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Mark Guidry leaving Chicago

While it might not quite signify the end of the world, today does signal the end of an era, one most local racing fans had hoped would continue for years. Chicagoland racing fixture Mark Guidry, who has been atop the local jockey standings so often in recent years, is leaving. After Saturday's races he'll be heading to Kentucky to ride the last week of Keeneland's fall meet, and then over to Churchill Downs.

When Churchill closes he'll head even further south, riding at Fair Grounds in his native Louisiana.

"I'll be back for the Carey (Grade 3 Robert F. Carey, October 28), stated Guidry, "and I have a couple of opportunities to come back and ride other stakes but I don't really know what I'm going to have in store over there on those days so I can't really say right now."

"I'll probably, hopefully, be back for Arlington next year but that's hard to say. I might have to come back with my tail between my legs earlier than that. You never know. I'm going over there with all the confidence in the world and hopefully everything works out well. If not, then I'll come back here and hopefully people will give me another shot.

"This place has made me. I've reached every goal that I set here. I've accomplished everything I could. People have been real good to me, but I think it's time that I take another step. I think it's important that I get motivated again. I never want to get complacent."

Asked why he had waited so long to make this move this affable 41-years-young rider smiled. "My family. When I went to Gulfstream Park, I was like third in the standings behind Jerry Bailey and Julie Krone and doing really, really well. Tina (Guidry's wife) was here with the kids. They were a lot younger then. I think it was seven or eight years ago. We just kept arguing on the telephone, back and forth, back and forth. I had to make a decision, my family or my career. Where I was in the standings, it was just unbelievable. Everything was falling into place but, on the other hand, I loved my family. So, I went home."

Speaking of family, Guidry's kids were named after celebrities. His eldest, Marcus, 19, was named after Marcus Allen, one of the better tailbacks of all time. His daughter's name Fallon, sweet 16, came from one of the soaps popular in the '80s. He seems to think it was Falcon Crest or Dynasty. And his youngest son, almost 13, Mecus, was named "after this really evil guy," possibly from the Young and the Restless.

Guidry seems to think that the unbeaten filly, She's A Devil Due, might be the best he's ever ridden. He thinks she could be better than the talented Meafara who raced so gamely against the boys in her two Breeders' Cup Sprint appearances. "She has a lot of heart and determination. It's something else. It's a great feeling to ride a filly like that. She was tired after the race (the Alcibiades) but she bounced back quickly.

"I think I have to work her next week, probably Wednesday or Thursday. I just want to be down there as well, especially with Breeders' Cup week going on. I want to relax a bit and you never know. We've got a couple of irons in the fire. Hopefully we can fall into something else.

When asked about the "we," this author asked Mr. Guidry about rumors that he and longtime agent Dennis Cooper were going they're separate ways. "Cooper has the first option on whatever I do. He is my agent. He believes in me. He has first dibs. He's definitely coming with me to Keeneland and Churchill. Right now we're not sure about Fair Grounds."

Maybe hinting that Guidry should stick around a bit longer, it was brought up that Mark was only 10 away from 1,000 Hawthorne winners, a feat accomplished only twice before, as of Thursday afternoon. He just smiled but you could see that calculating look. Ten winners, three days. Hmmm.

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