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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/17/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Draw a line through Baghdaria’s most recent trip to the post and the past performances of Clinton and Susan Atkins’ 3-year-old filly would show her as one of the best of her generation.

“The obvious question is – what happened in that last race?” said her trainer Tom Amoss, when anticipating the query concerning his starter in Saturday’s featured Grade III Arlington Breeders’ Cup Oaks, Chicago’s main event for sophomore members of the distaff set.

“Was it the mud?” he said rhetorically, of Baghdaria’s eighth-place finish in the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks over a muddy surface at Belmont Park on July 22. “Perhaps, but anytime you ship like we did to New York, you are susceptible to a variety of things. It’s like a team playing on the road.

“It might have been the mud, but it also might have been that (last month’s) heat wave that arrived in New York at the same time we did,” Amoss said. “We just don’t know for sure, but we think she’s a better filly than that race showed. We are going to try again (in the Arlington Oaks) and hope for the best. She arrived in Chicago a couple of days ago, and she’s trained over the track, so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Baghdaria, a daughter of Royal Academy out of an Unbridled mare, was acquired privately by her present connections following a winter campaign in the Southwest under trainer Bret Calhoun. That was completed with a fourth-place effort in the $75,000 Honeybee Stakes – Oaklawn’s final prep for their Grade II Fantasy Stakes.

“She was a good filly for Bret, and she’s been a good filly for us,” Amoss said, who saddled her the first time to finish third in Pimlico’s Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes May 19 on the eve of the Preakness. After being beaten five and half-lengths for all of it in Baltimore, Baghdaria was sent to Prairie Meadows for the Grade III Iowa Oaks and captured that mile and a sixteenth event by a half after stalking the pace most of the way. What followed was her lone disappointing effort in New York, but in the Oaks, Baghdaria could easily make amends for that uncharacteristic outing.


Troy Hames III’s Meadow Skippin is cross-entered Saturday at Arlington Park. The Larry Rivelli trainee is named to the Grade III Arlington Breeders’ Cup Oaks – Chicago’s main event for 3-year-old fillies over the main track – but she’s also entered in Saturday’s $40,000 Hatoof, the final local prep for Arlington’s Grade III Pucker Up Stakes – Chicago’s top offering for that division over the grass course that will be run Sept. 9.

What’s going on here?

“We’re playing the weather,” said Rivelli Thursday morning during training hours. The 35-year-old-conditioner is keeping his options open – aware that the Windy City’s weather forecast is predicting possible thunderstorms Thursday evening that could last into Friday morning.

“She’s a lot better horse on an off-track,” Rivelli explained of Meadow Skippin, a sophomore daughter of Skip Away out of a Meadowlake mare. “If it rains, and the Hatoof comes off the grass and is run on the main track, there is a possibility of a very small field, and I could end up in the very good spot. But if the Oaks is run in the mud, there is the possibility that that field could change. Maybe Tom Amoss would scratch his filly. We’re just going to wait and see what happens before we decide which race we’re going to run in.

“My horse definitely likes two turns,” Rivelli said. “Coolwind (Oaks morning line favorite owned by Jim Tafel LLC) may not want to go that far, and we’ve already beaten Rolling Sea (a well regarded Oaks entrant owned by Millennium Farms).”

Rivelli trained Meadow Skippin as a 2-year-old, ran her in Gulfstream’s Grade II Davona Dale this winter, and then won two straight with her in Chicago this spring before losing her the second time for a $50,000 tag.

“We ran her for that tag, because at the time, that’s what we thought she was worth,” said Rivelli. “She needs a lot of special attention – a lot of vitamins and special training routine.

“My horse is doing a lot better since I claimed her back,” Rivelli concluded. “She’s very high maintenance – but when she’s right she’s very tough. It costs a good amount of money to cross-enter, but I’m glad I have an owner who allows me to do that. He (Himes) is from Iowa. He’s a good guy and a good family man, and he lets me make the calls about where to run her. He and his family will come in to watch her run Saturday, regardless of which race she runs in.”


Rene Douglas, Arlington’s jockey champion for four straight years but a late arrival for this year’s summer meeting, scored a riding triple Wednesday at the local oval.

The Panamanian rider took the fifth on Hondo Ranch Inc.’s Window Rock, the seventh aboard Frank Calabrese’s Otis Ridge, and the finale on Richard Duchossois’ National Anthem.

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