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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/25/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Making his first appearance at Arlington Park this season on Saturday will be Louisville-based trainer Greg Foley, and he's bringing one fast fighter with him.

Champali is a horse -- a sprinter named for the Louisville-born champion heavyweight Muhammad Ali -- and the speedy 4-year-old colt is slated to be a contender in Saturday's $150,000 Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint. That six-furlong event will serve as Saturday's headline attraction at the Northwest Chicago oval.

Owned by Lloyd Madison Farms IV LLC, Champali has won his last three straight, and if he runs well here Saturday, he will be pointed toward even bigger things.

"The Breeders' Cup Sprint (at Lone Star Park Oct. 30) is in our plans," admitted Foley, speaking over the phone as he drove from Louisville to Ellis Park to run a horse Wednesday. If he runs well Saturday, we'll probably look for one more race for him and then try to go on to the Breeders' Cup. I'd have to say this is the best horse I've ever trained."

Foley, 46, born in Summerset, Kentucky, has been training on his own for well over two decades. As the son of longtime Kentucky trainer Dravo Foley, the younger male Foley also has a sister Vickie Foley who established her own barn more than 20 years ago following an apprenticeship under her father.

Although he is named for a native of Louisville, Champali, the horse, is owned by residents of Madison, Wisconsin. Owners Jim Bakke, Fred Schwartz and Tim Sweeney will journey to Chicago from the Badger State for Saturday's headliner.

The Kentucky-bred colt comes into the Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint off a win in the Grade III Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder Race Course during the Summit of Speed at the North Miami oval July 10. In that race, contested at three-quarters on a fast track, Champali made the pace and held on by a nose at the wire.

Previously, on June 19 at Churchill, Champali came from off the pace to take down winner's honors in the Grade III Aristides Handicap on a fast track, but before that, was also successful in an allowance race in the slop May 26 at the Louisville oval.

"He's very consistent," said Foley. "If there's no speed, he'll take the lead like he did last time. If someone else takes the lead, he'll lay off the pace. He's won both ways because he's got very tactical speed.

"He's run over several different racetracks, and he always runs well," concluded Foley. "If it rains on Saturday, it shouldn't be a problem for him."


Ray Sibille, Arlington Park's fourth leading jockey of all time who retired earlier this summer, underwent successful hip replacement surgery Tuesday at Weiss Memorial Hospital and was doing well in post-operative recovery, according to wife Dot.

"Tuesday's surgery took less than an hour," Dot Sibille said Wednesday, "although the doctor said he was surprised Ray was able to ride as long as he did with all the damage in there. I just left the hospital, and Ray was sitting up comfortably in a chair. He's fine now. They are going to let him go home Friday."

Sibille, born in Sunset, Louisiana, will celebrate his 52nd birthday Sept. 13, the same day as this year's 3rd annual "Riding For A Cure" event in Barrington Hills, for the benefit of cancer research. Although a participant in the first two events, the popular reinsman will obviously celebrate his birthday this year on the sidelines.

Another former jockey who retired this summer and was planning to participate in this year's "Riding For A Cure" event has also been unfortunately sidelined. Patti Cooksey, the second leading female rider in the history of Thoroughbred racing, was injured in a training accident at her Kentucky home base on Arlington Million Day Aug. 14 when thrown from a horse and will undergo an MRI Friday to determine the exact nature of her injury.

"I can walk okay but riding a horse causes a lot of pain between my shoulders," said Cooksey. "The MRI will hopefully show whether I have a compressed vertebra or a small fracture. It's a shame I won't be able to ride in this year's event, I was really looking forward to coming up there."

Cooksey, recently named the recipient of this year's Mike Venezia Award, suffered her own bout with breast cancer in 2001.


Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires will ride Hall of Fame Harness driver Walter Paisley's Gilded Graces in Wednesday's fourth race at Arlington Park. Coincidentally, the two star athletes were named to their respective Halls of Fame in the same year: 2001.

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