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Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/20/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Ted Taylor's Dancing With Me, who shocked Arlington Park guests with a $67.20 win mutuel a year ago in this turf test, returns to defend her title in Saturday's featured $38,000 Reluctant Guest Handicap at about one mile over Arlington's world famous turf course.

Dancing With Me, a daughter of Mt. Livermore out of a Green Dancer mare, most recently finished third in an allowance race at Keeneland April 21 after being away from the races for almost two months. The Rebecca Maker trainee posted a third, fourth and fifth-place finish in three starts in New Orleans during the winter.

In last year's Reluctant Guest, Dancing With Me drew into the race off the also-eligible and was dismissed in the wagering, but launched a strong bid on the outside in the stretch over a course rated "good" and was up to be best by a neck at the wire.

Capable of providing strong competition in this year's Reluctant Guest is Willmott Stables Inc.'s Mymich, a daughter of 1992 Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy. She tired to finish fifth in the late stages of a nine-furlong grass outing at Keeneland April 10, but was third in Gulfstream's $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap Jan. 31. Tony Reinstedler is the conditioner.

Frank Lovato Jr. has the riding assignment on Dancing With Me, who gets in the Reluctant Guest with 114 pounds, and Mymich, who is also assigned 114 pounds, has Brian Peck named to handle the reins.

Shouldering the top impost of 116 pounds in the Reluctant Guest is River Ridge Ranch's Sound of Gold, who captured the $40,000 Jersey Lily Stakes over a "yielding" lawn at Sam Houston Race Park in her last start April 10 when going a mile and an eighth. It was the Iowa-bred's third straight tally at the Texas oval, including her neck win in the $30,000 Willobrook Stakes there when sprinting five furlongs. Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington's all-time leading rider, will be in the irons aboard the Paul Pearson trainee.

Completing the field for Saturday's Reluctant Guest are Double Halo, 110, Cruz Contreras aboard; William C. Schaffrick's Cheryl's Myth, 112, Jose Martinez Jr.; Barr H. Inman's Delicatessa, 115, Jason Lumpkins; Frank C. Calabrese's Valiant Anna, 115, Rene Douglas; Rosendo G. Parra's Sweetwater Promise, 115, James Graham; and Pope McLean's Princess Pelona, 115, Eddie Razo Jr. astride.


Apprentice jockey Cruz Contreras and veteran reinsman Eddie Razo Jr. are tied for the lead in Arlington Park's jockey standings with five wins apiece after the first four days of the young meeting, but, interestingly, Contreras is quick to credit Razo with much of his own recent success.

"All the jockeys at Arlington are very helpful to me," said Contreras Thursday morning in the Arlington Park jockeys' quarters, "but Eddie Razo even more than the others. We would watch the replays of my races together, and he would point to the screen and say things like: 'This position is no good for you in this race.' I've learned a lot from him during the last year."

Contreras, from Guadalajara, Mexico, turned 23 years old May 4. He captured the leading rider title at Hawthorne Race Course during their spring meeting with 46 wins, 46 seconds and 37 third-place finishes from 292 mounts at the Southside oval.

Razo, 38, born in Mexico City, Mexico, finished second to Contreras at Hawthorne with 36 wins, 34 seconds and 26 thirds from 193 mounts, but enjoyed the best season of his career at Arlington Park last year when he was second to the recently perennial defending champion Rene Douglas in Arlington's final standings from 2003.

"Things are moving along for me a lot better than last year at this time," said Contreras of his recent success. "I'm happily surprised at how well things are moving along. I'm working hard in the mornings, I like my job and I like Chicago. Right now, I feel like I want to ride my whole career in Illinois.

"There's a lot of competition here," said Contreras, "but that's okay. There are a lot of good horses for everybody. If you catch a good horse, you win. Anyway, I'm always trying."


Arlington Park offers its second Miller Lite Party In The Park, presented by the Daily Herald this Friday, with its traditional late Friday post time of 3 p.m.

"The Doormen," a band that plays music from the Fifties to the present, serves as the entertainment in the Park this Friday at the young Arlington meeting.

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