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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/1/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Veteran Arlington-based jockeys Eddie Razo and Randy Meier, both perennial favorites among guests of the Northwest Chicago oval, will enter Friday’s opening day Arlington program on the cusp of major milestones in their respective personal careers.
Razo, 41, a native of Mexico City, is currently seventh among Arlington’s all-time leading riders with 713 trips to the local winner’s circle, and is seven wins short of the 2,500-win milestone in lifetime victories.
Meier, 52, born in West Point, Nebraska, and ninth among Arlington’s all-time leading jockeys with 626 tallies locally but with an extensive career before settling in Illinois, is 19 wins shy of 4,000 career wins.
Razo is coming back to Arlington off of an extremely successful winter in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he finished fifth in the final standings at Oaklawn Park during his initial foray to the Southwest. He rode 35 winners with purse earnings of $824,962.
Meier, who wintered once again on Chicago’s Southside, finished 12th in Hawthorne’s standings with 14 wins and purse earnings of $306,820.
Jockey Jesse Campbell, born and raised in Lake Zurich as the son of Arlington trainer Mike Campbell, will be remembered by many as a teenage apprentice jockey who received his high school diploma in special winner’s circle ceremonies at Arlington, but that was 12 years ago and the young man, who will turn 30 this fall, has developed into a one of the premier riders in the nation in the intervening years.
Riding full-time in New Orleans this past winter, Campbell finished seventh in the Fair Grounds standings with 44 winners, but eight of those tallies came in major stakes races at the Louisiana oval.
“It was fun – a nice change of pace for me,” said Campbell Tuesday morning during Arlington training hours. “I had a lot of good opportunities to ride for a lot of nice people in New Orleans, and without question, it has to help me to come into this meeting with a lot of momentum.
“However, I wasn’t really surprised I did as well as I did down there,” Campbell said. “I’ve always said Arlington was one of the deepest riding colonies in the nation, and I think a lot of us gave testament to the talent here during the past winter. I’m not the only one coming off a good winter. Ramsey (Zimmerman) also had a good meeting at Fair Grounds, and look at what Razo did down at Oaklawn.
“At a lot of places, you get below the top two or three in the standings and the colony really isn’t that strong,” said Campbell, “but here at Arlington you can go 12 deep and still be looking at very good riders.”
Coming off a winter on a traditional dirt surface at Fair Grounds, Campbell was asked how he felt about the new Polytrack surface at Arlington after working horses locally.
“I just love it,” said Campbell. “I think that a lot of new people will be coming here just for the chance to race over the surface. Horses seem to warm up faster on it, although there may be a little bit of a learning process involved for all of us. However, I can tell you already that I feel a lot more confident – and a lot safer – riding over it. There’s always a few pros and cons with anything new, but I think a lot of good things are going to happen at Arlington this summer now that this surface is in place.”
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