ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – The 82nd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Arlington Handicap ended with an exciting upset when Ghost Hunter held off Oak Brook down the stretch at Arlington International Racecourse.
The Arlington Handicap was the last of four Grade 3 stakes offered on Saturday’s Ride to the Million card presented by Miller Lite. It was preceded by the American Derby, the Modesty Handicap, and the Stars and Stripes.
Trainer Brian Williamson’s Oak Brook sat second under Santo Sanjur behind the pace-setting Crewman as the winner of the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup set fractions of :23.71, :48.61, and 1:14.43 in the opening stages. Edwin Gonzalez waited another length back in third aboard Ghost Hunter, keeping the son of Ghostzapper in a ground-saving position along the rail as they turned for home. When the field hit the stretch in 1:38.86, Ghost Hunter found an opening inside and passed Oak Brook late to cross 3/4 of a length in front at the wire.
“I think my decision to go inside was the right one,” said Gonzalez. “I was trying to decide – if I went outside, it would use too much – and then the door opened and I took it.”
Wimborne Farm’s late-running Ignacio Correas-trainee Kasaqui settled for third in the final stages. The final time for the 1 3/16 miles turf stake was 1:55.86. Manitoulin, Taghleeb, Cammack, Crewman, and Sir Dudley Digges completed the order of finish. Applicator was scratched in favor of a run in the Stars and Stripes, where he finished third.
“He’s very versatile,” said winning trainer Jamie Ness. “His best surface is probably Polytrack, and he’s a horse who tends to find trouble, but today, we found the rail and got through and got the W.”
Set off at 45-1, Oak Brook stalked throughout, then held on to take second after briefly tasting the front off of the far turn.
“My horse broke pretty good, so I stayed second behind (Crewman),” said Sanjur. “In the last part, my horse floored it. He’s a comfortable horse, you can do whatever you want and he’ll give you everything he’s got.”
Defending winner Kasaqui was second-to-last for much of the early running under James Graham, made up ground on the turn heading for home, but came up a head short of Oak Brook at the wire to finish third.
“Today wasn’t his best race, but he finished fine,” said Graham. “I probably waited a little longer than I wanted to, but I would rather save and wait a little bit more because they were running so slow. I knew they were going to sprint the rest of the way.”
Securing his 18th win in 46 career starts, Ghost Hunter boosted his lifetime earnings to $633,523 with the winner’s share of $58,200.
Ghost Hunter returned $26, $10, and $4.80. Oak Brook brought back $32 and $11.20, while Kasaqui paid $2.60 to show.