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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/23/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Veteran Midwestern trainer Bob Holthus enjoyed a successful Sunday at Arlington Park: saddling Frank Fletcher Racing Operations Inc.’s Officer Rocket to win the $41,750 Spectacular Bid Stakes by 13 lengths, and then finishing easily second best in the $42,125 Top Flight Stakes with Iron Horse Racing LLC’s Lenaro.

However, Monday morning was also a good one for Holthus, when he was able to report that both of his promising 2-year-olds came out of their races well – ready for their upcoming quests on Sept. 10 during Arlington’s final weekend of racing.

On that Sunday, the Grade III Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Lassie for juvenile fillies, and the Grade III Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Futurity for 2-year-olds will both be run for the 72nd time.

Although Arlington will also be open the next two afternoons before closing the gates on its 2006 season after the Tuesday, Sept. 12 racing program, the $150,000 Lassie and the $200,000 Futurity will be the final stakes of the current session.

“Both horses made it back home OK,” said Holthus, speaking over the phone from Kentucky during training hours Monday morning, “and both came out of their races well and are doing fine today. I think we’ll try to bring ‘em back for the next ones.”

Officer Rocket will attempt to join such horses as eventual 1992 juvenile Eclipse Award winner Gilded Time, and eventual 1991 sophomore Eclipse Award winner Hansel on the list of the local Futurity winners, while Lenaro will attempt to be listed with precocious fillies like eventual 1992 juvenile filly champion Eliza and last season’s Illinois Horse of the Year Original Spin as heroines of the Lassie.

“Officer Rocket rated kindly on Sunday, which was something new for him,” said Holthus, aware that his colt will have to go an additional furlong in the one-mile Futurity, “and I think Lenaro will appreciate the added distance in the (one-mile) Lassie.”


Darley Stable’s Bernardini, winner of this year’s Grade I Preakness Stakes, and WinStar Farm LLC’s Bluegrass Cat, runner-up in the Grade I Kentucky Derby and Grade I Belmont Stakes during the other legs of the 2006 Triple Crown, will match off against each other and five others in Saturday’s Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

America’s “Midsummer Derby” from upstate New York will be simulcast live, along with the entire Saratoga Saturday program, to Arlington Park as one of the highlights of this weekend’s Arlington schedule, which also includes the 10th anniversary edition of the $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint at the local oval.

Arlington’s weekend festivities get underway Friday afternoon, when “The Only Sons” will play rock ‘n’ roll favorites from the ‘50s through the present at Arlington’s “Miller Lite Party In The Park,” with the first race and first song beginning at 3 p.m.

On Saturday at Arlington, when first post at Arlington reverts to its regular time, “The Chuckleheads” will perform favored ‘60s and ‘70s rock songs at the Bud Light Summer Bash and BBQ with first race and first song beginning at 1 p.m.

The featured Arlington BC Sprint will offer a well-matched field of nine, including the first three finishers from last year’s renewal: Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s 2005 hero Fifteen Rounds; Stony Oak Farm LLC’s runner-up Elusive Jazz; and third-place finisher Level Playingfield, owned by Fly Racing LLC.

In addition to those three, 2004 Arlington BC Sprint hero Gold Storm, owned by Keith McKinney and Jack Sweesy, returns for Saturday’s running.

With a victory in Saturday’s Travers, Bernardini could supplant Lael Stables’ injured Barbaro as the nation’s leading candidate for 3-year-old divisional honors, while Bluegrass Cat, coming off a win in Monmouth’s Grade I Haskell Invitational Handicap, appears the one to beat.

On Sunday, Arlington will once again celebrate “Pepsi Family Day,” presented by the Daily Herald, with this week’s theme being “Arlington Arnold Goes Back to School,” performed by “The Puppet Place.” Show times will be at 1, 2, and 3 p.m., and between shows, kids will have a chance to make horse hand puppets.


Veteran reinsman Francisco Torres celebrated his 37th birthday Sunday with a riding triple, moving to within six wins of leading rider Chris Emigh, who had one winner – albeit a lucrative one – aboard $42,125 Top Flight victress Sea the Joy, owned by Team Victory.

Torres’ triple came astride Gregory Powell and Patricia Snyder’s Virgin Run in Sunday’s second, Tyler Belnap’s Rapid Raj in the third and Patricia Owens’ Canyons Sister in the seventh.

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