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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/31/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Less than a week after she saddled her first Arlington Park winner, trainer Francine Faraci-Walder will be traveling to Thistledown – this time to serve as a television hostess for Saturday’s national broadcast of the Grade II Ohio Derby.
“It’s true that I’ve got a lot on my plate these days,” Faraci-Walder said Thursday morning during training hours at Arlington, “but I think the thrill of winning my first race at Arlington Park would have to be one of the highlights of my career. It’s just very exciting to be here. I’ve saddled winners at a lot of different tracks, but Arlington is simply a breathtaking facility. The people here just blow my mind. People in the stands were giving me ‘high-fives’ after I won that race Sunday and all the people that work here have been so nice to us.”
“Us,” of course, is Faraci-Walder’s husband Peter Walder, perennially one of the highest win-percentage trainers on the East Coast, and a conditioner who has brought his stable to Arlington for the first time this summer.
“We keep the majority of our horses under one roof,” said Faraci-Walder, who serves as her husband’s assistant in addition to caring for her own horses.
Faraci-Walder began her television career this winter during the Gulfstream Park meeting, serving as a handicapper and paddock hostess, and it was through that connection to Gulfstream general manager Bill Murphy that she was asked to keep some time available for additional summer duties. Murphy, in fact, was a former general manager at Thistledown.
“Doing television is a lot of fun,” said Faraci-Walder of her budding second career. “I’ve been able to join Liane (Arlington television paddock television hostess Liane Davis) a couple of times for stakes races here at Arlington. I really enjoy it. It’s another way to interact with the fans, and I’ve never seen such enthusiastic fans as there are here at Arlington. It’s a younger crowd – and there are a lot more female racing fans here than at most tracks.
“Also, I’m especially looking forward to the Ohio Derby telecast this weekend because Johnny V (jockey John Velazquez) will be riding in it,” Faraci-Walder noted. “He’s our ‘go-to’ jockey on our horses at Gulfstream during the winter months.”
Peter Walder and Peter Randazzo’s Bohemian Rain took last Saturday’s opener to give her husband his first Arlington Park training victory. Then, Faraci-Walder recorded her first local score Sunday with Skipper Cheesman and Norman Forguites’ Somethingdangerous, and Peter Walder then posed in the winner’s circle after Monday’s Churchill Downs’ finale with that same ownership’s Exclusive Hopper.
One year ago at this time, trainer Christine Janks had one of the hottest stables on the grounds at Arlington Park, and despite a slow start at the current suburban Chicago session, there are signs pointing in positive directions.
Janks’ first win this summer moved her into a tie for 10th in Arlington’s all-time leading trainer standings, and her second trip to the winner’s circle moved her into a tie for ninth.
The Illinois native has five horse entered Friday – two are morning line favorites with the other three “live” – and on Saturday she will saddle S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s highly regarded Chic Dancer in the featured $47,700 Reluctant Guest Stakes.
Chic Dancer won last summer’s $42,375 Reluctant Guest Stakes as the choice of the fans, coming from just off the pace to register by a half-length. But the biggest win of her career came when she repeated those tactics in the Grade III Modesty Handicap in the final prep for last summer’s Grade I Beverly D.
A disappointing setback occurred on the morning of the Beverly D. when Chic Dancer was reluctantly withdrawn because she was coughing in the barn, but the mare recovered in time to take last year’s $42,375 Flawlessly Stakes Sept. 10. She finished second in an allowance race here May 18 in her first outing this season.
“She’s doing very well right now,” said Janks Thursday morning of Chic Dancer’s pending engagement Saturday. “I’m just glad the Hollands (Steve and Diana of S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership) gave me the chance to race her one more year.”
Arlington Park kicks off the first day of June with a Miller Lite Party in the Park Friday, with alternative rock music provided by “A Kangeroo Court” in the Park Area. First race and first song are scheduled for 3 p.m.
However, highlighting Saturday’s Summer Bash and BBQ will be the Rolling Stones tribute band “Beggars Banquet,” with first race and first song scheduled for 1 p.m. The food special will be a pulled BBQ chicken sandwich.
Sunday’s Pepsi Family Day, presented by the Daily Herald, includes a “Health & Safety Trivia Blitz” Game Show, with show times at 1, 2, and 3 p.m.
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