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ARLINGTON PARK

Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/8/06)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

SOOTHSAY PREDICTED FOR PUCKER UP FAVORITISM SATURDAY

Two years ago California-based trainer James Cassidy brought Deron Pearson and Jack Sweesy’s British-bred Ticker Tape to Arlington Park to win the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes as the choice of the fans.

Last year, Cassidy brought 2005 Del Mar Oaks winner Singhalese, another British-bred filly owned by the Gould Family Trust and Paul Dixon, to Arlington to go off as the favorite in last year’s Pucker Up – only to finish second by a half-length to Richard Duchossois’ Royal Copenhagen in Chicago’s main event for sophomore fillies.

“I’m the favorite again?” asked Cassidy rhetorically when informed of Saturday’s Pucker Up morning line odds of 3-1 for his trainee Soothsay. This filly, owned by Bruno and Rachel DeBerdt and Deron Pearson, is an Irish-bred. “That (the favorite’s mantle) makes me feel great. I love this race. I finished second last year and won it the year before – both times as the choice – so I’m going to take that as a good sign.”

Like Singhalese, Soothsay comes to Arlington off a run in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks, but unlike Singhalese, she did not win that Southern California classic. The daughter of Mujadil out of a Rainbow Crest mare finished fourth under the wire but was subsequently placed third following her troubled trip.

“She was unlucky,” said Cassidy, speaking over the phone from New York’s Kennedy Airport Thursday morning. “She got bounced around like she was on a pinball machine. She was actually brought off the ground at one point – but she’s tough. We would have been no worse than second if she hadn’t had all that trouble.”

Cassidy, 61, born in New York City but a longtime resident of Monrovia, California, claims a large part of his success comes from his preference for European horses.

“They are more professional than any horses I’ve ever seen,” said Cassidy. “We have done well with more than 20 of them over the years and done super with more than a dozen.”

Why was Cassidy landing in New York instead of Chicago on Thursday?

“I’m saddling (Martin Kistler and Deron Pearson’s) Maxxi Arte (another Irish-bred 3-year-old filly) in Saturday’s (Grade I) Garden City (Breeders’ Cup) at Belmont,” said Cassidy. “You can’t be in two places at once. My wife will saddle Soothsay in the Pucker Up.”

THURSDAY THREESOME EFFECTS EMIGH’S EMERGENCE AS 2006 CHAMP

Veteran Illinois-based reinsman Chris Emigh accomplished a riding triple on Thursday’s program at Arlington to effectively seal up his first riding championship at Chicago’s premier Thoroughbred oval.

Emigh, 35, born in Portsmouth, Virginia, but a resident of Elburn, Illinois, has won numerous riding crowns at other Chicago tracks, and now the Arlington jockey championship of 2006 is all but assured with a 13-win advantage over runner-up Francisco Torres. There are five racing days remaining at Arlington from Friday through Tuesday of next week.

With Torres absent from Arlington competition Thursday, Emigh took advantage of the situation by winning the fourth race aboard Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.’s Halo At Last for trainer Brian Williamson; the seventh on Frank Calabrese’s My Calabrese for trainer Wayne Catalano; and the finale astride Bluestem Farm Inc.’s King’s Verse for conditioner Hugh Robertson.

Emigh, who became leading rider shortly after the Arlington season began May 5, enjoyed a huge lead during the first half of the meeting, but was out of action for a number of days following a midsummer injury and his lead was severely compromised.

During Emigh’s absence, veteran jockey Francisco Torres began a hot streak of his own to launch an exciting challenge for the summer season’s championship honors. Torres, 37, born in Mexico but raised in Chicago, has also never won an Arlington title.

Also on Thursday, Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time leading rider with six Arlington titles to his credit, celebrated a riding double by taking the opener aboard Earth’s Vain Shadow, owned by Martin Grotheer and trained by Darrell Lunsford; and then came back to take Thursday’s fifth astride Patricia Blass’s Commander’s Shoes, trained by William (Jenks) Fires, Earlie’s older brother.

On the same program, conditioner Tom Procter had a training double after saddling Elisabeth Alexander’s Bridge Game to win the sixth with Mark Guidry up, and returning to the winner’s circle with Tizmar, owned by Diane Logue with Jose Ferrer in the saddle.

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