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Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/15/05)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Ken Meeker & Carson Springs Farm's Fifteen Rounds, undefeated at the meeting, and Roy Hudson, Pat Elia & Oratis Thoroughbreds' So Gifted, winner of his last two at Churchill Downs, face each other and six others in Sunday's $45,000-added Smile Stakes, a five-furlong sprint over Arlington Park's world famous turf course.

If the field of eight remains intact for the grass dash, the race will have a gross value of $47,400, with a $28,440 share of that sum going to the owners of the winner.

In his last trip to the post, run over the main track at three-quarters July 3, Fifteen Rounds pressed the pace in the Better Bee Stakes, took command at the furlong grounds and drew clear for a length and a half tally while kept four wide. Before that, going five-eighths over the local lawn June 18, the Fit to Fight 5-year-old found running room along the inside and was up to be best by three-quarters, and in his first Arlington start of the season the gelding was best by five lengths in the mud on May 19.

So Gifted made the pace in his last start over the Louisville lawn June 23, increasing his margin steadily in the lane to be best by seven in "non-winners of one other than" company. Previously, when in for a $30,000 tag at the Twin Spires oval June 9, the 4-year-old Southern Halo gelding was best by a head when racing on the main track.

Chris Emigh, clearly second best in the current Arlington jockey standings, is named to handle the reins on Fifteen Rounds, and Mark Guidry, twice the riding champion here in the past and recently returned following the end of Churchill's spring meeting, gets the mount on So Gifted.

Named to oppose the top two Sunday are: Navigator Stable's Il Capriccio, Lance Robinson's Casual Cat, Mrs. & Larry Williams' Lucky Pulpit, Frosty Stables II's Rapid Raj, Turfpack Partnership II's Eldixie, and Mark Nikolas's Chachacharlie.

Rapid Raj is worthy of some consideration Sunday. In his last start at Churchill June 29 he was best by a half-length in "non-winners of two other than" company on the grass despite being forced to steady at the half-mile pole. Brian Hernandez, another jockey newly arrived from Churchill, has the riding assignment.

Of the others, Casual Cat, second by a head in his turf debut last time, and Il Capriccio, an invader from West Virginia who has won two in a row, cannot be discounted. Larry Sterling Jr. is listed for the irons for Casual Cat, while Mountaineer jockey Dana Whitney Jr. is slated for the tack on Il Capriccio.


Veteran Chicago trainer Moises Yanez and jockey Miguel Mena, riding at Arlington for the second season this year, have teamed up to enjoy local success this summer.

Yanez, a longtime Illinois resident born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and Mena, who came to the United States from his birthplace in Lima, Peru, less than two years ago, are both on the cusp of besting their 2004 Arlington totals although the current season has yet to reach the halfway mark.

After saddling 14 winners this summer, Yanez has equaled his 2004 Arlington-win mark, and Mena, who has ridden nine winners so far this season, is only two shy of his total last year.

"He's a good, strong rider," said Yanez of Mena, who rode at River Downs Monday with Peruvian stars Edgar Prado, Jorge Chavez and Rafael Bejarano during a one-day benefit on behalf of the Peruvian Jockey School.

"As for my horses, we've just been very lucky and have had some better conditions, winning with four of my maidens. We still have some decently bred 2-year-olds that haven't started, so we should be able to keep things going."


Saturday's "Breakfast At Arlington" program, the third of the current season, has attracted jockeys Mark Guidry and Brian Hernandez as well as owner Amy Bondon-Peltz.

Guidry and Hernandez switched their tack to Arlington following the end of Churchill's spring meeting Sunday, and Peltz was the inaugural winner of Arlington's "Penny Chenery Distinguished Women in Racing Award."

"Breakfast at Arlington" runs from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday morning and is hosted by Christine Gabriel and John G. Dooley.


After riding both ends of Thursday's late double at Arlington Park to add to numerous recent multi-win days, jockey James Graham has boosted his 2005 Arlington total to 37 winners, four behind Eddie Razo Jr., currently third in the local standings.

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