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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/19/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
As the horse identifier at Arlington Park for the last 28 years, Mary Erickson has checked the tattoo numbers of every Arlington Million contestant except for those that ran in the Arlington Million run at Woodbine in 1988.
“Of course, I remember John Henry very well,” said Erickson this week from her small office in the paddock when speaking of the only horse to have won the Arlington Million twice. “I’ve never been looked down on by a horse with such a long nose – before or since.”
Nor will she be in the future, it seems certain, because this affable 63-year-old lady born in Evansville, Indiana, retires on Sunday.
Will she miss the horses after a total of 37 seasons working at the Northwest Chicago oval, or is she looking forward to retirement?
“Both,” answered Erickson. “I’m not going to walk away ‘cold turkey.’ I’ll be coming back to visit, but I am looking forward to devoting more time to some of my other hobbies.
“I majored in voice in college,” Erickson said, “and now I’ll be able to sing in a church choir again. I also used to play guitar. I’m an ‘old folkie.’ I began singing and playing folk music in the ‘60s during the time of groups like Ian & Sylvia.”
Erickson is also a “Sherlockian”: a devotee of the works of Sherlock Holmes as written by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – or were they?
A popular pastime among fans of Sherlock Holmes, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, is to act as if Holmes and Watson were real people, and Doyle was merely their literary agent.
Given that premise, Sherlockians attempt to explain facts about them, either from clues in the stories or by combining the stories with historical fact. That should keep Erickson busy for a long time.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Erickson said. “We Sherlockians get together and have dinners where we give quizzes that offer prizes.
“Sherlockians love quizzes,” concluded Erickson, who admits to having a wall full of degrees in Sherlockiana, “but we love prizes even more.”
One day after conditioner Greg Geier saddled three winners for the first training triple of his career and the first multi-win day recorded locally by any trainer this season, veteran Arlington horsemen Chris Block and Tommy Tomillo each saddled a pair of winners during Friday’s twilight racing program.
Block began his double in Friday’s third race when Richard Duchossois’ That I Am, ridden by Eddie Perez, took command in mid-stretch and drew off late for a two and a quarter-length score.
That same trainer-owner-jockey team came back in the featured ninth race to return Round Heels to the winner’s circle for the first time since her victory in France at Maisons-Lafitte in 2004’s listed Prix Coronation Stakes. In those days the deliciously renamed Round Heels was known as Martha Stewart.
Tommy Tomillo’s twosome began later in the day, when George Timphony’s Game Called captured the eighth with Israel Ocampo aboard, and was completed when Joel Stable’s Gino Massetti won the finale with Diego Sanchez in the irons.
Jockey Eddie Baird joined Perez among those with riding doubles Friday.
Members of Arlington Park’s Junior Jockey Club are set to enjoy one of their favorite gatherings this Sunday when they get to meet several Arlington Park jockeys.
Junior Jockeys members in attendance in the area outside the jockey’s quarters between noon and 1 p.m. are scheduled to meet Arlington’s defending jockey champion Chris Emigh, jockey Israel Ocampo – who wrested the Hawthorne title from Emigh at the recently completed Southside session – and local favorite Irish jockey James Graham.
Fittingly, also scheduled during Sunday’s Pepsi Family Day, presented by the Daily Herald, will be an appearance by the McNulty Irish Dance Team to add a touch of Celtic magic to the afternoon’s activities, with show times at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
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