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Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/8/05)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Arlington Park will offer wagering on Saturday's 137th running of the Grade I Belmont Stakes -- third and final leg of the 2005 VISA Triple Crown -- when the "Test of Champions" is run at New York's Belmont Park, shortly after Arlington's last race of the day.

Mr. & Mrs. Jerome Moss's Giacomo, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, and Cash is King LLC's Afleet Alex, hero of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico two weeks later, face each other in an exciting rubber match at the marathon mile and a half-distance, but will be challenged by nine other sophomores who have developed in recent weeks. They include Al & Saundra Kirkwood's Southern Africa, who had his final breeze at Arlington Park Sunday (six furlongs in 1:13) in preparation for Saturday's Belmont. Afleet Alex is tabbed as the 6-5 favorite in the Belmont morning line and Giacomo is the second choice at 4-1, while Southern Africa is dismissed at a liberal 12-1 in spite of his win in the Grade III Lone Star Derby, May 14, as well as his very impressive local move. Gates will open this Saturday at Arlington a half hour earlier than usual -- at 10:45 a.m -- to accommodate the Belmont Stakes Day card that begins at 11 a.m. Central time. On Saturday's Arlington program, the Belmont Stakes will be simulcast as "Special Event One," and shown after Arlington's 10th race.

On Friday, Arlington Park and the Illinois wagering network will offer advanced wagering on the Belmont into the New York pool, while on race day Saturday, Arlington guests will be able to shop for better odds with wagering into a special Illinois-only pool as well as the Belmont Park pool.


Joining host Mike Costanzo for this Saturday's "Get In The Game" program at Arlington Park will be jockeys Greta Kuntzweiler and Carlos Marquez Jr. The program will run from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Arlington's Starting Gate Theatre.

"Cover Gurl" -- the winner of Arlington's 2004 "Battle of the Bands" -- returns to headline Friday's Miller Lite Party in the Park at Arlington. Friday's post time is at 3 p.m.

"The Saturday June Band" is the featured band for Saturday's Bud Light Summer Bash & BBQ, and this week's food special off the Weber grill is an Applewood smoked beef brisket sandwich. Post time Saturday reverts to its regular 1 p.m. slot.

"On The Farm" is the theme for Pepsi Family Day, presented by the Daily Herald this Sunday. It features performances by "Those Funny Little People" at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

The Junior Jockey Club theme Sunday is "How to Care For a Horse," and JJC members will gather in the Paddock area at 11:45 a.m. to meet one of Arlington Park's grooms and see him in action.

Also beginning Sunday, a Catholic mass will be said in Spanish at 6:30 p.m. in the Track Kitchen. Earlier in the day, a non-denominational Chapel service will continue to be held in the auditorium next to the Track Kitchen at its regular 11 a.m. time slot.


Trainer Kris Turner saddled Linda & Jeff Lafoy's Just See James to capture Sunday's featured Zen Handicap by a half-length, registering her first victory at Arlington this summer with her third starter of the season.

Two races earlier during Sunday's program, trainer Andy Hansen saddled the first Arlington Park winner of his career since going on his own May 1, when Virginia Tarra Trust's Harbor Craft won the sixth race of the afternoon. Hansen, a longtime assistant to the late locally prominent conditioner Gene Cilio, won the first race of his own career with the first starter of his career when Real Deal was victorious during the Hawthorne session.

Turner, an Illinois native who now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, began her own training career in 1999, has had several good years on the Michigan circuit, and most recently had a split stable between Hawthorne and Phoenix earlier this season.

"However, we decided to put all our eggs in one Arlington basket for the summer," Turner said Wednesday. "We're still hovering around Just See James today. That was a very nice win for us."

Hansen, a Nebraska native with a home in Bensonville, Illinois, was equally pleased with Harbor Craft's performance.

"He's always trained well," said Hansen Wednesday "I'm just glad he showed up on Sunday."

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