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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/24/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


“Bubba” Cascio is back at Arlington for a second time, arriving Wednesday with Keith McKinney’s Gold Storm – the Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint hero two years ago. The duo got to town just hours before a more local storm left the Arlington course sloppy Thursday morning.

Cascio, 74, has been successfully training horses most of his life, including Dash for Cash, a Quarter Horse who won five World Championships in the mid-‘70s. However, he still hauls his own and pulled into Arlington with Gold Storm for Saturday’s 10th anniversary edition of the $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint after working the horse at Louisiana Downs earlier this week.

“It’s a 14-hour trip,” said Cascio Thursday morning during training hours, “but it takes us longer than that because I unload him every three and a half or four hours to keep him happy. I know this horse, and I know what he likes. I never just throw him in the back and go.”

Whatever works for Cascio and Gold Storm certainly worked two years ago, when both trainer and horse made their first trips to Arlington and took down winning honors in the 2004 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint. However, this time, Cascio is a little concerned about the outside post position.

“I do wish we’d drawn down in a little bit better,” Cascio said. “He’s got some horses with a lot of speed inside of him. I hope he can stay close without giving up a lot of ground. In his last race down at Calder (Grade II Smile Sprint Handicap July 15) he got away bad on the outside and run off like a fat man, so we’ll just have to run the race and see how things turn out.

“After we won this race last time he set a new stakes record at a couple of places after that, but then he pulled a suspensory in the spring of 2005 (Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap on Giacomo’s Kentucky Derby Day) and didn’t run the rest of the year,” said Cascio. “We brought him back earlier this year to win a race at Evangeline ($75,000 Need For Speed Stakes June 3) and then came that race in Miami. I’m just going to throw that one out.”


Lee Battaglia and James DiVito’s Coach Jimi Lee, trained by Arlington-based conditioner Jimmy DiVito, has been stabled here at Arlington Park throughout the season, as he was last summer, and breezed three-eighths over the local sloppy strip Thursday morning in :36.80 in preparation for Saturday’s 10th running of the $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“He blew out fine,” said DiVito shortly after the move. “He can handle the slop fine, but I really don’t know that it moves him up. He’s doing very well right now, so I don’t know that the condition of the racetrack Saturday will make much difference.”

It is certainly true that Coach Jimi Lee is in top form. The 6-year-old gelding has won three in a row, most recently capturing the $74,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint by two and a quarter lengths Aug. 5. Previously, the son of Roar won the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap by four and three-quarters at that same Altoona oval July 1 and captured the $47,000 Prairie Express Stakes May 6 there.

Ironically, Coach Jimi Lee ran fifth in the 2004 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint behind Keith McKinney’s Gold Storm – but hasn’t run here since at his own summer home.

“It’s nice to get a chance to stay home this time,” noted DiVito, of Coach Jimi Lee’s long absence from local competition.

Despite Coach Jimi Lee’s extensive time on the road, DiVito has saddled 45 starters and visited the winner’s circle six times during the current Arlington meeting, with five seconds and 11 third-place efforts also included.


Veteran Arlington jockey Uriel Lopez remains under the radar more than he should once again this season, but may have raised his profile Wednesday with a longshot riding double.

Lopez won the second race of the day by a length and three-quarters aboard Larry Bingham and John Conforti’s Kemp for trainer Ron Goodridge. That 5-year-old gelding returned a $17.20 straight mutuel.

However, that price proved pale next to Lopez’s victory by a nose in the seventh race astride the Kris Turner-trained Bachelor of Arts, owned by Centerfire Racing LLC. That horse paid a $79.20 win price.

A $2 win parlay on the pair of Lopez mounts would have returned more than $650, but Lopez’s second score was also part of a season-high Pick 4 payoff of $17,931.70 based on a $1 wager.

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