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Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/4/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


He has been a leading Illinois Thoroughbred owner for more than four decades, so it is fitting that Sunday’s inaugural running of the $100,000 Avers Wexler Illinois Owners Stakes should recognize this 85-year-old Chicago native who has been a strong perennial supporter of Thoroughbred racing at Arlington Park.

However, what is even more fitting is that Wexler will have his own horse -– Kid Grindstone -– running in the mile and a sixteenth grass race that will be the centerpiece event of Arlington’s Valvoline Instant Oil Change Opening Weekend, and the 4-year-old gelding should be one of the more prominent contenders in Sunday’s test.

In his last trip to the post April 12, Kid Grindstone was the clear winner of Oaklawn’s Grade III Fifth Season Stakes despite encountering numerous traffic problems during the running. The altered son of 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone may have been dismissed at 9-1 in the wagering that day, but not in the hearts and minds of his connections.

“I told everyone, including Mr. Wexler, that (Kid Grindstone) was going to win that race,” said trainer Mike Campbell, who took over the conditioning of the Wexler horses following the retirement of Charlie Vinci at the end of last season. “It was Mr. Wexler’s first time ever coming to Oaklawn, and I had talked him into letting my son Jesse come down from Hawthorne to ride the horse because he fit the horse so well.

“How do you describe the perfect day?” said Campbell, when asked how he felt when Kid Grindstone lived up to his promises in the Oaklawn stakes. “How do you describe the main event of your lifetime? I had just taken over the training of Mr. Wexler’s horses, and he was there, and my entire family was there with my son riding the horse. At first, I was stunned because of the way the horse won, and we all just sat there for a millisecond before we started yelling our heads off. It was a great way to end a great weekend, and we had the chance to do it for a guy who has contributed as much as Mr. Wexler has to Thoroughbred racing over the last 41 years. The man personifies sportsmanship, because he cares so much about this sport and his animals.”

Ironically, Campbell might also start Get In The Picture Stable’s No Tolerance in Sunday’s featured event, but has already received permission to do so from Wexler.

No Tolerance, a speedy sort whose best races come on or near the lead, is also entered in Saturday’s featured Timeless Native Stakes, but a final decision on his Wexler Stakes status probably won’t be made until Saturday morning.

“At the moment, I have an equal interest in running him (No Tolerance) Saturday or Sunday,” said Campbell on Thursday morning during training hours. “A final decision will be made after I see who shows up in both races and who has what post position in each race.

“If No Tolerance runs on Sunday, my son Joel (Jesse’s twin brother) will come down to Arlington to ride him while Jesse rides Kid Grindstone,” Campbell said. “If No Tolerance runs on Saturday, Jesse will ride him.”


Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s Fifteen Rounds, with eight wins at Arlington during his career, and CresRan LLC’s Prospective Kiss, who defeated Wexler Racing Stables Inc.’s Kid Grindstone March 11 at Oaklawn before losing to that rival April 12 in Oaklawn’s Grade III Fifth Season Stakes, head a field of five named to Saturday’s featured $40,000 Timeless Native Stakes at Arlington Park.

If the field remains intact for the one-mile test for 3-year-olds and up, the race will have a gross value of $41,240, with a $24,744 share of that sum going to the owners of the winner.

Fifteen Rounds, trained by Christine Janks, culminated his 2005 Chicago season with a neck tally in the $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint Aug. 27 before being sent to Kentucky to run fifth in the Grade III Phoenix Breeders’ Cup Oct. 8. In his most recent trip to the post, again at Keeneland, the Florida-bred 6-year-old was fifth in the Grade II Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Handicap on Blue Grass Day April 15. Chris Emigh is named to handle the reins Saturday.

Prospective Kiss, conditioned by Steve Hobby, had won three straight before finishing fifth behind Kid Grindstone in the Fifth Season in his most recent start. The Kentucky-bred gelding has visited the Arlington winner’s circle twice during his career and was also a close second twice during the 2005 Arlington session. Carlos H. Marquez Jr. is listed to ride.

Completing the field for Saturday’s feature is Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds LLC’s Straight Line, Francisco Torres aboard; Auglyn Stable, Win IV LLC, & Cherrywood Racing II’s Awesomewithbroads, Shane Laviolette astride; and Get In The Picture Stable’s No Tolerance, Jesse Campbell slated for the tack. The last named is also entered in Sunday’s $100,000 Avers Wexler Illinois Owners Stakes.

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