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Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/1/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


The $150,000 purse of Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Matron has brought Maryland’s master trainer Dickie Small to Chicago on an infrequent Midwestern sojourn with a filly who has only won four times in 23 lifetime starts.

However, Small’s filly – Take a Check – is aptly named, because the Fitzhugh LLC color bearer has “earned a check” in 21 of those career outings.

“I never thought of that (the irony of her name),” said Small Friday morning at Arlington while in the process of getting licensed in Illinois, “but it’s true. She seems to get a piece of the purse every time. She’s a lovely filly, but she seems to lose her focus a lot. We’ve played around with blinkers and things like that, but I really think it’s more of an immaturity kind of thing. But she does seem to be getting a little more mature as she gets a little older.”

In her most recent trip to the post July 16, Take a Check ran third behind Fleet Indian in the Grade II Delaware Handicap, and before that finished third to that same rival in Delaware’s $100,000 Obeah Handicap June 17.

“Fleet Indian has everybody’s number right now,” said Small. “She gets in front at the start and just gallops along. But my filly is doing real good lately. She went to the track this morning and seemed to like it fine.”

Take a Check also turned in a pair of bullet breezes (five-eighths in 1:01 4/5 Aug. 25 and a half in :49 Aug. 14) at Pimlico since taking down third money in the $1,000,000 Del Cap.


The race for Arlington’s 2006 leading rider honors took on a “match rival” theme between the two leaders Thursday, while a former four-time champion reminded them both that “the boss” is back in town.

Francisco Torres, currently the runner-up in the standings, rode three winners Thursday to gain one notch on leading rider Chris Emigh, who had a riding double. However, veteran Rene Douglas, the only jockey to win four straight titles in Arlington history, celebrated a riding triple of his own after arriving at Arlington after the close of Churchill Downs July 16.

Douglas won Thursday’s opener aboard Frank Calabrese’s Skating Sam, and Emigh drew first blood in the battle with Torres by winning the second race aboard Second Wind Farm’s Giant Heart, and Douglas came back in the third aboard Calabrese’s Sandestin.

Torres made his first mark by winning the fourth aboard Steven Cholity’s Spanning, and Emigh answered by winning the fifth astride Ib and Karen Nielsen’s Highness. Torres came right back to take the sixth on John and Iveta Kerber’s Grandma’s Girl.

In the seventh, Douglas scored with Miller Racing Stable Ltd.’s Suaviter. Two-time former riding champion Mark Guidry won the eighth with Henry Rokicki’s Highest Grade, and in the finale Torres completed his “hat trick” with Kenneth Hoffman’s Running Clear.

Going into Friday’s 85th day of the 95-day meeting, Emigh has 95 wins from 490 mounts while Torres has tallied with 89 trips to the winner’s circle from 477 mounts. Third-place rider Eusebio Razo Jr. has 53 wins from 314 mounts, and the late-arriving Douglas has 31 wins from 116 mounts to be eighth in the standings.

Incidentally, the tandem of defending owner champion Calabrese and defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano, with their two Thursday winners ridden by Douglas, have already successfully defended their titles from the 2005 season.


Brazilian-bred Moon Berry and British-bred Moon Dolly are aligned against five other mares in Sunday’s featured mile and a half marathon over Arlington’s grass.

Sunday’s $41,750 Claire Marine Stakes is named for the 1989 Beverly D. winner, conditioned by the late Hall of Fame trainer Charles Whittingham – not Debussy’s piano piece Claire de Lune (moonlight in French) – despite the presence of the dueling moons.

Moon Berry, owned by Sarah Lyn Stable LLC, is the latest Southern Hemisphere campaigner imported by trainer Ken McPeek to run at Arlington this summer, while Moon Dolly, owned by Marc Dodson, is trained by David Duggan, formerly Darley’s local trainer.

Moon Berry finished second by a half in Brazil’s Group I Gran Premio Sulamericana in her last start before coming to North America last year, and Moon Dolly comes to Arlington from Saratoga where she finished seventh in the $74,000 Waya Stakes at 12 furlongs Aug. 11.

Completing the Claire Marine field is Michael Cavey’s Casuarina, Charles Sigrist’s Samantha B., Keith Myers’ Grand Illusion, Scott Ricker and Richard Kaster’s Cheyenne Spirit, and the Estate of William Lydon and Carson Springs Farm’s Ms. Lydonia.

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