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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/7/06)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Veteran Arlington Park reinsman Chris Emigh, runner-up in the 2005 Arlington standings but most recently the leading rider at Hawthorne this year, posted the first riding triple of the 2006 Arlington meeting Saturday and vaulted to the top of the local standings with four wins at the young session after two racing days.
With recent former Arlington champions like Shaun Bridgmohan, Rene Douglas and Mark Guidry electing to stay in Kentucky for the Churchill meeting, does Emigh see himself with a leg up on his first Arlington Park championship this summer?
“Right now, I’m not thinking about being leading rider,” said Emigh. “It’s a long five-month meeting, and a lot of things can happen, so right now we’re just keeping our trainers happy and keeping our business building. So many things could change during a long meeting like this, but it always helps to get off to a fast start. Sometimes, if you start off slowly, things stay slow, so I’m glad I’ve gotten lucky on some nice horses so far. I’ll start thinking about winning leading rider honors if I’m still in front during the last month of the meeting.”
Emigh’s Saturday triple began in the opener aboard Louis Clarizio III’s I’m Charismatic for trainer Tommy Tomillo, continued in the seventh with Wexler Racing Stables Inc.’s Four Boy Sham for conditioner Mike Campbell, and concluded with Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s Fifteen Rounds in the featured $40,000 Timeless Native Stakes.
On opening day Friday, Emigh won the fifth race of the twilight racing day program on Everest Stables Inc.’s Political Hostage for trainer Nick Canani. Jay Fedor has handled the riding engagements of Emigh since his arrival on the Illinois circuit.
Incidently, jockey James Graham, third in the Arlington standings last year with his agent Britt McGehee again handling his business; and Eddie Razo Jr., runner-up in the Arlington standings two years ago with engagements once again being handled by Lindy McDaniel; are also focusing on maintaining their clients rather than championship honors at this early juncture.
“Our objective is just to win more races than we did last year,” said McGehee of Graham’s upcoming summer. “We had a good winter. We were second in the standings at the (Louisiana Downs/Fair Grounds) meet, won 20 races at Oaklawn and six races at Keeneland.”
“We just want to do a good job for the people we ride for,” said McDaniel of Razo’s goals for the Arlington summer. “We want to win as many races as we can for the people who have always supported us.”
Kudos are already in order for McDaniel, 47, who in December married the former Laura Farrugia, previously an assistant trainer for Steve Asmussen.
After saddling a training double Saturday with Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s Fifteen Rounds in the $40,000 Timeless Native Stakes, and then coming right back with Arbaway Farm’s Stop a Train in the finale, Christine Janks, who also won the first race of the season Friday with Martin Scaminaci & Ted Kostecki’s One Perfect Day, is currently leading trainer at Arlington Park in 2006 after two racing days.
“That won’t last, I don’t have the numbers to contend for the title, but I like to brag about it while I can,” Janks said Sunday morning. “Unfortunately, our 3-year-old crop is also a little lighter than it was last year, but our 2-year-old crop is looking like a bunch of good ones.
“Yesterday’s win with Fifteen Rounds was the 14th of his career,” noted Janks, “and with his name, 15 is the magic number of wins for him we hope we can get. Should he be able to achieve that number, we’ll have a little celebration planned.”
Veteran trainer Tommy Tomillo, who has never won an Arlington title but has multiple trainer titles at Hawthorne, also had a training double Saturday, scoring with Louis Clarizio III’s I’m Charismatic in the first and John Trippi’s Regent’s Hope in the fifth.
“We were close with a couple of others,” said Tomillo. “We missed by a nose in one race on opening day and finished third in another. The big horse (Hanshin and Cornhusker winner Lord Of The Game) is back in training, so we’ll see how things go.
“I have good help,” said Tomillo, who continues to recover from major surgery a month ago but has been at the track during the first two days of the meeting. “I feel great, but the horses wouldn’t be all be doing as well as they are without my assistant Lalo Rodriguez taking care of things. With him in charge, it’s just like me being there.”
Conditioner Kerry Zavash, who bounced back from a disappointing season at Gulfstream, also saddled two winners Saturday, even though he only has seven horses in his barn and has run four of them the first two days. Zavash took Saturday’s third with Terry Bruner’s Serekali and came back in the sixth with Peacock Stable’s Systamatic Saint.
“Things are looking a lot better for me after yesterday,” Zavash quipped during training hours Sunday. “This has always been a game of mountains and valleys, but the valleys seem to keep getting deeper all the time, and there aren’t really any mountains anymore – just little bumps. For me lately, the thrill of victory has been more like the thrill of not getting beat.”
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