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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/3/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
How will Arlington Park keep the buzz of momentum going on its second day of racing Saturday afternoon following the opening day of its 80th racing season on Friday?
By hosting “Derbypalooza” – the largest outdoor Kentucky Derby party outside the borders of the Bluegrass State.
The 133rd Run For The Roses will be contested Saturday, but Illinois racing fans will be able to watch and wager on the Kentucky Derby right here in Northwest Chicago, with 12 live races – four on grass and eight to be run over Arlington’s new state-of-the-art Polytrack racing surface.
Contributing to the Kentucky Derby Day theme locally, a free official Kentucky Derby glass will be offered to the first 5,000 paid admissions Saturday, courtesy of Valvoline Instant Oil Change, sponsor of opening weekend of the 2007 racing season at Arlington Park.
Live music, specifically “southern fried rock,” will be played by the band “Goin South” during the first Summer Bash and BBQ in the Park Area, where the food special will be a beer-marinated jumbo bratwurst from the grill. First race and first song Saturday will be at 1 p.m.
Other “Derbypalooza” family activities Saturday will include stilt walkers, jugglers, a magician, a mechanical bull, Euro bungee, and appearances by “Those Funny Little People.”
A year ago, less than 24 hours prior to the inaugural running of Arlington’s $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes, Wexler Racing Stables’ well regarded Kid Grindstone became a race day program scratch after developing a bruised foot the night prior to the event.
Since the first running of the Illinois Owners Stakes specifically honored Avers Wexler, it would be easy to envision the disappointment of Kid Grindstone’s octogenarian owner.
However, after being a leading Prairie State horseman for more than four decades, Wexler was already well-versed in the pitfalls of Thoroughbred racing.
“Mr. Wexler is an old pro at this,” said Kid Grindstone’s trainer Mike Campbell this week, days prior to Saturday’s second running of the Illinois Owners Stakes at Arlington. “Once he had explained it (last year’s late scratch) to his family, we all took a deep breath and decided to concentrate on the future and not dwell on the past.
“The good news was that because we caught the bruise in time, an abscess never developed and we didn’t lose a whole lot of training time with him,” Campbell said.
What followed last season were victories in three stakes – Arlington’s Dr. Fager in July, Canterbury’s Minneapolis in September, and Fair Grounds’ Tenacious Handicap in December.
“Also, now we get another chance at this stakes (Saturday’s second running of the Illinois Owners, which for this year’s renewal honors the late Russell L. Reineman),” said Campbell. “The horse is in very good form right now, and should be ready to give a good performance on Saturday. He’s coming off a very good second place finish in Oaklawn’s Fifth Season Stakes (a race Kid Grindstone won a year ago) and the horse that beat us this year at Oaklawn (Silent Pleasure) just won a Grade III $300,000 race (Texas Mile) at Lone Star the other day.”
Ken Meeker and Carson Springs Farm’s Fifteen Rounds scored a front-running half-length win in last year’s $41,125 Timeless Native Stakes on the first Saturday of Arlington’s 2006 racing season, and used that tally as a springboard to victory in Arlington’s Grade III Hanshin Stakes on Memorial Day weekend.
On Saturday, the 7-year-old Fit to Fight gelding will try to repeat in this year’s Timeless Native as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line.
Should Fifteen Rounds be able to pull off back-to-back wins in the Timeless Native, it would be the Christine Janks trainee’s 15th career victory.
Janks has hoped to achieve the 15-win milestone with Fifteen Rounds since the Florida-bred won the first four starts of racing career in the spring and summer of 2003.
Of added interest, Janks enters Arlington’s 2007 season one win shy of being tied for 10th among Arlington’s all-time leading trainers after saddling 458 winners at the local oval to date.
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