Arklow woke up dramatically when trying turf for the first time at Keeneland last month, and parlayed that 3 1/2-length maiden with a game, one-length score in Saturday’s $300,000 American Turf (G2) for three-year-olds at Churchill Downs
Under Mike Smith, Arklow was kept well off the hedge down the backside after encountering some trouble in the early going. Up front, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner and 5-2 choice Oscar Performance rattled off fractions of :23.85, :48.46 and 1:13.76 while chased by Conquest Farenheit.
Rallying into contention with a five-wide bid at the quarter pole, Arklow wore down new leader Conquest Farenheit inside the final furlong and held safe a late, grinding bid from Good Samaritan as well as from Big Score, to win in a time of 1:44.64 for 1 1/16 miles over a course officially rated good, but playing more on the yielding side.
Owned by Jerry Crawford’s Donegal Racing and trained by Brad Cox, Arklow paid $32. Good Samaritan beat Big Score by a head for the place, with Conquest Farenheit three lengths back in fourth. The order of finish was rounded out by Parlor, Ritzy A. P., Made You Look, Holiday Stone, Kitten’s Cat, and Oscar Performance.
Third, seventh, and second in his first three maiden attempts, Arklow was thrown into stakes company for his next two starts, finishing fourth in the Lecomte (G3) and eighth in the Risen Star (G2).
“We wanted to try and make him a Derby horse but it didn’t pan out that way with the points,” Cox said. “I saw a mile and an eighth maiden race at Keeneland on the grass opening weekend. He ran a big race that day and obviously this was a step up today.
“He had a great work here last weekend on the turf. It’s only the second time he ran on the turf so I was really proud of him how well he ran today. I thought there would be some speed. He sat mid-pack and got a little wide in the first turn, which could’ve been a good thing with how the turf has been playing. Mike put him in perfect position and he kept running.”
With a record of 7-2-1-1, Arklow has now earned $244,987. By Arch, Arklow is out of Unbridled Empire, an Empire Maker half-sister to Grade 1 winners Fourty Niners Son and Cindy’s Hero. The latter has produced multiple Grade 3 winner Delegation. Farther back, this is the family of Hall of Famers Arts and Letters and Silverbulletday.