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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/6/06)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Who’s the local horse with a legitimate chance against the world’s best grass horses in Saturday’s 24th running of the Grade I Arlington Million?
That would be James Messineo’s Major Rhythm, who was ignored five weeks ago in Arlington’s Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders’ Cup Turf and stung like a serpent with a $73.40 win price. The same Major Rhythm who has won 33 percent of his starts at Chicago’s Northwest oval that include distances from a mile to a mile and a half, and won over Arlington Park courses rated from “firm” to “good” to “yielding.”
Oh, by the way, Major Rhythm, trained by Ed Beam, a former Arlington Park outrider, would be ridden in the Arlington Million by Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time leading reinsman and the man who has been Arlington’s jockey champion six different seasons.
“He’s always loved the turf course here at Arlington,” said Beam of Major Rhythm, who ran fourth beaten three lengths for all of it in Arlington’s 2002 Grade I Secretariat Stakes, and third beaten six in last summer’s Grade III Arlington Handicap on Million Preview Day.
In fact, Major Rhythm loves Arlington so much that he was entered in last Saturday’s $150,000 Sea o’ Erin Breeders Cup Mile (eight furlongs) even though he was coming off a win at 12 furlongs in his previous start here.
“There was just too much speed in there for him,” Beam said of Major Rhythm’s Sea o’ Erin scratch off the program. “Tom Proctor’s horse (Sea o’ Erin victor Therecomesatiger, owned by Charles Patton) and that Canadian horse (Sea o’ Erin runner-up Le Cinquième Essai, owned by William Scott) are both real good horses going a mile, and that’s not my horse’s best distance.
“So now we’re thinking about the Million,” said Beam. “We’re considering it, depending on how the race shapes up, and what happens with the weather the rest of this week.
“Everyone says that English Channel (probable Arlington Million favorite if he runs) is staying in Saratoga (for Saturday’s Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational),” Beam said, “but I’m not sure I believe that. Why would he want to run there for half the money if he can run here in Chicago in a million-dollar race? If he (English Channel) does stay there, we’d probably run here, but if English Channel comes here, we’ll probably try to go to Saratoga if we can make arrangements to get there in time. We have been invited there.”
Incidentally, although no Stars and Stripes winner has ever come back to win the Arlington Million in the same year, Leslie Combs II’s Rossi Gold, back-to-back Stars and Stripes winner in 1981-82, came back to run in both those Millions, finishing eighth the first year and 10th the second.
Also, 2001 Stars and Stripes winner Falcon Flight, owned by Gary Tanaka, came back to run fifth in 2002’s five-horse photo Million, beaten two necks and two noses for all of it.
The best players from Arlington Park’s employee softball league will be matched up in an all-star game Monday at 4 p.m. and in a second game beginning at 6 p.m., the top softball players from the Arlington Heights Police Department will face off against Arlington Park jockeys and staff, with both games played for charity at Arlington’s Cigar Ave. field near Stable Gate 9.
Proceeds from the two charity softball games will be donated to Arlington Heights Police Officer Tim Sheehan, who was critically injured in the line of duty Feb. 15 in a head-on collision.
The ceremonial first pitch for the event which kicks off Arlington’s International Festival of Racing Week will be thrown out by Officer Sheehan and caught by Mayor Arlene Mulder.
Among the entertainment highlights at Monday’s softball event will be performances by Arlington Park bugler Bonny Brown and the Arlington Heights Police Department Bagpipers.
Raffle prizes will include shirts, hats, sports tickets, restaurant gift certificates, a television, a Weber Grill and an iPod.
Arlington Park’s defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano, who saddled 10 winners from 25 starters in July for a 40 percent win ratio, was presented with Trainer of the Month honors for July in ceremonies held Friday.
Owner of the Month for July was John Orecchio, whose silks visited the winner’s circle five times from nine starters in July, while July’s Jockey of the Month Award was presented to Francisco Torres, who rode 25 winners from 122 mounts last month and is currently runner-up in this season’s standings.
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