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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/12/07)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Trainer Todd Pletcher, the Eclipse Award winning conditioner for the last three years who has sent a string of his stable at Arlington Park for the first time this summer, broke into the win column locally Friday by winning Friday’s second race with Sumaya U.S. Stable’s Gazzella.

The sophomore filly, a daughter of two-time Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, won Friday by six lengths under a confident rider by four-time Arlington jockey champion Rene Douglas.

Assistant trainer Mike Dilger, in charge of Pletcher’s Chicago-based runners, saddled Gazzella and reinforced the strength of Pletcher barn by sending out runner-up Tranquility, owned by Donald and Roberta Mary Zuckerman, to post a second-race exacta worth $67.60.

The Pletcher barn added a second winner in Friday’s fourth race when Edward Evans’ Flight West, also ridden by Douglas, tallied by two and three-quarters.

Dilger, incidentally, born in the midlands of Ireland, celebrated his 29th birthday Thursday prior to Friday’s training double. He has worked for Pletcher since arriving in the United States in December of 2005.

“We have 36 horses here right now, but should be adding to that number soon,” said Dilger during a winner’s circle interview after the second race.


Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington Park’s all-time leading rider and an athlete who visited Arlington’s winner’s circle for the first time 40 seasons ago, kept his unprecedented streak intact in Thursday’s ninth race by riding Roberta Rath’s Thatstheway to a late-closing three-quarter length tally.

Fires was born 60 years ago in Rivervale, Ark., celebrated his personal six-decade milestone two months ago, and is a longtime resident of nearby Palatine, Illinois. He boasts six Arlington riding titles – in 1966, 1969 (in a tie with Craig Perret), 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1984. He also has the distinction of being a meet’s leading rider in four different decades, including titles at Hawthorne, Hialeah, Calder, Keeneland, Churchill, Gulfstream and the old Miles Park in Louisville, Ky.

Interestingly, Fires also kept his seasonal win-streak alive exactly one year earlier with a May 10, 2006, victory aboard Scarlet Stable’s Chipolte for trainer Roger Brueggemann.

Among numerous career honors, in addition to his induction into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs in 2001, Fires was the recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1991.

Thatstheway, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Smart Strike trained by Jeff Lynn, returned a $26.40 win mutuel Friday.


Rising star jockey Israel Ocampo may be the first jockey in Arlington Park history to follow up his first local win with a second and third winner on that same program – and then score a second straight riding triple the following afternoon for a two-day six-pack.

Ocampo, who burst on the Chicago scene this spring with a riding title at Hawthorne, scored his fourth, fifth and six wins at Arlington Friday astride 2 Blondes Inc.’s Dreamsforever, trained by Tommy Tomillo in Friday’s opener, added a tally aboard Midnight Cry Stable’s Byenne in the eighth for conditioner Kelly Ackerman, and closed out the program with a win on William Stiritz’ House of Usher for trainer Terry Gestes.


Defending Arlington Park owner champion Frank Calabrese and defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano celebrated an owner-trainer double Friday to each stand atop their respective current season standings once again.

Former four-time Arlington Park jockey champion Rene Douglas, the only rider in Arlington Park history to win four straight local championships – garnered from 2001 to 2004 – posted a riding triple Friday to vault into tie for second in this season’s jockey standings behind last year’s defending champion Chris Emigh.

Calabrese and Catalano combined their talents to win Friday’s third race with Frank’s Time, E. T. Baird up, and returned to the winner’s circle in the seventh with Hatch, ridden by Douglas.

- END -



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