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Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/19/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Melnyk Racing Stables Inc.’s Gouldings Green rallied along the inside to miss the victorious Lord of the Game by a half-length in last year’s Grade III Hanshin Cup and appears positioned to make amends for that defeat in this year’s running May 27.

The son of 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic is coming off a win in Churchill’s Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day May 5, which was also opening day of Arlington’s 2006 season.

As the first graded stakes of Arlington’s 2006 season, this will be the 12th year that the race formerly known as the Equipoise Mile will serve as an exchange race between Arlington Park and the Japan Racing Association, and Gouldings Green would appear a worthy contender in the racing highlight of Arlington’s extended Memorial Day weekend program.

Prior to the Alysheba, the Tony Reinstedler trainee was third in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap April 8, missing the runner-up position behind Buzzards Bay in Arkansas after being forced to steady. Following last year’s Hanshin, Gouldings Green was fifth behind eventual Horse of the Year Saint Liam in Churchill’s Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap.

The Robert & Beverly Lewis Trust’s With Distinction, runner-up in the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap at last asking on Kentucky Derby Day May 6, is another Hanshin nominee that could add strength to the field. The son of Storm Cat, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Wayne Lukas, won Santa Anita’s Grade III El Canejo Handicap Jan. 2 and was second in the Grade II San Antonio Handicap at that Southern California oval Feb. 5.

Others on the list of 25 Hanshin nominees include Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s Fifteen Rounds and Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds LLC II’s Straight Line, two locally-based rivals who finished first and second respectively a half-length apart in Arlington’s $39,925 Timeless Native Stakes May 6.

In addition to Fifteen Rounds, trainer Christine Janks has also nominated J. Denker and S. D. Brille Ltd. Partnership’s High Expections as well as Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and the Estate of William Lydon’s Nkosi Reigns to Memorial Day weekend’s one-mile test.

High Expectations won the $88,900 Springfield Stakes on Prairie State Festival Day last June 25 at Arlington, and Nkosi Reigns finished third in last year’s Hanshin, beaten three-quarters by Lord of the Game and a neck by Gouldings Green.

Weights for the Hanshin Cup will be announced Sunday.


Hollywood Park’s Saturday feature is the Grade II Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes, but the grandson of the Hall of Fame conditioner will be saddling his first starter at Arlington Park in Arlington’s seventh race that same afternoon.

“Mr Playwright is a horse I claimed for $8,000 at Turf Paradise this winter when he’d been running short on the dirt,” said Arlington newcomer Manuel Uriza, whose late renowned grandfather was the last trainer to saddle a Triple Crown winner. “I switched him around and have been running him long on the turf, and he may turn out to be a nice one.

“He won first time for me as soon as I put him on the grass,” said Uriza of the sophomore gelding owned by Crazy Four Stable and Mark Dyer. “I ran him back in the Tempe Handicap out there and he finished third beaten only a neck although he had a wide trip, and I then I took him to Southern California where he ran fifth in Hollywood’s Snow Chief Stakes in his last start.

“I brought 18 horses here and I hope to be able to compete at Arlington,” said Uriza. “I would think this is a nice place to be with a 3-year-old who can run on the grass, so naturally I hope this one runs well Saturday.”

Not so coincidentally, Mr Playwright is by Vaudeville, who dead-heated for the win in Arlington’s Grade II American Derby in 1994 and then came back to the winner’s circle in the Grade I Secretariat in Arlington’s final leg of the Mid-America Triple that summer.

With a Hall of Famer as his grandfather on one side of his family tree, Uriza is equally well-bred for an equine career on the other.

“My other grandfather, Ruben Uriza, was the first native of Mexico to win an Olympic Gold medal,” said Uriza. “He won the gold in the individual Equestrian competition in 1948, as well as a silver as part of the Mexican team in the group competition.

“I had a friend tell me once that if they put me in a sale, I’d be a sale topper based on my pedigree,” Uriza said with a smile.

Uriza, 31, born in Mexico City, began walking “hots” for the man that saddled the 1978 Triple Crown winner as a 17-year-old during school summer breaks, well after Affirmed’s career was over. “I learned a lot from him,” said Uriza, speaking of Barrera, “but I wish I’d learned a lot more. There are so many things I’d ask him now.”

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