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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/12/05)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Jamaican-born but New York-based jockey Shaun Bridgmohan has begun building a bridge to the Midwest by bringing his tack to Arlington Park this season.
The 94-day session at Chicago's showcase Thoroughbred racecourse runs from May 13 to Sept. 18 and opens Friday without defending riding champion Rene Douglas, who has chosen to remain in Southern California. Consequently, the local riding colony's pecking order is ripe for reshuffling.
Veteran reinsmen such as Chris Emigh, who dominated the recent Hawthorne session, and Eddie Razo, runner-up in Arlington's standings the last two seasons, are two of the preseason favorites for Arlington's 2005 jockey championship. James Graham, who won Arlington's Rising Star Award last year, should also be a contender.
However, it is Bridgmohan, although relatively unfamiliar locally, who is expected to add a new dimension to this year's Arlington leading rider race. That's because he comes here with the services of agent Dennis Cooper, who has handled the engagements of every leading rider at Arlington during the not-so-new millennium.
That includes the leading-rider run of Rene Douglas, who became the first jockey in Arlington Park history to win four straight titles, as well the local championship garnered by Mark Guidry in 2000.
"When I heard that Dennis was considering asking me to come to Arlington if Rene didn't come back, I was interested right away," said Bridgmohan Thursday at Arlington during training hours. "Having 'Coop' handle my book was a big influence on my decision to come here. Hopefully, a lot of positive things are going to happen for me here this summer."
That's not to say that things were ever less than good for Bridgmohan in New York. Although born in Jamaica, the 25-year-old grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and began attending the races in South Florida with his father as a youngster. After graduating from high school, Bridgmohan began his riding career, winning for the first time at Calder in 1997.
Transferring his tack to Aqueduct in January of 1998, Bridgmohan enjoyed immediate success that continued throughout the year. Among the highlights: winning six races in one day on Feb. 15 at Aqueduct and eventually earning an Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice that year.
"I won with the first horse I rode after I lost 'the bug,'" said Bridgmohan, speaking of the loss of his apprenticeship status, "but then things got slow for awhile. But I continued to work hard and pretty quickly things got going again."
Other riding accomplishments include a five-win afternoon at Belmont Park in 2002 and the winning ride aboard Evening Attire in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup that fall.
What followed Evening Attire's win in New York was a trip to Arlington for the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic, where Bridgmohan finished fourth astride the horse in his only mount at Arlington Park to date.
"That was exciting, coming here for that race," said Bridgmohan. "I loved the whole racetrack, and the turf course is very good. This is a good circuit for me this summer, and we'll see what unfolds for me thereafter."
Jer-Mar Stables LLC's Smoke Smoke Smoke, coming off an impressive win in Hawthorne's Lost Code Breeders' Cup April 9, shoulders the top impost of 122 pounds when he heads a field of six in Friday's $40,000 Shecky Greene Handicap at Arlington Park.
The six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds is the featured opening day attraction at Arlington as the 94-day racing season at the Northwest Thoroughbred oval gets underway.
Likely to provide strong competition for Smoke Smoke Smoke, who will be ridden by Seth Martinez, is Dare To Dream Stable LLC's Raving Rocket, winner of Prairie Meadows' Golden Circle Stakes April 23. Raving Rocket carries 121 pounds including E. T. Baird.
Completing the Shecky Greene field is Bob & Nancy Bartels' Bigboydancing, 115, Carlos Montalvo; Hugh Robertson & Homewrecker Racing LLC's Three Hour Nap, 119, Eddie Razo Jr.; Wilbur & Diane France's Lite Brigade, 115, Terry Houghton; and Dogwood Stable's Departing Now, 116, James Graham.
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