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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/8/06)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Dixiana Stables Inc.’s High Blues, who ran competitively with top 3-year-olds such as Jazil, Sunriver and Corinthian last winter at Gulfstream, breezed a half-mile in :51 at Arlington Park Saturday morning in preparation for next Saturday’s $150,000 Round Table Breeders’ Cup Stakes for sophomores at a mile and an eighth on the main course.
“It was just a nice easy work,” said trainer David Paulus shortly after Saturday’s move. “He’s coming off a win here, so he didn’t need much, but it was very good for him to get out there this morning, and he scoped clean, so all we have to do now is keep our fingers crossed for the next week.”
Following High Blues’ win in his last start June 9 locally, Paulus had considered sending the son of 2000 Blue Grass winner High Yield to Prairie Meadows for the Iowa Derby June 30, but reconsidered in favor of next weekend’s Arlington feature.
“There were a couple of horses with a lot of speed that were going out there,” said Paulus, “and I was concerned that they could get away from him going a mile and a sixteenth. This race is at a mile and an eighth which is a better distance for him, and he’s Breeders’ Cup eligible so that means an extra $50,000 in the purse that we could go after. Also, we already have the call back for (Arlington leading rider) Chris Emigh to ride the horse in the Round Table, but we would have had to get a different rider in Iowa because that race was run while Chris was hurt.
“Chris knows this horse very well, and that’s important,” said Paulus. “He’s a handful when he gets on the racetrack, but he also likes to hang and wait on horses when he gets the lead, and Chris knows that. The key is just to make one big move late with him and leave the rest up to him; but he does make you hold your breath.”
Hall of Fame jockeys like Steve Brooks in ‘40s, and Bill Hartack in the ‘50s couldn’t do it. Neither could fellow Hall of Famers like Walter Blum in the ‘60s, Earlie Fires in the ‘70s or Pat Day in the ‘80s.
All of them dominated Chicago’s summer circuit at Arlington Park in their prime, but none of them was ever leading rider at Arlington for four straight years.
However, Rene Douglas broke that barrier beginning in the summer of 2001 and ending in the summer of 2004, capturing four straight Arlington jockey championships.
Now Douglas, 39, is coming back -- returning his tack to Chicago after a winter in Florida and a spring in Kentucky -- and although the Panamanian enjoyed success on both those circuits, his life over the past year has been marked with back-to-back personal losses.
Last August Douglas lost his brother Derry, who died in California, and in January his father died in Panama after a battle with cancer.
“I went back home to Panama and got to be with him for a couple of months before he died,” said Douglas concerning his father, shortly after the younger Douglas returned to riding at Gulfstream. “I’m very appreciative now of the time we had together.
“With my brother it was different,” said Douglas. “He was only 45, and also had a riding career, but he was never the same after an accident he had five years ago. Do you remember the good filly named Adoration? He was galloping her in California one morning and she flipped over him and broke his back.
“He never recovered from that,” Douglas said. “He had to take a lot of pain killers the rest of his life, and last summer he just choked to death in his sleep one night.”
Douglas comes back to Arlington from a successful spring at Churchill, where he had 30 winners from 176 mounts and was tied for sixth in the standings through Friday’s program.
Francisco Torres, who had a riding double Friday, also registered with two winners per day on Monday and Tuesday’s racing programs at Arlington. The track was “dark” Thursday.
Through Friday’s program, Torres was easily second best in Arlington’s 2006 standings with 49 winners at the meeting, 11 less than leading rider Chris Emigh but with 22 more than third-place reinsman Eusebio Razo Jr.
Budding country and western singer Rodney Atkins will sign free autographed photos on Friday, July 14 from 5-7 p.m. in the Paddock.
The singer is currently working on his second album for Curb Records.
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