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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/10/08)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Stefan Friborg’s Natagora won last weekend’s Group I 1000 Guineas – a race for 3-year-old fillies inaugurated in 1814 – over Great Britain’s Newmarket Racecourse.

This Sunday, the Group I French 1000 Guineas, also known as the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, first run as a race restricted to fillies in 1883, will be contested over the suburban Paris grounds of Longchamp Racecourse.

However, two weeks away on May 24, as part of a three-stakes afternoon in suburban Chicago, Arlington Park will host the inaugural running of the American 1000 Guineas. The one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies offers a $200,000 purse and will be run over Arlington’s world famous turf course. Nominations for the American 1000 Guineas close Wednesday.

“I thought it would be a good fit to add a grass race for 3-year-old fillies to our stakes schedule at this time of year,” said Kevin Greely, now in his third season as Arlington’s vice president of racing and racing secretary. “I think the race has been well received by horsemen all over North America. Also, the winner will receive an automatic invitation to the Hollywood Park’s Grade I American Oaks Invitational July 5.”

With the almost worldwide presence of 1000 Guineas races, Greely does not expect any American 1000 Guineas participation outside of North America.

“It’s a little early in the season to expect horsemen to ship 3-year-old fillies all over the world,” said Greely, “and the (Group I) Irish 1000 Guineas (first run in 1922) will be run the next afternoon at The Curragh.”

Other European 1000 Guineas races include the Group II German 1000 Guineas run at Dusseldorf; a Spanish 1000 Guineas run at Madrid’s Zarzuela Racecourse, a race better known as the Premio Valderas; and an Italian 1000 Guineas (a Group III race run at Rome’s Capannelle Racecourse and – thankfully – an event better known as the Premio Regina Elena).

Among the plethora of other 1000 Guineas races on other continents are the Group I New Zealand 1000 Guineas run at Riccaton Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Group I Japanese 1000 Guineas, run at Hanshin Racecourse and better known as the Oka Sho.

Coincidentally, one of the Arlington’s other two stakes May 24 is the Grade III Hanshin Cup, now in its 14th year as an exchange race with the Japan Racing Association.

Arlington’s third six-figure purse stakes race now two weeks away is the $150,000 Arlington Classic, first race of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple.


Jockey Tanner Riggs, a talented teenage jockey built like a spindle but with a demonstrated natural ability aboard a Thoroughbred, won his second race at the young Arlington season when he got up in the last jump to score by a nose aboard Roy Houghton’s longshot runner Bearific in Friday’s fourth race.

Bearific, a 5-year-old Illinois-bred gelding who is also trained by Houghton, returned a $38.20 win mutuel.

Last Sunday, the 19-year-old Riggs, born in Mitchell, South Dakota, won the first race of his Arlington career in alternate fashion – leading every step of the way for a length and a half tally astride Patti and Danny Miller and Mike Conway’s San Saba. That Danny Miller trainee returned $13.60 straight.

Riggs, a personable youngster, who estimates he has ridden about 200 winners from about 1,200 mounts, grew up on a farm riding horses – but not Thoroughbreds.

“My sister and I used to ride our horses bareback against each other on the farm, and at 12 or 13 we started breaking them,” said Riggs. “Then I started going to horseshows and competed in timed events, barrel races and things like that, but it wasn’t until later that my Dad started taking me to the bush tracks around Nebraska to ride his horses. I still never thought I’d be a jockey – I didn’t even know how to gallop. I had no clue, but the more I rode the more I got hooked on it.

“The guys at the bush tracks in Nebraska helped me out a little bit, teaching me how to practice switching sticks and things like that,” Riggs said, “but it wasn’t until I went to Minnesota and the one-mile track at Canterbury that I began to learn about patience and the importance of pace.

“It was while I was at Canterbury that (trainer) Mac Robertson suggested Hawthorne might be a place for me to try,” said Riggs, “and he called Curly (Nebraska-native jockey agent Randy Curran) and he said he’d help me get started around Chicago.

“I love doing this as a career,” concluded Riggs. “I get everything I want – I love getting up early in the morning to work horses. It gets the adrenalin going, and I especially like getting on young horses, helping them progress and then watching how they develop as race horses. It makes it all worthwhile.”

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