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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/5/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Veteran Arlington Park trainer Jimmy DiVito saddled Richard Glantz’ Pirate Saint to post a length and half tally in Friday’s featured $47,100 Shecky Greene Stakes on opening day, giving the conditioner his second winner for the afternoon and the lead in the local trainer standings through the initial day of Arlington’s 80th racing season.
“Maybe if I had 50 or 60 horses here I’d be able to keep up the pace,” said DiVito Saturday morning during training hours, “but I guess I’d better enjoy the lead while I can.”
Not surprisingly, DiVito provided positive vibrations concerning his reaction to Arlington’s new Polytrack surface, installed at an estimated $11 million cost in the months leading up to the current 94-day meeting which runs until Sept. 16.
“It was really good to me yesterday,” said DiVito of the new synthetic surface at Chicago’s Northwest oval. “It seems to be very forgiving and soft on the horses’ legs.”
In spite of Pirate Saint’s liberal $43.20 win payoff in the Shecky Greene, DiVito was not surprised at his victory. “The horse had three wins from five career starts,” said DiVito. “I thought the 20-1 odds were an overlay. Both horses had breezed very well over the Polytrack surface here. I expected both of them to perform well and they did.”
Peter Stamas and Crown’s Way Farm’s Do the Wave came from just off the pace to win Arlington’s initial race over Arlington’s newly installed state-of-the-art Polytrack racing surface by a length and a quarter, prompting several immediate reactions to the synthetic course from the horse’s winning connections.
From winning jockey Eddie Razo: “I rode this horse before, and I remembered that he didn’t like dirt hitting him in the face, so you didn’t want to let him drop back too far, but that doesn’t happen with this surface. Knowing that now, I really think that eventually it’s going to have an affect on the way I ride a lot of horses.”
From winning trainer Greg Geier: “This horse is getting older now (5-year-old) and he’s had some problems, so I think this new surface really helped him today (break his maiden for a $10,000 tag.) He’s bred for grass, so I figured we’d try him over this surface (reportedly accommodating to turf runners) and see what happened. It worked for us.”
From winning owner Ron DiCicilia: “Arlington Park has always led the way in innovations to Thoroughbred racing, and this Polytrack is no exception. There’s no telling now what heights we’re going to go to now over the next few years at Arlington.”
Irish-born conditioner John Good, who served as an assistant to trainer Bob Baffert for eight years before going out on his own a couple of seasons ago, saddled Donie Burke’s Eighteenthofmarch to win the lone turf race on Arlington’s opening day program Friday.
“Eighteenthofmarch was foaled on March 18, but it’s also the birthday of the owner (also Irish-born),” said Good Saturday morning before leaving on a brief trip to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. “We figured that was enough of a coincidence to make it the horse’s name.”
The sophomore son of Wild Event was fourth in his only other turf start at Keeneland last fall after taking an uncharacteristic early lead.
“He was all fired up in the paddock that day,” said Good, 28, a native of Kildare, of that disappointing front-running performance. “I was looking forward to seeing him settle this time and he did.”
Andrew Farm’s Duveen bested Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC’s Whatsthescript by a half-length in Churchill’s Grade III Crown Royal American Turf Stakes during Friday’s Kentucky Oaks Day at the Twin Spires oval.
The American Turf, for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth over the Louisville lawn, serves as a significant preview of Arlington’s Mid America Triple, a three-race turf series for sophomores contested over Arlington’s world-famous turf course.
Both Duveen and Whatsthescript are among 239 original nominations to the Mid-America Triple, as were nine of the 10 other contestants in the American Turf.
The Grade III Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve June 23, the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel’s July 21, and the Grade I Secretariat on Aug. 11, Arlington Million Day, make up the 2007 Mid-America Triple.
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