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Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/16/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Fly Racing LLC's Level Playingfield, with proven ability over the lawn, may be the one to beat in Saturday's co-featured $38,000 Smile Handicap scheduled at five furlongs over the Arlington Park grass course.

An Arlington invader from the Kentucky-based barn of Bob Holthus, the 3-year-old Level Playingfield finished second beaten only a nose in his last start in an optional claiming turf sprint at Churchill on June 20 against older despite racing five wide. Before that, the sophomore son of Level Sands was matched against the best grass members of his own generation in the Grade III Crown Royal American Turf Stakes April 30 at the Twin Spires oval. He finished sixth but raced seven wide that day. Also, that race was over a distance of ground.

Capable of providing strong competition for Level Playingfield is Dare to Dream Stable LLC's Nicole's Dream, a 4-year-old filly almost always prominent in turf sprint competition against members of her own sex but now facing male rivals in the Smile. In her most recent trip to the post last Sunday in Arlington's $38,000 J J'sdream Handicap, the bay Florida-bred made the pace in that grass dash but tired against Kentucky invader Dyna Da Wyna in the final strides to finish second by a length.

Level Playingfield gets in the Smile with 113 pounds and has the riding services of Arlington's leading rider Rene Douglas, while Nicole's Dream shares the top impost of 117 assigned by racing secretary Frank Gabriel Jr. and has E. T. Baird slated for the saddle.

Others named to Saturday's Smile are the Frank C. Calabrese-owned coupling of Don Tiger and Night Caller, both with 116 pounds and Larry Sterling Jr. named to ride twice; A. A. C. Stable's Secret Romeo, 117, Bobby Lester; Dyedra Kadamoglou's El Merlot, 114, Jose Verenzuela; Elise M. Ebert & Linda Glander's Miners Gamble, 116, Eddie Razo Jr.; Patricia B. Blass's Wildcat Shoes, 116, Earlie Fires; Samuel Henry, Dominic Marsella & Carson Springs Farm's Manitowish, 116, Chris Emigh; Wayne Bessler's Mr Big Time, 112, Eduardo Perez; Frosty Stable II's Rapid Raj, 114, Jesse Campbell; and Ben Barnow's Bold America, 112, Cruz Contreras aboard.


Veteran reinsman Eddie Martin Jr., who annexed the jockey championship at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie when that meeting concluded July 11, has brought his tack to Arlington Park and will be based at the Northwest Chicago oval for the balance of the current meeting which concludes Sept. 19.

Martin, 41, born in Kenner, Louisiana, came to Chicago to ride in the final week of last year's Arlington season and was aboard Dream Walkin Farms Inc.'s Cactus Ridge for that colt's victory in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity Sept. 27.

During the recent Lone Star Park meeting, Martin visited that winner's circle 87 times and his mounts earned $1,684,025. He rides in Canterbury Park's "Claiming Crown" Saturday.

Martin won the jockey title at the 2001-2002 meeting at the Fair Grounds after finishing second there three consecutive years. He also won the 2,000th race of his career in New Orleans on March 20, 2000.

Other major Arlington tallies include a win astride Michael Langford's Fan The Flame in the 2000 Round Table Stakes.

Martin's engagements at Arlington will be handled by veteran agent Bobby Kelly, who also served as Louie Roussel III's assistant trainer for a number of years in Chicago and New Orleans.


The third "Breakfast at Arlington" program of the 2004 season, hosted by Arlington Park television personality Christine Gabriel and Arlington Park announcer John G. Dooley, will be offered Saturday.

Chicago Thoroughbred racing fans can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet from 7:30-9:30 a.m. as they watch the horses go through their morning training regimen.

Guests at Saturday's Breakfast Show will be trainer Mike Stidham, named "Trainer of the Month" for June at Arlington, veteran Arlington Park starter William "Blue" Knott, and jockey agent Penny Fitch-Hayes, currently handling the engagements of Jesse Campbell and Carlos H. Marquez Jr. here at Arlington Park.


Saturday's "Get In The Game" handicapping forum will explain class and race conditions in detail, while Sunday's "Get In The Game" forum will discuss the function of the racing office and feature racing secretary and handicapper Frank Gabriel Jr. and stakes coordinator Keith Kelley as guests.

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