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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/28/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Wertheimer & Frere's Olmodavor, runner-up in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup earlier this month, will shoulder Arlington racing secretary Frank Gabriel Jr.'s top impost of 121 pounds when he invades from California to head the field in Saturday's Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park.
Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, Olmodavor won Fair Grounds' Grade III Whirlaway Handicap last winter. Following the Whirlaway on Feb. 1, Olmodavor returned to the West Coast where the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy was fourth in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 6 and again fourth in Hollywood's Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 8.
Kentucky-based jockey John McKee will journey to Chicago Saturday for the mount astride Olmodavor in the Washington Park 'Cap.
Other riding assignments confirmed for the Washington Park 'Cap have Rafael Bejarano, currently the nation's leading jockey, coming from Kentucky for the mount on Lakeside Farm LLC's Colonial Colony at 118 pounds; John D. Murphy Sr.'s The Lady's Groom to be ridden by Noriberto Arroyo Jr. at 118; Adele B. Dilschneider & Claiborne Farm's Congrats with Arlington's leading rider Rene Douglas in the irons at 116; and John D. Gunther's Eye of the Tiger in lightest at 115 with Eddie Razo Jr. up.
Saturday's historic headliner, run at a mile and three-sixteenths on the main track, is observing its 71st renewal. With its $350,000 purse, it is the richest race thus far in the 2004 Arlington Park season.
Past winners of the Washington Park include Hall of Fame horses such as Armed, Coaltown, Swaps, Round Table, Gun Bow, Dr. Fager, and Spectacular Bid, as well as Arlington-based Black Tie Affair, Horse of the Year in 1991.
Arlington Park jockey Greta Kuntzweiler, fresh from an overseas round trip last week where she filmed several television commercials in Portugal, wasted little time returning to the Arlington winner's circle when she captured Sunday's fifth race astride Proud Partner, owned by James Barnes and Jim Batchellor and trained by Grant Forster.
Kuntzweiler, 28, born in Ames, Iowa, is hanging her tack at Arlington Park for the first time this summer after a number of successful seasons in Kentucky, but flew to Lisbon for five days to film a series of commercials for Volvo SUVs, lately being marketed as "the woman's SUV."
Paired with Kuntzweiler for a series of commercials was Bethany Hamilton, the teenage surfing star who became nationally known when severely injured in a shark attack last fall.
Hamilton was a 13-year-old surfing champion last fall when she lost her left arm in a shark attack off Kauai's North Shore at the end of October. She has returned to her competitive surfing career despite that injury.
"She's awesome," said an admiring Kuntzweiler, who met Hamilton for the first time at the shoot. "She's just amazing, a real great girl. It was an inspiration to be around her and her whole family."
Lance Bangs, director for the Volvo commercials, and a former director of music videos for the band R.E.M., used to play in a band with Bob Nastanovich, who now serves as the jockey agent for Kuntzweiler.
Jockey Ray Sibille, fourth leading jockey in Arlington Park history, was honored with a brief winner's circle ceremony following Saturday's second race.
Sibille, who won 4,264 races from 36,859 mounts during his 35-year career, rode the last race of his career July 21. The 51-year-old native of Sunset, Louisiana, will undergo hip replacement surgery Aug. 24.
Arlington Park chairman Richard L. Duchossois conducted the ceremony, which included a video montage of some of the highlights of Sibille's career, and presented the revered reinsman with a five-day vacation in Aruba as well as an equine statue to be inscribed with his many notable achievements.
Sibille won the Arlington Park jockey championship in 1980.
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