in preparation for the Secretariat Stakes on Saturday. The Chris Block runner is a favorite in the race. Quite A Handful, at 20-1 odds, also has local owners.
Courtesy of Four Footed Fotos
One of the best bargain buys among the 28 thoroughbreds in Saturday's three Grade I stakes at Arlington Park has to be Quite A Handful.
Purchased 13 months ago for $22,000 by Ted and Jean Barlas and Michael Porcaro, Quite A Handful will be among a field of 10 for the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes.
Porcaro, who lives less than two miles from Arlington Park in Palatine, and his Chicago partners have watched their colt earn $92,653 with 2 wins and 3 seconds in 11 starts.
The 3-year-son of Mutakddim, 20-1 in the morningline, earned his Secretariat berth with a second-place finish in the $211,000 Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs on July 7.
"In the race before that, we loved how he exploded (after being blocked) to win an allowance race at Arlington," said trainer Andrew Hansen, a former assistant to the late Gene Cilio. "We wanted to make sure that wasn't a fluke. The way he exploded was unreal. We wanted to make sure he wasn't out of his league so we went to the Oliver."
And that race confirmed the decision to run Saturday.
"It's wonderful," said Hansen, who is making his first appearance in a Festival race. "You dream about races like this. This is why you get up every day to go to work."
Porcaro works in the magazine business while Ted Barlas is an insurance broker. They have been partners in horse racing ownership since the mid-1990s.
"We've had some good horses but this is probably the best," said Porcaro.
After acquiring the 2-year-old Quite a Handful in an Ocala auction last June, the colt was frisky on the ride back to their Arlington Park stable.
"He's a precocious little guy," Hansen said.
"We knew he was quite a handful in that van ride back here so that's how he got his name," Porcaro said.
Also vying for the top prize in the Secretariat will be morningline favorite Giant Oak from the locally based Chris Block stable. The son of Giant's Causeway was a troubled fifth in the Grade II American Derby four weeks ago.
Hoosier Kingdom has won four straight restricted races at Indiana Downs for trainer and part owner Ron Herrell. He made his turf debut in his last victory.
Black Bear Island, an Irish bred, won the Group II Dante Stakes at York in May for his biggest triumph.
Cliffy Future's, winner of the $100,000 Rushway Stakes on Polytrack at Turfway Park in March, has not run since placing 11th in the Grade I Blue Grass on April 11. He's making his turf debut.
Driving Snow, bred in England, defeated Quite A Handful in the Oliver. It has been the only start this season for the English -bred son of Verglas.
Trainer Christophe Clement's Laureate Conductor won his last two starts on the turf at Monmouth ($65,000 stakes) and Belmont (maiden).
Oil Man, a Grade III winner, was most recently third in the American Derby but disqualified and placed fifth.
Proceed Bee, who comes into the Secretariat with 5 wins in 11 starts, was fourth but moved up to third in the American Derby.
Reb, who won the American Derby, enters the Secretariat on a three-race win streak.
Completing the field is Take the Points, who was a distant third in this year's Preakness. The son of Even the Score, who comes from the Todd Pletcher barn, missed by only 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby on July 18.
Secretariat post positions
Here are the entries for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes race for 3-year-olds with a $400,000 guaranteed purse. Approximate post time for the 7th race: 3:10 p.m. Saturday. One mile and one-quarter turf.
|5||Oil Man (IRE)||Gomez/Sadler||5-1|
|6||Quite A Handful||Bridgmohan/Hansen||20-1|
|7||Take The Points||Graham/Pletcher||9-2|
|9||Black Bear Island (IRE||Murtagh/O'Brien||4-1|
|10||Giant Oak||Razo Jr./Block||3-1|