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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/22/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


A rare dirt-to-turf graded stakes double looms on the horizon Sept. 18 at Arlington Park, as well as a chance for a rematch between the two game 3-year-old fillies who dead-heated for the win in Saturday's Grade III Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks.

Richard Otto Stables Inc.'s Lovely Afternoon and Stonerside Stable LLC's Catboat finished on even terms in Saturday's mile and an eighth Arlington Oaks on the main track, and both were doing well Sunday morning following that encounter. Now, the two sophomores may get a chance to settle their score -- this time over the local lawn -- if they meet again in Arlington's Grade III Pucker Up Stakes four weeks from their recent encounter.

"I'm very proud of what my filly did yesterday," said Tony Mitchell Sunday morning during training hours. Mitchell is the conditioner of Lovely Afternoon, who pressed the pace Saturday and then held on willingly in the late stages. "My jock (James Graham) got his stick (whip) knocked from his hands in the stretch run. He had to ride 'hands and heels' the last eighth of a mile. I give full credit to Jimmy for his ride and to Mr. Otto, who didn't question my decision to run her in there (at odds of 17-1).

"Lovely Afternoon came out of the race good and is doing good this morning," said Mitchell, "and I'm still on Cloud Nine myself. Now it's on to the Pucker Up."

Catboat, who broke slowly Saturday and then slipped through along the rail late to dead-heat for the win under jockey Eddie Martin Jr., was also doing well, according to Patti Miller, who was feeding Catboat Sunday morning when queried.

Catboat was left at the Arlington barn of husband-and-wife trainers Danny and Patti Miller until Monday morning, when she will be shipped back to her trainer Bernie Flint's barn at Churchill Downs.

"She's full of herself as usual," said Miller. "She goes back to Louisville tomorrow morning, and Bernie said that the Pucker Up is not out of the question for her. Bernie was going to sit down with the stable manager of Stonerside and work out more definite future plans, but I heard him ask Eddie (jockey Martin) in the winner's circle if he was available for the Pucker Up.

The rare switch from dirt to turf for 3-year-old fillies in graded stakes company at Arlington has been successfully accomplished twice before in the Northwest Chicago oval's history.

In 1980, Arthur B. Hancock III & Leone J. Peters' Ribbon, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Harry Trotsek and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, captured the Oaks-Pucker Up double, and in 1986, Dan Agnew's Top Corsage, trained by Jerry Fanning, also won both those races for sophomore members of the distaff set. Top Corsage was ridden by Gary Stevens in the Oaks and by Sandy Hawley in the Pucker Up. Both those jockeys are also now in the Hall of Fame.

Lovely Afternoon has won four of 12 starts and has current earnings of $150,076, while Catboat has five wins from 12 starts and earnings of $146,319 to date.


Team Block's Mystery Giver, injured during last week's Grade I Arlington Million, will be sidelined at least one year, according to trainer Chris Block.

Block's suspicions of Mystery Giver's ruptured suspensory ligament were confirmed by an ultrasound done Friday on the 2002 Illinois Horse of the Year.

Following that extended layoff, Mystery Giver's status will be evaluated further. The Block family had previously said if the 6-year-old gelding could return to be competitive in Illinois-bred stakes competition, they would bring him back to the races, but if he came back at a lesser level they would retire the star of their stable permanently.


Jockey Carlos H. Marquez Jr., who had a riding double Saturday, suffered a knee injury during training hours Sunday morning and is out indefinitely.

Marquez was injured when the girth broke on a horse he was exercising and he was thrown to the ground. The 36-year-old native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on crutches later Sunday, will go for an MRI Monday to determine the extent of his injuries.

Through Saturday's program, Marquez was fourth leading rider at the current Arlington meeting, with 50 wins, 42 seconds and 42 third-place finishes from 301 mounts, and had registered more than $1.5 million in purse earnings here this season.

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