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Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/12/06)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Veteran Illinois-based jockey Chris Emigh rode four winners Monday at Arlington – including the featured $42,000 Paradise Creek Stakes – mathematically securing his first Arlington Park jockey championship in the process.

Emigh, 35, born in Portsmouth, Virginia, came to the Illinois circuit in 1996 at the suggestion of fellow Louisiana circuit rider Robby Albarado, who coincidentally won his first and only Arlington title that same summer.

After dominating the standings in the first half of the current season, Emigh sustained shoulder and neck injuries in a midsummer spill and was out of action for more than a week. After returning to competition, he suffered a brief slump at the same time jockey Francisco Torres went on a hot streak to launch a serious challenge for Arlington’s 2006 riding championship.

Emigh, who came into Arlington’s 2006 meeting off the latest of numerous titles at Hawthorne, came back with a hot streak of his own in the last days of the 2006 Arlington season.

“It (winning the Arlington title) was something I didn’t think I could do,” said Emigh, “but I rode a lot of great horses for trainers like Brian Williamson, Christine Janks, Frank Kirby and others. They stuck with me, so I was just along for the ride. Also, my agent Jay Fedor did a great job for me all summer long, as he always does.”

Torres, 37, born in Mexico but raised in Chicago, was also attempting to win his first Arlington title following a local absence of several seasons and made a valiant bid until the waning days of the summer session. Like Emigh, Torres exhibited similar positive vibrations when asked about his summer during a Labor Day Weekend “Breakfast at Arlington” program.

“If it wasn’t for the horsemen, trainers like Hugh Robertson and Christine Janks, I wouldn’t have been able to have the success I’ve had this year,” said Torres. “I started here 20 years ago and the horsemen have welcomed me back with open arms. I’ve stayed healthy – that’s always the main thing.

“I owe a lot of my success here this summer to my agent Bobby Kelly, who did a fantastic job for me,” Torres said. “I can’t thank Bobby enough. This is my hometown, and to be able to come back home to my family was exciting for me. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful summer, and I’m very grateful.”

Leading rider Emigh began Monday’s four-bagger by winning both halves of the Daily Double – taking the opening event with David Banks’ Nineteen Diamonds for trainer Frank Kirby and the second race with Frank Calabrese’s Chipotle for conditioner Wayne Catalano. Emigh came back to take the fifth with Fred and Tim Johnson’s Beabasque for trainer Steve Manley and completed his four-win afternoon astride Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds IV’s Tally Up in the Paradise Creek for trainer Brian Williamson.

Williamson came back to saddle Play Dixie, owned by Mrs. Vanier, Jenny Allen, Bill and Kathy Pritts and Eiji Shirai, in Monday’s finale (ridden by Arlington’s 2005 champion jockey Shaun Bridgmohan) to capture a training double on the late double, while Mrs. Vanier, the trainer’s mother-in-law, earned an owner double.

Calabrese, incidentally, easily won his seventh straight Arlington owner championship based on number of winners, and Catalano, defending trainer champion, won his fifth Arlington training title in the last seven seasons.


Dennis Perillo, a resident of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, won Arlington Park’s DRF/NTRA Handicapping Challenge Qualifier Sunday with a total of $426.50 – narrowly defeating Canadian runner-up Darren D’eath, of Windsor, Ontario, whose final tally was $382.

Perillo, who came to Arlington’s tournament with his son, won the first prize of $16,000, an automatic berth in the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas next January, as well as round-trip airfare from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to McCarron Airport in Las Vegas and hotel accommodations for the duration of tournament play.

D’eath, who came to Arlington’s contest with his father, won the $6,000 second prize as well as the same national qualification with the same accommodations.

Third-place finisher Joe Rich of Leetonia, Ohio, won $4,000 and the same national qualification with the same accommodations, and fourth-place finisher Wayne Kwan, another Canadian from Vancouver, British Columbia, won $2,000.

The fifth-place finisher, James Wissig, of Palatine, Illinois, immediately adjacent to Arlington Park, won $1,000, and the sixth-through-10th finishers won $200 each.

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