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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/17/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Veteran conditioner Bob Holthus, based in Kentucky most of the year, invades Arlington Park Sunday with a pair of precocious 2-year-olds -- one colt and one filly -- as well as an excellent chance to sweep Sunday's stakes double at the Northwest suburban oval.
Sunday's Grade III Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Futurity for juveniles and Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie restricted to female foals of 2002 are the co-featured events on the last day of Arlington's 2004 season. Both events are observing their 70th anniversaries in Chicago Thoroughbred lore. More significantly, both races have often been precursors of championship seasons.
Holthus, born 70 years ago in Table Rock, Nebraska, ("a little crossroads about 35 miles Southeast of Lincoln"), brings James T. Hines Jr.'s Elusive Chris to town for the Futurity and will saddle OFER Stables LLC's Kota in the Lassie. The colt won the James C. Ellis Juvenile at that Western Kentucky oval in his last start Aug. 22, while the filly captured Ellis's Anna M. Fisher Debutante one day earlier.
"Elusive Chris is a big, good looking horse," said Holthus, speaking over the phone from Kentucky Friday morning. "Because that last race at Ellis was at seven-eighths, I figured the one-turn mile at Arlington would be a good fit for this start.
"Kota broke her maiden coming from just off the pace," said Holthus, "but she got shuffled back in her next start and made one big run to win it so we let that become her style. That should turn out well when the distances begin to stretch out later.
"I guess sometime way back I've had two good young horses (one colt and one filly) come along like this in the same year," Holthus said when asked, "but fortunately, I've been blessed with a lot of good 2-year-olds this year. I've got some more in the barn to run in the Kentucky Cup (Turfway) this weekend."
Trainers Don Von Hemel and Ken McPeek will join Bob Holthus with a chance to sweep Sunday's two stakes offerings, a feat that has not been accomplished by any conditioner since 1979 when Bert Sonnier saddled the winners of both the Arlington-Washington Futurity and the Arlington-Washington Lassie.
Von Hemel saddles Thunderhead Farms' Rocky River in Arlington's Futurity and Dennis L. Hammersmith's Queansco in the Lassie, while McPeek counters with Eliah & Lisa Kahn's Exceptional Ride in the Futurity and William A. Carl's Bubble N Squeak in the Lassie.
Frank Kirby, pace setter most of the year in Arlington's 2004 leading trainer's race, successfully held his ground Thursday against heavily armed Steve Asmussen, who is making a late bid to overtake Kirby for the 2004 Arlington trainer's title.
Asmussen won Thursday's opener with Popularize, who he also owns, but Kirby countered in the second half of the daily double by saddling Jerrold J. Schwartz & Hondo Racing Ltd.'s Rio Lady to visit the winner's circle.
Going into Friday's program, Kirby maintains a three-win advantage over Asmussen, who loaded Friday's program with two horses in the opener, two in the third, one in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Kirby has one horse entered in Friday's fourth race and two in the eighth.
Because the 2004 Arlington Park season comes to a close on Sunday, "Oktoberfest" at the Northwest Chicago oval will be celebrated this Saturday.
German dance groups, authentic German cuisine and German live bands will be featured in the Park Area, and the festivities will also include a number of interactive games and contests near the band patio.
Scheduled to perform on the band stage are "Jimmy's Bavarians" and "Alte Kamaraden," and also featured will be the "Milwaukee Dank Dance Group."
Pepsi Family Day presented by Daily Herald activities on Sunday's final day of the 2004 Arlington racing season include an interactive show that will bring out the artist in everyone.
Called "Picture This," the show will be presented by Artworks Children's Museum.
Also on tap Sunday: the final Junior Jockey Club of the season, which offers a special party to include a lunch for members who attended 10 or more Junior Jockey Club events.
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