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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/28/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Although new to Arlington Park’s riding colony, jockey Diego Sanchez had already reached the winner’s circle five times through May 27 by riding aggressively – skimming the rail when it was offered and taking advantage of narrow openings in traffic.
His riding style makes him kind of a master of the close shave, and in that capacity Sanchez brings to mind the nickname of legendary baseball pitcher Sal “The Barber” Maglie – remembered for his ability to deliver “chin” music to opposing batters.
Even better – this emerging European athlete was born in Seville, Spain. Will he become known as ‘the barber of Seville?’
“Since I came here, I came to ride every day,” said Sanchez. “I refuse to take a day off. When Arlington was closed last Tuesday, I rode at Great Lakes Downs. When Arlington didn’t run last Wednesday, I rode at Indiana Downs. Two weeks ago, I rode a horse at Churchill Downs.“In a race, I like to attack the holes when I see them,” said Sanchez. “I want to be known as ‘king of the rail.’ I want to win. I want to be the best I can be. That’s why I came to America, and that’s why I came to Chicago.”
Naturally, as a native of Spain, the English language was a barrier to be overcome – as was Spanish as spoken by the Latin American riders Sanchez initially encountered here.
“At first, I was very confused by their Spanish,” the Castilian-speaking Sanchez said of the Latin American riders, “but now I understand everything they say.”
His English is also progressing rapidly. Twice a week, Sanchez attends English classes at Morton College in spite of his hectic riding schedule.
Also, as a European, Sanchez has already been forced to learn more than his native tongue. Thoroughbred racing is not a major sport in Spain, so after beginning his career at his hometown race course in Seville, Sanchez rode at other Spanish tracks such as San Sebastian and Mijos before pursuing more fertile ground in France.
There, Sanchez galloped horses at the world famous Chantilly, and although he never rode competitively at that race course, he did ride races at other French tracks in Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Pau.
“So now, I speak a little French, and a little Italian, as well,” said Sanchez, who also rode in at Italy’s Pisa Racecourse before pulling up roots entirely and journeying to California.
“In California, I began galloping horses for trainer Doug O’Neill,” said Sanchez, who won with his third mount at Santa Anita. “I owe a lot to Doug O’Neill. He has become one of my best friends, and he has also taught me a lot about riding.
“Also, I followed the races out there when I wasn’t riding,” added Sanchez. “I watched closely. I observed what the top riders out there were doing and I practiced trying to do the same things when I was riding.”
With that attitude, Sanchez might easily become like the barber of Rossini’s opera – and develop a reputation for outsmarting everybody.
S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s Chic Dancer and Wertheimer and Frere’s Quiet Royal appear headed for a show down in Saturday’s feature – the $45,000 Reluctant Guest Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile over Arlington’s grass course.
Chic Dancer, who won last season’s Reluctant Guest, is conditioned by Christine Janks and is coming off a runner-up finish behind European stakes winner Round Heels in an optional claiming race here May 17.
Quiet Royal, trained by Todd Pletcher, finished third last time in an allowance race at Keeneland on the grass April 19 and was fifth in Santa Anita’s Grade II Santa Ana Handicap before that on March 25.
Lael Stable’s Showing Up, the length and a half hero of last year’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes, has been taken out of training following a torn suspensory ligament incurred recently and will not be a participant in this summer’s Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 11.
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