|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
What happened at Hollywood Park June 24?
Astra, the 5-year-old Theatrical mare owned by Allen E. Paulson Living Trust and trained by Simon Bray, performed like a shooting star, winning the Grade I Beverly Hills Handicap by four lengths.
"She's phenomenal," said Bray over the phone from California, when accepting congratulations on Astra's most recent impressive performance. "We don't have to train her too much. She just seems to do everything on her own."
More pertinent for racing fans in the Midwest, however, is the plan for her next start.
"We're hoping to bring her to Arlington for the Beverly D.," Bray said. "We don't have to train her too much. She'll walk for the next couple of weeks, and then we'll give her a couple of well spaced works and bring her in to Arlington four or five days before the race."
The Grade I Beverly D. will be contested August 18 as the co-featured attraction along with the Grade I Arlington Million and the Grade I Secretariat. Together the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois will make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing.
Bray was unconcerned about the layoff between the Beverly Hills and the Beverly D.
"She won a Grade II (this year's Santa Barbara Handicap April 14 at Santa Anita) off a 10-month layoff," Bray said, "and she had more than two months off between that race and the Beverly Hills the other day.
"I'll also probably bring a 3-year-old named Startac for the Secretariat along with Astra," Bray concluded, speaking of another Theatrical progeny. Startac finished 10th in the Grade I Kentucky Derby this year.
Tom Reagan & Hondo Ranch, Inc.'s Beboppin Baby, who won the Grade II Washington Park Handicap here four years ago for his greatest victory, will shoulder the top impost of 118 pounds when he heads a field of seven named to contest Saturday's co-featured attraction.
The $45,000 Zen Handicap, for 3-year-olds and upward at one mile, is named in recognition of one of the greatest Illinois-breds in local Thoroughbred racing history, both on the racetrack and as a sire. The race also serves as an excellent prep for this year's Grade II Washington Park Handicap, to be contested for an increased purse of $400,000 on July 21.
In his last trip to the post Beboppin Baby finished second, beaten a length and a quarter, in an allowance race at Hawthorne on May 22.
Now an 8-year-old, the Hatchet Man gelding out of a Verbatim mare is currently trained by Frank Kirby. Beboppin Baby last visited the winner's circle here at Arlington exactly one year ago Saturday when racing for a $50,000 claiming tag.
John Castro's Mr. High Tops is next in Arlington racing secretary David Bailey's list of Zen weights at 117 pounds. Although a well beaten sixth in his last start in that same May 22 race at Hawthorne where Beboppin Baby was second, Mr. High Tops was second in Sportsman's $75,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap March 31 behind the highly regarded Chicago Six, owned by Richard E. Trebat.
Horse Cents Farm's Mister Volare, a disappointing eighth in the $75,000 Cardinal Handicap on the grass June 23, returns to the main track for Saturday's Zen and is next in the weights at 116 pounds. Mister Volare last visited the winner's circle following Hawthorne's $40,000 Know Your Aces Stakes October 21.
Completing the field for Saturday's co-featured Zen Handicap are: Team Block's Towering Storm, 115; Racing Stable's R. Little Redhead, 114; Mike Jones' Jamie's College, 112; and B. Pollier, W. P. & W. W. Muskat, R. Kost & J. Johnson's The Bold Bruiser, 112.
What do Geraldo Rivera, George Steinbrenner, Gina Lollobrigida, Calvin Coolidge, Louis Armstrong, Dr. Joyce Brothers and twins Ann Landers and Abigail (Dear Abby) Van Buren have in common?
All were born on the Fourth of July, as was Dominick Falcone, amazingly the only Arlington employee at the present time to share a birthday with America's Birthday.
Falcone, easily recognizable to most regular Arlington guests as the security guard in the paddock and tunnel, is Chicago born and raised, and an ex-Army Ranger, who has been an Arlington seasonal employee for a decade after retiring from a career at Commonwealth Edison.
Also, like many Chicago natives, Falcone grew up with childhood memories of Arlington Park and its traditional July 4 fireworks display, and will be on hand once again shortly after dusk next Wednesday for the free live entertainment in addition to the free local fireworks show.
"My mother would make her traditional strawberry birthday shortcake for me with a fireworks display as part of the decorations," Falcone said, "but it was my uncles who would bring me out to Arlington.
"My greatest memory of Arlington other than the July 4 fireworks display," said Falcone, who was born in 1935, "is coming out here to watch Citation work. He was coming off an injury at the time, and just to watch that horse work was a phenomenal experience for me.
"And one of the first times I ever came out to Arlington, I picked a horse named Muscles who went off at 50-1," Falcone said. "Muscles led all the way around the racetrack and then tired suddenly a few yards before the wire. I was too young to bet, so it didn't cost me anything, but I was very disappointed for the horse.
"I have five grown children, and six grandchildren," concluded Falcone, as he looks forward to his 66th birthday with fireworks at Arlington next Wednesday, "but one of my favorite things to do these days is to bring my son who has cerebral palsy out here to Arlington. He loves to get his picture taken with the jockeys."
There will be nine live races at Arlington Saturday, along with a simulcast of the Grade I Mother Goose from Belmont Park. The Mother Goose, for 3-year-old fillies, will be run between Arlington's sixth and seventh races.
Also on Sunday Arlington will offer a simulcast of the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup in addition to the live local program. Grade III Chicago Breeders' Cup winner Trip, owned by Claiborne Farm, breezed three-eighths in :35 2/5 Thursday morning at Arlington. The move was easily the fastest of the 18 recorded at the distance.
Jockey Jerry LaSala has had a bone spur removed from a toe in his left foot, and expects to return to action about July 5.
When 1997 Washington Park Handicap champion Beboppin Baby goes postward in Saturday's $45,000 Zen Handicap, it will be exactly one year since his last trip to the winner's circle, also locally.
On June 29, 1934 at Arlington Park, turf racing made its debut in Illinois.
On June 30, 1984, exactly 17 years ago on Saturday, Arlington Classic Day, jockey Pat Day rode five winners including At the Threshold in the Arlington Classic.
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