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Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/14/05)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Trainer Christine Janks, who saddled the 1,400th winner of her career Wednesday when S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership's Chic Dancer won Arlington's eighth race, has entered that same group's High Expectations in Saturday's Round Table Stakes as the next "logical step" for the son of Peaks and Valleys.

"The Round Table will be a big jump in class for him," said Janks, "but he's doing great, and his numbers have been improving."

High Expectations was much the best in his last start -- a six-length win in the $88,900 Springfield Stakes on Prairie State Festival Day June 25 -- and has won all three of his Arlington starts this spring by a combined total of more than 23 lengths, but all were in restricted company against horses registered in the Illinois program.

The gelding sheds the benefit of those restrictions when facing some of the more prominent 3-year-olds in training in the Midwest Saturday in Arlington's traditional sophomore stakes on the main track at nine furlongs.

"I don't know if he's good enough to be with this group," Janks said Thursday morning during training hours. "I guess we'll find out Saturday, but I do think he deserves this chance."

It should be noted that Janks projected a similar "wait-and-see" attitude prior to Pretty Jenny's engagement in the $86,200 Purple Violet Stakes when that filly was asked to get the one-mile distance for the first time during the Festival. Pretty Jenny, owned by William Lydon, Arbaway Farm and Carson Springs Farm, answered the bell with a five and a half-length win.

This summer has been a breakout season for Janks, so far by much her best at an Arlington meeting. Look at the records of some of her horses. High Expectations is three-for-three. Fifteen Rounds is also three-for-three. For Gillian is two out of three, and so is Chic Dancer. And Pretty Jenny, Big Attlet and Modjadji are all two-for-two. That translates to five undefeated horses at the meeting, with 16 wins from 18 starts among those seven named.

"They've just been amazing horses this year," Janks said. "The horses have been running great, but their races have come along at the right time, so there's a little bit of luck involved. I do feel that we now have a program that is second to none, and my husband Barry is largely responsible for that. I knew we had some nice horses turning three in 2005, and I was joking with my good friend Chris Block (a strong competitor in the Illinois program) when the season began. I told him, 'You'd better be tied on, Big Guy, I have an exceptionally good crop.'

"I also have a top assistant in Rob Dobbs," Janks said. "I'd be nowhere without him. I've often told people: when he quits, I quit. He thinks I'm kidding, but I'm not so sure I am."

Janks, 55, born in Evergreen Park, Illinois, was a clear second in the current Arlington standings through Wednesday, with 20 wins from 66 horses saddled, and has finished on the board with two-thirds of her starters. Is this her best season ever?

"Probably," she said. "I think I tied for third leading trainer at Arlington in 1977, and in 1976 or 1977 I was listed in the national standings when I won 76 races, but it has taken me a lot of years of hard work to get to this point.

"The owners I have now allow me to take as much time as I need with their horses," Janks added, "so we don't waste races. Also now, with the success we've had, we can spend more money on stud fees, and we have some good crops coming up. As our mares are getting older, we're buying good broodmares to gradually replace them, and hopefully, fillies like Pretty Jenny will join them. Also, we're foaling everything in Illinois and that's been huge difference.

"But there's also plenty of room for improvement," Janks said. "I'm very grateful that a lot of my owners are having good years, but not all of them are doing so great this year, and that makes me feel bad for them. Some of them have had very bad luck this year. They count as much as anybody else. If I'm not having a good year for them, what good does it do? Hopefully, things will turn around next year for them, and next year will be their turn."


The third "Breakfast at Arlington" program of the 2005 season will be held this Saturday from 7:30-9:30 a.m., with track announcer John G. Dooley and television analyst Christine Gabriel hosting the informative program covering a wide range of subjects with their guests.


Although there is no "Party On The Patio" this weekend, the Trackside Arlington Park feature will return next Friday, July 22, with musical entertainment following Arlington's twilight racing program.

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