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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/5/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Trainer Laura de Seroux saddled Sidney L. Port Trust's Toasted to win the Grade II Arlington Classic Saturday, Irish-bred Ballingarry, also partially owned by Port, to capture the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf Sunday, and flew back to her Southern California headquarters on Monday.
But after checking in at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to complete her weekend victory lap, the affable conditioner gave positive updates on both of her America's Birthday weekend graded stakes winners.
"They both dove into their feed tubs this morning," said de Seroux. "They came back well, and concerning the entire weekend, and the races they ran, I couldn't have asked for anything better. Mostly, I was pleased for Mr. Port. It meant so much to him. He's a Chicagoan, and he has been in racing for 34 years, but he said it was the first time he had ever won two races in one weekend. He considered it a real milestone."
With his successful defense of his 2003 Stars and Stripes championship, Ballingarry becomes the first back-to-back winner of Arlington's traditional marathon event since Leslie Combs II's Rossi Gold won three successive renewals from 1981 to 1983.
Prior to Rossi Gold's three-year run, which included a dead-heat with Audet & Benoit's Ben Fab the first year, no other horse had won back-to-back Stars and Stripes renewals since Climax II in 1966-67, with the only other repeat wins in the history of the race registered by Indian Runner in 1933-34.
George Brunacini's Grey Beard, overlooked in the Stars and Stripes wagering at 37-1, finished third under the wire, was subsequently placed second, and was doing well back home in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday morning.
"He ran a lovely race," said trainer Emilie Fojan of Grey Beard's Sunday effort. "I expected him to run well. He had lots of problems earlier in his career but he seems to be getting over them now. I was very pleased with his race yesterday.
"I want to keep him on the grass and I want to keep him going long," said Fojan, "but he needs a little time between his races. I'd like to consider a start in the Arlington Handicap (GIII, July 24) for him, but that may be a little too soon. We'll see how he does over the next couple of weeks."
Conditioner Ken McPeek, who saddled Midnight Cry Stable's Art Variety and Late Night Stables LLC's Prodigus to end up third and eighth respectively in Sunday's Stars and Stripes, reported both of his Brazilian-breds doing well Monday.
"Everybody came out fine," McPeek said Monday morning. "I'm not sure what's next for either one of them, but I think both of them need some distance of ground."
Arlington Park's official attendance for Sunday's Stars and Stripes Day program was 20,022 -- second highest in the nation on America's Birthday -- but that attendance might have nearly doubled by the time Arlington's traditional fireworks show, presented by LaSalle Bank, got underway shortly after dark.
"I was particularly proud of our attendance for the races," said Cliff Goodrich, president of Arlington Park Monday morning. "It is a tribute to the success of our racing program to be able to post such highly ranked national numbers when considering the major races that were run throughout the United States on our national holiday.
"But by the time the fireworks show began, you could look around the property at the people in the vicinity of the berms and other places on and surrounding the grounds and estimate that over 40,000 people were on the property," Goodrich said. "Once again, our Fourth of July Fireworks Show was a great success, and should serve as an excellent precursor of another successful summer season at Arlington."
Sunday repairs right up to July 4th first post at Arlington Park left the recently damaged infield tote board almost entirely operational in time for Chicago's traditional Firecracker Day racing program.
The infield tote board had not been functional since an internal electrical fire following the races June 12. However, except for the show pools that are shown in a section of the board in the immediate vicinity of the fire, and the running fractional times as the races are underway -- all systems are working once again -- with full operational status expected later this week.
"We expect some of the necessary missing parts to be delivered Tuesday," said Tony Petrillo, Arlington's director of facility operations on Monday morning. "We won't know for sure where we stand until they are delivered, but we hope to have a significant status update Wednesday morning."
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