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Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/9/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Harvey Vanier, the Arlington-based trainer who has been a local legend for decades, and jockey James Graham, the Irish-born reinsman who hung his tack at Arlington Park for the first time this summer, were both honored during Arlington's dinner-dance thanking horsemen for their support during the 2004 season which closes Sept. 19.

The 2004 dinner -- titled "The Big Wind Down" -- was held at Trackside Arlington Park Wednesday evening shortly after the day's racing program was completed.

Vanier, 80, born in Diller, Nebraska, has called Arlington his home base throughout his training career and received Arlington's 2004 "Lifetime Achievement Award."

Graham, 25, born in Dublin, Ireland, came to the United States two years ago and received Arlington's "Rising Star Award" for his successful summer campaign in Chicago.

Vanier has been Arlington's leading trainer seven times in his career, winning his first title in 1987 and his most recent in 1997. He is the third-leading trainer in Arlington history after saddling more than 700 winners locally, and is also in third place on Arlington's list of all-time leading stakes-winning trainers. Among the top stakes horses trained by Vanier was Play Fellow, who won the 1983 Arlington Classic and American Derby in Chicago after capturing Keeneland's Blue Grass earlier that spring. Play Fellow also went on to win the Travers at Saratoga later that summer.

Following a touching video tribute featuring a montage of Vanier's many winners to the accompaniment of Alan Jackson's "Remember When," the octagenarian stepped to the podium to accept his award from Arlington chairman Richard L. Duchossois.

"It's always been great to come to Arlington Park," Vanier said. "It always was and still is a great racetrack and I love everybody here. Thank you very much and good luck to everybody."

Graham, who began the summer as an apprentice and won two stakes as a journeyman after losing the "bug," has ridden 54 winners from 419 mounts going into Thursday's program for purse earnings of $1,222,886.

"This is an honor to receive this," said Graham during his acceptance speech. "I'd like to thank the trainers who have ridden me, especially Jeff Thornbury and Bobby Springer, my agent Britt McGehee, my fiancée Lisa Caverly, and the jockeys who have helped me here like Frankie Lovato, Eddie Martin and Eddie Razo."

Owner Frank C. Calabrese is assured another title as leading owner in number of wins for five straight years, as well as four straight as leading owner in terms of money won. He was recognized for that accomplishment, as was jockey Rene Douglas, who is assured of becoming the first jockey in Arlington Park history to win four straight local riding titles.

Arlington's 2004 leading trainer title is still up for grabs going into Thursday's program with trainer Frank Kirby enjoying a two-win advantage with 28 winners over Steve Asmussen who has 26. Tied for third position with 23 winners are conditioners Christine Janks, Chris Block and Tom Amoss.


After saddling two winners Wednesday at Arlington Park, conditioner Christine Janks has joined Chris Block and Tom Amoss among those tied for third in Arlington's competitive leading trainer's race at the 2004 meeting.

Currently leading the race going into Thursday's 88th day of a 96-day session is Frank Kirby, who has saddled 28 winners. In second place was trainer Steve Asmussen with 26, while the three in the third spot each had saddled 23.

Did Janks see herself as a contender after her Wednesday training double with William Lydon & Carson Springs Farm's B Rules in the fifth and Scaminaci Racing Stables' Galatea Cat in the finale?

"I seriously doubt it," said Janks. "If it wasn't for Barry (husband and business partner) I wouldn't even know where I was in the standings. It's not something I think about. I'm all about trying to win whatever race I'm in that day and trying to win that race for that particular owner. If I have an owner who hasn't won a race at the meeting, it doesn't matter to him (or her) whether I'm leading trainer or not, so I try to stay focused on winning for each owner I have.

"If it happens (winning the trainer's title), that would be extremely wonderful," said Janks, "but I'm somewhat fatalistic about it. I'll just try to plod along doing the best I can."

The riding star of Wednesday's program was jockey Eddie Martin Jr. who accomplished a "hat trick." Martin won the second race with Jan Nilsen & John Mydlach's Lord Charles, came back in the third with Bullseye Racing LLC's Wild Tale, and took down winning honors in the eighth with Arthur Vogel's Storm's Darling.

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