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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/27/06)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Saturday’s $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint gave Chicago racing fans a refreshing treat after a two-year absence – the chance to see an excellent “down home” horseman named “Bubba” Cascio ship into town with a fast horse held together with a plethora of patience.
“He sort of moves along like a duck,” said Cascio of Keith McKinney’s Gold Storm shortly after his horse won Saturday’s main event for sprinters at Arlington by a length and a half, “but you’ve got to like the way he tries so hard every time he runs.”
Of course, Gold Storm also gave his best two years ago to win the 2004 edition of the Sprint, and might have come to last summer’s running but pulled a suspensory in the spring of 2005 and was out of competition for more than a year.
However, Cascio persevered and brought him back this spring to win a minor stakes at Evangeline, but then had his running style compromised during an unsuccessful trip to Miami. Nevertheless, Cascio loaded him up in a van at Louisiana Downs earlier last week and made the drive to Chicago, stopping every three or four hours to let the horse out to walk around and graze.
“You can’t just throw this horse in the back and go,” said Cascio, “but doing it the way I do, nothing seems to bother him and he’s easy to handle.”
Cascio, 74, has known how to condition fast horses for some time. In the mid-‘70s, he trained Dash for Cash to win five World Championships as a Quarter Horse.
Lee Battaglia and James DiVito’s Coach Jimi Lee gave his characteristic best effort when finishing easily second best in Saturday’s $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and was doing well Sunday morning, according to Arlington-based trainer Jimmy DiVito.
“He’s fine today,” said DiVito during training hours Sunday morning. “I thought he ran a helluva race yesterday. Eddie (regular rider Perez) had to send him a little bit right out of the gate, and that didn’t help our chances, but you can’t draw your own post positions.”
Coach Jimi Lee has been the mark of consistency this year during his 6-year-old season. The altered son of Roar took down winning honors in the $50,000 Prairie Express in his first start May 6, journeyed back to that oval from his Arlington home base to win the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap by four and three-quarters July 1, and made a third successful round trip to capture the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint by two and a quarter lengths on Aug. 5.
Although second by a length and a half Saturday at Arlington, Coach Jimi Lee finished three lengths to the good of Fly Racing LLC’s Level Playingfield, who finished third in the Sprint for the second straight year.
Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s Fifteen Rounds, defending champion in the $150,000 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Sprint after his 2005 tally, was scratched off the program from Saturday’s 10th anniversary edition, but fortunately his late withdrawal was not caused by any serious problems.
“He’s fine,” said conditioner Christine Janks, Arlington’s leading stakes trainer this season on the morning after the 2006 Sprint. “He’s always had tendency toward tender feet, and he just wasn’t quite at the top of his game yesterday morning. I wasn’t going to run him if he wasn’t at his absolute best.”
However, Janks remains optimistic to add to her stakes record during this Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Matron, where she hopes to saddle Letto Thoroughbred Inc.’s Sunset Kisses and possibly Arbaway Farm, Carson Springs Farm and the Estate of William Lydon’s For Gillian.
“I’m very excited about Sunset Kisses’ chances to get a graded stakes win on her record,” said Janks. “Obviously, it would greatly enhance her value as a broodmare.”
Sunset Kisses won the $41,375 Mariah’s Storm Stakes Aug. 13 as the final local prep for Saturday’s Matron at the same nine-furlong distance, leading from flag fall to finish to tally by a length and a half in that test.
Irish-born jockey James Graham rode two winners Saturday, one day after his riding double on Friday’s twilight racing program.
On Saturday, Graham won the first race aboard Lorne MacDougall’s Terrificus for trainer Dale Bennett, and came back to take the third with Ronald Shenofsky’s Homewood, who is conditioned by his owner.
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