ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – Calumet Farm’s Bandua‘s change to a more forwardly-placed position proved to be the difference-maker when the normally-closing colt closely stalked the pace before pouncing and winning Saturday’s $150,000 Arlington Handicap (G3) in track-record time.

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Breaking from the rail under Adam Beschizza as the 8/5 favorite, Bandua remained within striking distance of early leader El Picaro, who posted opening fractions of :23.27, :47.80, and 1:11.81. Closing ground as he raced through the far turn, Bandua drew up alongside the pacesetter at the top of the stretch and soon challenged for the lead near the 1/8 pole.

Once in front, Bandua began to draw off convincingly through to the wire. The Jack Sisterson trainee crossed with a 1 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:53.16 for the 1 3/16-mile event over the firm turf course. Bandua’s time was 0.04 seconds faster than the previous track record that Reluctant Guest set on September 1, 1990.

“He’s a straightforward horse,” Beschizza said. “He’s never shown a loss of heart and the class relief today helped him a lot.”

The Great Day improved late to take second by 2 lengths over Captivating Moon, while Botswana‘s late gain was enough to neck out El Picaro for fourth. Cullum Road took sixth over Spooky Channel, while behind him came My BarileyNobrag Justfact, and Royal Artillery to complete the order of finish.

El Picaro (green saddlecloth) leads Bandua (red saddlecloth) and the rest of the field into the first turn (Credit: Coady Photography)

Bandua’s win was his first since shipping stateside full-time from Europe, where he was under the care of trainer Dermot Weld. The 4-year-old son of The Factor improved his career record to 12-3-1-1 with $251,868 earned.

“Every race we’ve ran him in, we’ve had a lot of confidence in him,” Sisterson said. “This horse was training unbelievably; he deserves this win. I said, ‘Adam, you ride him like you own him,’ and that’s what he did. It was a picture-perfect ride.”

Bandua returned $5.20 to win, $3.60 to place, and $3 to show. The Great Day brought back $4.80 to place and $4.20 to show, while Captivating Moon paid $4.80 to show.