Trainer Jimmy Toner will saddle two starters Saturday at Arlington International Racecourse for the Ride to the Million presented by Miller Lite. Phillips Racing Partnership’s homebred Grade I-winner Time and Motion will contest the Grade III $ 100,000 Modesty Handicap, while Darby Dan Farm Racing’s Manitoulin will make his graded-stakes debut in the Grade III $ 100,000 Arlington Handicap.
Time and Motion, a 4-year-old filly by Tapit, gave a good account of her abilities last year during a strong campaign with five wins in seven starts, including the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland and the Grade II Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga over talented fillies such as Catch A Glimpse, Hawksmoor, and Harmonize. She made her 2017 debut in April against another tough field in the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, failing to hit the board, but returned the following month at Belmont Park in the Grade III Beaugay Stakes with a close third-place finish over a yielding turf course.
“It’s been a little slow getting started off the layoff and coming back from the farm for the filly,” said Toner. “I probably rushed her too much for the Jenny Wiley and she wasn’t 100% fit – I take responsibility for that, but she came out of it well enough and she ran a good race in the Beaugay. I was satisfied with it and thought we could go forward from there. We had a little setback in the form of a low-grade infection with her, but she’s doing well now, works are good and she’s good. This race fits into our schedule perfectly.”
Time and Motion turned in her final work on July 2 at Belmont before shipping to Arlington mid-week. The filly breezed four furlongs over the turf in :48.11 to the satisfaction of Toner.
“I’ve been working her on the grass since her 2-year-old year and I feel it keeps her together more, she stays sounder and she’s more comfortable on it. It’s a comfort zone for her and myself.”
“She is bigger and stronger than what she was last year,” Toner continued. “She had a pretty good campaign last year, but the fact is this year you’re coming back against older horses, so it’s a different ballgame I suppose. I feel comfortable enough with where she’s at now to think she’s back to herself.”
Manitoulin, a 4-year-old gelding by Awesome Again, is also making his third start of the year. With two solid wins against allowance company over the turf already this season, Toner is ready to give the son of Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner and Eclipse champion Soaring Softly another chance to prove himself with the step up in class.
“He’s always been the type of colt that had enough ability, but he never gave us 100%,” said Toner. “He was difficult to train and he wasn’t giving us his total effort – he’d still run good races, but there was always something else there. After the end of the season we sent him back to the farm and they castrated him last winter. Since he’s been back, he still likes to do some stupid things, but at least he’s giving us an honest effort now when he runs. That’s been the big difference between this year and last year.”
Manitoulin, working on the dirt at Belmont July 1, breezed four furlongs in :48.76.
“I trained his mother, and they’re late developers to start with,” said Toner of the gelding’s progression. “Soaring Softly was a big, robust, tough mare to train and be around. He’s probably the first one out of that family that is actually more like his mother than the rest of them. The rest of them were kind of fragile, but he is tough. It took some time to get his head into the game, but I think he’s fully developed mentally now. Off his past two races I think he’s ready to step forward. This is a chance to find out how much he’s come along and go from there.”
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