|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
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In today's notes:
Chigago trainer Ken Spraggins has always been a classy individual, but it's been four years since he saddled Hunk of Class, an Illinois-bred sprinter, to dead-heat for the win in the 1997 Arlington Sprint.
Now, he is bringing along another potential stakes winner, a 2-year-old filly named Miss Spragg that he bred and co-owns with MWM Stable. This Saturday, he plans to start her in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie, premier event of the Chicago Thoroughbred season for juvenile distaffers.
"We'll be there," said Spraggins of Saturday's showcase for 2-year-old fillies at one mile. "We breezed her seven-eighths in 1:28 a couple of weeks ago, and she showed me all indications that she wanted to go long."
The daughter of Tejano Run has only made three starts to date, and they have all been at sprint distances. In her career debut on opening day of the Arlington Park season last June 13, she finished seventh, beaten 10 lengths, when going four and a half furlongs.
"She bled in that race," said Spraggins in the days before the Lassie. "We put her on Lasix and brought her back in a maiden race July 13, and she led all the way and won by two and a half lengths.
"Then we ran her in that stakes race (the $60,000 Eliza August 12) and she finished fourth, but she may have gotten a little too far back there. She needs to be a little closer to the lead, like maybe in the second flight. She needs to be in the thick of things."
Should Miss Spragg come to hand for Spraggins at the stakes level, racing fans would be exposed once again to one of the more interesting personalities on the local scene. As a native Chicagoan, the 40-year-old conditioner is one of the few African-American trainers currently active in Illinois.
Four years ago, when Hunk of Class won the Arlington Sprint, Spraggins still held a second job at the time as in ironworker at Modern Dry Forge in suburban Blue Island, forging hot steel to make brake pads for airplanes and parts for motorcycles.
"If I quit that second job," Spraggins said at the time, "these horses will stop running."
As a child, with an uncle who had Quarter Horses, Spraggins would work with him and travel around to match races in places like Gibson City.
Now, as a breeder as well as a trainer, Spraggins matched up his aptly named mare called Lost Work, a daughter of Lost Code, with Tejano Run, who was second to Thunder Gulch in the 1995 Kentucky Derby. The resulting foal was Miss Spragg.
"I'll breeze her a half on Monday or Tuesday," Spraggins said of final preparations for the Lassie, and Ray Sibille will ride her on Saturday.
Five hundred runners, walkers, and wheelchair competitors, as well as an additional hundred volunteers, were on hand Sunday morning at Trackside Arlington Park to participate in a benefit for Rob Komosa, a Palatine teenager who was seriously injured in a football accident in 1999.
Also assisting at the event was Randy Walker, head coach of Northwestern football, as well as players from Northwestern and Northern Illinois University. Sunday's event was held to help provide funds to make Rob Komosa's home more accessible given his special needs.
Addressing Komosa during awards ceremonies following the competition, Coach Walker said: "Rob, as a symbol of you as a member of our team, I want to present you a helmet signed by all our guys. The support of Northwestern, Northern Illinois University and all the other teams here shows that football is truly a special family. We're happy to have the opportunity to show our support. You're all part of our team."
"I'd like to thank the volunteers and workers that organized this event," said Komosa. "I'd also like to thank all the football players, kids and adults that came.
"With the support I've seen from people following the tragic recent events," Komosa concluded, "I know as a country we'll be all right."
Trainer Sam David, in the midst of his first full season at Arlington Park, saddled two winners from two starters Saturday, but the day was compromised by the loss of owner Pierce D. Boyd a little more than two weeks ago.
David had trained for Boyd and his wife Nancy for more than three years, with horses for the couple both here at Arlington and at Louisiana Downs. However, Boyd died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive heart attack August 25.
On Saturday, Voodo Kiss won Arlington's opening race of the day and Ellie's Rose captured the third. David phoned Mrs. Boyd with the news soon after to provide some measure of encouragement during her most difficult time.
"She was pleased," David said, "but I just feel very bad for her. They were really a close couple and he was a good friend of mine. I only trained for him for three years but I felt like I knew him all my life. It was really a big blow. Yesterday, I told her that I thought he must be up there helping us."
David, who has a division at Arlington full-time for the first time this summer, trained Blushing K. D. to win the Kentucky Oaks and the Fantasy two years ago for Jim and Sue Burns. Boyd was a cousin of Jim Burns, and became associated with David through Burns.
Last year, David came to Arlington for the first time to saddle a 2-year-old filly named Dixie Kitten in the Top Flight for Nancy and Pierce Boyd.
"I fell in love with Arlington at first sight," said David. "Next summer, I plan to bring the majority of my horses here and leave a smaller group in Shreveport."
The single race handle on Saturday's Grade III Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park was $935,895, the highest handle recorded on a single race at the meeting other than on Arlington Million Day August 18.
Leading rider Rene Douglas had a riding triple on Saturday's program, winning the opener with Voodo Kiss, the third with Ellie's Rose, and the sixth with Fred Kissling's Spanish Glitter.
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