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ARLINGTON PARK

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/27/04)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

ILLINOIS CHAMP WIGGINS RETURNS FOR SATURDAY'S HANSHIN CUP

It was a very good year for Wiggins in 2003. The Tony Granitz trainee won Arlington's $100,000 Round Table, preceded by the $86,800 Springfield Stakes here on his way to the title as Illinois' male 3-year-old champion.

"It was great. I was very proud of the horse," said Granitz, speaking of the Illinois honors garnered for Wiggins' owners William Pacella, Joseph Rizza and Ronald Schwed. "He accomplished all the goals we had set for him."

Now, the next immediate goal for Wiggins would be a winning effort in Saturday's Grade III Hanshin Cup, Arlington's first graded stakes of the 2004 season. The one-mile handicap for 3-year-olds and up has attracted a field of seven, and Wiggins gets in with 118 pounds, one less than co-highweights Apt to Be and Crafty Shaw.

"It's going to be a good race, and its going to be a tough race," said Granitz, looking at the competition. "Wiggins worked well Tuesday (breezing three-eighths in :36). I'm very excited about how he's doing. He worked good and he scoped clean afterwards. I went by to check on him later that afternoon, and he seemed very content. Hopefully, we will get him back to his winning ways at Arlington."

In his most recent trip to the post, his second start of the year, Wiggins broke from the rail, made the pace throughout in an allowance race at Prairie Meadows May 8 and captured the eight furlong test by a length and three-quarters.

"He broke from the one-hole that day and he broke from the one-hole in the Round Table last year," said Granitz, who drew the one-hole again Saturday. "The rail shouldn't pose a problem. He's two-for-two breaking from the rail and he's two-for-two when going a mile."

In his first start of 2004, Wiggins finished second in Hawthorne's $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handcap April 10, beaten a half-length by Scooter Roach.

"He ran very well that day," said Granitz. "I think he benefited from the race. The slow pace hurt him a little bit there, but I think the pace will be a little quicker Saturday."

GRANDE JETE, APALACHEE SPECIAL SHOW PERSEVERANCE WEDNESDAY

Coming from off the pace, Nancy Vanier, Judy Hagerman and D N J Racing Stable's Grande Jete rallied boldly in the final furlong and was up to best stablemate Hug Me Hug Me, also owned by Mrs. Vanier, by a half-length in Wednesday's Arlington finale.

Not a particularly noteworthy achievement by itself, unless one realized that Grande Jete was visiting the winner's circle for the first time following the 25th start of her career.

"Sometimes they surprise you like that," said trainer Harvey Vanier, known for capturing five straight training titles at Arlington in the mid-1990s. "I really thought the other filly had a better chance of winning, but this is a funny game. Sometimes, these horses take a long time to figure things out, but then they put everything together all at once and go on from there.

"I couldn't give up on her," said Vanier of Grande Jete, a homebred by Western Playboy out of an Iron Courage mare. "She was too well bred for that."

"And she kept coming home with a check," added Vanier's son-in-law and chief assistant Brian Williamson, noting that Grande Jete had earned purse money in her last nine starts.

But if Grande Jete's first career win was somewhat unusual, so was Apalachee Special's win in Arlington's fifth race Wednesday.

Although the Charlie Livesay-trained 9-year-old gelding had won five times previously in his career of 49 starts, he hadn't visited the winner's circle in almost four years, and had made 33 starts in the interim.

Apalachee Special, a Barr Inman homebred by Apalachee, is out of the Czaravich mare Special Portion, who died suddenly less than a year ago. Among Special Portion's other foals after Apalachee Special was Delicatessa, who won last year's $75,000 Estrapade Handicap Aug. 15 at 36-1. Delicatessa had won only three times in two years prior to her tally in the Estrapade.

ARRIVE AT ARLINGTON EARLY BELMONT DAY; ENJOY EPSOM DERBY

Anticipating Arlington Park's added attendance on Belmont Stakes Day, June 5, Chicago Thoroughbred racing fans will receive an international bonus by arriving early when the Arlington gates open at 10 a.m. that day.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones will seek to become the first Triple Crown winner in 26 years in New York that afternoon, and local racing fans can watch and wager on the Belmont Stakes at Arlington.

However, England's Group I Vodafone Epsom Derby (England's equivalent of the Kentucky Derby) will be run that morning at 10:20 a.m. (CDT), and international racing fans can also watch and wager on that classic while here at Arlington.

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