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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/16/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Patience is a virtue, we are told, and the characteristic, which also describes jockey Greta Kuntzweiler's riding style, may serve her well in the coming months of Arlington Park's 96-day session.
"Arlington is my kind of track," said Kuntzweiler, who has shipped in to ride a handful of mounts in past seasons but will be riding here on a full-time basis for the first time this summer. "I say that because it's a fair track that allows you to ride your own kind of race. It's not speed biased, forcing you to change what's best for you or your horse."
Aboard her first two mounts of the local season Saturday, Kuntzweiler showed patience, rallying Herman Sarkowsky's Youcan'ttake me from last to a third-place finish in the featured $41,875 Fit For A Queen Stakes, and returning to finish a fast closing third astride Eugene & Laura Melnyk's Cane Garden in Arlington's Saturday finale.
Kuntzweiler's career has advance relatively quickly since she began riding in May of 1999. As an apprentice, the 28-year-old born in Ames, Iowa, was the leading rider at Ellis Park in 1999 and 2000 and also captured a title at Hoosier Park in 2000.
As a journeyman jockey, Kuntzweiler took down leading rider honors at Turfway Park in 2002, suffered a separated shoulder at Ellis Park last summer, but was among the leaders at Oaklawn Park during their 2004 season that ended last month.
Despite the fact that Oaklawn and Arlington have never been known as racecourses where local horsemen easily accepted female jockeys, Kuntzweiler is looking forward to her second straight challenging venue.
"I'm excited about coming to Arlington, and am looking forward to getting to meet new people," said Kuntzweiler. "Things may start slow for me here, but as the local horsemen get to know me, I think I'll be okay. I'll ride for a few horsemen from Kentucky and Oaklawn to start things off, but once local horsemen watch me ride and I pass the audition, things will pick up. People like what they see when they use me."
Marc D. Goldish & Savoy Stables' Smoke Chaser, heroine by a head in Saturday's $41,875 Fit For A Queen Stakes at Arlington Park, was doing well Sunday morning following her victory and had trainer Dale Bennett pleased with her local bow.
"She came back good and ate up everything," said Bennett. "This morning she's bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I'll watch her progress the next couple of days and then begin to look around for another spot for her.
"The Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap (Grade III, June 19) is certainly a possibility," said Bennett. "That would give her about a month between races and that's about what she needs between starts."
Illinois Horse of the Year Summer Mis, unplaced in the Fit For A Queen, was also doing well Sunday morning although her connections were disappointed with the result.
"She came out of the race surprisingly well," said conditioner Tony Mitchell Sunday morning of the Illinois champion mare owned by Richard Otto Racing Stables Inc. "I expected her to be laying down in her stall the next couple of days, but she's doing fine and she's mad as hell, so that's a good sign.
"She broke well," said Mitchell, "but Larry (jockey Sterling) told me that on the turn she just didn't fire. It's no secret that she's fragile, and she carried a lot of weight yesterday. The upside of that is that they'll probably take a little of that weight off her if she comes back in the Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap (June 19) or in a race on Prairie State Festival Day (June 26)."
Veteran Arlington jockey Jesse Campbell, with three winners during the first two days of the 2004 season at Arlington Park, was tied with apprentice Cruz Contreras (Hawthorne's leading rider this spring) for the lead in the fledgling local standings.
"I just rode a couple of 'live' horses the first couple of days," said Campbell modestly in the Arlington jockey's quarters Sunday morning. "I had a good meet at Hawthorne, and some of my business is alive from there, but it's still a relief to get off to a fast start here. Good horses always make the rider look good."
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