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Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/3/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Arlington-based Caiman, coming off back-to-back wins on the Chicago Thoroughbred circuit, had what trainer Angel Medina termed a "strong" gallop Thursday morning at Belmont Park in preparation for his upcoming engagement in Saturday's 136th running of the Belmont Stakes, final leg of racing's 2004 Triple Crown.

"My horse is doing fine," said Medina of the bay colt owned by Victor Achar, when speaking over the phone from New York later in the morning. "He's acting well and he's feeling very good today.

"Yesterday, I got my first look at Smarty Jones," Medina said while updating Chicago-based media with the latest on racing's current rising star. "He is a beautiful horse. Oh my! He looks absolutely wonderful."

Smarty Jones, the undefeated colt owned by Someday Farm, captured this spring's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and is the odds-on favorite to become racing's first Triple Crown winner in 26 years in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

"The race Saturday looks super tough," admitted Medina after the Belmont field of nine was drawn Wednesday and Caiman was listed at 50-1, "but what race isn't?"

Chicago Thoroughbred racing fans can watch and wager on Saturday's Belmont Stakes at Arlington Park, where a simulcast of the race will be offered at 5:38 p.m. (CDT) in addition to 10 live races from Arlington.

Meanwhile, the pre-race hype surrounding Smarty Jones continues to build to a fever pitch at the suburban New York oval, leaving Medina somewhat homesick for his Arlington headquarters.

"Smarty Jones is stabled about four stalls down from my horse," said Medina somewhat wistfully. "Every morning, there are 450 reporters outside the barn, but so far, only one guy has come to see me."

Gates at Arlington will open at 10 a.m. Saturday to accommodate Belmont's first race post time at 11 a.m. Early wagering on the Belmont will be offered Friday at Arlington through the NYRA pool. Early bird wagering Saturday morning at Trackside Arlington Park will be offered at 7:30 a.m., and fans can wager on the Belmont Stakes through the NYRA or Illinois pools at that time, as they can after the Arlington gates open.


Asiel Stable's coupling of Echota and Prairie King, both trained by Richard Hazelton, should rule the choice when they head a field of nine sophomores named to Saturday's $38,000 Awad Handicap, the featured event among 10 live races at the Chicago oval.

(Chicago racing fans can also watch and wager on a simulcast of the Grade I Belmont Stakes, final leg of the 2004 Triple Crown from New York Saturday afternoon at 5:38 p.m. (CDT) as Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones attempts to become the first Triple Crown winner in 26 years.)

Echota, a winner of his last three, will share the starting top impost of 116 pounds in the Awad, scheduled for one mile over Arlington's world-famous turf course, while Prairie King, hero of Hawthorne's $100,000 Land of Lincoln in his last start April 10, gets in at 115. Veteran reinsman Carlos Silva is named aboard both halves of the entry.

Opposing the Hazelton duo are Clinton C. & Susan A. Atkins' Saltire, 113, Larry Sterling Jr.; Arthur I. Appleton's Wild Eventure, 115, Jerry La Sala; Rails & Foster LLC's Up Anchor, 116, Chris Emigh; DiVito, Battaglia, Dowd & Leclair's Primm, 113, Cruz Contreras; Wayne Bessler & Plaine Enterprises Inc.'s Marley's Revenge, 116, Eduardo Perez; Virginia Inman's Respectabeau, 112, Eddie Razo Jr.; and Al & Saundra S. Kirkwood's Pure American, 114, Greta Kuntzweiler astride.


Lewis G. Lakin's Saltwater Runner, heroine of Prairie Meadows' $50,000 Goldfinch Stakes April 16 and fifth in Churchill's Grade III La Troienne April 29, is expected to be the starting highweight of 119 pounds in Sunday's $38,000 Ribbon Handicap at Arlington.

Ladnier Stables Inc.'s Bold Bayou Baby, a winner of her last three and assigned 116 pounds in the Ribbon, could provide a formidable challenge to Saltwater Runner Sunday.

Others likely for Sunday's Ribbon 'Cap are Richard H. Glander's Anapest, 113; Overbrook Farm's Fashion Girl, 115; Alnoff Stable's Home Court, 116; Horned Owl Stable's Salvester, 112; and Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s Silver Crown, 115.


Apprentice jockey Cruz Contreras, currently Arlington's leading rider with 18 wins, returns to action Thursday following shoulder injuries incurred during Monday's races. Defending jockey champion Rene Douglas, with two winners Wednesday, now has 16.

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