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Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/22/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Conditioner Frank Kirby saddled Top Brass Farm and Hondo Racing Ltd.'s French Facts to win Arlington's fifth race Friday -- his fourth trainer tally at the meeting -- and assumed an early lead in the young seasonal standings with the score.

Kirby, 67, who grew up in the area around Roswell, New Mexico, after being born in Colorado, has been training on the Illinois circuit for more than three decades and has enjoyed increasing success in recent seasons. At the recently concluded Hawthorne spring session, Kirby finished in a tie for the runner-up spot. What's the secret of Kirby's recent success?

"I have a lot of good owners and a very good crew working for me," Kirby said Saturday morning during training hours. "That's what lets you be successful -- the owners -- and I've picked up some new owners and new partners and everything seems to be going okay right now. Also, I picked up Richard Trebat as an owner shortly after (trainer) J. R. Smith passed away, and he's been successful around here for a long time.

"With good owners and good people behind you -- and I have a very good organization from my assistant trainers to the hot walkers -- you can excel in this business," Kirby said.

Kirby also has a training center in St. Charles, a facility he built some years ago, and it allows him to rotate his stock from the racetrack.

"It's a three-quarter mile training track with a roof over it," said Kirby, "and that lets me train all year around in a relaxed atmosphere. I can train there right up to racing fitness. Then I can give 'em two or three works and move on. That's another key part of my organization. Jorge Moreno runs the operation and Pat Treadway handles the bookkeeping and the broodmares, and they are the ones that make it work."

How did someone from Kirby's part of the country, with a career that began at 17 around his home and neighboring states such as Nebraska and Arkansas, end up in Illinois?

"I was racing up here and met and fell in love with my lovely wife Sharon," Kirby said. "She had horses, was from here, and is just a great gal."

Often, when Kirby wins a race, if the television camera in the winner's circle focuses on him, the trainer will blow a kiss at the camera.

"That's for my wife," said Kirby, when asked about the ritual. "Winners always have more fun."

Did Kirby see himself able to contend for leading trainer honors this summer?

"I don't know about that," Kirby said. "I'm doing well today, but that changes. It's a long summer."


With back-to-back trips to the winner's circle Friday, jockey Chris Emigh joined fellow veterans Rene Douglas, Arlington's defending jockey champ, and Eddie Razo Jr., last summer's runner-up, in a three-way tie for the lead in the standings with six wins each after six racing days.

Emigh's wins came aboard Sharon R. Morgan's Defuhr for trainer John Wainwright in Friday's third race and he came right back with a win astride Van Keirsbilck & Young's Counttheblessings for conditioner Jim Gulick in the fourth event.

"There's a bunch of good jockeys around here," said Emigh Saturday morning. "It seems like there's more good jockeys here right now than we've had the last few years -- maybe 10 of them could end up leading rider -- and your success depends on the kind of horses you are riding. My agent (Jay Fedor) has done a good job getting me on the best horses and business has been good so far. I just hope things keep going for me as good as they are right now."


Jockey Brian Peck accepts his first mount of the young Arlington Park season in Saturday's $38,000 Reluctant Guest Handicap while on a day trip from Churchill Downs, but may ride here this summer following the close of the Louisville spring meeting July 5.

Peck rides Willmott Stables Inc.'s Mymich for trainer Tony Reinstedler in the Reluctant Guest, originally scheduled for the turf course but now to be run on the main track following recent inclement weather. The daughter of 1992 Belmont Stakes winner A. P. Indy finished third in Gulfstream's $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap Jan. 31 when that race was transferred from the lawn to the main course at the South Florida oval.

"Concerning whether or not we come to Arlington after Churchill all depends on Tony," said Peck's agent Steve Rieser, speaking over the phone from Louisville Friday afternoon. "He (trainer Reinstedler) is our biggest supporter, giving us his finest quality horses, and it all depends on whether he wants us to go to Arlington or Ellis Park to ride his horses. It's always tough to come into the middle of the meeting anywhere, but we'd love to come to Arlington if Tony wants us to."

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