Rusty Arnold Plans Full Slate Of Stakes, Return to Saratoga For Barn

Reiko and Michael Baum’s Illiogami, trained by Rusty Arnold, will make her stakes debut in Saturday’s $250,000 Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile test for sophomore fillies at Belmont Park in Elmont, Ny.

The Tapit grey, a $400,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, is out of the multiple Group 1-winning Falco mare Odeliz.

The sizable filly made her first two starts traveling one mile on the turf in Kentucky, finishing fifth on debut in October at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. and second in November at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Illiogami closed out her juvenile campaign with a closing second on November 28 on the Churchill Downs main track.

Illiogami has thrived at 1 1/16-miles on the dirt to start her 3-year-old campaign, notching a maiden score at Keeneland on April 2 and a similar late-moving score at Churchill on April 30.

“She’s a vastly improved 3-year-old. We’re very excited about her and think she has a big future,” said Arnold. “We started her on turf and she ran well. We decided to give her a try on dirt and she breezed good on it and then ran good on it.”

Arnold said he wanted to give Illiogami some time between starts after winning races 28 days apart.

“We ran her back pretty quick and then started trying to map out where we wanted to go and there wasn’t anything here for her,” said Arnold. “I think she’ll like Belmont. She’s a big filly and I think the turns will help her. We’ve aimed at this the whole time.”

Her dam, Odeliz, ran second to Just the Judge in the 2014 Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine and the following year captured the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and the Group 1 Lydia Tesio at Rome.

Given the impressive pedigree, Arnold said he hasn’t ruled out a return to turf for Illiogami.

“She may be back to the turf at some point, but right now it’s hard to move her off the dirt when she’s won two in a row,” said Arnold.

Julien Leparoux will retain the mount on Illiogami for the Mother Goose, which is expected to attract a classy field that includes graded-stakes winner Clairiere and the undefeated Always Carina.

Arnold said Calumet Farm homebred Cellist, a Big Blue Kitten colt, will make his next start in the $1 million Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational. The first leg of the Turf Triple series for sophomores is contested at 10 furlongs on the Belmont turf on July 10.

A winner at second asking traveling 1 1/16-miles on the turf at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. in February, Cellist followed with a close second in a nine-furlong Keeneland turf allowance on April 23.

Last out, Cellist made every call a winning one in the nine-furlong Audubon over good turf on May 29 at Churchill.

“We’re really high on him and we’re bringing him up for the Belmont Derby,” said Arnold. “He has a lot to learn but I think the distance will help him. The purse is really good, and, hopefully, he’ll handle the jump up.”

Arnold said he plans to have his usual string of 16 horses at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, Ny. this summer after missing the meet last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year was the first year I hadn’t been at Saratoga since ’85,” said Arnold. “We love Saratoga and we’ve been there for a long time. You like it on the years when you have good horses better than when you don’t and we’re excited to get back.”

Among the good horses to be part of Arnold’s Saratoga contingent is A. Dunne, P. Harlow, B. Miley, and J. Wilkinson’s Artos, who finished fourth in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes on June 16 at Ascot.

“She ran very well. We wish we’d been third but she had a tough go on her side of the course. She ran very credible,” said Arnold.

The Irish-bred Kodiac filly graduated at second asking in a 5 1/2-furlong Churchill turf sprint by a nose over Overbore, who exited that effort to win the Tremont on the Belmont main track.

Arnold said Artos will target the $120,000 Bolton Landing Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for juvenile fillies on August 18 at Saratoga.

“We’ll play it by how she comes back, but that’s two months off and will give her a lot of time to recover,” said Arnold. “She gets back to Kentucky on Friday and we’ll ship to Saratoga soon after that.”

G. Watts Humprey’s stakes-placed Navratilova will make her next start in the one-mile Tepin Stakes for sophomore fillies on the Churchill turf on June 26 before making her way to Saratoga.

The well-bred Medaglia d’Oro bay is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Centre Court, who won the 2013 Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland.

Arnold said the filly’s moniker is a nod to the strong family line, including the second dam, Let, who was second in the 1998 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland and won the 1999 Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff for the veteran conditioner.

“We had bought the mare, Let, who placed in a Grade 1 for us and one of her foals was Centre Court, who was a Grade 1 winner, and this [Navratilova] is her foal. The theme comes from the female line,” said Arnold. “Navratilova will run in the Tepin on the last day at Churchill and hopefully move on to the end of the stakes schedule at Saratoga.”

Notable turf route options for sophomore fillies at Saratoga include the $700,000 Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational, second leg of the Turf Triple series for females, at 1 3/16-miles on August 8 and the $200,000 Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes at 1 1/16-miles on August 21.

Amy Dunne, Brenda Miley, Westrock Stables, and Jean Wilkinson’s multiple graded stakes winner Leinster is enjoying a freshening at Wavertree in Ocala, Florida. The 6-year-old Majestic Warrior bay captured the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint on February 13 in his most recent effort.

“He won well at Gulfstream but came out of it with some issues,” said Arnold. “All the turf races for him are in the fall so we sent him to the farm down at Wavertree and we expect him back for the Saratoga meet. I’m not sure if he’ll run there or not, but we’ll have him back in training for the fall.”

The post Rusty Arnold Plans Full Slate Of Stakes, Return to Saratoga For Barn appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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