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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/9/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
The apple hasn’t fallen very far from the tree – and those in attendance at Arlington Park Sunday will witness it in person.
Brandon Meier, son of popular veteran local jockey Randy Meier, will make his own long-anticipated professional riding debut aboard Frank Calabrese’s Houseboat in the fourth race of the afternoon.
“I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for this (first mount) and I’m ready to roll,” said the younger Meier, born 19 years ago in nearby Elk Grove Village, Illinois. “I just found out about it (Thursday). I was supposed to get my first mount two months ago, but then I screwed up my elbow working a horse in the morning – so that set me back until now.”
The graduate of St. Francis High School fulfilled a commitment to his father by attending college for a year before coming home to begin his own career path dream.
Randy Meier, 53, has been a leading member of Illinois’ jockey colony for more than two decades. Although born in West Point, Nebraska, where he began riding in his native state, he and his family are longtime residents of Chicagoland. He is the all-time leading rider at Sportsman’s Park and Hawthorne Race Course and in the top 10 among Arlington’s all-time leading jockeys. He won the 4,000th race of his career on closing day last season.
“The most important thing I can do is point him in the right direction,” said the elder Meier. “I can put him in with good people to start off his career, and if you hang with good people you’re going to start off with the best opportunity.”
The teenage athlete has been working in the barn of Arlington’s defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano since last June. Catalano is also the conditioner of Houseboat.
“I’ve worked the horse since he got here from Keeneland,” said Brandon Meier, “and I’m looking forward to sharing the same corner of the jocks’ room with my father.”
Trainer Wayne Catalano and his owner Frank Calabrese – both Arlington defending champions from last summer’s Arlington season – have hit the ground running with eight wins from 10 starters together in their respective categories through the first four racing days of the current session.
Catalano has been Arlington’s leading trainer for six of the last eight seasons, while Calabrese has led Arlington’s owner standings in number of wins for the last eight summers in succession.
Defending Arlington Park jockey champion Rene Douglas is also off to a hot start this season after riding three winners Thursday.
Douglas took both halves of Thursday’s Daily Double, winning the opener astride Polly Horse Partners’ Bob’s Bean for trainer Chuck Simon and coming right back in the second race with Frank Calabrese’s Tattooed Lady for conditioner Wayne Catalano.
The Panama-born reinsman posed in the winner’s circle for the third time Thursday when he won the sixth race of the afternoon aboard New Wave Racing’s Lake Kiowa for trainer Steve Hobby.
Douglas, 41, has already registered eight wins at the local session – twice as many as his nearest pursuers. He also holds the distinction of being the only jockey in the history of Arlington to win four straight local titles – a feat he accomplished from 2001 to 2004.
Members of Arlington’s jockey colony – dressed in colorful riding silks – have volunteered to be on hand at the entrances to Arlington Park on this Mother’s Day Sunday to personally present the first 7,500 ladies through the gates with a rose apiece.
Eight jockeys will be on hand – four at each Arlington entrance – from when the gates open at 11 am. until approximately noon.
Post time for Sunday’s 11-race Mother’s Day program is 1 pm.
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