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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/11/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time leading rider, scored his second riding triple of Arlington’s young 2008 season Saturday on its sixth racing day.
The 61-year-old Palatine resident – inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga in 2001 – previously scored a “hat trick” May 3, after making his initial 2008 visit to the Arlington winner’s circle on opening day this spring.
Fires won Saturday’s fourth race on Frank Calabrese’s Sum Splendor for trainer Wayne Catalano, gave that seemingly perennial leading owner-trainer duo their second winner with Rebounded in the seventh event, and captured the day’s finale with Watchingirlsgoby for owners Frank and Kim Jedlicki. That Red Ransom gelding is also trained by Frank Jedlicki.
Fires, who was born in Arkansas, is currently tied for second in the standings with Arlington veteran Eddie Razo, who won the riding championship at Oaklawn Park this year. They were five wins behind last year’s local leading jockey Rene Douglas entering Sunday’s program. Douglas had a riding double Saturday including a score in the featured $53,700 Shecky Greene Stakes astride Sassafras Racing’s Meal Penalty for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Despite finishing third in the 1983 Arlington Million aboard Nijinsky’s Secret, and fourth the next summer astride that same horse in Chicago’s signature Thoroughbred race, jockey Jose Velez Jr. may need a reintroduction to Arlington guests.
That’s because he plans to ride locally for the entire 96-day Arlington Park season, which runs until Sept. 21.
“I am looking forward to riding at Arlington this season,” said Velez, a 45-year-old native of Santurce, Puerto Rico, who rode his second winner of the meeting in Saturday’s ninth race aboard Azura for trainer Tom Proctor. He visited the local winner’s circle for the first time May 4 aboard Frank Calabrese’s Pisces Poem. “I am hoping that this meeting will be a good fit for my Florida schedule in the winter.”
Velez needs no introduction to Florida racing fans. The longtime Sunshine State resident was leading rider at Gulfstream Park in 1982, won riding titles at Calder Race Course in 1982 and 1983, and won the Tropical-at-Calder championship in its 1989-1990 session.
In 1991, Velez also became the second rider in history to sweep Calder’s Florida Stallion Stakes series by piloting the Frank Gomez-trained Naked Greed to wins in the six-furlong Dr. Fager Stakes, seven-furlong Affirmed Stakes and 1 1/16-mile In Reality Stakes that summer.
Humbled by the accomplishment at the time, Velez dedicated his Stallion Stakes Sweep to the recently-deceased Dorothy Shula, wife of Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula and a lady whom he had gotten to know quite well during various athletic-themed social events in South Florida.
Velez gratefully recognized the late Mrs. Shula, who was a victim of cancer, for giving him inspiration and encouragement while guiding him through a difficult period of his career.
Among other accomplishments, Velez won the leading rider title at the Meadowlands in 1999, and finished second in the 2000 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile on North East Bound.
Swedish-born apprentice jockey Inez Karlsson, 25, forced to cancel her mounts Saturday following a spill during morning training hours, resumed riding Sunday, with eight mounts scheduled for the Mother’s Day program.
Automatic text messages alerting racing fans about carryover pools in excess of $250,000 throughout North America are now being offered “in the palm of one’s hand” by Arlington Park.
Arlington’s new service is available from ImageArchetecture by text messaging the word “bet” to 30364.
In accordance with federal law, only four messages a month are allowed, and standard text message-rates apply.
As part of the same service, Value Plays from handicapper Joe Kristufek are also available.
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