Chicago Barn to Wire


Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 255-4300
Thursday, September 7, 2000
86th Day


Steeplechasing, an integral part of thoroughbred racing that adds the thrill of jumping to the speed of flat racing, returns to Arlington International this Sunday after a 16-year absence.

In conjunction with the first four runnings of the Arlington Million, Chicago's premier oval hosted one steeplechase a year from 1981 to 1984 as part of the showcase event festivities, and steeplechasing had also been conducted at the local oval 22 years before the inaugural Arlington Million.

Two hurdle races will be part of Sunday's thoroughbred racing program at Arlington. The Grade 2 St. James Cup, at about two miles and an eighth over National Fences will be the premier steeplechase event of the afternoon. Gregory D. Hawkins' Campanile, an Illinois-bred who swept both of Saratoga's steeplechasing stakes in 1999, heads a field of six in the St. James Cup, a race for four-year-olds and upward which offers a purse of $50,000.

"We are offering steeplechase races for two reasons," said Frank Gabriel Jr., Vice President of Racing/Operations. "First is to support it as part of the sport of thoroughbred racing. Second is for the entertainment value to our fans, who have been able to wager on it as part of our simulcasts. Now they will have the chance to see it live."

Earlier in the afternoon, there will be a $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle race that has attracted nine entries. That race will also be at 17 furlongs.

In the St. James, Campanile will shoulder the top impost of 158 pounds, with Blythe Miller in the stirrups. Miller, who finished ninth in the nation among steeplechasing riders last season, has been astride Campanile in each of his last two starts and was often aboard the six-year-old gelding earlier in his career.

Jonathan Kiser, last year's champion steeplechasing jockey who was aboard Campanile in his first four starts this year, died from a head injury sustained July 21 in a fall from a rope swing at his family's home in Whiteford, Maryland.

In Campanile's most recent trip to the post on August 24 at Saratoga, the altered son of Lear Fan was easily second best in the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup. The bay, who has been trained by Janet Elliot during his jumping career, was beaten three and a half-lengths for all of it after making or forcing the pace most of the way.

Earlier last month, Campanile, now with career earnings of $278,508, had captured the Grade 2 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap by two and three-quarters when also staying on the pace. A year earlier Campanile had swept both Spa fixtures.

Greg Hawkins had bought Campanile as a two-year-old for $160,000 out of an Ocala Breeders' Sales in 1996. He went one for 15 on the flat before being converted to jumps. Out of the Irish Tower mare Irish Jody, Campanile was bred by the Bond Stable in Illinois and trained by Willard C. (Mike) Freeman during his flat racing career.

Opposing Campanile, in order of highweights, are: Claytonville Stables' Golden Rule, 148, Craig Thornton; Warren R. Dempsey's Soaringoverseattle, 144, Roger Horgan; Augustin Stables' Invest West, 142, Arch Kingsley Jr.; The Fields Stable's Approaching Squall, 140, Cyril Murphy; and Vesta Balestiere's Rarity Bay, 138, Vincent Marzullo.


The Group 1 Esat Digifone Irish Champion Stakes, fifth leg of the Emirates World Series Racing Championship, will be simulcast "live" to Arlington International Racecourse Saturday morning. Post time is 10:05 a.m. (CDT).

Gates in Arlington's main building will be open for morning workouts Saturday, remain open for self-service wagering up to post time for the race from Leopardstown, Ireland. Guests on hand at the local oval for the European classic will be welcome to stay on the grounds for Arlington's regular Saturday program with its post time of 1:05 p.m.

Wagering with live tellers will be available at Trackside.

Among the seven entrants in the Irish Champion Stakes is Godolphin's Best of The Bests, who was considered for this year's Grade 1 Secretariat before being sent to Deauville where he captured an August 15 stakes event by four lengths.

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