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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/15/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
WinStar Farm’s Ballado’s Thunder, who scored a front-running victory over the grass course at Keeneland in her last start April 13, has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line choice in Saturday’s Arlington Park feature, the $50,000 Reluctant Guest Stakes for grass-favoring fillies and mares.
In recent seasons, the Reluctant Guest – contested at one mile over the local grass course – has often served as a significant preview of Arlington’s Grade III Modesty Handicap, to be run this summer as part of Million Preview Day on July 12.
Ballado’s Thunder, transferred to the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott this season, returned to turf for the first time in more than a year in that last outing which resulted in a one-length tally. However, the 5-year-old mare finished fourth over Hollywood’s synthetic surface last July 7 in the Grade I Vanity Handicap, and was also fourth in Hollywood’s Grade II Milady Handicap June 3.
Rene Douglas, Arlington’s defending jockey champion, has been named to handle the reins aboard Ballado’s Thunder.
Capable of providing strong competition for the morning-line favorite is Iron County Farms’ Ciao, a 4-year-old Lear Fan filly. She will be making her first start of the season after finishing second by a half-length in Churchill’s Grade II Mrs. Revere last Nov. 10 despite racing 10-wide into the stretch. Previously, she was a six and a half-length victress over the grass at Hawthorne Oct. 4.
Tabbed as the 3-1 second choice in the Reluctant Guest morning-line, Ciao, conditioned by Frank Kirby, will be ridden by Ramsey Zimmerman Saturday.
Also worthy of consideration in this Modesty prep is Gold Square Farm’s Mama I’m Home, 9-2 in the morning-line. The 6-year-old daughter of Wheaton won her last start by two and a half lengths April 10 over the Keeneland turf. Jockey Jose Velez Jr. is slated for the tack on the Steve Margolis trainee.
Completing the Reluctant Guest field, with jockeys included, are the British-bred Demisemiquaver, owned by Carolyn Warren and to be ridden by French reinsman Florent Geroux; Richard Shultz’s Lemonlime, Eddie Razo; Jacquelyn Cochonour and Triple C Thoroughbreds’ Royal Leah, Jesse Campbell; Augustin Stable’s Forever Together, Earlie Fires; Charles Sigrest and Del Sol Farm’s Lady Lionel, Eddie Perez; and Crowns Way Farm’s You Dancing Devil, James Graham aboard.
British-bred Demisemiquaver, a 4-year-old filly by the good grass sire Singspiel, spent her sophomore season in her native land under the guidance of trainer Jeremy Noseda.
However, this year she has come to America, where she has been Kentucky-based, making two starts at Turfway Park while under the care of conditioner Shannon Ritter.
“She’s an English filly I got this winter, and we’re trying to get some black type for her,” said Ritter, speaking over the phone from Keeneland Thursday morning. “When she was in England last year, she showed a preference for the Polytrack there (winning her final two 2007 starts at Lingfield).
“I was trying to get her some black type at Turfway (where she finished seventh in the $50,000 Fairway Fun Stakes March 29), but I think she prefers the Polytrack at Keeneland,” Ritter said. “She works very well over that surface in Lexington. I think it’s a little different than the Turfway Polytrack, which seems to me to be a little looser.
“Should it rain between now and Saturday and (the Reluctant Guest) comes off the turf, I would think it would be a distinct advantage for us,” said Ritter, “but she will run either way.”
Ritter was asked about the assigned jockey Florent Geroux, somewhat unfamiliar to Chicago racing fans but already with a win at the meeting.
“I don’t know too much about him, other than he’s a French jockey who should be a good grass rider, and that (trainer) Bill Mott used him a lot this spring,” said Ritter. “I figure if he’s good enough for Mott – he’s good enough for me.”
Apprentice jockey Brandon Meier, who made his career debut a winning one last Sunday at Arlington Park, will risk his perfect one-for-one record aboard Frank Calabrese’s Bea Image in Saturday’s third race at the suburban Chicago oval.
The 19-year-old Meier, born in nearby Elk Grove Village, Illinois, inherited immediate fan favoritism as the son of veteran Illinois-based jockey Randy Meier, but endeared himself further to Chicago racing fans when he won his first race despite bleeding visibly from his mouth as the result of a starting gate mishap.
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