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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/12/06)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
It is somewhat ironic that the mare For Gillian will be a starter in Sunday’s featured event on Arlington Park’s Mother’s Day racing program, because the Florida-bred 5-year-old is named for a productive cheetah named Gillian.
In her time, the original Gillian, now deceased, propagated enough healthy litters in her native South Africa to help save her species from extinction.
The horse, however, owned by Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and the Estate of William Lydon, still has her broodmare career in front of her because she remains productive as a racehorse. She is entered in Sunday’s main event along with stablemate Sunset Kisses, owned by Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and Vince and Nancy Letto. Both mares are trained by veteran conditioner Christine Janks, who tied for second in the Arlington Park trainer standings last season.
“As of right now, I’m planning on running both of them,” said Janks Friday morning during training hours. “For Gillian is the better horse, and worked this morning (breezing a half in :54.80 over the muddy strip) and handled the track well.
“Sunset Kisses, on the other hand, loves the ‘off’ going,” Janks said. “She really moves up when the track is off, so we’ll see what happens with the weather over the weekend before we make any final decisions (about running both mares).”
For Gillian, who won twice at Arlington last summer, and also in her final start of the year at Hawthorne, was a competitive fourth in her seasonal bow April 1 at that oval, but a non-threatening fifth in the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap April 22.
Sunset Kisses was sixth in the Sixty Sails after winning her previous Hawthorne effort by six lengths.
Asked about the recently proposed Arlington match race between her trainee Fifteen Rounds, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm, and the Jimmy DiVito-conditioned Coach Jimi Lee, also a 6-year-old gelding owned by that trainer in partnership with Lee Battaglia, Janks said: “That (proposal) is very speculative at this point. Logistically, those things are always much more complicated to put together, but Barry (Janks’ husband and business partner) is all for things that generate interest in racing.”
Trainer Jimmy DiVito, a longtime Arlington-based conditioner, runs Emerald Green Acres and Tracy Brienen’s Lizzy’s Township in Saturday’s featured $40,000 Ribbon Handicap after his filly disappointed in two Florida starts this winter.
“She didn’t act as aggressive in Florida this winter as she has since she got back here,” said DiVito Friday of Lizzy’s Township, winner of the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies last Aug. 14. “Her demeanor around the barn was quieter down there, but she’s worked well lately (since returning to Illinois), appears to have a little more muscle, and every indication tells me she’s ready to run a good race.
“I’m hoping for a sunny day and a fast track,” said DiVito. “She’s never run in the mud so I don’t know how she’d handle it, but I do know that her sire (Delaware Township) has an ‘A’ rating (as a sire of mudders).”
Commenting on the recently proposed Arlington match race between Lee Battaglia and DiVito’s Coach Jimi Lee with the Christine Janks-trained Fifteen Rounds, owned by Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm, DiVito said: “It’s an interesting idea, but a lot of things would have to go right for it to come about. We’ll just have to see. What will be, will be.”
Pin Oak Stables’s Whimsy, third beaten a half-length for all of it in Arlington’s 2005 Ribbon Handicap, will run in Sunday’s featured seventh race after finishing second in her seasonal bow at Oaklawn April 14.
“I thought she ran a great race at Oaklawn,” said conditioner Mike Stidham Friday during training hours, speaking of the Arkansas outing when she broke slowly and was in tight quarters.
“She needed a little break after a hard 3-year-old campaign last year, and I’m happy to get this mile race for her Sunday. She’s ready to run.”
After finishing third in last season’s Ribbon, Whimsy won both the Panthers Stakes and Grade III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows June 10 and July 1 respectively, was fifth in the Arlington Oaks Aug. 20, and then third in the Prairie Meadows Oaks Sept. 17.
Arlington’s leading jockey Chris Emigh accomplished his third riding triple of the five-day-old 2006 season Thursday, and now has 11 wins at the meeting, five more than Jesse Campbell, the current runner-up in the standings.
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