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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/15/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Veteran trainer Angel Medina, with a career that spans two continents and the better part of four decades, has come to Arlington Park for the first time this summer, and among the 18 horses with him is a potential candidate for Chicago's Mid-America Triple.
Medina, 62, has been a popular fixture on the South Florida circuit since 1987, but the native of Caracas began training horses in Venezuela in 1971, and alternated between running his horses at La Rinconada in Caracas and the smaller Cuidad Bolivar before leaving South America in 1986.
"My home is in Miami now," said Medina on his first visit to the Arlington press box as he overlooked the local oval, "but this has been a dream of mine for a long time: to have a horse good enough to come to this beautiful place.
"I began training 38 years ago in April of 1966, and have saddled 2,134 winners between Venezuela and the United States," Medina said. "I married my wife Olga in May of 1966, and we have three beautiful daughters: Monica, Vanessa and Natalie. But I enjoy running my horses against competition from all over the world, and one of my goals now that I'm at Arlington is to try and get my horse Caiman, who began his career in Mexico, ready for this summer's Mid America Triple."
The 2004 Triple, for grass favoring sophomores of international caliber, begins with the Grade II Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve, on July 3; continues with the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniels, on July 24; and concludes with the Grade I Secretariat on Aug. 14.
The American Derby is combined with the Grade III Arlington Handicap and the Grade III Modesty Handicap on Million Preview Day, and the Secretariat will be run along with the Grade I Arlington Million and the Grade I Beverly D. (Illinois's only three regularly scheduled Grade I races) during the 2004 Arlington International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday in August.
Caiman broke his maiden as a 2-year-old last Aug. 30 in Mexico and graduated from the non-winners of two ranks there Oct. 17 with an impressive eight-length score.
Brought to Gulfstream this winter for Grade III Holy Bull Stakes Jan. 17, first leg of the Florida Derby Series, Caiman was jostled around in the early going and finished eighth to Triple Crown hopefuls that included Friends Lake, eventual winner of the Grade I Florida Derby. Then, he finished third, three and a half lengths behind the Nick Zito-trained Kentucky Derby hopeful Birdstone Feb. 14, and was fifth behind the ill-fated Wynn Dot Comma and the Zito-trained Eurosilver in the Grade III Swale Stakes March 13.
Shipped to Hawthorne, Caiman won an allowance race at first asking April 9 and followed that with another Southside tally May 1 in his first effort on the grass.
"This horse (by A. P. Indy sire Malibu Moon out of a Group I French-campaigned daughter of Storm Bird) is bred top and bottom for the grass, and I'm very hopeful for his career as a turf horse," said Medina, known for upsetting highly regarded individuals with his lightly campaigned challengers.
Included among Medina's upsets, My Luck Runs North defeated two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Lure in Keeneland's Grade II Lexington Stakes in 1992. Also, in 1988, Medina's All Sincerity defeated 1985 Belmont Stakes winner Crème Fraiche in Calder's Grade II W. L. McKnight Handicap.
Most recently, in 2001, the Medina-conditioned American Halo beat multiple Grade I winner Sir Bear in Gulfstream's Grade III Skip Away Handicap.
Caiman is entered Sunday in Arlington's eighth race, a turf test at about one mile, but is on the also-eligible list and may not get in the body of the race.
Once again this year, Sundays are designated as Pepsi Family Days, presented by the Daily Herald, at Arlington Park.
Each Pepsi Family Day has a special theme the entire family can enjoy, plus pony rides, face painters and a petting zoo.
This Sunday is designated as "The Circus Boy Show," a blend of audience participation and circus skills, including trick bicycling, stilt walking and juggling.
Also on Sunday is the Junior Jockey Club's first session of 2004, allowing younger fans to meet the jockey colony and get pictures and autographs with some favorite Arlington jockeys.
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