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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/10/07)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Stop! Halt! Alto! Pare! Arrêt! How many ways are there to remind the jockeys in Friday’s first race that that the contest will end a sixteenth of a mile before Arlington Park’s traditional finish line?

What will suffice at Arlington Friday is an aluminum “I” beam with a red disc on it that will click into place as a temporary “stop” sign for the riders. Also, the normally black-and-white striping of what is usually the sixteenth pole will be temporarily enclosed by white siding with the word “Finish” printed on three sides. That’s the way Arlington will introduce its alternate finish line in Friday’s opening event run at a mile and a sixteenth over Polytrack.

“This race will finish at the alternate finish line located at the 1/16th pole,” is the wording in the program conditions for Friday’s first race heading, but its possible jockeys and Arlington guests might take more than one race at that distance to get to used to the new parameters.

Alternate finish lines for mile and a sixteenth races are hardly unprecedented. Keeneland, Fair Grounds and Oaklawn have long employed two finish lines. Laurel had alternate finish lines some years ago, stopped using them for a number of years, and then re-introduced them when they rebuilt their racing surface in 2005.

The purpose of an earlier finish line for mile and a sixteenth races is to allow horses and riders more of a straight run to establish position before going into the first turn.

Previously, when mile and a sixteenth races were run over Arlington’s mile and an eighth course, they began a sixteenth of a mile past the traditional finish line, leaving the outside post positions at a distinct disadvantage as they entered the turn before being able to establish position.

Friday’s first race – with its first post time of 3 p.m. – is the only mile and a sixteenth race scheduled for the afternoon, and because of that, it will be the only time the alternate finish line will be in effect during the 10-race program.


The reintroduction of Pick 6 Wagering at Arlington Park – with a guaranteed $50,000 pool to serve as an enticement – will be renewed once again this Saturday during the second Saturday racing program of the young 2007 racing season at the local oval.

Traditionally, Pick 6 pools throughout the nation tend to attract vastly increased interest as the carryover pools get larger, and the $50,000 that is guaranteed for Saturday’s Pick 6 should be expected to attract increased interest in the wager.


Jockey Cecilio Penalba, riding Tom Bolek and Valerie Miller’s Royal Knowledge, came from far back in Sunday’s seventh race but got up at the wire for a neck victory to reward his backers with a $37.20 win mutuel and give trainer Miller her first Arlington win of the season.

A native of Sona, Panama, Penalba, who will celebrate his 31st birthday on Memorial Day, is riding for the first time at Arlington but is not likely to be so easily dismissed again.

Penalba is a graduate of Panama’s highly regarded jockey school that also boasts Hall of Fame reinsmen and former Arlington champions Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Jorge Velasquez among its alumni, as well as former four-time Arlington leading rider Rene Douglas. Penalba began his own career in Panama, rode briefly in Jamaica, and moved to Miami’s Calder Race Course to begin his American career in the summer of 2002.

Penalba’s first stakes win in the United States came in 2002’s Desert Vixen division of the Florida Stallion Stakes aboard French Village, and in 2005 he rode Blazing Rate to upset In Summation’s bid for a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes in the In Reality division.

The Panamanian also gave Jamaica its first win in Puerto Rico’s Caribbean Championship when he rode Miracle Man to victory last season.

After coming north to Chicagoland this spring, Penalba scored with his fifth mount in Illinois by riding Tuffted to a $72.80 win payoff in Hawthorne’s $100,000 Peach of It Stakes for trainer Marco Salazar.

Penalba’s engagements are being handled by Oscar Sanchez, who also handles the book of Rafael Mojica, winner of Sunday’s fourth race astride Greg Derybowski and Nick Polydoros’ Li’lbito’fudge for a $34.20 payoff while giving trainer Dee Poulos her first win of the meeting.

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