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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/13/07)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


What do you do when the brightest light at the end of the day is a plane coming at you?

That was the question facing Chicago Sun-Times Thoroughbred racing handicapper Scott McMannis as he drove to his Inverness home following Friday’s twilight racing program at Arlington Park.

“I called #911 from the phone in my car and told them I just saw a plane land on Northwest Highway,” said McMannis when relating the unique experience. “I had to repeat it a couple of times before they could confirm I was serious, but as soon as they realized I wasn’t a prankster, all the traffic lights on Northwest Highway started flashing their emergency signals to warn other drivers of the seriousness of the situation.”

Fortunately, due in a large part to that early warning system, there were no injuries from the private plane’s emergency landing, either to the pilot or the motorists on the road.

“I was driving home just the way I always do when I first noticed the plane banking to the left of me,” said McMannis of the developing situation. “I thought he was unusually low in the sky and I thought to myself that this guy is either going to crash or try to set down on the highway. As soon as I saw his wheels get almost level with my windshield I realized he was going to try to land, but there were some power lines crossing the road in front of me.

“He must have seen the power lines about the same time I did – because then he did a little ‘dipsy-doodle’ move - pulling up suddenly and passing over the roof of my car,” McMannis said. “Then, I glanced in my rearview mirror and watched him land on the road behind me,” McMannis said. “This time, the wing of his plane clipped some other power lines behind me, but they snapped immediately without seriously affecting his motion. There were, however, a lot of loud explosions and a lot of bright flashes like lightning from the power lines.

“That’s when I called #911,” McMannis said, “telling them, ‘I just saw a plane land on Northwest Highway.’ The guy on the other end said, ‘What did you say?’ So I repeated it, and he must have turned to the guy next to him and said, ‘I got a guy on the phone here who says he just saw a plane land on Northwest Highway.’

“It was about that time that all the traffic lights started flashing their emergency signals,” McMannis said. “Then they asked me if anyone was hurt, and I told them I didn’t know, so they asked me if I could find out. I did a U-turn in the road, drove back to the plane where a couple of people had assembled, and asked them if either of them was the pilot. One of the guys answered that he was, so I asked him if he was hurt. He said ‘No,’ so that’s what I told the men on the #911 phone that everyone was fine, and eventually continued my journey home.

“I used to skydive a number of years ago as a hobby,” concluded McMannis in an afterthought, “and it occurred to me later that after all those years of jumping out of airplanes it would have been ironic if I had gotten killed by a plane coming at me.”


Ron Armstrong’s Humor At Last, older full brother of 2005 Grade III Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Lassie winner Original Spin, breezed a bullet half-mile in :46 Saturday morning at Arlington Park in preparation for a return to the races after being away from competition since November of 2005.

“Jesse (jockey Campbell) didn’t realize he was going that fast,” said Humor At Last’s trainer Tony Mitchell shortly after the move, “but this horse has a nice, easy flow about him. I was glad to see he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for racing. Sometimes they do after a long layoff.

“This horse has matured into an extremely powerful individual,” Mitchell said of Humor At Last, who won Fairmount’s $40,000 Tex’s Zing Stakes in August of 2005. “I’m very happy to have him back. He’s a horse with a personality you have to see to believe. A lot of the people who come to my barn have nicknamed him ‘Homey.’ When you call him ‘Homey’ – he starts whinnying at you.”

Incidentally, Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.’s Divine Comic, a 3-year-old full brother to Humor At Last and the Reineman Stable’s Original Spin, is currently in residence at Lantern Hill Farm in Midway, Kentucky, and will probably go back into training in about a month.

Speaking of full siblings trained by the Brighton-born Mitchell, the English conditioner now also has a 2-year-old colt in his barn aptly named “Baroque” that is a full brother to Richard Otto Stables Inc.’s Julie’s Prize. That mare died suddenly and unexpectedly following a race at Tampa Bay Downs a little more than a year ago.

‘Baroque’ is a word referring to a period as well as a style of art and music that employed exaggerated motion to produce tension.

Julie’s Prize is remembered locally for finishing second by a head in Arlington’s $75,000 Estrapade Handicap in 2004 and fourth in the Grade III Arlington Matron later that season.

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