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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/14/07)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Thoroughbred racing fans of Arlington Park’s one-day International Festival of Racing on Aug. 11 this summer get a European preview of many of this year’s likely candidates when Great Britain’s prestigious Royal Ascot meeting begins Tuesday and runs through next Saturday.

Two Group I races – the St. James Palace Stakes and the Queen Anne Stakes – kick off the five-day meeting Tuesday, with one Group I race a day for the rest of the week, highlighted by the Princes of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday.

Those British classics have all proved to be significant barometers for European-based candidates for Arlington’s International Festival in recent seasons.

Arlington’s International Festival, which offers Illinois’ only three Grade I races conducted on an annual basis, presents the Silver Anniversary edition of the Arlington Million this summer, complemented by the 18th running of the $750,000 Beverly D. and the 30th renewal of the $400,000 Secretariat.

The Arlington Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat Stakes are all contested over Arlington’s world famous turf course.


An Illinois-bred gelding became the first horse to win three-times over Arlington Park’s new Polytrack surface earlier this month, but now a British-bred has accomplished the same feat.

Cane Garden Boy, the Illinois-bred owned and trained by Doug Matthews with four career victories from 18 lifetime starts, has raced exclusively in the Midwest throughout his career but has won his only three starts over Arlington’s Polytrack this season.

The British-bred Hatch, now racing in the silks of Arlington’s leading owner Frank Calabrese and currently conditioned by Arlington’s defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano, has five career wins in 25 starts but is now also a perfect three-for-three on Arlington’s Polytrack surface following his latest local win Sunday.

Hatch began his career in Great Britain, racing at such historic courses as Ascot, Newmarket, and Sandown before coming to the United States in 2004.


Ron Magers, WLS-TV anchorman and the dean of Chicago newscasters, is also a Thoroughbred horse owner and a longtime supporter of racing at Arlington Park.

He’s also quick with a quip.

When R Plus Partners’ (Ron Magers et al) Greeley’s Angel rallied in the stretch to win at Arlington last weekend, Magers did a post-race victory lap to see friends in Arlington’s press box, passing along two humorous anecdotes during the visit.

“Bobby Voelkner (currently assistant racing secretary at Calder and a longtime former trainer at Arlington) said he started to call me to congratulate me when it looked like we were going to win at the top of the stretch,” said Magers, “but then when our horse hesitated a bit, Bobby said he had to hang the phone back up because he thought he was going to jinx us.”

Magers also related that the “R Plus Partners” is named – not only for the “R” in Ron, but also for the “R’s” in the first names of fellow partners Roe Conn, of WLS Radio; and Robert Marcocchio, another longtime Chicago Thoroughbred owner.

“The ‘Plus’ is for any additional partners we are able to pick up for our stable,” said Magers. “In fact, the other day, one of those other partners went by the barn to see the horse and Francine Walder (wife of Greeley’s Angel’s trainer Peter Walder) called to her husband a few stalls down the shedrow saying, ‘Peter, one of the Plusses is here.’”


Chicago Cubs manager Lou Pineilla, a longtime Thoroughbred racing fan, correctly picked the filly Rags to Riches to upset her male rivals in last weekend’s Belmont Stakes as the third and final leg of the 2007 Triple Crown.

In an encouraging historical footnote, the last time a filly won the Belmont before Rags to Riches’ win against the boys, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series two years later.

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